I cooked up some smoked top sirloin steak the other day– dry brined and seasoned with my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) and it was without a doubt, hands down the best steak I've had broiled, grilled, or smoked. This write-up is going to give you all the juicy, delicious details about how I did it so you can replicate this in your own backyard.
Prepare to be blown away when you taste it!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Dry Brine Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Smoker Temp: 230°F
- Meat Finish Temp: 137°F
- Recommended Wood: Oak
Top sirloin is lean, tender and a good beefy flavor that works well in the smoker. I found these at Costco (where I purchase some of the meat that I cook) but if you have trouble finding it, you can also purchase tri-tip and cut it into thick steaks that are 1.5 to 2 inches thick.
I think almost any decent steak would fare well with this same treatment.
This steak has a fat cap on one side which can be easily trimmed off if you prefer.
If there's one thing that can do more for a steak than anything else, it would have to be dry brining. I have really gotten into this over the last year or so due to how effective it is in bringing out the natural flavors of meat.
Dry brining, for those who aren't familiar, is simply sprinkling salt on a piece of meat. The salt naturally draws moisture to the surface where it mixes together and creates a slurry. The slurry is then drawn back deep into the meat. It's almost magical!
Maybe I'm easily impressed but it surprises me every time I use this method.. the flavor that it brings out of the meat.
To dry brine a steak like these top sirloin steaks, just lay them flat in a pan and sprinkle coarse ground kosher salt on the top of them. I don't measure but you can compare the following image to your own for proper salt coverage.
The professionals recommend ½ teaspoon per pound of meat for what it's worth.
All of them are salted and then the pan of steaks is placed in the fridge for about 2 hours.
If your steaks are 1.5 inches thick or more you can flip them over and dry brine the other side in exactly the same way as you did the first side except for only 1 hour and leave them out of the fridge so they can come up to room temperature.
Steaks cook better when they are allowed to warm up a little before placing them on the smoker or grill.
After 1 hour of sitting out, they are ready for searing.
Note: There is NO need to rinse the steaks although it does not hurt anything either if you want to do that.
Many of us have been reverse searing steaks and other meats for years. It's a great way to do it but it's certainly not the only way to do things and this is where I encourage you to get out of your box and try it a little different =)
Reverse searing: A method by which steaks and other meats are smoked/cooked first and then seared just before serving.
For these top sirloin steaks, I am suggesting that you pan sear the steaks after dry brining them and before adding any seasoning to the outside. The idea is to add some color and to bring out some of that great flavor that only happens when steaks are seared over a hot flame or in a hot pan.
Note: This pan searing is best done outdoors if possible but indoors is fine if that's your only option.
Place a heavy skillet on the burner over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil and let it get hot before moving forward.
Meanwhile, use a paper towel to dry the steaks. We want them as dry as possible so they will brown with as little steam as possible.
When the grease is hot enough (I usually toss some water droplets into the grease and if they sizzle real good, I know it's ready), it's time to do some searing.
If you're inside using the range, turn on the fan in the hood over the oven and open the doors and windows because there might be some smoke.
Place one or more of the steaks into the pan for about 30-45 seconds. Lift them up periodically to check the color.
When they look good, flip them over.
I like to use my tongs to sear the sides as well just for uniformity of color and flavor throughout.
The temperature in the center of the steaks after searing was around 87°F.
I set the steaks aside and let them cool off before proceeding.
You can sprinkle the Texas style rub on the steaks or you can do what I did and pour some of the rub out on a flat area and lay the steak in the rub.
Roll the edges in the rub as well to get nice coverage. Use plenty.
The top sirloin steaks are seared, seasoned and ready for the smoker!
I have placed them on a Weber grill pan so I can easily transport them out to the smoker and even leave them on it to cook.
Setup your smoker for cooking at about 230°F with indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
I recommend letting any smoker preheat for 30-60 minutes before using it as this allows all of the metal to heat up and that helps to maintain heat and to recover faster when you open the door or lid.
I used the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill for these awesome steaks but any smoker will work great as long as it can maintain the temperature adequately.
About the Camp Chef Woodwind
Pellet smoking is an ALL WOOD method of smoking.. like a big stick burner, the heat comes from burning real wood and the smoke is just something that naturally happens when you burn wood. There is nothing more “real” than using real wood to cook and smoke your food.
Among pellet grills, the Camp Chef Woodwind is one of the best due to how well it works and all of the great features that it has.. many that are not found on the other brands and models:
- An ash cup on the bottom of the unit to catch the ashes and make cleanup a lot easier. I am pretty particular and still vacuum out the smoker but you certainly don't have to do that often with this added feature.
- A chute opens on the bottom side of the hopper so you can dump the pellets into a container and replace them with a different flavor (nice!).
- A 2nd cooking shelf comes standard. You just can't have too much shelf space in my opinion.
