How to Reverse Sear a Steak

How to Reverse Sear a Steak

The ultimate goal for grilling steak: tender and juicy inside, beautifully seared crust on the outside. Yet how often do you end up with an overcooked piece of meat? Hint, you’re using too high of a heat for too long. We’re going to show you the best way to grill your steak, so it comes out evenly cooked and tender every time. 

What is Reverse Searing? 

Reverse searing involves cooking the steak slowly over indirect heat to bring it up to temperature, then finishing it over the flame to get the delicious crust and beautiful grill marks. This method works best with a thicker cut of meat – at least one inch, anything less is considered a thin cut and will cook too quickly. We used a strip loin, but a ribeye would also be an excellent choice for reverse searing. Really any thicker cut of your choice should work, especially if it has some nice marbling throughout.  

This style of grilling allows the meat to cook evenly, giving you a consistent color from edge to edge. The crust from the final sear is a result of something called the Maillard reaction – this is when the proteins and sugars get broken down by the high temperature, resulting in that caramelized outside. To get this reaction, the surface area of your steak needs to be dry – moisture would cause it to steam instead of sear. Thankfully, the initial low cooking temperature allows for the surface area to dry out, while keeping the rest of the steak nice and juicy. 

Steak on the grill

How to Reverse Sear a Steak

What You Will Need:

  • Sea Salt 
  • Freshly cracked pepper 
  • Neutral tasting oil (vegetable, canola, corn) 
  • Thermometer with separate probe 

Step One: Seasoning 

Before getting the steak on the grill, it should be well seasoned. No need to get fancy here, a bit of neutral-tasting oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper will let the flavor of the meat shine. Season both sides, and the edges if you have a particularly thick cut of meat.  

Season steak with salt and pepper

Step Two: Pre-Heat the Grill 

At this time, we’re only going to light one-half of the grill to medium heat. Close up the lid and wait for the temperature to come up to 250 or 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Step Three: Low and Slow 

Once the grill comes up to temperature, place the steak on the cold side of the grill – also known as indirect cooking. Next, insert the thermometer probe into the steak, and if the thermometer is programmable, set it to your desired temperature. You will want to go about 10 or 15 degrees below the final temperature, as we are going to finish it off over high heat. We are aiming for a medium-rare steak, so we set our thermometer to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Steak on the grill

Step Four: The Second Pre-Heat 

Once the thermometer has hit the target internal temperature, the next step is to carefully remove the probe and take the steak off the grill. Cover it with some foil while you wait for the grill to heat up again. This time we’re going to turn all burners on to full blast – we want to get the grill as hot as possible.  

Internal temperature thermometer

Step Five: The Sear 

Once the grill has gotten up to around 600 degrees Fahrenheit, quickly place the steak down at a 45-degree angle. We’re going to keep the lid up, as we’ll be rotating and flipping the steaks after a short amount of time. It should only take a couple of minutes to achieve that crisscross charred pattern on both sides of the meat.  

Steaked seared on the grill

Step Six: Enjoy 

Remove the steak from the grill, and let it rest for a few minutes if you’d like. Unlike the traditional method of cooking steaks, this final rest isn’t necessary thanks to the initial low-and-slow cooking time. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should be up to 130 degrees. Once you cut into the meat, it will be a lovely pink from edge to edge, tender and juicy. 

Inside of the reverse seared steak

Don’t have a grill? Craving steak in the winter? This method can also be done in the oven! Use a wire rack over a baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the steak to your desired doneness. Before the steak finishes in the oven, heat a cast iron pan and oil on the stovetop to high heat. Quickly sear the steak so you get that delicious crust.  

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