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 formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
  • Large cast iron skillet or a screaming hot fire
  • Vegetable oil
IMG 0492 1000x715Please 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.

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:

IMG 1072 2000x1333

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 to 4 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:

IMG 1126 2000x1333

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.

No need to rinse the steaks when they are finished.

Season

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 formula here | Purchase bottled rub) 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 rub.

IMG 1139 2000x1333

Smoke

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;-)

ThermoPop_generic-01

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 (130°F).

Once the ribeyes reach the set temperature (usually about an hour), move it from the heat immediately.

IMG 1145 2000x1333

Rest

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

Sear

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.

IMG 1147 2000x1333

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.

Serve

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.

IMG 1158 2000x1333

Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
Jeff's Rubs and Sauce

✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!

SHOP NOW

You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.

Jeff’s Smoking Meat Books

smoking-meat-book-coverSmoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that “no smoker should be without this book”!

With more than 1000 reviews on Amazon.com and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended and is a Bestseller in Barbecuing & Grilling books on Amazon.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | German Edition

smoke-wood-fire-book-coverSmoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.

It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.

Purchase at Amazon

Get Almost Anything at Amazon

If you enjoy the newsletter and would like to do something helpful, then..

The next time you decide to order something at Amazon.com, use THIS LINK to get there and we’ll get a small commission off of what you purchase.

Thank you in advance for using our special link: https://www.smoking-meat.com/amazon


Printable Recipe

IMG 1158 1000x667
Print Recipe
4.17 from 18 votes

How to Reverse Sear Smoked Ribeye Steaks

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.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Place the steaks on a plate or open container in the fridge for 2-4 hours. The thicker the steak, the longer it takes.
  • When the brining is complete, rinse the steaks and set aside.
  • 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.
  • Prepare the smoker for cooking at 225°F with indirect heat and cherry wood for smoke. Pecan or oak are also great choices.
  • 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.
  • Remove the steaks from the heat and let them rest with foil tented over them for about 10 minutes.
  • Meantime, heat an iron skillet over high heat and once water will spit in the pan, it is ready to use.
  • Pour a little vegetable oil in the center and place the steak in the pan rotating it to spread the oil out.
  • Sear each side for about a minute.
  • Let the steaks rest for about 5 minutes, no foil this time and then serve to your guests.

31 Comments

  1. Brian November 2, 2021 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    1 star
    Jeff , I have a meat thermo, but I cannot open the door to check it, because as you know it will lose all the heat and really throw off the time. I have an electric smoker though, so the temp is pretty exact and consistent. I can see if I used charcoal, wood, etc. But I followed your time based on that temperature and it was by at least double.

    So, I wouldn't do it again – not worth it… even if it came out medium rare, what's the point in all the extra time and chance of ruining it vs. just grilling it or searing it perfectly. Why mess with something that doesn't need fixed.

  2. Brian Wohn October 28, 2021 at 7:53 am - Reply

    1 star
    Have you seriously ever actually made this recipe? I followed it exactly, 2 hours brine, 1 hour smoker @ 220… didn't get a chance to sear it as it was a VERY well done, dried out piece of shoe leather. I made one on the grill (same package of meat) came out tender and delicious. Thanks for ruining $30 worth of steaks! Do NOT make this recipe, you will regret it!

    • Jeff Phillips October 28, 2021 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Brian, it sounds like you didn't use a thermometer. In ALL of my recipes I talk about the importance of using a thermometer to make sure you know when the steak is at it's perfect temperature for searing and/or when it's finished and a perfect medium rare.

      Smokers don't all cook exactly the same and unlike the oven in the house, you are dealing with wind, temperature fluctuations, humidity, etc. and it's important to use a precision instrument to test the temperature. Highly recommended.

      I am sorry that your steaks did not turn out as well as it could have.

      • James Adams March 4, 2022 at 11:39 am - Reply

        Hey sorry you got a one-star rating for that. Some people just don't read the directions or don't follow them properly. You clearly stated cook it to 120 internal and then take it off the smoker before the sear. I'm going to do it next weekend and I'll bet it'll turn out great! Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Will McGuire April 29, 2022 at 7:37 am - Reply

      5 stars
      I'm really disappointed that Brian gave you two 1 star reviews because he can't figure out how to reverse sear a steak. It's my tried and true method and it turns out perfectly every time. Thank you Jeff!!

      • Jeff Phillips April 29, 2022 at 10:22 am - Reply

        You'd be surprised how often I get blamed for other people's incompetence.. I've learned to just smile about it and not take it personally😀

      • Derek May 29, 2022 at 3:05 pm - Reply

        4 stars
        Been making a version of this for many years, at least 100 times. You have to think of this as more of a technique than a recipe, and an accurate thermometer is a must, as stated clearly. That being said, 90 min is just too long on @225 on anything. I smoke mine on a standard Weber Genesis, with a handful of dry hickory pellets in a smoke box placed right on top of the flavorizer bars on the back left corner. I turn the left burner to med and get the pellets smoldering then set to 225. All other burners off, small alum pan of water over the smoke box. Place the steaks all the way to the cold side, close the lid and temp check at ~20, 40, & 45 min or use a leave-in probe – in any case I pull it at 120. Then let rest while you get the grill ready to sear – smoke box burner off, center and right burners on high. When grill hits 450, put the steaks back on the hottest part of the grill for 90 seconds, flip for 90, turn 45 and flip for 60, then flip for 60. Temp check to 128, pull. Let rest for 10 min tented with butter and any herbs spices or seasoning. Slice across grain in 1/2” strips, one final seasoning and server immediately. Serves great with crispy smashed potatoes, grilled asparagus or broccoli.

