My local butcher sells ribeye and sirloin steaks from Basque and Galician dairy cows on the bone.

All of their products are fantastic but I question what effect cooking it 'bone-in' has.

Is there any advantage - in flavour/texture/ease of cooking- to cooking steak on the bone, or is it simply a way for them to charge more?

  • 5
    I like the presentation and my dogs like the bones
    – paparazzo
    Feb 15, 2017 at 13:48
  • 3
    Presentation is helped both for those of us used to seeing the bone in some cuts, and as it helps the muscle to not contract. This also can help with a more tender end product by not allowing the muscle to contract under heat. Many of us also simply find the flavor better on almost any meat cooked on bone rather than boneless, but that is opinion and in no way provable. Some blind tests have backed it, others showed no effect. Price per weight should normally be less for bone in cuts as you are getting less yield.
    – dlb
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:03
  • I can't comment on whther the price per weight is more or less (if you ask for it without the bone, they will weight it first before removing it) - I just meant that you get less steak for your money - as they can sell you a nice chunk of bone along with your meat
    – canardgras
    Feb 15, 2017 at 15:44
  • They based the cost on bone included. Sounds fair to me to weigh before removing the bone rather than have a different cost.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 15, 2017 at 16:02
  • I find that it helps keep the steak moist and provides flavor. Feb 15, 2017 at 16:40

4 Answers 4


Well, many steak experts have held for years that bone-in steak just tastes better, something about that marrow being good.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats tested that theory.

He found that the steak bones were too impenetrable for the marrow to actually flavor grilling steak, but that the bones provided beneficial insulation:

To test this, I cooked four identical roasts. The first was cooked with the bone on. For the second, I removed the bone, but tied it back against the meat while cooking. For the third, I removed the bone, and tied it back to the meat with an intervening piece of impermeable heavy-duty aluminum foil. The fourth was cooked completely without the bone.

Tasted side-by-side, the first three were completely indistinguishable from each other. The fourth, on the other hand, was a little tougher in the region where the bone used to be.

What does this indicate? Well, first off, it means the flavor exchange theory is completely bunk—the completely intact piece of meat tasted exactly the same as the one with the intervening aluminum foil. But it also means that the bone does serve at least one important function: it insulates the meat, slowing its cooking, and providing less surface area to lose moisture.

He also mentions that the bone provides a framework to protect the shape of the meat, but it's a pain to carve the bone from the cooked meat:

The best way to cook your beef is to detach the bone and tie it back on. You get the same cooking quality of a completely intact roast with the added advantage that once it's cooked, carving is as simple as cutting the string, removing the bones, and slicing.

(The quote says "roast" but in the article he seems to be talking just as much about steak)

You mention that bone-in steak costs more at your butcher than boneless. I have not typically found that to be the case. When I have purchased steak, the bone-in has been less expensive than a boneless steak of the same weight of actual meat, cut, and grade of meat. I would sometimes pay extra for the butcher's time removing the bone.

  • 10
    A 500g boneless steak is more expensive than a 500g bone steak, because it's actually more steak.
    – OrangeDog
    Feb 15, 2017 at 15:12
  • Thanks for the great answer! Regarding your last point - like @OrangeDog said, it's not more expensive weight-for-weight, it just means they can sell you the bones with it and you get less meat for your money
    – canardgras
    Feb 15, 2017 at 15:41
  • 1
    Like the answer, 1 up. But seriously, removing the bone and then tie it back to the meat with an intervening piece of impermeable heavy duty aluminium foil? For the benefit of slicing!? Craziness. If a place ever serves me steak-on-the-bone-with-strings-that-need-to-be-cut-before-eating, it'll be the last time I visit that place, but maybe that's just me :) Is it that difficult to carve meat from bone? Is there an instructional pamphlet to go with it? "Do not eat string and/or bones"? Feb 15, 2017 at 18:09
  • 7
    The foil thing was just a test to determine whether there was any flavor imparted by the bone. I believe J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is suggesting that simply removing the bone and tying it back (without foil) is the best way; I also imagine that the chef would do the string-cutting and bone-removing prior to serving... but maybe I'm expecting too much?
    – Doktor J
    Feb 15, 2017 at 20:30

An excellent article grilled-ribeye-bone-boneless

What they found and consistent with my experience is the meat is less cooked near the bone due to thermal properties of the bone. Like a full difference of from rare to medium rare.

If someone likes medium well (no blood) you are forced to over cook and dry out the edges.

I happen to like a medium T bone with medium rare near the bone but not all people do.


It definitely doesn't make cooking easier. A bone acts as a heat-sink and a heat-reflector, and has the effect of slowing down cooking around it. That's not really a problem, but you do need to take it into account when cooking.

A good example is a T-bone steak: my usual technique is to first stand the steak upright on the top of the 'T', to force heat into the bone, which is then conducted into the meat as you cook the steak 'normally' on the sides. This offsets the insulating effect the bone has, with the goal of more even doneness through the steak. Again, that's not a problem, per se - and it's really satisfying when you get it right - but a steak without a bone is a lot 'simpler' to cook well.

As other people have said. the common myths around flavour and succulence are mostly myths. I can understand roasted, braised or stewed meats wanting bones - in that case, there's an opportunity for the marrow to mingle with the other juices in the pot - but for a steak that just doesn't happen.

For me, the reason I like a bone-in cut is for the pleasure of cooking, carving, and eating. Gnawing on the bone of a bit of well-cooked animal is one of life's great pleasures - hell, it may even be the oldest (well, second-oldest), pleasure in the history of the human species.


Most kitchens do not have enough heat to take advantage of bone in. You need to make the marrow run for just a few seconds for best flavor. To do this heat your grill to a light cherry red. Slap on Steak. Wait 1 minute turn over. 1 minute & move to cooking heat side of grill to finish cooking. This also sears the outside to seal in flavor. A good steak house will have 2 to 3 grills for heat. They move the steaks from extra hot to cooking heat. Sear then cook. Make the marrow melt for just a bit while searing.

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