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Searing Steaks on a Charcoal Chimney

searing steaks charcoal chimney featured 2

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When smoking steaks, we often sear them AFTER they are finished cooking and if you're not familiar with this, it's called “reverse searing”.

In this recipe, we'll be searing steaks over an inexpensive charcoal chimney instead of using a grill, grill grates or any other common method.

This method is perfect if you don't have a grill or if you are cooking steaks in the house, in the smoker or some other lower heat method and just want to put a quick sear on them without a fuss.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Dry Brine Time: 2 hours (overnight or up to 24 hours is best)
  • Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Sear Time: About 2 minutes per steak
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 128 °F (53°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Oak
What You'll Need
About the Steaks

I got these 6 ounce, top sirloin steaks from goodranchers.com to review and I pulled them out of the freezer 24 hours before I needed them so they'd have time to thaw out.

These are about ¾ inch thick.

You can use any kind of steak for this but your time will vary depending on the thickness of the steak and how done you like them.

Step 1: Dry Brine – The Salt

Lay the steaks out on a pan with a rack for dry brining.

The rule is ½ teaspoon per pound of coarse kosher salt however, I rarely measure. I sprinkle the salt on the steaks so that it ends up looking like a sugared gumdrop.. that gives me the correct amount of coverage so that the steak is flavorful but not over salted.

If you want to measure out the salt based on the weight of your steaks, you can do that but I prefer to “eyeball” it. It is important to note that I probably end up using more than what the “rule” calls for but my steaks are NEVER over salted. There's a lot of leeway in this and in my opinion, the rule is VERY conservative.

I only apply the salt to the top side of the steaks.

Here's my steaks showing the coverage that I typically use:

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A closeup:

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The salt will immediately begin to pull moisture to the surface of the meat and after about 15-20 minutes, the meat juices will be puddling on top of the steak.

That's when it's time to apply the rub.

Step 2: Dry Brine – The Seasoning

I use my Jeff's Texas style rub  as it is one of the most complete and flavorful rubs you can use for steaks, burgers, brisket, etc. It is low on salt, big on flavor and you won't find anything better.

Now that the salt has a brought all of that moisture to the surface, apply a good sprinkling of the Texas style rub to the top side of the steaks.

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Place the salted/seasoned steaks into the fridge, pan and all, for at least 2 hours, Longer is better and overnight is perfect.

Step 3: Smoke

About 30 minutes before you are ready to smoke the steaks, get your smoker going.

Set up the smoker for cooking at 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

I like to use oak wood or pellets for smoke but you can use what you have or what you prefer.

Once the smoker is ready, place the steaks into the smoker on the smoker grate or if you have a pan with a rack, you can just sit the entire pan of steaks in the smoker.

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For a medium rare finish, we are looking to cook them to about 110°F (43°C) before reverse searing them to 128°F (53°C)

If you like them more or less done, you can adjust your finish temperature to remove them about 15-20 degrees before they reach that done temperature.

Step 4: Reverse Sear

When the steaks are about 20 minutes from being done or reaching their “remove” temperature, it's time to get the charcoal chimney ready for searing steaks.

Here's my instructions for lighting a charcoal chimney if you are new to this.

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Use a small smoker grate, a small piece of expanded metal, etc. to set on top of the charcoal chimney to serve as your grate for the steaks.

Note: When I first created this recipe, I received several emails letting me know this metal did not look food-safe. This was a grate made for cooking food however, you can get creative and use whatever you like. The goal here was to show that not having a grill was not a problem.

Place the steaks one at a time on top of the charcoal chimney and get busy searing steaks on all sides. Watch them carefully and when they reach the color and sear that you prefer on one side, flip them over.

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Once you flip them over, use an instant read meat thermometer to make sure they have reached your desired level of done.

I use the Thermapen ONE which reads in only 1 second!

Have a pan ready with foil on top top so you can keep the steaks hot until you are done searing steaks.

Step 5: Rest and Serve

When you are done searing steaks, bring them into the house and serve them up immediately.

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Note: By leaving them in the pan while you are searing all of the other steaks, they are getting a rest time by default under foil and this will make them ready to serve when you bring them into the house.

These were so good I ate almost an entire steak at the counter before serving the others!

Perfectly salted and seasoned and the color was magnificent!

5 from 2 votes

Searing Steaks on a Charcoal Chimney

When smoking steaks, we often sear them AFTER they are finished cooking (reverse searing). In this video, I'll show you how I reverse sear them over a charcoal chimney instead of using a grill.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes



  • Apply coarse kosher salt to top side of steaks at ½ - ¾ teaspoons per lb.
  • Place steaks in fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight is better.
  • Set up smoker for cooking at 225°F (107°C) using indirect heat. Fill water pan with water if required. Oak wood is recommended for smoke.
  • Let the steaks cook for approximately 45-60 minutes or until they reach about 110°F (43°C).
  • Fill charcoal chimney about ¾ full with lump charcoal and light about 15 minutes before steaks reach 110°F (43°C).
  • Place small piece of expanded metal or small grill grate on top of charcoal chimney and sear steaks one at a time until desired doneness and color is achieved. I recommend 128°F (53°C) for medium rare.
  • Place steaks into a foil pan covered with foil as they finish cooking to keep them hot.
  • When the steaks are done, serve them up immediately.


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Recipe Rating


  1. I did a 2″ porterhouse steak last night. It took 2 hours on the smoker at 225F, and just about 4 minutes on the hot gas grill. End result was a very tender and moist and medium rare piece of meat.
    Thanks, Jeff.

  2. 5 stars
    Awesome idea, Jeff! I had heard about using the chimney starter to sear (and reverse-sear) meats, but frankly, I had forgotten about that concept b/c I didn’t really need to use it. But Jeff, could I just add a thought that I recently discovered? After “cooking” a steak (whether slow with smoke or at medium heat), rather than fire the grill up to maximum for searing, I now use a “sear torch” made by SearPro. It’s basically a flame thrower that connects to a small propane cylinder, and it sears a steak (or anything else) in such a short time that there is no “overcooking” involved. Don’t know if this is a good option for everyone, but I’d love it if you did a story about that concept. Thanks for everything, Jeff! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!!

  3. Why not just reverse sear using a cast iron pan on the stove? Does doing it over charcoal make a noticeable taste difference? Thanks!