To bone or not to bone. That is the question. It's a tomahawk sized conundrum that grill masters, chefs, and home cooks have been toiling over for centuries. Ok, maybe just for decades, but you get the point.
Many purists and steak aficionados insist the bone adds flavor and depth to one's steak. Others think it's a myth drawn up by steak enthusiasts that haven't lifted a spatula or tongs themselves.
Let's match up these two types of cuts and see if we can answer this age old question.
The Bone-In Steak
Talk to many steak connoisseurs and chefs and they'll tell you bone-in steaks have more flavor because of the transfer of flavor from the internal bone marrow to the meat.
Inside every bone is a substance called marrow. In steaks, marrow is either red or yellow. Yellow marrow is incredibly flavorful and surprisingly underutilized.
Bone-in crusaders say that when you cook your steak, this yellow marrow transfers into the meat, giving it a smooth, buttery flavor.
The Boneless Steak
Those on the other side of the debate aren't against bone-in steaks. They just believe that boneless tastes equally delicious. They claim that bones are too hard and impenetrable for the marrow to seep out and impact the meat's flavor.
Mr. Steak decided a taste test was in order to make a final determination. For the bone-in steaks he grilled a 24oz Porterhouse (half strip/half filet mignon), 20oz Bone-In Ribeye, and 20oz Bone-In Strip steak. For the boneless steaks he grilled a 16oz boneless ribeye, a 14oz NY Strip, and a 10oz Filet Mignon. Don't worry he did not attempt to eat 104 oz of steak in one sitting... He broke it up into two. Just kidding. We had a whole team of qualified taste testers that assisted in the process.
It was impossible to tell the difference between the bone-in and boneless cuts. They both tasted spectacular. All steaks were USDA Prime and were grilled to perfection at medium rare to medium. Mr. Steak determined that the quality of meat, proper thawing, and grilling steaks to medium rare or medium is much more impactful on flavor. (For more grilling tips, dive into Mr. Steaks 10 Commandments of Steak blog).
And so you have it, It turns out the bone-in vs boneless decision is more about grilling/dining experience and presentation than taste. A bone-in steak will hold its shape slightly better and offer the opportunity to gloriously gnaw on the bone, a pastime coveted by many steak lovers. On the flip side, the boneless steak is easier to evenly grill and slice up, and you only pay for meat, not excess bone you can't eat.
The Final Word
Experiment, explore and determine which cut you prefer! It's all a matter of personal preference and you really can't go wrong either way. Just make sure your steaks are USDA Prime and come from a quality source like Mr. Steak.