How to Reverse Sear Smoked Ribeye Steaks

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How to Reverse Sear Smoked Ribeye Steaks

Many cooks throw steaks on a hot grill or over a hot fire and once it reaches the right temperature in the middle, it's done.

What if I told you there was a better way and one that some steakhouses even employ to produce a perfect edge-to-edge pink medium rare with an elegant sear on the outside?

This recipe will show you how to dry brine, smoke cook, rest and then reverse sear a smoked ribeye steak that is better than anything you can get at any restaurant.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Dry Brining Time: 2-4 hours
  • Cook Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 130°F
  • Recommended Wood: Cherry
What You’ll Need
  • Ribeye steaks (1 per person), ¾ inch or thicker is best (other steak cuts will also work ok)
  • Kosher salt (Morton)
  • Jeff's Texas style rub (purchase recipes here)
  • Large cast iron skillet or a screaming hot fire
  • Vegetable oil
Dry Brine

Lay the steaks on a plate or open container and sprinkle kosher salt on them. Be generous but don't go overboard. Typically ½ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat is what the experts recommend.
Here's a picture to give you an idea of how much I use:

For ¾ inch steaks like these, I just coat one side.

For thicker steaks, I recommend brining both sides– one side at a time for 2 hours each side.

You then place them in the fridge uncovered.

The salt immediately begins to pull the juices to the surface where it mixes with the salt and becomes a slurry. Over the course of time, the salty meat juices are drawn back into the steak and if you wait long enough it will absorb deep into the meat.

Here's the same 2 steaks after about 45 minutes:

The thicker the steak, the longer they need to sit in the fridge. I left these ¾ inch steaks for about 2 hours and they were perfect.

Rinse the steaks when they are finished to make sure there's no salt residue on the outside.


Some folks might just add a little pepper at this point since they salt is already seasoning the inside but I highly recommend my Texas style rub (purchase recipes here) on these. It's pretty low in salt and has some other things like cayenne and garlic to really ramp up the flavor. The Texas style rub makes beef really, really happy!

Both sides should be seasoned with the Jeff's Texas style rub (purchase recipes here).


Leave the steaks sitting on the cabinet for a few minutes while you go get the smoker set up. They need to warm up a little bit anyway after being in the fridge for several hours.

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F if possible.

Use indirect heat and if your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

The smoke can be any good smoking wood but I recommend cherry if you have it. Other great woods for these are pecan and oak.

Once the smoker is ready, place the steaks on the smoker grate. You can also use a Bradley rack or Weber grill pan to make it easy to transport the ribeyes to and from the smoker.

For electric, gas and charcoal smokers, keep a light wood smoke going for at least an hour but more is ok as long as you have plenty of airflow into and out of your smoker. Wood smokers will continue smoking the entire time by default.

Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer such as a Thermapen or the “Smoke” by ThermoWorks so you'll know the very second when the steak gets done so you can remove it from the heat.

Another great tool is the ThermoPop digital pocket thermometers which read in 3-4 seconds (that's fast), are splash-proof and being offered now for only $29. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)


I recommend letting it go to about 120°F since we are going to sear them later and the carryover heat plus the searing should bring it on up to a perfect medium rare.

Once the ribeyes reach the set temperature, move it from the heat immediately.


Let the steak rest away from the heat, tented with foil for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to return to center.


Place a cast iron skillet over a high heat burner. Use a little vegetable oil in the center of the pan and get it super hot.

Once the pan is ready, place the steak in the pan and rotate the steak with your tongs to spread the oil around a little.

About a minute each side should do it but keep a close eye on it.

I did some tong magic and seared the sides as well but that's not required

You'll see lots of smoke and this is how it should be. If you have a side burner on the grill, that is a better choice than using a burner in the house.

If you must use the burner in the kitchen oven, just make sure to turn the exhaust hood fan on and perhaps open a couple of windows during this process.

You can also use a screaming hot fire to do this but it's a little less predictable and requires more finesse to get the job done right.. your choice.


Once again, let the steaks rest (no foil tented over them this time) for about 5 minutes and then serve them to your guests with ample sides.

Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

AND.. we are running a limited-time 30% off sale on the DOWNLOADABLE RECIPES ONLY. Click HERE to purchase the instantly downloadable recipes (formulas) for both of my rubs and barbecue sauce for the lowest price I've EVER offered. Somebody pinch me! Or better yet, just go get them 😉 Note: The coupon should be automatically applied OR use JOY30 during checkout if necessary.
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Read these recent testimonies:

"Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well!" ~Peter S.
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"Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future!" ~Michelle M.

You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"

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Printable Recipe

How to Reverse Sear Smoked Ribeye Steaks
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
How to dry brine and reverse sear smoked ribeye steaks. This gives you perfect edge-to-edge medium rare with the most beautiful seared outside you've ever seen.
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Servings: 6
Author: Jeff Phillips
What You'll Need
  • Ribeye steaks 1 per person, ¾ inch or thicker is best (other steak cuts will also work ok)
  • Kosher salt Morton
  • Jeff's Texas style rub
  • Large cast iron pan or a screaming hot fire
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Dry brine the steaks by sprinkling about 1 tsp of kosher salt on the top. If they are extra thick, do the bottom as well.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate or open container in the fridge for 2-4 hours. The thicker the steak, the longer it takes.
  3. When the brining is complete, rinse the steaks and set aside.
  4. Season the steaks, top and bottom with Jeff's Texas style rub and let them come to room temperature while you get the smoker ready.
  5. Prepare the smoker for cooking at 225°F with indirect heat and cherry wood for smoke. Pecan or oak are also great choices.
  6. Place the steaks on the smoker grate for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until they reach 120°F in the center as measured by an accurate digital thermometer.
  7. Remove the steaks from the heat and let them rest with foil tented over them for about 10 minutes.
  8. Meantime, heat an iron skillet over high heat and once water will spit in the pan, it is ready to use.
  9. Pour a little vegetable oil in the center and place the steak in the pan rotating it to spread the oil out.
  10. Sear each side for about a minute.
  11. Let the steaks rest for about 5 minutes, no foil this time and then serve to your guests.
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2018-10-24T17:28:43+00:00By |12 Comments

About the Author:

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!


