Cowboy Steak with Coffee Rub

This cowboy steak is essentially a grilled ribeye that benefits from a truly exceptional spice rub laced with ground coffee. Easily one of our favorite steak recipes.

Cowboy Steak with Coffee Rub

Cowboy steak? Yes, it’s a thing. It’s a glorious thing, actually, especially when rubbed with spices and coffee grounds and cooked to perfection. Imagine how guests will size up your grilling prowess after you slap this baby on the table.

But back to the question of what is a cowboy steak? It’s essentially a rib eye steak with a slight modification. The author explains that “a cowboy-style rib eye is created by cutting between the bones of a rib eye roast. It differs from a standard rib eye because the bone is left on the steak and not trimmed. It’s 1 1/4 inches thick and more often considered steak for two. When it comes to extra-thick steaks, oftentimes the outside of the meat gets perfectly charred while the inside remains underdone. This is why it’s important to build a two-zone fire when cooking steaks. When they are perfect on the outside, shift them away from the coals and shut the grill lid. This little maneuver will protect the exterior while allowing the inside of the meat to cook to perfection.” There you have it. Cowboy steak. Originally published June 21, 2015.Renee Schettler Rossi

Cowboy Steak with Coffee Rub

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 8

Special Equipment: Hickory, oak or mesquite wood chips

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  • Four (16-ounce) bone-in rib eye steaks (preferably 1 1/4 inches or 3 cm thick)
  • Coffee Rub


  • 1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 500°F (260°C). Prepare it for indirect grilling by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty.
  • 2. Season the steaks liberally with the coffee rub. Place the steaks directly over the heat and grill for 4 1/2 minutes on each side for rare. (For medium-rare, move the steaks over the indirect heat, away from the coals, close the grill lid, and cook for 2 more minutes. For medium, do as you would for medium-rare, but then flip the steak, close the grill lid, and cook for 2 more minutes.)
  • 3. Let the steak rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.


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Recipe Testers Reviews

I have never given a "10" to a recipe I've tested, but this cowboy steak with coffee rub gets a 10! The coffee rub provided excellent heat but in no way too much heat. And it seemed to bring out hidden natural flavors in the steak that other rubs have failed to uncover. It was an excellent blend of salty, savory, and spicy. The flavor of the rub did not dominate the flavor of the steak; it just enhanced it. Everyone commented at every single bite, "WOW, this is great!' and "I can't wait to have this again." 

The rub took just a few minutes to put together and seconds to apply to the steaks. It adhered well to the meat. The cooking technique does exactly as the recipe promises, providing a perfect sear on the exterior but allowing the interior to come to perfect doneness without overcooking the outside. The direct heat to indirect heat method is key. Keeping the bone end of the steak closer to the source of heat is ideal for providing even cooking since this area can take a little longer to cook. 

I would not change one tiny little thing about this recipe. It is perfection as written!  (We even had someone at the table who does not like coffee but loved the rub.)

P.S. We served a group of 27 tonight with this as the main course and all the guests loved the rub and wanted the recipe. I should note that if you are like my family and use a Keurig coffee maker, one coffee pod provides enough coffee for the recipe. I just peeled off the foil top and measured out what was needed—worked great.

I've made this cowboy steak with coffee rub twice and the results were fantastic both times. I will definitely keep this as a go-to spice rub for steak or chops.

I let the steaks to sit out for about 40 minutes, coated them with the rub, and let them sit for 20 minutes more. I've never really used the two-temperature grilling technique quite as successfully as with this recipe, but it sure works to create a beautifully medium-rare steak. I cooked them 3 minutes on each side, turned 90 degrees at the 2-minute mark to make the hatch grill marks on the top side of the steak. After I flipped them and cooked the second side, I moved them to the "cool" side of the grill and let them finish. The results were fantastic.


  1. I quite fell in love with the cowboy ribeye by accident because they were on sale at Earth Fare market. I don’t have a working gas grill right now and I do not have a charcoal grill so I cooked them in a cast-iron pan to deliver the flavor of chart on the outside and medium rare to medium on inside. I just used salt-and-pepper and garlic and let that sit for a while before I cook them. It is by far the best cut of steak meat both tender and juicy and full of good all fat flavor. I may try this coffee rub, as it sounds delicious.

    I grew up eating ribeyes, because it was my father’s favorite. I soon learned to enjoy the flavor of a filet and then a New York strip, but often when going back to the store I went looking back for the cowboy ribeye. I had to learn that the cowboy ribeye is too big of a steak for one person, excluding the Incredible Hulk. Too many times, I sent home leftovers with others until I selfishly reminded myself that it was quite good sliced up the next morning and placed on a sandwich or eaten cold. This weekend, whole foods has her cowboy ribeye on sale for $12.99 a pound. Of course, I will drive up to the store and buy myself one cowboy ribeye. Thank you again for reminding me of such a flavorful steak.


    1. You’re so very welcome, Joy. And I must say, you’re a far more selfless person than I. No one has ever walked out of my home carrying leftover ribeye. I sizzle it up the next morning with eggs and it never fails to right whatever is wrong in the world.

  2. Hello! The coffee rub ribeye looks amazing, however I only have a blackstone griddle. Will this recipe work well seared?


    1. I’m not certain, Tom. The brown sugar in the rub could cause scorching since the steak is in constant contact with a flat surface as opposed to intermittent grates. And the moisture in the sugar could cause bubbling which may make the steak steam a little as opposed to sear. You could try it but you’ll want to keep a careful eye on it and perhaps turn the steak more frequently and, if necessary, turn the heat down a touch.

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