How to reverse sear a steak:
- Preheat your oven.
- Cook your steak in the oven until it reaches 20-30 degrees below your target temperature.
- Move the steak to a screamingly hot cast iron pan. Finish cooking it there to get a nice golden crust on either side.
- Optionally, baste your steak with butter and herbs.
- Let it rest for a good five minutes before you cut into it to allow for carryover cooking and for the juices to set.
- What is Reverse Searing?
- Why You Should Reverse Sear Your Steak
- How To Reverse Sear a Steak
- Best Kitchen Tools for Reverse Searing
1. What is Reverse Searing?
Steak has such a tight grip on our collective culinary identity that we’re always on the lookout for new methods to make it better, to maximize its properties, to manipulate temperature in order to bring it to succulent perfection. The reverse searing method, which we’re about to spend some time discussing, is yet another example of this eternal quest.
The reverse sear method is a process that involves baking the meat in the oven, then searing it in a pan (preferably a cast iron pan). This technique is fantastic because it gives you more control over the internal temperature of the meat while also allowing for a delicious browned crust (thanks, maillard reaction!) as well as an altogether more tender piece of beef.
Whether you’re making a naturally tender piece of beef like a filet mignon or a ribeye, or taking a sub-optimal cut and elevating it with this cooking method, you know the end result is going to be something special. And that’s what’s great about this specific method: there are many ways to quickly and easily adjust it to your personal preferences.
So who came up with the reverse seared steak? Where did this recipe come from? Well, when it comes to recipes it’s always a bit murky, as details of who made what change tend to fall away with time. However, with the reverse sear method, we actually have a pretty clear idea of who invented it.
Yes, we’re talking about author and food connoisseur J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who one day had the brilliant idea to take the normal meat-cooking process popularized in many steakhouses (to first sear the meat and then cook it to proper internal temperature in an oven) and flip it on its head. With the reverse sear method, the steak is brought to almost the desired steak doneness low and slow, with low temperature, then moved over to a screamingly hot skillet (most usually a cast iron) for searing.
The end result is an incredibly tasty, perfectly cooked steak with a deliciously crunchy crust. But how easy is it to dominate? And how exactly does it work? Let’s talk about it.
2. Why You Should Reverse Sear Your Steak
If you’re a reverse searing skeptic – good. That’s a good thing to be in general, especially when it comes to food fads; questioning the efficacy of every new thing is a good way to ensure you don’t waste your time (or your food) on nonsense. But the reverse sear method is legit. And these are the main benefits.
- By starting your steak off in an oven at low temperature, you give the moisture more time to be effectively removed from the meat surface, which helps prep it for the cast iron pan later on where it will be given a wonderful sear.
- This sear you get from pan-searing at the end of cooking in a preheated cast iron skillet is courtesy of a phenomenon called the Maillard Reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars, providing that pleasing browned crust. That’s why the high temperature here is important.
- Cooking your meat to almost the desired doneness (though not quite) and then bringing it to temperature on the hot cast iron pan is a great way to ensure proper cooking throughout.
- This is a similar cooking process to a Sous Vide, but considerably less expensive than getting the Sous Vide machine (and less fussing with water temperature).
- Even very thick steaks can be brought to the desired doneness.
3. How to Reverse Sear a Steak
This method for cooking meat works great with thicker cuts, about 1 and a half inch thick and above. Anything thinner than that will cook too quickly and will leave you scrambling to complete it without overcooking it. Go for high quality cuts like ribeye, sirloin, new york strip, etc. Ribeye is my personal favorite.
Get ready to have your world changed. This is how to reverse sear a steak.
- Prepare your oven and seasoned steak. Preheat the oven to 275F (or 135C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel in order to minimize the amount of time the oven needs to fully cook. Place the steaks on a wire rack in the center position.
- Cook your steak in the oven. The best way to go is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest piece of the steak. Every oven is a little bit different, as is each cut of meat, so there’s no exact measurement here. Check the temperature constantly with your meat thermometer until you reach your desired doneness. If you’re going for a medium rare steak, that’s 90 to 95F (remember, they will continue cooking in the skillet, so no need to hit the exact medium rare number which is 130F).
- Once your steaks have reached the optimal temperature in the oven, you’re going to remove them from there and transfer them to the stovetop. Make sure the pan is on high heat, with some oil with a high smoke point temperature (clarified butter is also a good choice here). Be careful not to have very low temperature!
- Sear your steaks on each side in the oil. Use your meat thermometer to check the internal temperature again and make sure you don’t overshoot it.
