There is an ongoing debate on the T-bone vs Porterhouse topic between steak and BBQ lovers. In deciding which is better T-bone or Porterhouse conversation, one does wonder. These are both beef cuts. They’re both prized pieces of meat. T-bone tastes delicious but then so do Porterhouses. So, why the debate?
Both of these beef steaks come from the short loin. The T-bone and the Porterhouse have a bone running through them, with meat on either side. But, if you’re asking for a distinct feature that makes the two cuts stand apart, it’s all in the size.
Is there more to these two steaks then just the size differentiating them? Let’s explore the differences and similarities, which one is better, and if you should be eating T-bone or Porterhouse at your next BBQ meal.
Table of Contents
- 1 Key Features of T-Bone vs Porterhouse
- 2 What is T Bone Steak and What is Porterhouse Steak?
- 3 T-Bones and Porterhouse: What Makes Them Different?
- 4 Which is Better: T Bone or Porterhouse?
- 5 Recipes: Preparing and Cooking
- 6 Which Steak Should You Serve at Your Next Meal?
- 7 Final Thoughts
Key Features of T-Bone vs Porterhouse
|Part of the cow||Saddle of the short loin||Rear end of the short loin|
|Size of cut||Smaller with tenderloin measuring 0.5 inches in width||Larger with tenderloin measuring 1.25 inches in width|
|Weight||8 – 24 ounces||10 – 26 ounces|
|USDA meat cutting classification||IMPS 1174||IMPS 1173|
|Nutritional information||Excellent source: Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Selenium.|
Good source: Iron, Riboflavin, and Phosphorus
|Excellent source: Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Selenium.
Good source: Iron, Riboflavin, Phosphorus and Choline.
What is T Bone Steak and What is Porterhouse Steak?
The T-bone is easily identified by the T-shape bone running through it. Two different pieces of steak are attached to this cut. The longer side of T-bones is known as the New York Strip or the NY strip. On the other side of the bone, is the tenderloin.
If you cut away the tenderloin, it can be served as Filet Mignon. (Not to be confused with the Prime Rib.)The T-bone is cut from the saddle of the short loin.
The Porterhouse steak also has a bone running through it and is also T-shaped. Plus, both sides of the bone have good chunks of meat. The Porterhouse also comes from the short loin but from the rear end.
If you wish to treat yourself and your family, we recommend trying the Dry Aged Wagyu Porterhouse from Snake River Farms, which you can order via this link.
T-Bones and Porterhouse: What Makes Them Different?
With so many similarities between the two cuts, it’s no wonder there’s a debate. They’re both come from the short loin (or sirloin), have a T-shaped bone with meat on either side, and are both beef cuts.
It’s All in the Size and Weight
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stipulated clearly when a beef cut is a T-bone and when it’s a Porterhouse.
The Porterhouse (or Porter House as it’s sometimes known) is the Big Daddy of the T-bone. In other words, it’s a bigger version of the T-bone steak. We already know the Porterhouse comes from the rear end of the short loin. This means it has a larger piece of filet.
According to the beef grading regulations, the Porterhouse tenderloin must measure at least 1.25 inches wide. This is from the bone to the outer part. The T-bone tenderloin, in comparison, measures 0.5 inches wide.
With the Porterhouse being bigger, it can weigh anything between 10 and 26 ounces. The T-bone steak can weigh between 8 and 24 ounces.
They Have Different Beef Classification Numbers
Another way the T-bone and Porterhouse differ from each other is their meat-cutting classification numbers.
In the United States, the Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications for these two cuts are:
- T-bone: IMPS 1174
- Porterhouse: IMPS 1173
This USDA-number will help you determine if you’re buying T-bone or Porterhouse. Knowing the IMPS numbers makes shopping for red meat simpler as each cut has a different number.
They Actually Look Different
On first appearances, both steaks look the same. But, if you look hard enough you’ll see there are differences. They both have typical T-shape bones. Both have the tenderloin or filet on one side and the long strip on the other side.
On closer inspection, you’ll note the T-bone has a smaller strip and a smaller piece of filet. The Porterhouse, in comparison, looks larger with both the strip and the tenderloin being wider.
It may get difficult to see the difference when you don’t have the two side by side. So, if your piece of steak fills the plate and is big enough to feed two people, then you’re eating Porterhouse.
Which is Better: T Bone or Porterhouse?
From a nutritional point of view, both cuts are healthy steaks to eat. Find the following nutritional information provided by the Beef It’s What’s for Dinner (funded by Beef Checkoff which was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill) for both T-bones and Porterhouse.
|Nutrition information per 3oz serving of beef, cooked, lean only, visible fat trimmed (USDA NDB #13479 T-Bone and #13465 (Porterhouse) (*)|
|Calories||180/80 calories from fat||180/80 calories from fat|
|Total fat||Total Fat: 9 g (made up as follows):
Saturated Fat: 3.4 g
Trans Fat: 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.8 g
CLA Fat: 0 g
|Total Fat: 9 g (made up as follows):
Saturated Fat: 3.4 g
Trans Fat: 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.8 g
CLA Fat: 0 g
|Sodium||55 mg||55 mg|
|Total Carbohydrate||0 g||0 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0 g|
|Protein||23 g||24 g|
|Iron||2.99 mg||2.7 mg|
|Potassium||245 mg||245 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.21 mg||0.21 mg|
|Niacin||5.13 mg NE||5.06 mg NE|
|Vitamin B6||0.63 mg||0.58 mg|
|Vitamin B12||1.63 mcg||1.81 mcg|
|Phosphorus||183.96 mg||188.16 mg|
|Zinc||3.87 mg||3.92 mg|
|Selenium||24.61 mcg||23.68 mcg|
|Choline||53.08 mg||55.35 mg|
(*) Source: beefitswhatsfordinner.com
Porterhouse is an excellent source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Selenium and a good source of Iron, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, and Choline.
