Grilling the Perfect Reverse Sear Steak

Have you ever heard of the Reverse Sear method for cooking a steak? Chances are you have if you’re a lover of steak then the answer is yes. If not, get ready to learn a fantastic way to prepare a choice cut such as a thick rib eye!

Reverse and Regular Sear Basics

Here’s the down and dirty info about reverse grilling a thick steak. The idea is to literally reverse the searing process. The traditional method, which is still awesome, is to quickly sear the outside of the steak, then finish the cooking process in an oven at a lower temperature. The popular way is by using a cast iron skillet to sear and then place the cast iron skillet in the preheated oven complete with steak.

The process gives you a seared outer steak crust with a tender and juicy center that can be served from medium to well. All of that depends on thickness of steak, searing temperature, oven temperature, and cooking times.

OK, now switch that method with your next thick steak. Start the cooking process off low and slow. Ah, now we are getting somewhere. This is kind of like barbecue and low and slow smoked meats. There’s a chemical process at work! The slow and low cooking process starts cooking without triggering the Maillard reaction.

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction that takes place during the cooking process, most often associated with grilled meat but also with baking, where amino acids and reducing sugars hit a certain point in the browning process… long story short. The reverse sear method starts with a cooking temp under 275 degrees which does not trigger the Maillard reaction – aka browning.

So, your thick steak starts to cook, maintains a nice pink center and you finish things off with high heat cooking on both sides.

Reverse Sear Methods for Grilled Steaks

Here’s what you need to know. You can season the steaks anyway you want but I’ve found dry seasonings work best. Also, you may have noticed that I mentioned “thick steaks” several times in this post. The reverse sear method works great with thicker cuts as it slowly cooks thicker cuts without drying them out. Thinner cuts will work, just reduce the overall cooking time while being aware that the final searing step may make thinner cuts well done no matter what you do.

Temps Are Key! Keep the low and slow cooking temperature below 275 degrees. You can do this in the oven or the the grill. Move the steak from the low temp to the higher cooking surface when the internal temperature of the steak reaches 125 degrees. I suggest using your BBQ Dragon thermometer to keep tabs on proper temperatures.

Once you have the internal temp of 125 degrees – get ready for an awesome steak!

You can start in the oven and move to the hot grill. You can start on the grill over low temps and move to the hot side of the grill. You can start on the low and slow smoker and finish on the stove with a cast iron skillet. However you decide to go, just remember this. Start low and slow, finish hot! And, keep these temps in mind. Start low at or below 275 degrees to an internal temp of 125 degrees. Then finish.

The reverse sear method will work on your covered grill, and once you’ve mastered it, you may never grill a steak the old way again!

Author Bio: Kent Whitaker, also known as “The Deck Chef,” is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader, NASCAR and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motor sports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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