A juicy, thick cut steak is the king of special occasion dinners, and using the reverse sear cooking method will help ensure a perfectly cooked, steakhouse quality result every time.
What is a reverse sear?
Reverse sear is a cooking technique where you start by cooking the meat at a low temperature, around 225 to 250°F, and cook it until about 15°F below the final serving temperature. The steak is finished with a quick sear in a very hot cast iron skillet, carbon steel pan, or grill.
This method works best for thick-cut steaks that are around 1½ to 2 inches thick. For thin steaks the meat will cook too quickly, so traditional high heat methods work best.
Why reverse sear?
In the reverse sear method, the low heat cooking during the first phase allows for more even cooking than traditional high heat cooking methods for steak, giving an almost edge to edge evenness.
It also helps produce better browning on the outside of your steak. This is because the surface moisture of the steak will evaporate during the oven cooking phase. So, when you sear the meat at the end, the dry outer surface of the meat will brown much quicker and darker, producing a more flavorful crust.
In other words the reverse sear method will increase the Maillard reaction, which is the chemical reaction between the sugar and protein compounds in the meat that occurs when it is exposed to heat and causes new flavors and aromas to develop.
Basically the reverse sear steak method is the easiest way to ensure a perfect steak, with a well browned outer crust and evenly cooked interior.
What cut of steak to use
The "best" steak cut is very much a personal preference, but the key is to use a thick steak. The three top contenders for a special occasion steak dinner are filet mignon, ribeye, and New York strip steak and they're all excellent choices for this recipe.
I prefer the rich, beefy flavor of a ribeye, but all of these cuts can be amazing and will work well for this recipe. One of the keys to a delicious, juicy steak is to pick a well marbled cut of meat. I highly recommend using prime grade or Wagyu beef for the best results.
How to reverse sear a steak
- Preheat your oven to 225 to 250°F. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Then season your meat liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place an oven-safe wire rack on top. Set the meat on the rack and place it in the oven.
- During the first phase you will use low heat to cook the steak until it is around 15°F below the final target temperature. Use an instant read digital thermometer or a leave in digital thermometer to track the internal temperature during the cook. For a 1½ inch thick ribeye plan on about 25 to 30 minutes at 250°F to reach 115°F for medium rare.
- When the meat is close to the desired temperature, heat a cast iron skillet on high heat with your strongest burner. After the pan is hot add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or other high heat cooking oil.
- When the oil just begins to smoke, add the steaks to the pan. Sear on each side for about 1 minute until well browned. For very thick steaks you will also want to sear the edges.
- Optional: In the last minute of cooking add 2 tablespoons of butter, a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and 1-2 whole cloves of garlic. Tip the pan slightly and, using a spoon, baste the steak with the melted butter.
- When the steaks are well browned and about 5 degrees below the final target temperature, transfer them to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Reverse Seared Steak Temperature Guide
|Doneness||First Phase |
For best results use an instant read thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
Can I reverse sear steak on a grill?
Yes! To use the reverse sear technique to cook steak on a grill you will need to use a two zone fire. Where you have a very hot, direct heat side, and a cooler side with indirect heat.
- If using a charcoal grill, pile all of the hot coals on one side of the grill and set the vents to around halfway open. For a gas grill, light the burners on one side to around medium and leave the burners off on the other side.
- Start the steak on the cooler, indirect heat side and cover the grill. Flip the steak halfway through. Cook the steak on the indirect side until it is around 15-20°F below the desired final temperature.
- When the steak is near the target temperature, remove it from the grill and set it on a plate or cutting board, then cover with foil.
- Turn the burners on the direct heat side of your grill to high. Or, if using a charcoal grill, fully open all of the vents to increase the airflow and raise the temp.
- After a few minutes, when the grill is very hot, transfer the steak directly over the high heat side. Sear for around 1-2 minutes per side, until the meat is well browned and about 5°F from the desired finished temperature.
- Remove the meat from the grill and transfer to a cutting board or plate. Then tent loosely with foil and allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Tips for reverse seared steak on a grill
- Depending on the size of your grill you may want to make an "L" shaped heat shield out of foil. You can set this shield between the meat and the hot side to deflect the direct heat. This helps your steak cook more evenly on smaller grills.
- When using a grill for reverse searing you can add some hickory wood chips in a smoker box to give the meat a smoky, wood fire flavor.
- For more details on the set up of a two zone fire check out this guide on amazingribs.com.
What sides to serve with steak
On Valentine's Day, birthdays, or other special occasion dinners nothing beats a juicy perfectly cooked steak. For some amazing steak side dishes I recommend:
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon
- Crisp herb roasted potatoes
- Scalloped potatoes
- Creamy Bacon Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Butter Green Beans
Perfect Reverse Seared Steak
- 2 1½ to 2 inch thick steaks , Ribeye, New York Strip, or Filet Mignon work well
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Optional for basting
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary and thyme
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Preheat your oven to 250°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and set a wire baking rack inside.
- Season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides then set the steaks on the wire rack and place in the oven.
- Cook the steaks until they are about 15°F below your desired final temperature (see temperature guide in post). On a 1½ ribeye plan on around 25 to 30 minutes to reach 115°F for medium rare. Remove the steaks and set aside.
- When the steaks are nearing the target temperature, place a cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan on your strongest burner and set to high heat and add 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- When the oil just begins to smoke add the steaks and cook for around 1 minute per side until well browned. For thicker cuts sear the sides as well.
- Optional: In the last minute of cooking add 1-2 tablespoons of butter, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and/or thyme, and 1-2 cloves of garlic. Using a spoon, baste the steak with the butter.
- When the steaks are well browned and around 5°F below the final serving temperature, remove them from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.