- An optional propane powered sear box capable of 900°F that attaches to the right side of the unit. This allows you to sear burgers, steaks, chicken, etc. once they are done cooking. You could also just use it to cook steaks or other meats at very high heat.
- 3 year warranty and free shipping ain't a bad feature either!
- Did I mention that the fire pot where the pellets burn is made from stainless steel.. it will probably outlast me!
Many of you have let me know that you purchased this pellet grill due to my recommendations and that you are having the time of your life using it. I love hearing how you are having fun with your smoker! I only recommend smokers that I love to use and if I love to use it, I just naturally think that you will too.
If you are looking for an easy to use smoker that burns REAL WOOD for heat and smoke, that's versatile enough to smoke, bake, barbecue, grill and even sear, then look no further. This grill is for YOU!
Back to Setting Up the Smoker..
Once the smoker is preheated and ready to go, it's time to smoke!
If you want to see all of my recommended smokers.. check them out HERE.
Place the Weber grill pan of top sirloin steaks on the grate and close down the lid or door but don't go far.. they only take about an hour or less.
Oak wood is really good with these steaks but any good smoking wood will work just fine. I recommend keeping a light smoke going for the entire time they are cooking.
How long they take really depends on their temperature going in which is highly affected by the amount of time they sat on the cabinet during the last dry brining stage, how hot they got during the searing process, meat thickness and, of course, how well your smoker maintains temperature and how many times you open the lid/door to peek.
Use a remote meat thermometer like the Thermoworks “Smoke” if you have it so you can monitor the temperature of the steaks without having to open the lid.
Otherwise use a fast-reading handheld thermometer to quickly check a couple of them and then shut down the lid. Some of the fastest handheld meat thermometers on the market are made by Thermoworks which is why I like them so much. I get 2-3 second readings on the Thermapen and the 4-5 second readings on the ThermoPop ain't too shabby either.
When they've been in the smoker for about 30 minutes, it's a good idea to baste them with something to keep them moist.
I mixed up a concoction to baste the steaks and it worked really well. It consisted of the following:
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup Worcestershire
- ¼ cup olive oil
Stir to combine and continue stirring as you use it as the oil will try to separate from the other liquids.
Use a spoon for best results and so you do not disturb the rub.. a couple of TBS per steak is sufficient.
A basting brush will also work in a pinch.
Baste as quickly as possible and close the lid/door.
When the temperature of the steaks reach about 134-137°F, they are a perfect medium rare and can be removed from the smoker.
If the steaks cook unevenly, I remove them individually with tongs as they get done rather than wait on all of them.
It's always a great idea to let steaks rest for 4-7 minutes before cutting into them to let the juices calm down and even out.
One of mine got done before the others and it only rested for 3 minutes.. I just had to have a bite!
You can serve these as whole steaks or slice them up ahead of time.. however you like to do it at your house.
These babies got sliced up ¼ inch thick and boy were they beautiful!
I probably ate an entire steak before bringing them in.. irresistibly good!
Lovely edge to edge medium rare, perfectly seasoned all the way through due to the dry brining process and deliciously seasoned on the outside due to my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).. you just can't get no better than this!
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
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I recently purchased both recipes. The files did not come thru right but Jeff was prompt to get it fixed. I tried them both last weekend and they were a huge hit. I followed his burnt ends recipe to the letter and my neighbors thought I was some master chef! Thanks Jeff! -Susan T.
Thank you for the great advice. Followed your rib recipe and everyone loved them. Used your rub and sauce. On point! -Charles W.
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.
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.
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- 6 thick cut top sirloin steaks or equivalent
- Course ground kosher salt
- Heavy pan or skillet (iron skillet works great)
- Vegetable oil
- Jeff's Texas style rub recipe
- Basting sauce (recipe below)
Sprinkle coarse kosher salt onto top sirloin steaks and place into the fridge for 2 hours.
Remove from fridge, flip them over and repeat salting on the other side. Leave steaks out to warm to room temperature for 1 hour. No need to rinse.
Dry steaks well with paper towel then sear on all sides in heavy skillet over medium high heat with just a couple of TBS of vegetable oil.
Let the steaks cool for a few minutes then coat with Jeff's Texas style rub on all sides.
Setup smoker for cooking at 230°F with indirect heat.
When the smoker is ready, place the steaks on the grate and let them smoke cook with oak or whatever smoking wood you have available.
At about 30 minutes in, baste the steaks with a concoction of ½ cup low sodium soy sauce, ½ cup Worcestershire, and ¼ cup of olive oil. Stir the ingredients constantly as you use it to keep them from separating.
When the steaks reach 137°F as measured with a meat thermometer, remove them from the smoker and let them rest for 4-7 minutes.
They can be sliced into ¼ inch slices or served as whole steaks.