Looking for the best way to cook the perfect steak? There’s no shortage of options—grilling, broiling, sous vide, sear-roasting, pan-frying, and roasting—take your pick. Many of these methods ensure a delicious steak, but a reverse sear is one of the easiest options for flawless results every time. If you’re prone to accidental overcooking, this is the method for you.
Here’s everything you need to know to cook the perfect reverse sear steak, from what a reverse sear even is to step-by-step instructions.
What Exactly Is a Reverse Sear
A reverse sear is exactly what it sounds like—it takes the traditional process of searing a steak and reverses it. Instead of searing the steak first and finishing it in the oven, you cook it in the oven until it reaches the desired temperature, and then sear it to finish it.
That may seem like a minor difference, but you’ll notice it when you taste the results! The reverse sear method comes with a plateful of benefits. Speaking of which…
Benefits of a Reverse Searing a Steak
- The biggest attraction of the reverse sear method is that it’s simple and very forgiving to new cooks. Cooking your steak at low temperature with even heat offers better control, results in more even color, and helps prevent overcooking.
- Even better, excess surface moisture is removed in the oven, which results in a better sear and that delectable crisp finish we all know and love. We highly recommend using a cast iron pan to enhance this benefit!
- Once you’re done, your pan will also be hot and full of juices, just waiting to become a flavorful sauce. The result is a steak similar to that obtained via the Sous Vide technique at a much lower cost.
How to Reverse Sear a Steak in Six Simple Steps
Now that you know a little bit more about reverse searing and its benefits, it’s time to get down to the details—how you reverse sear a steak, step-by-step. Whether you like your steak rare, well-done, or anywhere in between, follow our guide, and your guests will be raving about your steaks for years to come.
1. Choosing Your Steak
The first step to cooking the perfect reverse sear steak is choosing the perfect steak. Keep in mind that the thicker the cut of meat that you choose, the better the results and flavor you’ll get with a reverse sear.
Aim for a cut that is no less than one-inch thick. Two to three inches is ideal. You also want ample marbling. Fattier cuts are fine, as the steaks are started at a low temp, so there’s no need to worry about burning the meat with a flare-up.
Here are a few of our favorite steaks for reverse searing:
2. Marinating Your Steak and Preheating the Oven
Now that you have a steak, or preferably steaks—dinner is better with company—the next step is to marinate and season your steak, as well as to preheat your oven.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to seasoning a steak, but some popular options include salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
You can also marinate your steaks ahead of time in sauces such as A-1, teriyaki sauce, wine, balsamic vinegar, and even soy sauce. All of this is completely optional, the natural flavor of a quality cut of meat is plenty, but a marinade is a fun way to tweak the flavor profile.
Here are the next steps to reverse sear your steak:
- Marinate and season your steak in your desired spices and sauces.
- Preheat your oven to 275°F.
- Move one rack to the center and another to the bottom third.
- Place a wire rack on a foil-lined cooking sheet.
- Blot your steaks dry (especially important if your marinade is high in sugar)
- Put your seasoned and marinated steaks on the rack.
3. Decide How Done You’d Like Your Steak
The next step to cooking the perfect reverse sear steak is choosing how you like your steak cooked. You’ll want to have a meat thermometer ready! How you like your steak cooked is key to determining what temperature to pull your steak at.
Here’s a rough guide for the proper meat temperatures for steaks at various levels of “done,” along with what exactly those levels refer to:
- Blue rare: 115°F (47°C)
Blue rare, or very rare, steaks aren’t really an option with a reverse sear as they generally are only seared on the outside. The inside may still be cool.
- Rare: 125°F (52°C):
A step above blue rare, a rare steak will be warm through but still quite red and juicy. Generally, this option isn’t ideal for thicker steaks such as those used in a reverse sear as the fat doesn’t have time to melt.
- Medium-rare: 130°F (55C°)
Arguably the steak style of choice, medium rare is warm enough to melt the fat but still retains a pink, flavorful center.
- Medium: 140°F (60°C)
A medium steak tends to be slightly drier than medium-rare but still has some, albeit far less, pink color.
- Medium-well: 150°F (66°C)
At this point, the meat has mostly browned through. It’s likely to be drier and a bit chewer.
- Well done: 160°F (72°C)
No pink remains in a well-done steak. Some chefs prefer to call this option over-done, but we’d argue if it’s not burnt, it’s still a matter of preference. Cooking a well-done, tender steak is a true challenge, and one not well-matched with reverse searing.
4. Cooking the Steak in the Oven
Okay—you have your steak, and it and your oven are prepped. It’s time to start cooking:
- Place the baking sheet or tray in the oven on the center rack.
- Check the internal temperature every 5 minutes after the first 15 with a meat thermometer to ensure your desired level is between 115°F-160°F, depending on how you like your steak cooked as above.
- Place a cast-iron pan or skillet on the bottom oven rack to preheat while the steak is cooking.
- Take the steak out of the oven just before it has reached the desired internal temperature. You’ll increase the temp a bit more during the searing process. About 15 degrees early works well.
5. Transferring the Steak to the Pan
Once your steaks are close to temp, the next step is to lock in all that flavor. Take the pan out of the oven, add a layer of the oil of your choice, and turn the heat on high. Heat the pan until the oil is at the smoking point.
Place the steaks on the pan, and sear for about two minutes on both sides or until they are at your desired temperate.
After searing, you will want to put the steaks on a dish and let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. This process allows the steaks to rest and finish cooking. Typically, the internal temperature will rise about 5 degrees, so keep that in mind when deciding when to pull your steaks off the heat.
6. Serve and Enjoy!
That’s it! The sixth step is by-far our favorite—serve and enjoy! If you are cutting your steaks for presentation reasons, we recommend slicing them against the grain, meaning cut perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. By doing so, you’ll cut through the fibers and create an even tender dish for you and your guests.
Ready to Give It a Try?
The reverse sear method is an extremely easy way to cook the perfect steak every time! Ready to it for yourself? We’d love to know how you did! Let us know in the comments.