Cowboy steak? Yes, it’s a thing. It’s a glorious thing, actually, especially when rubbed with ground coffee and chile, tossed on the grill, and cooked to perfection. Imagine how guests will size up your grilling prowess after you slap this baby on the table. And to learn more about this thing called “cowboy steak,” see the “What You Need To Know” note below the recipe.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A grilled cowboy steak with coffee rub on a wooden cutting board.

Cowboy Steak with Coffee Rub

5 / 4 votes
This cowboy steak is essentially a grilled ribeye that benefits from a truly exceptional and simple spice rub made with ground coffee and tossed on the grill. One of our most favorite steak recipes.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories485 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes


  • Hickory, oak, or mesquite wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes



  • 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. A little before you're ready to grill, toss the wood on the coals.
  • Season the steaks liberally with the coffee rub, rubbing it on both sides.
  • Place the steaks directly over the heat and grill for 4 1/2 minutes on each side. If you prefer your steak rare, they'll be perfectly done at this point.If you prefer your steak medium-rare, after cooking on each side for 4 1/2 minutes, move the steaks over indirect heat, away from the coals, close the grill lid, and cook for 2 more minutes. If you prefer your steak medium, do as you would for medium-rare, but then flip the steak, close the grill lid, and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Let the steaks rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes prior to serving to guests. Use your most gracious thank you when accolades come your way.
    Humbleness optional.


What You Need To Know About Cowboy Steak

What is a cowboy steak? It’s essentially a rib eye steak with a slight modification.
The author of this 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 cooking 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.

Adapted From

Fire & Smoke

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 485 kcalProtein: 46 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 15 gCholesterol: 138 mgSodium: 1660 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Chris Lilly. Photo © 2014 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.

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! Everyone commented at every single bite, “WOW, this is great!’ and “I can’t wait to have this again.” 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 didn’t dominate the flavor of the steak; it just enhanced it.

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° 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.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    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.

  2. 5 stars
    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.