How to Reverse Sear Smoked Ribeye Steaks
Smoking-Meat.com is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page.
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.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Dry Brining Time: 2-4 hours
- Cook Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
- Meat Finish Temp: 130°F (54°C)
- Recommended Wood: Cherry
- 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 skillet or a screaming hot fire
- Vegetable oil
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 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:
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.
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 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.
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 (107°C).
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 any pan with a rack or a 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 instant-read tool is the ThermoPop digital pocket thermometers. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)
I recommend letting it go to about 120°F (49°C) 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 or 130°F (54°C).
Once the ribeyes reach the set temperature (usually about an hour), 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.Print
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 Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Hot Smoking
- Ribeye steaks (1 per person, 3/4 inch or thicker is best [other steak cuts will also work ok])
- Kosher salt (Morton blue box)
- Jeff’s Texas style rub
- Large cast iron pan or a screaming hot fire
- Vegetable oil
- 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. When the brining is complete, remove the steaks from the fridge 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 (107°C) with indirect heat and cherry wood for smoke. Pecan or oak are also great choices. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
- Place the steaks on the smoker grate and let them smoke cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until they reach 120°F (49°C) in the center as measured by a digital meat 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 of the pan and place the steak in the pan rotating it to spread the oil out. Sear each side for about a minute or until they have reached the color that you like.
- Serve immediately.
Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue 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!
Did you know? You can order the MASTER FORMULAS which allow you to make Jeff’s rubs and barbecue sauce at home using your own ingredients! Order the Recipes
I do this with 2″ thick ribeyes. Perfect. My question is how would it be different if I seared it first, then finished in the smoker? Has anyone done this?
You can definitely sear first if you prefer and it will still get some good smoke flavor. Raw, cold meat takes on smoke flavor better and that’s why most prefer to sear after the smoking process rather than before.
Agree with some commenters here that the 120 temp can be achieved far faster than desired. I agree that the steaks should be kept cold until put on the smoker and I would also use a lower temp high smoke setting if using a pellet grill. I have had good success with that on my CampChef pellet grill and also important to use a Thermopen and check frequently
Easily the best steak I’ve ever cooked; in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the best steak I’ve ever HAD. Had friends over for dinner last night; Al told me he’s not much of a steak either, but he went back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths…
A few notes on my experience: it was a chilly, sputtering rain kind of afternoon, and I had to crank the gas up to maximum on my vertical gas smoker just to get the temperature inside up to 200°F. I thought the welding blanket on the smoker would give me the 225°F the recipe calls for with no trouble. I think the chilly rain soaked through the blanket. So I figured it would take a lot longer than the 1½ – 2 hours the recipe said.
But just to be on the safe side I checked in at 1 hour, and was surprised that all four steaks were reading at 120°F. So I pulled them, and heated up the frying pan until a drop of water sizzled on it.
The rest went uneventfully.
My go-to steak recipe from now on. 😍👍
Al’s not much of a steak EATER. 🤪
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.
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!
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.
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.
My friend and I built a custom smoker, it is the most consistent smoker I’ve ever used. That said, a smoker never works the same twice. You must have a ton of experience or an accurate thermometer to get desired results. You didn’t follow directions Brian, own it. The thermometer is thirty bucks. I hope you make the best steaks of your life next time. You can do it!
I’m not a perfectionist so smoke to 120-130 two minutes a side at 600 pull off and rest ten if you can wait.
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!!
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😀
Jeff, thanks for all the great recipes and time you spend making them. What’s the perfect internal temp to pull your steak before searing for medium well, my wife just loves medium well. Thanks TJ
Tommy, a medium well steak is usually pulled at 145 and allowed to come up to 148-150. To pull it for searing, I’d remove it from the smoker at about 138 and let the sear bring it on up another 10 degrees or so.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any advice how to convert this recipe to grilling for someone who doesn’t have a smoker yet?
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
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.
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!!!
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!!!
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
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!
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
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.
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!
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! :)
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.
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.
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!!!
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?
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.
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!