The Perfect Reverse-Sear Steak

Grilling imparts a wonderful smoky flavor and char that pan-searing or broiling cannot match. This “reverse-sear” method of slow-cooking and then finishing with a high-heat sear controls the internal temperature for even cooking. For the best flavor, buy as fat-marbled a steak as you can afford, and cook steaks bone-in over real hardwood or charcoal, which cooks hotter, sears better and imparts more smoke than a gas grill. With bone-in cuts, count on about 10 ounces of steak per person—leftovers can be used in salads, stir-fries, sandwiches and other dishes.
By / Photography By Shell B Royster | June 19, 2015


Perfect technique requires investing in a good meat thermometer to monitor internal temperatures:  

Rare: 120°

Medium-Rare: 125°

Medium: 135°

Medium-Well: 150°

Well Done: 160°

A 2- to 3-inch-thick steak should rest for 20 minutes after cooking, and during that time its temperature will rise by about 5°.


Remove steak from refrigerator in advance so it is room temperature by the time cooking begins (40 minutes at least for a thick steak, or 20 minutes for normal steaks).  Pat steaks dry. Brush the steak with the olive oil. Coat both sides liberally with salt and pepper and let sit until room temperature. The salt draws out some of the surface moisture, which improves flavor.

Cook the steak indirectly (off direct heat) at first. Place charcoal on only one side of the grill, or only turn on the gas on one side. Temperature should be at about 200° if possible. Adjust temperature by lifting grill cover to cool the fire, or replacing it to heat up. With charcoal, adjust the oxygen flow via the air holes at the bottom of the grill.

Place the steaks on the side of the grill with no fire. Cook indirectly until the internal temperature reaches 5° below the desired doneness. (If you are using a porterhouse or T-bone thick enough, stand it on head (the bone side), so heat can circulate evenly, or just keep turning it every 3 or 4 minutes). Allow about 30 minutes per pound at 200°, which will make the steak medium-rare from edge to edge, not just in the middle.

Once the steak’s internal temperature is 5° below desired doneness, place the steak directly over the flame or charcoal for 2 minutes, until it gets slightly brown or develops a slight char.

Remove the steaks and cover loosely with foil for 10–20 minutes. “Resting” the steak is critical to allow it to reabsorb its juices.

To serve, cut steaks in half-inch slices. For presentation, the steak can be rearranged back onto the bone.

Steaks can be reheated just before serving, but be sure to remove them from cooking at a slightly lower temperature. Reheat rested steaks in a hot skillet for 1 minute on each side, then serve.



  • 1 (2- to 3-inch-thick) steak on the bone (we recommend a porterhouse or T-bone)
  • Olive oil—enough to coat both sides of the steak
  • Kosher salt—enough to generously coat both sides
  • Cracked black pepper—enough to coat both sides
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