Difference Between T Bone And Porterhouse Steak

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Difference Between T Bone And Porterhouse Steak

If you are an avid meat lover, you may feel like you know all the steaks and all the difference in them, the most common you may find on the many at a restaurant would be, sirloin, rump, rib-eye, and maybe T-bone or Filet Mignon. 

But, in the steak lovers world, there are a few questions about two cuts that are very similar but also have some significant differences that often go unnoticed; T-bone Vs Porterhouse steak cuts. What is the difference between these two? 

If you sat down and stared at these cut cuts side by side you may notice a few of their subtle differences, most namely in size. But, is there anything that differentiates them more. And why are they so similar? 

We have had a look into these two beautiful cuts and we can tell you what exactly the difference is and also which one is best for grilling up on your BBQ. 

Which cut are they?

Both T-Bone and Porterhouse steaks are cut from the short loin portion of an animal. On a cow, this is around the midriff area, above the flank, behind the ribs, and in front of the sirloin sections. 

Both of these steaks feature a ‘T’ shaped bone in the middle. While T-Bone is cut from the font of the loin, near the ribs, Porterhouse is cut closer to the rear and due to this includes more tenderloin.

Both types of steak include a New York Strip on one side and a tenderloin Filet Mignon on the other, it is this size that you measure to define which is which, we will look at that later. 

The tenderloin narrows and tapers as it moves forward towards the ribs, whereas it thickens the closer it gets to the back of the carcass.

So T-Bone always has less tenderloin than a Porthouse does. If you want to know about all the different cuts of steak you can get from a steer, scroll down, we go into that a little later. 

Size- the biggest difference

T-Bone and porterhouse are very different names for two pieces of steak that come from the same cut of meat.

Even if you don’t remember anything else about these two cuts of steak, do remember that Porterhouse is the biggest, a larger version of the T-bone cut so to speak. 

Both of these steaks are cut from the same area, called the short loin, and both feature a “T” shaped bone running down the middle. This makes them rather difficult to tell apart.

The best way to tell them apart is their size, not in the thickness, but the size of the tenderloin section. This is the side of the bone that is opposite the strip steak.

The U.S Department of Agriculture states that any cut that features a tenderloin section that is at least 1.25 inches across at the broadest point is considered to be a Porterhouse steak. 

Now, we know that it is unlikely you will carry a tape measure everywhere with you so that you can measure up your steaks before you buy them at the butcher’s shop, or check them at a restaurant. 

On the other hand, any cut of steak with a tenderloin section of 0.51 inches to 1.24 is considered to be a T-bone steak.

As the sizes have a very slim difference it is harder to tell the difference, especially if you have a porterhouse with a tenderloin of 1.25 inches and a T-bone with a tenderloin of 1.24 inches. 

There is also another variation that slides its way in, called ‘bone-in strip steak’ this has a tenderloin section of 0.5 inches or less. This makes it easier to tell apart from T-bone and Porterhouse steaks. 

If you are unsure which part of the steak is the tenderloin, then take a look at it, laid in a T shape, with the thickest of the bone at the top.

One side will be larger than the other generally, this is not the part to measure. The part to measure is the size with the thickest about of bone at the top of the T shape.

The meat under this part is the tenderloin. This is the part you should measure. 

If you’re a steak connoisseur, you may find that in many restaurants, T-Bone and Porterhouse may be mistaken for one another often, often serving up a steak that qualifies as being a Porthouse as T-Bone.

So don’t be surprised if you order a T-Bone cut and end up with a Porterhouse cut. Since Porterhouse is generally more expensive than T-Bone, it’s certainly nothing to worry about either. 

Name origins

The names also differ between these two steaks, whereas T-Bones have a more obvious name, blatantly stating that the bone is a ‘T’ shape. Porterhouse is a little more complex and is rumored to have roots to Charles Dickens. 

One of our favorite stories about this is that Charles Dickens, the famous writer had visited Ohio in the 19th Century and eaten a steak in a Porterhouse.

He then proceeded to New York. Where he asked at a hotel for the steak he had eaten at ‘the Porter House ‘ in Ohio.

They are rumored to have then named this steak on the menu as ‘Porterhouse Steak- The one Charles Dickens likes’.

There is some speculation as to whether or not this is true but Charles Dickens signature was found in the early 20th century in the archived register of the porterhouse he is rumored to have first eaten the steak at in Ohio. 

Another rumor is that it was named by a Massachusetts restaurateur and hotelier named Zachariah B. Porter in the 19th Century.

No one knows what is true, but it is evident that there is plenty of history behind the naming of this steal

Grilling

There is very little difference between grilling up a Porterhouse and T-Bone than there is with other steaks.

If you are seasoning, much like with other steaks, salt and pepper are all you really need, but what you season with is dependant on your tastes. 

Even though both sides of either steak are so close to each other, they have enough differences that you will want one to be on the hotter side of your grill than the other.

As the filet side has less flat in it, it will cook much faster than the strip side, which will need more heat.

It is ideal to have your grill at around 450 degrees Fahrenheit if you can. 

When placing your steak onto the grill, whether it is T-Bone or Porterhouse, have the strip side on the hotter part of the grill, sear it for around four or five minutes per side, this also depends on how you like your steak cooked.

As long as you keep the strip side on the hotter side you can pretty much cook it like you would any other steak and to whatever your preferences are on steak. 

Just Beef? 

While many will assume that steak is beef, it is easy to forget that you can get steaks in most other types of dark meat too.

You can get T-Bone of Porterhouse cuts from lamb, beef, veal, and pork as well. If you like all these meat types it is worth trying a Porterhouse in these meats as well. 

Regardless of the animal that the steak comes from all the information remains the same, in where the cut is made, why it differs from other cuts, and how it should be cooked. 

IMPS numbers

If you want to show off to your butcher, or be sure to get the meat that you desire then you can use IMPS numbers to do so.

It makes understanding the difference a little bit easier. IMPS stands for ‘Institutional Meat purchase Specification’. If you wanted a porterhouse you should use the IMPS number 1173, and for T-Bone 1174.

Beef cuts

Chuck

This cut comes from the forequarter and consists of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm.

It is very tough but very flavorful. It makes for great stews or roasts. Ideal for braised dishes.

Rib

This section is made from the top part of the center section of ribs, mainly from the sixth to twelfth ribs.

It produced prime ribs and it is also the source of ribeye steaks. They are tender and great for most cooking.  

Short Loin

The source of T-Bone, Porterhouse, and strip steak, only about 16-18 inches long yielding about 11-14 steaks per loin. 

Sirloin

Runs from the 13th rip to be hips, and from the backbone down to the belly.

Sectioned into three types of steak. 

Tenderloin

The source of filet mignon. Extended from short loin into sirloin. 

Round

The back leg of the animals, round and very lean but also tough. 

Flank

The belly, very tough, can get even tougher if overcooked.

Brisket

This section speaks for itself and is very flavorful but does need to be cut in the right way. It is often very fatty. 

Plate

This cut includes short ribs and is where skirt steak is located, the meat used in dishes like a carne asada.

Skirt steak is the diaphragm muscles, very flavourful and thin. 

Shank

The shank is the leg of the animal’s thigh, it is extremely tough and is full of connective tissues.