How to Reverse Sear a Steak

If you’re going for that perfect, pink-in-the-middle, crispy on the outside medium-rare steak, then you need to know how to reverse sear a steak. The reverse searing method might completely change the way you look at cooking a steak. It gives you a stress-free way to temperature control, getting that brown crust and evenly cooking your steak throughout. So continue reading to learn more about how you can do it! 

Reverse Searing your Steak – The Steps

The process of reverse searing the steak actually is quite simple. Let’s take you through the process step-by-step: 

Step 1: Season the Steak, Generously

Season your steaks (the cut doesn’t matter – they should just be thick at about 1-1.5 inches) vigorously on all sides with pepper and salt then lay them on wire racks that are set above parchment paper. But if you’re using the grill you could skip this step. For a crispier cook on the outside, make sure to dry its moisture out by keeping it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. 

Step 2: Warm Up the Oven 

Set your oven to be preheated on 200 and 275°F. Lower the temperature, more evenly it cooks. If you have a modern oven, you can set it below this temperature range too but most ovens don’t accurately work at that low a temperature. Then allow preheating for 10-15 minutes. 

Step 3: Slow-Cook the Meat

Take out your food thermometer (which is essential in the process) so when you take the steaks out of the oven, they should be at least 10 to 15°F lower than the temperature you’d like the meat to be served and eaten. 

If you happen to be using a grill you can just put the steaks on the colder side of the grill. This way, they slow cook with the heat coming onto them indirectly. Please remember to keep a check on the temperature. 

Step 4: Sear the Steak

Before you’re planning to take the steak out of the oven, get a skillet, crank the heat up, drop a tablespoon or two of butter or vegetable oil into a skillet. Use the biggest burner you have on the stove so the direct heat is of proper intensity. That or you may also use a cast iron if you don’t happen to have a heavy skillet on hand. 

Next, when the oil starts getting smoky,add in the steaks and a few dollops of butter along with it and let them cook, lifting and flipping it up occasionally until they properly go brown. Because it’s a fast-cook, it should take no longer than 45-50 seconds. Once the top and bottom of the steaks are done, grab your tongs to hold the steak sideways. This will help you sear its edges.

Step 5: Serve the Steaks

After you’ve taken the steak(s) off the heat, let them rest for 2-3 minutes so all the moisture is retained. However, you can also serve it immediately, because this method doesn’t need you to rest the steaks, they’re already packing a lot of moisture. 

However, before you take them off the heat, be sure to know what temperatures to cook at and take them off at: 

  • Rare – target temperature: 105°F, final target temperature: 120°F, the cooking time in the oven: around 30 minutes. 
  • Medium-rare – target temperature: 115°F (46°C), final target temperature: 130°F, the cooking time in the oven: around 30 minutes
  • Medium – target temperature: 125°F (52°C), final target temperature: 140°F, the cooking time in the oven: around 35 minutes.
  • Medium-Well – target temperature: 135°F, final target temperature: 150°F, the cooking time in the oven: around 40 minutes.

Why you should Try Reverse Searing your Steak

People often believe that the “sear-first” concept in cooking meat is used to lock the moisture in. But this is a myth, searing does not lock in any moisture, it instead adds flavor. But reverse searing the steak has a bunch of interesting results, let’s look at them:

1. Cooks are More Even 

When cooking meat, you need to assess the internal temperature also known as the temperature gradient (the temperature difference in the cooking of meat from the edges to the center). If the temperature is very high, so is the energy that is transferred and this often results in less even cooking. Whereas, if you start out your streaks at low temperatures, you can get juicier steaks. 

2. Better Browning

Getting that crisp brown edge on the steak is an important part of cooking it. When you’re cooking a steak your aim should be that the temperature and evaporation buckets are as small as possible, so that you can rapidly fill them up and move on to the important process of browning. It involves a bit of chemistry so we’ll explain it via the Maillard reaction. 

It is only then when you can achieve the perfect crispy browning. The less time it spends in the pan, the fewer chances there are of it being overcooked. So a rule of thumb to work with is: for the moistest possible steak, start with the driest steak possible. 

3. Consistent and Tender Meat

Granted that the reverse sear is slightly longer than the conventional way to prepare a steak, it will make the meat more tender and is a sure-fire way to get the perfect juicy pink throughout. This is because the reverse sear method offers you more control over the internal temperature of the meat. So you can stop once you think that you’ve reached your desired temperature. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to reverse sear a steak, what are you waiting for? Reverse searing your steak is an excellent method to achieve that edge-to-edge browned crispiness and that succulent interior, allowing you to have your own, in-house restaurant-quality experience.