T-bone steak is an excellent source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Selenium and a good source of Iron, Riboflavin, and Phosphorus.
Based on nutritional information alone, it would be hard to say which is better between the two steaks. Porterhouses do rank higher on some of the nutritional values of some sources.
Recipes: Preparing and Cooking
It might be easier to decide which is better between the two beef steaks when looking at the recipes, preparation, and cooking techniques for each steak. It’s key to remember:
- The T-bone steak is smaller with a more even layout of the tenderloin and NY strip on either side of the bone. It takes less time to cook T-bone and is easier to cook evenly.
- The Porterhouse steak is way larger, with the bigger portion of tenderloin making it challenging to cook both sides of the steak evenly.
Both are USDA Prime steaks, meaning they’re better than the lower grade cuts. You can expect a good tasting, tender steak when eating either steak. But, they do benefit from different cooking methods and recipes.
Grilling and Roasting T Bone Steak
T-bone steak is best suited to hot and fast cooking. Most recipes suggest it’s best-eaten medium rare with a seared, crispy crust on the outside. One of the preferred cooking methods is grilling.
To cook the perfect T-bone steak, flavor with salt and freshly ground peppercorns. You could also add some of your favorite steak rubs or spice it up with some cayenne or paprika or find recipes with different ideas and ingredients.
Heat up a heavy-bottomed cast iron pan and add a dollop of butter or a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. You could also add some diced garlic. Sear your T-bone steak over high heat for two to three minutes on either side. You don’t want to overcook T-bones or you could end up with a dry piece of beef.
You can also use an open fire from your grills. Make sure the temperature is scorching hot. Toss the T-bones onto the grill and once again, sear for two to three minutes on either side.
It’s always a good idea to let your cooked steak sit for a few minutes to let all the juices settle evenly before eating. This helps to retain the moisture and flavors of the steak.
There are recipes for cooking T-bone in the oven. However, make sure it’s been cut thickly to about 1 ½ to 2 inches thick. Otherwise, you run the risk of your steak being overcooked and losing texture during the cooking process. For using the oven method use the following steps to guide you:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat up a cast-iron skillet or pan (that can go into the oven) on the stovetop. Make sure it reaches a good, high temperature.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and when it begins to smoke, add the T-bones. Cook the steak for about 4 minutes on both sides, until browned.
- Place into the oven and roast for about 8 minutes (for medium-rare) or until the internal meat temperature reaches 120 degrees F.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing.
Whether you decide grilling or roasting in the oven is the best way to cook this choice of beef, remember to keep it hot and fast.
[Related Post: Tri-Tip vs Brisket: The Differences Explained]
To Grill or Not: The Best Way to Cook Porterhouse
With the Porterhouse being a bigger piece of beef, you may find it difficult to get the meat evenly cooked when grilling. Many recipes recommend the reverse sear method. This entails baking this beef cut before searing it.
This method gives you better control of the meat’s internal temperature while ensuring a tender, tastier steak with a crispy crust. This method can be done in a smoker, on grills, or in an oven.
Once again, make sure the Porterhouses are cut to a 1 ½ to 2 inches thick to avoid them drying out or becoming overcooked. Use the following steps to master the perfect Porterhouse when using a grill or smoker:
- Some recipes suggest using the dry brining process (this dries out the exterior while maintaining the moistness inside before cooking). Generously salt the steak the night before. Place on a wire rack set on a baking tray and put into the refrigerator uncovered.
- Remove the steak from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking so it can reach room temperature.
- Fire up your grill to reach a temperature of up to 250 degrees F. A water pan will help to keep the temperature stable and adding your favorite wood chips will give your steak more of a steakhouse flavor.
- When ready, place the meat onto the cooking rack on the cooler side of the grill with the fattier side and bone facing the burning charcoal. Insert a meat probe so you can keep an eye on the internal temperature.
- When the internal meat temperature reaches 85 degrees F, you want to start firing up your grill again in preparation for searing. This can be done by adding burning charcoal from a chimney stack to the grill.
- When the steak temperature reaches between 100 and 110 degrees F, remove from the grill and pat dry with a paper towel. Add more salt and freshly ground pepper. Coat the steak with oil or melted butter.
- Place back onto the hot grill and sear on both sides for about two minutes.
- Remove and let the Porterhouses sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
Watch this video to get you grilling Porterhouse with or without the reverse sear method on your BBQ grills.
Which Steak Should You Serve at Your Next Meal?
Deciding whether you should eat T-bone or Porterhouse depends on the following:
- How many people you’re serving. A T-bone is perfect for one person whereas the Porterhouses are generous enough to serve two people.
- How much you’re willing to pay for a piece of steak. Porterhouse, because of its size, generally costs more than the T-bone steak.
- Whether you prefer tenderloin or NY strip more: The T-bone has a smaller tenderloin and smaller NY strip portion compared to the Porterhouse.
- The cooking methods: The T-bone is a quicker and easier steak to cook while the Porterhouses require more time and better management in order to get them cooked evenly. Both can be done on grills.
Both T-bone and Porterhouse steaks are high-grade beef cuts. They’re full of flavor and taste while being tender and juicy. The main feature setting them apart is the size. If the tenderloin is more your taste then the Porterhouse would serve you well. But, the T-bone is perfect if you wanting to enjoy a good piece of steak without the fuss.