- Optionally, while you’re cooking your meat in the skillet you can add some butter and herbs such as thyme or rosemary, or even garlic, and baste your meat with it. The butter baste gives a tremendous amount of flavor. Like our friend Guga says, “butter makes everything better.”
- Let your steak rest. This is a very important step and often overlooked. Letting your steak rest allows it to continue cooking, as well as letting the internal juices settle back into place instead of spraying everywhere the second you start cutting into it (especially if you’ve been basting it with butter). Let your steak rest for a good 5 minutes.
And there you have it. You have cooked your steak using the reverse sear method, to juicy steak perfection. As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward, but as with any combination of meat, high heat, and time, there are a few intricacies that all but guarantee you don’t get it 100% correctly on your first try. All the more reason to start cooking your meat this way today!
4. Best Kitchen Tools for Reverse Searing
Reverse searing may be straightforward when it comes to the enumerated steps, but there are always variables along the way that may cause you to misjudge or overshoot your objectives. So to minimize error as much as possible, here’s a list of must-have kitchen products you can use for this and any other purpose.
Cast iron skillets are great, but real good ones are hard to come by. They’re heavy, they’re expensive, and they’re often a bit ugly. If you’re looking for a great frying pan and skillet that can get extremely hot while also being more versatile and easier to take care of than a cast iron, try this gorgeous 10” frying pan from Dalstrong’s Avalon series.
- Made of a 5-ply copper forged foundation: fantastic heat conductivity, great for searing, browning, sauteing, and more.
- Has additional interior layers of aluminum and stainless steel for maximum heat conductivity and retention.
- Heavy gauge cookware, with a 2.5mm thickness that can withstand prolonged high heat.
- Features a stainless steel lid that will last a lifetime.
- At 10”, this pan might be a little small for some home cooks.
- If you’re looking for a nonstick pan, try out this one.
You need to have a good cutting board. This is a great option as it nestles comfortably in a corner and is made of the best quality materials. Throw that thin, plastic cutting board out – here’s what a real one looks like!
- A hard, high-quality cutting board to help you make the most of your reverse seared steak.
- Made of 100% natural teak wood.
- Its design is just perfect for saving counter space.
- Features checkered construction for better impact absorption.
- If you want a larger cutting board, try the Lionswood colossal.
- This is a premium product, so the price tag reflects it. Some folks used to buying ultra-cheap cutting boards might be a little startled by it.
And of course, you need to make sure you’re using the proper tools to cut your steak like butter. This amazing 10” chef’s knife from Dalstrong’s gorgeous Delta Wolf series is one of the most impressive chef’s knives you’ll find. Named after the elite Special Operations Force of the same name, this knife is ruthlessly sharp and looks incredible too.
- A low maintenance blade that cleans very easily.
- Features a menacing black, non-reflective titanium nitride coating, which increases its non-stick properties while also looking incredible.
- Made of 10” precision forged, ultra-sharp high-carbon 9CR18MOV steel
- Features an ergonomic, comfortable G10 camouflage handle.
- To some people, the titanium nitride coating might make sharpening a little daunting, but it’s extremely easy.
- Those of you used to thicker blades might take a little getting used to this ultra-thin (1.6mm) knife.
One of the best parts of cooking up some nice steaks is sharing them with friends and family. Here we have this gorgeous set of 4 steak knives from Dalstrong’s acclaimed Shogun series. Put these out and the message you’ll be sending out to your dinner guests is “I care about you and want you to have the best dining experience possible.”
- 5” precision forged blades with an ultra-premium Japanese AUS-10V ‘super steel’ cutting core and 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel cladding.
- Absurdly sharp blade at 8-12 degrees per side, gliding through meat like butter.
- Some of the most gorgeous chef’s knives you’ll ever see, featuring the Shogun series Tsunami Rose blade pattern.
- Ergonomic, ultra-premium G-10 Garolite handle
- These steak knives may be a little heftier than some people are used to.
- Some folks might prefer other handle material such as Spanish pakkawood or ABS polymer.
You’ll also need a quality tool that’ll help you grab on to your steaks and transport them without burning your hands. Cooking tongs are more useful than you think.
- Extremely comfortable to use, like an extension of your own hands.
- Forged of S/S430 high carbon steel
- Ergonomic G10 grip so you can hold on to it for longer.
- Features silicon tips for extra protection.
- 12” is pretty large for a set of tongs; check out these ones for something smaller.
- Made of high-quality materials, these tongs are also a bit on the heftier side