The Correct Way to Reverse Sear a Steak

The Correct Way to Reverse Sear a Steak

  • Course

    Main

  • Duration

    1 hour

Chef’s notes

The ideal steak is tender, juicy, and flavorful. The reverse sear method allows you to achieve that perfection every single time. The process is simple: All you do is cook gently over indirect heat, then sear over high heat.

High heat causes muscle fibers to contract and squeeze out moisture. You can avoid this by keeping your oven or smoker temp between 225 and 275 degrees for the indirect heat portion. This will allow your steak to cook evenly, similar to the effect you get from a sous vide.

Unlike sous vide, in which meat slowly steams inside a bag, the reverse sear method keeps the surface of the steak dry. This is important because it enables you to brown properly at the end and develop rich flavors. This results in a juicy middle and a crispy crust.

Not all cuts are great candidates for this cooking method. Never try this on a butterflied backstrap steak or cutlet because they’re too thin and will quickly overcook. Instead, use a thick-cut steak, whole tenderloin, or backstrap.

Ingredients

  • Venison steaks
  • Steak rub
  • Cooking oil
  • Herbs and butter (optional)

Also works with

Bear, hog, turkey breast

Special equipment

Metal rack, oven-safe meat thermometer, frying pan, oven or smoker

Preparation

  1. Season steaks generously with either coarse salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub. You can do this step several hours or even a day in advance.
  2. Preheat an oven or smoker to between 225 and 275 degrees. A lower heat setting will yield a juicier steak because the heat is gentle, but it takes much longer to reach the desired internal temperature.
  3. Drizzle the steaks with a thin layer of oil and place them on a metal rack set inside a cookie sheet to catch drippings. If you’re using a smoker, you can set the steaks directly on the grilling rack. This allows airflow and keeps the exterior dry. You’ll need that to achieve a good crust when you go to sear it at the end.
  4. Insert an oven-safe thermometer in the meat at the thickest point and place the meat in the oven or smoker. You’ll need to know where the internal temp stands throughout the process to avoid having to constantly open the door and prick the meat with a probe. Pull the steaks when they reach about 15 degrees below your target temperature.
  5. For a final target temp of 125 degrees (rare), pull from oven at 110 degrees. For a final target temp of 130 degrees (medium-rare), pull from oven at 115 degrees. For a final target temp of 135 degrees (medium), pull from oven at 120 degrees.
  6. Let the steaks rest on the counter while you pre-heat a frying pan over high heat. Add a drizzle of oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the pan is smoking hot, lay the steaks down and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. At this point you can add herbs and butter and baste the steaks for more flavor.
  7. You don’t need to let the steaks rest because they were cooked so gently in the oven. Don’t feel guilty about digging right in!

*If cooking bear or hog loin, you’ll want to make adjustments so that the final target temp is 165 degrees, which means you’ll take it out of the oven at 150 degrees. For a thick turkey breast, you want to aim for a final temp of 155 to 160 degrees and remove it at 140 to 145 degrees.

Chef’s notes

The ideal steak is tender, juicy, and flavorful. The reverse sear method allows you to achieve that perfection every single time. The process is simple: All you do is cook gently over indirect heat, then sear over high heat.

High heat causes muscle fibers to contract and squeeze out moisture. You can avoid this by keeping your oven or smoker temp between 225 and 275 degrees for the indirect heat portion. This will allow your steak to cook evenly, similar to the effect you get from a sous vide.

Unlike sous vide, in which meat slowly steams inside a bag, the reverse sear method keeps the surface of the steak dry. This is important because it enables you to brown properly at the end and develop rich flavors. This results in a juicy middle and a crispy crust.

Not all cuts are great candidates for this cooking method. Never try this on a butterflied backstrap steak or cutlet because they’re too thin and will quickly overcook. Instead, use a thick-cut steak, whole tenderloin, or backstrap.

Ingredients

  • Venison steaks
  • Steak rub
  • Cooking oil
  • Herbs and butter (optional)

Also works with

Bear, hog, turkey breast

Special equipment

Metal rack, oven-safe meat thermometer, frying pan, oven or smoker

Preparation

  1. Season steaks generously with either coarse salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub. You can do this step several hours or even a day in advance.
  2. Preheat an oven or smoker to between 225 and 275 degrees. A lower heat setting will yield a juicier steak because the heat is gentle, but it takes much longer to reach the desired internal temperature.
  3. Drizzle the steaks with a thin layer of oil and place them on a metal rack set inside a cookie sheet to catch drippings. If you’re using a smoker, you can set the steaks directly on the grilling rack. This allows airflow and keeps the exterior dry. You’ll need that to achieve a good crust when you go to sear it at the end.
  4. Insert an oven-safe thermometer in the meat at the thickest point and place the meat in the oven or smoker. You’ll need to know where the internal temp stands throughout the process to avoid having to constantly open the door and prick the meat with a probe. Pull the steaks when they reach about 15 degrees below your target temperature.
  5. For a final target temp of 125 degrees (rare), pull from oven at 110 degrees. For a final target temp of 130 degrees (medium-rare), pull from oven at 115 degrees. For a final target temp of 135 degrees (medium), pull from oven at 120 degrees.
  6. Let the steaks rest on the counter while you pre-heat a frying pan over high heat. Add a drizzle of oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the pan is smoking hot, lay the steaks down and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. At this point you can add herbs and butter and baste the steaks for more flavor.
  7. You don’t need to let the steaks rest because they were cooked so gently in the oven. Don’t feel guilty about digging right in!

