A perfect reverse seared steak on the grill is key to master for any backyard BBQ enthusiast. Reverse searing is a technique that will yield perfect steak results every time.
Perfect Grilled Reverse Seared Steak
I grew up in a restaurant family and steak was one of the top sellers on our classic American menu. I learned at a young age how to order a steak medium rare and to politely pass on the steak sauce.
However, what I did NOT learn while waiting tables and filling up ketchup bottles at the restaurant, was the best way to grill a steak in my own backyard. After a long and delicious journey of of steak cooking and sampling, I discovered it. THE method for grilling perfect steaks. It is a take on the classic restaurant preparation, made simple for the backyard grill enthusiast. This magical method is called Reverse Searing.
What is Reverse Searing?
Reverse searing is a cooking process used for steak (and other thick cuts of meat) which involves a low and slow cook early in the process and finishes with a high temperature sear. This process can be completed on a grill with two-zone heat, a smoker with low temperature and a high heat sear (on a grill or cast iron pan), or even in a low temperature oven and a high temperature skillet.
You can utilize whatever grills, appliances, or tools you have available to reverse sear the perfect steak as long as you have an understanding of the two-step process.
- The first step introduces the steak to low heat, which slowly raises the internal temperature of your meat. This gives you perfect doneness from edge to edge without overcooking the exterior of your meat and leaving the inside raw. During this step, you slightly undercook the steak.
- The second step brings the heat. Searing the steak on a high temperature grill or skillet gives you that delicious crispy brown crust on your steak. This step is all about flavor. This step also finishes cooking your steak those last 10 degrees so it is perfectly cooked inside.
How to Reverse Sear Steak on a Grill
If you are completing the reverse searing process for perfectly grilled steak on your grill, you need to utilize two-zone cooking. This means that your grill is set up with a high temperature zone with direct heat, and a low temperature zone with indirect heat. You want your low temperature zone to be around 225 degrees F. I like to use my smoker for this step for smoked steaks, but the process also works beautifully on a gas or charcoal grill. Here is how to perfectly grill a steak:
- Preheat your grill. Preheat your grill or smoker for two zone cooking. Your target temperature in your grill is 225 degrees F. If you are smoking, I recommend using oak or hickory wood.
- Season the steak! Season liberally on all sides with Beef Seasoning, salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning. Press or pat the seasoning into the meat.
- Cook indirect. Place your steaks directly on the grill grates and close the lid. Using a reliable meat thermometer, smoke until the internal temp of the steak reaches 115 degrees F.
- Prep for the sear. Open the lid to your grill to heat up your charcoal, crank the heat to high on the direct heat side of your gas grill, or preheat a cast iron skillet to high heat. If using a skillet, drizzle the pan with high temp cooking oil (like avocado oil).
- Sear the steaks. Place your steaks directly in the hot pan or on the high heat side of your grill and sear each side for 2-3 minute until the internal temperature of the steak reaches your preferred doneness.
- Resting butter, slice, and enjoy! Finally, top the steaks with salted butter as soon as they come off the grill and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Then slice, serve, and enjoy!
Grilled Steak Temperatures
The best part about reverse searing steak is the ability to cook the steak exactly how you like it. Because you are cooking the steaks low and slow in the first step, it is much easier to get a perfectly pink steak without accidentally overcooking it on a hot grill. Of course, a good thermometer is absolutely key to making sure you get the perfectly grilled steak every time. The temperatures below are a simple resource to help you grill your steak to the perfect internal temperature. For more in-depth info on steak temperatures, make sure you read my full post detailing what each temperature looks and feels like.
Rare: 120-125 degrees F
Mid Rare: 130-135 degrees F
Medium: 140-145 degrees F
Mid Well: 150-155 degrees F
Well Done: 160-165 degrees F
Pull your steaks off the grill about 5 degrees away from their target temperature and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, the momentum of the heat rising inside the steak will carry over for several minutes and raise the temperature a few degrees before it is fully finished. Therefore, by using carry over cooking to your advantage, you end up with juicy steak that is perfectly cooked to your preferred temperature.
If you want all of these temperatures (and more) in a pretty printable, sign up for my emails and I’ll send you my meat temperature guide for free.
Best Cuts of Steak for Reverse Searing
Most cuts of steak do really well with the reverse searing process. Thick steaks like rib eyes, porterhouse steaks, New York strip steaks, tenderloins, and tri-tips are perfect for this process. Here are some examples of steak recipes on my site that utilize reverse searing variations for perfectly cooked steaks.
- Hey Grill Hey Signature Beef Seasoning (2020 NBBQA 1st Place Beef Seasoning WINNER)
- Homemade Steak Seasoning
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- Steak Rub
- Smoky Joe Coffee Rub
- Equal parts coarse salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
Reverse Seared Steak Recipe
Want to become the master of steak? Join my members-only group The Grill Squad to access my Steak Masterclass (and so much more!) to increase your confidence of all things BBQ. Let me help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero!
Making dinner for your family should be easy, and Hey Grill Hey is here to help! Over at Patio Provisions, we have sauces, rubs, and more to save you time and energy when making something for an upcoming get together. I always use my Signature Beef Seasoning on steaks and they are next level delicious.
Perfect Reverse Seared Steak on the Grill
- 4 1.5 inch thick beef steaks (strips, tenderloins, rib eyes) 12-16 oz each
- 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Signature Beef Seasoning
- 4 Tablespoons salted butter
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F for two-zone cooking. This means that half of your grill will have heat directly under the grates and the other half will have no heat under the grates.
- Season your steaks with the Signature Beef Seasoning or your favorite spice blend. Make sure to press the seasonings into the meat with the flat of your hand opposed to just sprinkling them on.
- Place the steaks on the indirect heat side of the grill and close the lid. Cook the steaks at 225 until the internal temperature of the steak reaches 10 degrees lower than your target finished temperature. 110 degrees F for rare, 120 for medium rare, 130 for medium, 140 for medium well, 150 for well done. Use an internal thermometer to check the temperature. It will take approximately 1 hour for 1.5 inch thick steaks to hit 120 degrees (for medium rare steaks)
- Once your steaks reach their target temperature for the first cook, it is time for the sear. Move the steaks over to the direct heat, high temperature side of the grill. Leave the lid open and sear each side of your steak for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until your steak is 5 degrees F away from your desired internal doneness.
- Move the steaks to your serving platter and top with a tablespoon of butter on each. While the butter melts and the steak rests, it will finish cooking. Rest the steaks for 10 minutes before serving.