  1. Bill October 25, 2018 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Tried this 3 times. Once on filets, once on strips and once on ribeyes. All were about 2 inches thick. We have fixed these steaks many times from the same source but used traditional methods over a high heat grill. We brined each time according to the recipe. We used a electric smoker for the new method each time raising the steak to 120 degrees and then searing on high heat grill after resting. All steaks seemed a little dry and didn’t have near the juicy facture we love. So no more reverse grill. Sorry

  2. Rick October 25, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I started using this recipe exactly as Jeff outlined it, to unbelievable success. I’ve done it 3 or 4 times now, and my family and guests have been blown away at how good it is! The reverse sear makes the “crispy” bits on the outside of the steak really stand out. Think of the best steak you’ve had at a big name steakhouse (Morton’s, McCormick & Schmick) and you’ve got the idea. I’ve done it on 1-1/4″ thick Ribeyes, and 2-1/4″ Ribeyes. I used my Thermapen and got them to 110 degrees in the smoker, and yes, they got there a little quicker than I expected (that may be because I let them sit out for about an hour before putting them in the smoker). Throw ’em in that super hot frying pan, and voila! Don’t be afraid of it. Go for it! and…… Thanks Jeff!

  3. Mike Dreher October 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    I use this method on steaks with one exception. After I heat them on my BGE, I sear the steaks on a Himalayan salt block heated on my gas grill to around 700 degrees

  4. Stan October 25, 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I’ve been doing this for a while. Except, I don’t use the smoker, I use a camp file with the grill about 3 ft above so it takes at least 45 min to get to 105 deg. Then rest the steaks while we get the fire hotter and even. lower grill down to the fire and do the sear until 125 deg. Awsome ! I use steaks at least 1-1/2 inch thick, dry brined cold steak for an hour or two at room temp, good coat of pepper and garlic. Beats even the best steak house if you use prime or better. Not bad with choice if you get the best marble the butcher has.

  5. BBQ On Main December 30, 2017 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Hey Jeff, we love your smoked ribeye recipe so much we featured it as part of our 101 favorite smoker recipes! You can check it out here –

    And we especially like Brad’s tip to use cheaper ribeye “select” cuts, we’re going to have to try that!

  6. Nathan April 19, 2017 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Jeff, this was an instant hit! Super tender, juicy, and the flavor was amazing. I used some very thick cuts and the internal temp went from 43 to 120 in about an hour, so like Pete, I was scrambling a little to get everything else caught up. I use a Traeger but it’s probably time to clean out the ash and clean temp probe as I have noticed the temperature fluctuating more lately. I guess I’ll just have to try this one again and suffer through the yummy results! 🙂

  7. Andrew Herzog October 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    I just followed this recipe this weekend. Holy crap, it was no lie the best result of anything I’ve ever smoked. So freaking tender.

  8. Brad Weston September 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    We did a taste test.
    1-New York “select” steak ($6.99#)
    1-Ribeye “select” steak ($6.99#)
    1-Ribeye organic “choice” steak ($12.99#)
    The ribeye select had the best flavor. Next party we can save a lot of money using this recipe and the “select” cut of ribeye.
    It has been three days and I ready to do it again.

  9. SL "Bud" Derrick September 7, 2016 at 11:36 am - Reply

    I prepared this steak recipe for just my wife and me, and without a doubt, it was the best steak we ever had -, bar none! My son came over for dinner on Sunday and he doesn’t like smoke on his steak so I cooked the steaks per the recipe, just no smoke. The steaks were fantastic, better than any I have ever had at a restaurant, including Texas Road House! The smoke adds another layer of flavor but it is not necessary to produce a fantastic steak using this recipe. Either one will produce a steak that is pink yet firm from the top to the bottom. Thank You!!!

  10. Pete Harned September 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeff, love your smoking wisdom and your advice – have your books and rubs – but I am completely stymied by this recipe. I picked up seven bone-in rib eye steaks at the butcher (1 and 1/4 ” thick, over a pound each). I dry brined them, per instructions, used your rub, and put them in a Weber smoker with water basin at 225, with cherry wood – and fitted them with remote thermometers. They hit 120 degrees within 20 minutes! This was confirmed by the Thermapen – 120+ degrees in all steaks, at all locations, in that short amount of time. I had planned for 1.5 to 2 hours, as per your instructions, so I was surprised to see this outcome! I’ve wrapped them tightly in foil, in a warm oven, waiting to catch up with the rest of dinner so I can put a sear on them when the guests arrive. What did I do wrong?

    • Zebb Seabrook May 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      I had the exact same experience, except they still turned out fantastic. Not sure why they got up to temp so quick. 4 stars only because the time seems really off.

  11. Stephen Qua August 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    This may be one of the best things I have ever eaten!

    I left the salt out of the rub because of the dry curing; good idea. They were done before I was ready but sat and rested for a half hour or so before I put them on the searing station of my grille. AWESOME!

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