*If cooking bear or hog loin, you’ll want to make adjustments so that the final target temp is 165 degrees, which means you’ll take it out of the oven at 150 degrees. For a thick turkey breast, you want to aim for a final temp of 155 to 160 degrees and remove it at 140 to 145 degrees.

Shop
The Essential Meatcrafter Knife
Save this product
Benchmade

A hybrid hunting fixed blade with a fine, smooth edge to trim, debone, or slice your preferred cuts of meat. Makes just as much sense in the back of your truck as it does in the kitchen drawer.

Meater+ Bluetooth Thermometer
Save this product
Meater

With up to 165 ft Wireless Range, MEATER is the first truly wireless smart meat thermometer.

7 Seasonings Gift Pack
Save this product
MeatEater

Bring home the entire Mega Spice Collection and change the way you cook.

The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook
Save this product
MeatEater

The definitive guide to cooking wild game, including fish and fowl, featuring more than 100 new recipes.

Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content and gear
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
Your one-stop for everything waterfowl, with Sean Weaver
Get out on the water with the MeatEater Fishing crew
Technical hunting apparel
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls
Save this recipe

The Correct Way to Reverse Sear a Steak

Recipe by: Danielle Prewett
The Correct Way to Reverse Sear a Steak
  • Course

    Main

  • Duration

    1 hour

Chef’s notes

The ideal steak is tender, juicy, and flavorful. The reverse sear method allows you to achieve that perfection every single time. The process is simple: All you do is cook gently over indirect heat, then sear over high heat.

High heat causes muscle fibers to contract and squeeze out moisture. You can avoid this by keeping your oven or smoker temp between 225 and 275 degrees for the indirect heat portion. This will allow your steak to cook evenly, similar to the effect you get from a sous vide.

Unlike sous vide, in which meat slowly steams inside a bag, the reverse sear method keeps the surface of the steak dry. This is important because it enables you to brown properly at the end and develop rich flavors. This results in a juicy middle and a crispy crust.

Not all cuts are great candidates for this cooking method. Never try this on a butterflied backstrap steak or cutlet because they’re too thin and will quickly overcook. Instead, use a thick-cut steak, whole tenderloin, or backstrap.

Ingredients

  • Venison steaks
  • Steak rub
  • Cooking oil
  • Herbs and butter (optional)

Also works with

Bear, hog, turkey breast

Special equipment

Metal rack, oven-safe meat thermometer, frying pan, oven or smoker

Preparation

  1. Season steaks generously with either coarse salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub. You can do this step several hours or even a day in advance.
  2. Preheat an oven or smoker to between 225 and 275 degrees. A lower heat setting will yield a juicier steak because the heat is gentle, but it takes much longer to reach the desired internal temperature.
  3. Drizzle the steaks with a thin layer of oil and place them on a metal rack set inside a cookie sheet to catch drippings. If you’re using a smoker, you can set the steaks directly on the grilling rack. This allows airflow and keeps the exterior dry. You’ll need that to achieve a good crust when you go to sear it at the end.
  4. Insert an oven-safe thermometer in the meat at the thickest point and place the meat in the oven or smoker. You’ll need to know where the internal temp stands throughout the process to avoid having to constantly open the door and prick the meat with a probe. Pull the steaks when they reach about 15 degrees below your target temperature.
  5. For a final target temp of 125 degrees (rare), pull from oven at 110 degrees. For a final target temp of 130 degrees (medium-rare), pull from oven at 115 degrees. For a final target temp of 135 degrees (medium), pull from oven at 120 degrees.
  6. Let the steaks rest on the counter while you pre-heat a frying pan over high heat. Add a drizzle of oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the pan is smoking hot, lay the steaks down and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. At this point you can add herbs and butter and baste the steaks for more flavor.
  7. You don’t need to let the steaks rest because they were cooked so gently in the oven. Don’t feel guilty about digging right in!

*If cooking bear or hog loin, you’ll want to make adjustments so that the final target temp is 165 degrees, which means you’ll take it out of the oven at 150 degrees. For a thick turkey breast, you want to aim for a final temp of 155 to 160 degrees and remove it at 140 to 145 degrees.