Reverse Sear Method — The Best Way to Cook a Steak!

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Reverse Sear is simply THE BEST way to cook a steak, both low and slow and hot and fast to get the perfect balance of tenderness and flavor crust. This detailed guide walks through the various styles of reverse sear techniques for a smoker and grill.

Two Ribeye Steaks on a grill using the Reverse Sear method of cooking.

Post Highlights:

  • Definition of Reverse Sear
  • Reverse Searing in a Smoker – Our Favorite!!!
  • Reverse Searing in an Oven
  • Best Recipes for Reverse Sear

What is Reverse Sear?

Reverse Sear is a method of cooking meat at a low temperature first, followed by finishing the meat at a high sear until desired finishing temperature. The method is adapted from restaurants where a chef will start a steak in a pan over high heat, to get the initial sear, and then finish in the oven until the meat is done. Hence why the method is called “reverse sear,” as it’s essentially the opposite way they are cooked in a typical restaurant.

How to Reverse Sear on a Grill (or Smoker)

This is the best way to cook a steak. We don’t say that lightly and we know that simply grilling a steak is great. But when you add the smoke element it truly elevates the flavor. The steps to get the best steak in the reverse sear method are as follows:

  • Season – Season the meat first.
  • Smoke – Cooking between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) until the internal temperature of the meat slowly comes close to the desired finishing temperature. We target 10 degrees cooler than our desired target. So if we want a steak rare, we pull the meat off the smoker when the internal temperature of the meat ranges between 110 and 115 F so that we can finish to 125 F during final searing.
  • Sear – Remove the steak from the smoker, and use a high heat source to finish the meat. This can be either a grill or a cast iron pan. It’s OK to let the steak rest while the pan or grill comes up to the high heat temperature. The key is using a source (either the hot grill or hot pan) to sear the meat to lock in that flavor and get a nice sear on the outside of the steak.
  • Rest – Very important component is to remove the meat from the sear step and let the meat rest for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the meat to go through carry over cooking and let the cells pull the moisture back into the meat for a juicy and flavorful steak.

How to Reverse Sear in an Oven

The same principal applies to the oven as the grill and smoker. Start by seasoning the meat and place in an oven at lower heat, 225 degrees F. Add the meat to the oven until the internal temperature reaches 10 degrees less than your desired finishing temperature. Remove from the oven and then finish the steak over high heat in a pan on the stove top.

Then let it rest 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Best Thermometers for this Method

When reverse searing a steak or chop, pulling the steak when it reaches the correct internal temperature is critical. To best do this, leverage two important tools to monitor both the ambient temperature of your smoker, as well as the internal temperature of the meat.

Thermoworks Smoke Unit – This unit is designed to monitor two zones while cooking. One probe will monitor the ambient temperature of your smoker, the other probe will go into your meat. This is the best way to know exactly when to pull the meat off the smoker and is best suited to use during the smoking phase of reverse sear.

Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen – We have used this instant read thermometer for years. It is hands down the fastest and most precise thermometer in the market. When reverse searing or grilling, this is the important tool to use when finishing over high heat to make sure the meat is pulled at precisely the right time when it is done.

A ribeye on the grill using reverse sear method, temperature being taken with a Thermapen

Our Recommended Temperatures for Cooking a Steak

  • Rare: 120-130 degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 130-140 degrees F
  • Medium: 140-150 degrees F
  • Medium Well: 150-160 degrees F
  • Well Done: 160 degrees F AND not recommended for a good quality steak

Reverse Seared Recipes

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A Grilled T-Bone Steak sliced up and served with a glass of wine
5 from 3 votes

How To Reverse Sear Steaks Recipe

Slowly smoked steaks finished over hot and fast heat for the perfect reverse seared steak.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 4 2-inch thick steaks, Ribeye and NY Strip work great
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup steak seasoning


  • Preheat Smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit with your favorite wood. While smoker warms up, coat the steaks with olive oil and a generous amount of steak seasoning.
  • Place steak in smoker for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 115 – 120 degrees F for a rare steak. Then increase the temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit on your grill or smoker. Alternatively you can finish over cast iron on the stove top if using an offset smoker.
  • Place steaks over direct heat and grill each side for 3 – 4 minutes or until you get nice char marks. Pull the steaks when the internal temperature of the steak is between 125 and 130 degrees F.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes and then slice against the grains. Serve with your favorite sides.



The hot and fast finish can be done in various methods:
For offset smokers consider a cast iron pan over medium heat.
For Big Green Egg or Kamado grills, increase the heat with the ConvEGGTor still in the grill to 450 degrees dome temperature. Grill the steaks along the edge of the grill where the ConvEGGtor has a gap and the heat rises.
For a kettle grill, simply increase the heat to 500 degrees and grill over direct heat.
For a pellet grill, increase the temperature to high or grill, and use a cast iron pan or grill grates to amplify the heat.


Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, barbecue, grilled
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 77
Keyword: Grilled Steak, how to reverse sear a ribeye, reverse sear, reverse sear method, reverse seared steak, smoked steak
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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. 5 stars
    After discovering this method (thank you!), it’s the only way we cook steaks. At times, guests are initially nay-sayers when they watch but quickly change their mind after the first bite! Today is Christmas Day 2020 and we are prepping our steak dinner using this method. We always use the smoker/grill method and are doing so again today in spite of wind chills below zero!

    1. Rob, for reverse sear ribeye, we love oak and fruit woods. The biggest reason is that it’s local to us in Oregon. We do find for reverse sear, oak, hickory and mesquite are also great. Fruit and most nut woods will run sweeter. Oak and Mesquite will infuse more pronounced smoke flavor. So it really depends on what flavors you like. In the end we are big fans of local woods that are close to where you live.

    1. Great question – technically yes. But, we find hanger, flank, and other smaller cuts tend to do better grilled. But you can. The smoke time will be short as you still don’t want to overcook the smaller cuts.