  3. Jeffrey Trautner January 3, 2021 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    OMG! Jeff, this was AMAZING! Followed your instructions to a T…fired up my Kamado Joe with Pecan at 225 until internal temp hit 120…pulled the rib eyes, tented, waited 10 minutes, then into a screaming hot cast iron skillet. Rested then sliced. The flavor was amazing! I was a little skeptical about using your Texas rub, but you're absolutely right! It LOVES steak and the flavor was better than any steak I've ever cooked or eaten. Thank you!

  4. David December 18, 2020 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    4 stars
    Leave it in the fridge till ready to smoke.
    Take off smoker 100-110° NOT 120°
    Let rest with tent foil
    Sear on hot grill or skillet
    Let rest
    Devour

  5. Krzysztof Wiz September 10, 2020 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    1 star
    I don’t recommend this, at all. In my electric smoker, it was a MUCH better option to smoke it for 35 minutes AT MOST at 220°F. Came out a perfect medium rare.

  6. Will Haryson March 30, 2020 at 5:05 am - Reply

    5 stars
    Wow! Thank you for really taste recipe! I added it to my cookbook already. But i also use a Traeger and it maintains temperature well.

  7. Maruf K February 2, 2020 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    From my experience 225F is too high if you want to smoke for 1.5 to 2 hours. I use a Traeger and it maintains temperature well. If I set it to 185F, its perfect. Reaches IT of 120 in about 1.5 to 2 hours.

  8. gooseguts September 24, 2019 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    I can vouch for Jeff's rub and sauce recipes. I bought them years ago and use them on everything. His book's not bad either :) for an in hand reference. A friend borrowed it a few years ago so I'm going off from memory on some of my smoking/grilling events. Thank you Jeff for all of your advice and recipes through email. The only problem is they always look so good I go fire up the outdoor kitchen.

  9. Gene August 21, 2019 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Any advice how to convert this recipe to grilling for someone who doesn’t have a smoker yet?

    • Kellog May 2, 2020 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      5 stars
      A Weber Kettle can be used with indirect method for smoking meat. Use wood chunks instead of chips and don't soak them. Then you can do the sear directly over the coals. Set a 9″×9″ disposable aluminum pan on cooking grate over the coal side with water after you dump coals in beside the pan I'm fixing to mention. An aluminum roasting pan goes on one side of charcoal grate and the charcoal goes on opposite side. Put meat on grate over roasting pan. This works great

  10. Tom Gates August 1, 2019 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    The smoker shop classes I've attended the last couple of years are heavily pushing the reverse sear method, as well they should. It's outstanding every time. One thing that makes a huge difference in taste and smoking is to place these on the smoker stone cold out of the fridge, like 35F cold. That room temp stuff is for the high heat only method because while you are incinerating the exterior, you don't want a cold interior that won't be to temp before the exterior is charred black.

    Starting at 35F means you get more smoke time before you hit that 130F internal temp. And we're using our smokers for what? Yes, smoking. Starting at 35F instead of 70F gives you that extra 35F smoking time before applying the final sear. Be sure to at least try this once, I think you'll knock your socks off.

    • skotzman May 20, 2020 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Agreed

  11. Ken Johnson May 1, 2019 at 1:02 am - Reply

    This cooking method is the best! 1-1/4” ribeyes, light kosher salt both sides, brined both sides lightly, brined for about 6 hrs, rinsed well, patted dry, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, smoked in Masterbuilt electric smoker with applewood until internal temp to 117 degrees and like others less than 25 min, rested 15 min, and seared on hot Cast iron grill pan about 2 min per side. Tender, moist, and the flavor from smoking and searing delicious!!! Need to try it with Jeff’s rub… Absolutely wonderful!!!

  12. Beth Ann Fitzwater March 17, 2019 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    I love this recipe!!! I did the dry bribe and I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker so I used grape juice in my water pan. I used 1 inch thick ribeye steaks and Jeff’sTexas Rub recipe. I used cherry wood and kept my smoker at 225F. I like my steaks medium well, so I brought mine to a temperature of 139F when I removed them from the smoker. I also finished them off in my cast iron skillet and topped with a Texas Rub butter I made from 2 tablespoons of butter mashed up with 1 teaspoon of Jeff’s Texas Rub. The steak was very tender and juicy. My steaks smoked in 35 minutes and I used an internal meat probe when smoking to time my meat. Next time I’m going to try 2 inch think ribeyes so I can get a bit more smoke flavor in them but excellent recipe!!!

  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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 – https://bbqonmain.com/101-smoker-recipes/

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

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

    5 stars
    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! :)

  19. 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.

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

    5 stars
    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.

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

    5 stars
    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!!!

  22. 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

      4 stars
      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.

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

    5 stars
    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!

Leave A Comment

Recipe Rating