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 with low heat, around 225 to 250°F, and cook it until about 15°F below the final serving temperature. The steak is then finished by searing 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 thinner cuts the meat will cook too quickly, so traditional high heat methods work best.
Why reverse sear?
The low and slow cooking in the first phase allows for much more even cooking than traditional high heat cooking methods for steak, giving almost edge to edge evenness. It also helps produce better browning on the outside. 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 dried outer surface of the meat will brown much quicker and darker.
What cut of steak to use
The "best" steak cut is very much a personal preference. The three top contenders for a special occasion steak dinner are filet mignon, ribeye, and strip steak.
I prefer the beefy flavor of a ribeye, but all of these cuts can be amazing and will work well for this recipe. The key to a delicious 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 pace a wire baking rack on top. Set the meat on the rack and place it in the oven.
- During the first phase you will 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 temperature during the cook. For a 1½ ribeye plan on about 25 to 30 minutes at 250°F to reach 115°F for medium rare.
- When the meat is close to reaching the desired temperature heat a cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan on high heat with your strongest burner. When the pan is hot add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or other high heat cooking oil.
- Add the steaks to the pan and sear on each side for about 1 minute until well browned. For very thick cuts you will also want to sear the edges.
- Optional: In the last minute of cooking add 1-2 tablespoons of butter, a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and 1-2 cloves of garlic. Using a spoon, baste the steak with the 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 Sear Temperature Guide
|Doneness||First Phase |
For best results use an instant read thermometer to monitor your temperature.
Can I reverse sear 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. You will need a very hot, direct heat side, and a cooler side with indirect heat. For more details on the set up check out this guide on amazingribs.com.
- 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 side and cover the grill. On a grill one side of the meat will be closer to the direct heat so I recommend flipping the steak halfway through. Cook the steak on the indirect side until it is around 15°F below the final temperature.
- When the steak is nearly to the target temperature, set the burners on the direct heat side of your grill to high. If using a charcoal grill, fully open all of the vents to increase the airflow.
- When the direct heat side is very hot, transfer the steak directly over the heat and sear for around 2 minutes per side, until the meat is well browned and the meat is about 5°F from the 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.
When using a grill for reverse searing I love to add some hickory wood chips in a smoker box to give the meat a smoky, wood fire flavor.
What 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
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.