Before I purchased my Traeger I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Why do I need to spend hours smoking a steak when I can cook it for a few minutes on my grill?
If you’re like me, you probably think your steaks off the grill are better than anything you can buy at one of the major steakhouses. That’s definitely true, but I have a secret for you. The tastiest way to make a steak is by cooking it on your smoker. In this article, I’m going to teach you about the reverse seared ribeye.
Read on to learn about cooking a reverse sear steak, and why I’ll never cook steaks on a regular grill again!
Selecting Your Steaks
When you’re picking out a steak, there are some things you need to look out for. There are a variety of cuts available, and picking out the perfect steak can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before.
The best steaks for the reverse sear method will have some good marbling and a decent amount of thickness to them. I like my steaks at around 1 – 1 1/2″ thick. That marbling in the meat will dissolve into the surrounding meat when you cook the ribeye, resulting in a premier flavor experience.
Love this idea? Checkout my Smoked Tomahawk Steak post.
I like the ribeye cut, and a standard ribeye will weigh right around 16 oz. Now I understand that most people aren’t going to eat a whole 16 oz steak by themselves, but that doesn’t mean you should cut your steak in half before you cook it. Also, don’t trim that layer of fat around the outer edge. You don’t have to eat it, but I promise you, that layer of fat will contribute some delicious flavor to the end result.
I’m getting ahead of myself… After you’ve selected your steaks, it’s time for some prep work.
The Steak Brine
The first step to smoking a steak is to take it out of the fridge and put it on a grilling rack. Place the grilling rack on a cookie sheet, and then sprinkle the steak on all sides with salt. After salting the steak put it back in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Some people like to skip this step, but I wouldn’t! By salting the steak hours before, you are giving the salt time to work its way into the meat, holding onto moisture and allowing for a much juicier steak. Don’t skip this step!
Smoking the Steak
You can leave the salted steak in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours, but 2 hours is usually enough time for the salt to work its magic.
When you’re ready to cook, set up your smoker to cook at around 180-225 degrees using indirect heat. I love using oak pellets for ribeye but if you really want some good smoke flavor mesquite will work well too.
While you’re waiting for your smoker to get going sprinkle some more salt and pepper on the surface of the steak.
Put your steak in the smoker, and let it smoke until the internal temperature is 100-110 degrees. This usually takes around an hour.
If you’re working with a thicker cut of meat – 2″ plus in thickness – you’ll want to take the internal temperature up to 125 degrees.
Searing a Reverse Seared Ribeye
This is when the magic happens and why we call it the reverse sear method. When your steak gets to the target internal temperature, pull it off the grill and tent it with foil.
If your smoker can get up to a temp of 500+ you can use it for the sear. If not that’s ok. Just place a cast iron skillet on your stove top and get it nice and hot.
The cast iron skillet gives you more surface area for the sear, creating a more even crust. If you have one, I strongly recommend using it for your steaks! Right before you put your steak in the skillet, add a tablespoon of butter.
When the skillet is piping hot, put your steak on it. After a minute or two flip the steak, and let it cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. The whole goal here is to get a good exterior crust, without burning the steak.
Use a Thermapen to check the internal temp, and when you’re 10 degrees from the target temp, pull it! The reverse seared ribeye’s internal temperature will continue to rise while it’s resting. Let your steak rest for at least ten minutes. If its a thicker cut of meat you can let it rest for up to 20 minutes.
Resting the steak allows all the juices in the meat to redistribute, giving you tasty flavor throughout.
How to Know When Your Steak is Done
There are a lot of different ways to know when your steak is ready to come off the grill, but the most reliable way is to use an instant-read meat thermometer.
I use a Thermoworks Thermapen ONE, and I love it. The temperature readout is almost instant. Anytime I make steaks I get a quick internal temp readout using my Thermapen after 45 minutes of taking on smoke, and then after the first flip.
I pull my steaks at 125 degrees for medium-rare, and I pull my wife’s steaks at 140. The Thermapen makes it easy to know EXACTLY what the temp is.
Time to Eat!
After your steak has rested, serve it along with a baked potato and some green beans. I know this recipe sounds simple, but I promise you, the reverse sear steak is the best steak you will ever eat.
Serve the steak with a wedge salad, or some smoked veggies!
How to Reverse Sear a Steak
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- Put your steak in the smoker set at 180-225 degrees and let it smoke until the internal temperature is 100-110 degrees. If you’re working with a thicker cut of meat – 2" plus in thickness – you’ll want to take the internal temperature up to 125 degrees.
- When your steak gets to the target internal temperature, pull it off the grill and tent it with foil, and turn up the temperature of your smoker to 500+. If you have a cast iron skillet, put it in the smoker while it’s warming up.
- Right before you put your steak in the skillet, add a tablespoon of butter.
- Once the smoker is at 500+, put your steak back in. After 1-2 minutes flip the steak, and let it cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Let your steak rest for at least 10 minutes. If its a thicker cut of meat you can let it rest for up to 20 minutes.