Reverse sear steak is made using a cooking technique that ensures juicy and evenly cooked meat.
It takes longer than simply pan-frying, but the tasty, reliably juicy results are well worth it!
I love steaks. I just wish they weren't so expensive! My favorite cuts are ribeye steak and New York strip. I usually cook them in a hot cast-iron skillet until a lovely brown crust is formed on the outside and the middle is medium-rare.
But whenever I have extra time, I make reverse sear steak. Yes, it requires more time commitment than my usual method. But I love the reliably juicy steaks it produces.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Thick steaks: This technique does not work with thin steaks - those can simply be quickly pan-fried like I do in this steak and eggs recipe. So you'll want your steak to be at least 1 inch thick, preferably 1.5 inches.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: These are the only seasonings that a good steak needs. And although sea salt is very fashionable, I prefer cooking and salting my food with kosher salt.
- Butter: For topping the cooked steak. This is optional but delicious and highly recommended. Steakhouses always finish their steaks with a generous pat of butter, and for good reason!
I like New York strip steaks, so that's what I usually use in this recipe. But you can use this cooking method with any thick-cut steak, including ribeye and filet mignon.
The only steak I wouldn't cook using this method is picanha steak. The thick fat cap needs good searing, so it's best to use the traditional method when cooking this cut.
The detailed instructions for making reverse sear steak are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of the steps:
You start by preheating your oven. You want it to be at a low temperature to ensure even cooking, so set it to 275°F. You don't need to take the steak out of the fridge in advance.
Season your steak on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the steak on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a rack. Insert the probe of an oven-safe meat thermometer into the steak. That's the only way to know for sure when the steak is ready for searing.
Bake the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°F. In my experience, a fridge-temperature 1.5-inch-thick steak usually takes about 20-25 minutes.
Remove the steak from the oven. Transfer it to a plate, loosely cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. At this point, your steak won't look very appetizing. No worries! You'll soon sear it in a skillet, and then it will look great.
While the steak is resting, heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sear the steak for one minute on each side and a few seconds on the edges.
That's it! Your perfectly cooked steak is ready. Top it with butter and serve.
Regular Sear vs. Reverse Sear Steak
Take a look at these two steaks:
Both are New York Strip steaks. The difference is clear: the one cooked the traditional way has a nice, deep, thick crust. The medium-rare inside is wrapped by a thin layer of gray band - meat that became overcooked because of the searing.
The steak that was reverse-seared is not as browned and crusty. However, the meat inside, also medium-rare, appears juicier and more uniform - it doesn't have a gray band surrounding it.
When it comes to cooking steaks, the best tool is a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. It's superb in heat retention and distribution and cooks steaks perfectly. It's the only type of skillet I use when cooking steaks.
This method is achieved by changing the usual order in which one prepares steak.
Usually, you would cook the steak in a very hot skillet for about two minutes on each side. Then, you would transfer the skillet to a hot (500°F) oven to roast until the steak is done, 3-5 minutes, depending on how done you like it.
When reverse-searing, you change the order of these steps. First, you gently bake the steak in a slow oven, bringing it to an internal temperature of 110°F.
You then rest the meat, allowing the juices to re-distribute; finally, a quick sear, 1 minute per side, and you get big, juicy, reliably medium-rare steaks.
That depends on the thickness of your steak and on your oven. In my experience, a 1.5-inch thick steak at fridge temperature takes about 20 minutes in the oven, plus a quick searing in a cast-iron skillet. But the only way to know for sure is to use a meat thermometer.
You have some flexibility when it comes to the oven temperature. You can go as low as 250°F or as high as 300°F.
I usually opt for something in the middle, so 275°F. Needless to say, the steak will need to stay longer in a slower oven.
The main advantage of this cooking method is that you get reliably juicy, evenly cooked steaks. None of those steaks that are nearly burnt on the outside but still raw in the middle!
This method also prevents the gray band - a thin ring of overcooked meat beneath the crust that typically surrounds steaks cooked the traditional way.
In addition, since you rest the steaks before the final searing, you can eat them hot, right off the skillet. There's no need to rest them after cooking.
The main disadvantages are that it takes longer to cook when using this method and that you need a meat thermometer to truly make it work.
You also get less of a crust on your steaks because you only sear them for a minute or so.
When I have the extra time, I find that the juicy, evenly cooked result is well worth the drawbacks.
More Steak Recipes
Reverse Sear Steak
- 1 New York strip steak 10 ounces, 1 ½-inch thick
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ tablespoon butter
- Preheat your oven to 275°F. Season your steak on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. You don't need to take the steak out of the fridge in advance.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Fit the baking sheet with a metal rack. Grease the rack.
- Place the steak on the rack. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer into the steak. Bake the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°F. For me, a fridge-temperature, 1 ½-inch thick steak usually takes about 20 minutes.
- Remove the steak from the oven. Transfer it to a plate, loosely cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- While the steak is resting, heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until smoking hot, 5-7 minutes. If the skillet is well-seasoned, you don't need to grease it.
- Gently pat the steak dry with paper towels, then place it in the hot skillet. Sear the steak for 1 minute on each side and a few more seconds on the edges, then top it with butter and serve.
- The USDA recommends cooking steaks to an internal temperature of 145°F.
- When it comes to searing, the best tool is a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. It's superb in heat retention and distribution and cooks steaks perfectly. It's the only type of skillet I use when cooking steaks.
- While this recipe was written for New York strip steaks, it also works with other thick cuts, including ribeye and filet mignon.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them VERY gently so as not to dry them out, in the microwave, covered, at 50% power. Or slice them and use them cold in a steak salad or lettuce sandwich. That's actually my favorite way to use them.
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Nutrition per Serving
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