Reverse searing is a cooking technique for steaks that ensures evenly cooked and reliably juicy meat. It takes longer, but the tasty results are well worth it!
I don't know about you, but I LOVE steaks. 🥩 I just wish they weren't so expensive! My favorite cut is New York strip and I like to cook it in a hot cast-iron skillet until a wonderfully brown crust is formed on the outside but the middle is medium-rare or even rare.
Whenever I have extra time I choose the reverse-sear technique. Yes, it requires more time commitment than my usual method. But I love the reliably juicy steaks it produces, and to me, it's well worth the extra time.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to reverse-sear a steak. 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 fried. So you'll want your steak to be at least 1-inch thick and preferably 1.5 inches.
Kosher salt and black pepper: These are the only seasonings that a good steak needs. And although sea salt is all the rage, I prefer cooking and salting my food with kosher salt.
Butter: For topping the cooked steak. This is optional, but really good and highly recommended. Steakhouses always finish their steaks with a pat of butter, and for good reason!
So how exactly do you reverse-sear a steak? The detailed instructions 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 degrees F.
Now, 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 and grease the rack.
Place the steak on the rack. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer into the steak. That's the only way to know for sure when the steak is ready for searing.
Bake the steak in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 110 degrees F. For me, with a fridge-temperature, 1 ½-inch thick steak, this 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. 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 seconds on the edges. That's it! Your perfectly cooked steak is ready.
Frequently asked questions
This method is achieved by changing the usual order in which one prepares steak.
Normally, 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 degrees F) oven to roast until the meat is done, 3-5 minutes depending on how done you like your steak.
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 degrees F.
You then rest the meat, allowing the juices to re-distribute; finally a quick sear, 1 minute per side, and you got yourself big, juicy, reliably medium-rare steaks.
That depends on the thickness of your steak and on your own oven. Generally, I find that for a 1.5-inch thick steak at fridge temperature, it 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 degrees F or as high as 300 degrees F. I usually opt for something in the middle, so 275 degrees F. Needless to say, the steak will need to stay longer in a slower oven.
When it comes to searing, the best tool is a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. It's superb in terms of heat retention and distribution and cooks steaks perfectly. It's the only type of skillet I use when cooking steaks.
I like New York strip steaks so that's what I normally use. But you can use this cooking method with any type of steak, including ribeye and filet mignon.
Advantages of reverse-searing
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!
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.
Disadvantages of this method
The main disadvantages are that it takes longer to cook when using this method and that to truly make it work, you need a meat thermometer.
You also get less of a crust on your steaks because you only sear them for a minute or so. Take a look at the photo in my How to Cook Steak tutorial - you can see that those steaks have a thicker and darker crust on them, and that thick crust is very flavorful.
Personally, when I have the extra time, I find that the juicy, evenly cooked result is well worth the drawbacks.
Recommended side dishes
And if you happen to have some sauteed onions (or if you have the patience for making them), they make a great topping for steaks.
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, on 50% power. Or slice them and use them cold in a steak salad or in a lettuce sandwich. That's actually my favorite way to use them.
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Reverse Seared New York Strip Steak
- 1 NY strip steak 10 oz, 1 ½ inch thick
- ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ tablespoon butter
- Preheat your oven to 275 degrees 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 (I got mine on Amazon) into the steak. Bake the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 110 degrees F. For me, with a fridge-temperature, 1 ½ inch thick steak, this 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 with butter and serve.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
- The USDA recommends cooking steaks to 145F which is medium.
- When it comes to searing, the best tool is a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. It's superb in terms of 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.