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Are ribeye chops tender?

Ribeye chops can be a very tender cut of meat if cooked properly. In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide some quick answers to common questions about ribeye chops to give the reader key information upfront.

Quick Answers

What cut of meat is a ribeye chop? A ribeye chop is cut from the rib section of a beef cow, specifically the ribeye roll. It contains the spinalis dorsi muscle which makes it very tender and flavorful.

Are ribeye chops tender? Yes, ribeye chops are known for being a tender cut of beef. The spinalis dorsi muscle gives ribeye its characteristic marbling and tender texture.

How do you cook ribeye chops? Ribeye chops should be cooked using high heat methods like grilling or pan searing to develop a flavorful crust while keeping the interior tender and juicy. They are best cooked to medium-rare doneness.

Are ribeye chops expensive? Ribeye chops tend to be on the pricier side since they come from a prized section of the cow. Expect to pay $15-25 per pound for ribeye chops at the grocery store.

Where Ribeye Chops Come From on the Cow

To understand why ribeye chops are so tender, it helps to know exactly where they are cut from on the cow. Ribeye chops are cut from the rib primal, which is the beef section between the chuck roll and the loin primal.

More specifically, ribeye chops contain the iconic spinalis dorsi muscle. This muscle runs along the ribs in the ribeye roll, which is the outermost part of the rib primal. The spinalis dorsi is sometimes referred to as the “ribeye cap” and is treasured for its intense marbling and tenderness.

Ribeye chops will typically have a thick band of spinalis muscle running through the middle. This gives the chops their characteristic eye-shaped marbling pattern.

Marbling Makes Ribeyes Tender

So why does the spinalis dorsi muscle make ribeye chops so tender compared to other cuts?

It comes down to marbling. The spinalis muscle contains extensive marbling, which is the fine streaks of fat interspersed within the meat. Rigorous marbling gives ribeyes their rich flavor and tender texture.

The abundant fat pockets act as a natural tenderizer during cooking. As the fat melts amidst the meat fibers, it bastes the meat in its own juices keeping the interior tender and moist.

Ribeye chops from the spinalis muscle tend to have the most marbling, making them extra juicy and tender. Chops cut farther from the spinalis muscle may have less fat content and therefore be slightly less tender.

USDA Grades of Ribeye Chops

When purchasing ribeye chops, opt for the highest USDA grade possible for maximum tenderness and marbling.

Here are the main USDA grade levels:

USDA Grade Marbling Level
Prime Abundant
Choice Moderate
Select Slight

Prime ribeye chops contain extensive marbling and are extremely tender. Only about 3% of beef earns the Prime distinction. Choice ribeyes have less marbling than Prime but are still sufficiently tender for most tastes.

Select ribeyes have very little fat marbling so the chops may turn out a bit chewier. For maximum tenderness and flavor, choose Prime or Choice graded ribeye chops whenever possible.

Cooking Methods for Tender Ribeye Chops

Choosing high quality marbled ribeye chops is just the first step. You also need to cook ribeye chops properly to accentuate their tenderness.

Ribeyes are best cooked using high, dry heat methods like grilling, broiling, pan searing and roasting. These techniques will develop a flavorful, caramelized crust on the surface while keeping the inside tender and juicy.


Grilling is a fantastic way to cook ribeye chops and take advantage of the marbling. Get your grill as hot as possible, around 500°F if using charcoal or set your gas grill to high heat. Grill the chops for about 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness. The high heat will sear the exterior while cooking the chops no more than medium-rare internally.

Pan Searing

You can also cook incredible ribeye chops on the stovetop through pan searing. Use a very hot skillet with a high smoke point oil like avocado or grapeseed. Place the chops in the dry skillet and let them sear undisturbed for 2-3 minutes until a dark crust develops. Flip and repeat on the other side. Finish in a 400°F oven for a few minutes until they reach about 130°F internally.

Oven Roasting

For easy hands-off cooking, roast ribeye chops in a hot oven. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Heat a skillet with avocado oil over high heat on the stove. Quickly sear both sides of the chops in the skillet. Transfer them to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes until browned and cooked to medium rare doneness around 130°F internal temperature.

Avoid Overcooking

No matter which high-heat cooking method you use, be very careful not to overcook ribeye chops. The tender ribeye meat can quickly turn dry and chewy if cooked beyond medium-rare doneness. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to monitor doneness and remove them from the heat at 130°F for perfect medium-rare.

Let Ribeyes Rest Before Serving

After cooking your ribeye chops, always let them rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into them. Resting allows time for the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. If you cut into the chops immediately, the juices will spill out onto the cutting board resulting in dry meat.

During the rest time, the internal temperature will rise by about 5-10°F to reach a beautiful rosy medium-rare finish. Do not wrap or tent the ribeyes while resting – let them sit uncovered so the crust remains crispy.

Serving Suggestions for Tender Ribeye Chops

Ribeye chops don’t need much enhancement beyond high-heat cooking. Simple salt and pepper is usually sufficient seasoning. But here are a few serving suggestions to complement these tender cuts:

  • Top with a dollop of herbed butter after cooking
  • Serve with a red wine reduction or mushroom sauce
  • Pair with oven-roasted asparagus for a steakhouse meal
  • Garnish with crispy garlic chips or fried shallots

The richness of ribeye chops also stands up well to bold savory ingredients. Consider topping with sauteed onions, roasted garlic, blue cheese crumbles or chimichurri sauce.

Ribeye Chops vs Ribeye Steak

Ribeye chops and ribeye steak come from the same part of the cow but there are a few differences:

Ribeye Chops Ribeye Steak
Cut perpendicular to bone into individual chops Cut along the length of the rib primal into a single steak
Thick slices with round bone still attached Flat, boneless steak
Higher ratio of tender spinalis dorsi muscle Spinalis muscle runs through center
More expensive per pound Lower cost per pound
Best for high heat grilling or pan searing Can be grilled, pan seared, broiled, roasted

While ribeye chops cost more per pound, some people prefer the impressively thick chops and enjoy gnawing the bone. They also tend to have a higher proportion of marbled spinalis muscle. Ribeye steak offers more flexibility for cooking methods and is easier to portion into individual servings.

Doneness Temperatures for Ribeye

Since ribeyes are most tender and juicy when cooked no more than medium-rare, use these guidelines for doneness:

Doneness Internal Temp
Rare 120-125°F
Medium Rare 130-135°F
Medium 140-145°F
Medium Well 150-155°F
Well Done 160°F+

For tender, juicy results, take ribeye chops off the heat around 130°F for medium-rare doneness. Allow the temperature to coast up to 135°F while resting before serving. Cooked much beyond medium, the precious ribeye meat will quickly toughen up.


With their abundant marbling and signature spinalis dorsi muscle, ribeye chops deliver supremely tender, buttery texture with deep beefy flavor. Cook these premium rib cuts over high heat like grilling or pan searing, but avoid overcooking them past medium-rare doneness. Allow the chops to rest before slicing into these beauties. Served atop a bed of arugula and drizzled with a bold red wine reduction, ribeye chops make for an indulgent, steakhouse-worthy meal.