Phase-wrapping artifacts, statistical image noise and the need for a minimum amount of phase steps per projection limit the practicability of x-ray grating based phase-contrast tomography, when using filtered back projection reconstruction. For conventional x-ray computed tomography, the use of statistical iterative reconstruction algorithms has successfully reduced artifacts and statistical issues. In this work, an iterative reconstruction method for grating based phase-contrast tomography is presented. The method avoids the intermediate retrieval of absorption, differential phase and dark field projections. It directly reconstructs tomographic cross sections from phase stepping projections by the use of a forward projecting imaging model and an appropriate likelihood function. The likelihood function is then maximized with an iterative algorithm. The presented method is tested with tomographic data obtained through a wave field simulation of grating based phase-contrast tomography. The reconstruction results are in agreement with the expectations and proof the validity of the concept.