For the ultimate medium-rare steak, boasting an even perfection from edge to edge and a tantalizingly crisp crust, look no further than the reverse seared steak.

reverse sear steak guide

Regarding steak cooking techniques, knowing what is right for you can be hard. Everybody likes their steak differently; working out the correct style is difficult. One choice that comes highly recommended today is the reverse sear steak.

To reverse sear, you go through a different cooking process than you normally would. The results, though, are often exemplary. If you want to learn how to reverse sear a steak, read on because this guide will break down everything you need about this cooking technique.

What is the Reverse Sear?

Reverse sear is a cooking method used for cooking steak that means you slow-cook the steak before searing it in hot temperatures. This method emerged alongside a growing fascination with food science and meticulous cooking approaches, like sous vide, especially prevalent in the early 2000s—an era ripe for culinary innovation.

However, during that time, sous vide machine was exorbitantly priced, far beyond the reach of a typical household kitchen. This situation spurred the creation of an accessible alternative that could replicate the outcomes of sous vide cooking sans the need for sophisticated gadgets. Hence, the inception of the reverse sear method.

This form of steak cooking is very popular and can provide a steak that is properly medium-rare from one edge of the steak to the other. It also leaves your steak with that crispy outer layer, which many of us look for when cooking.

reverse sear rib eye steak

Why does reverse sear steak work?

A reverse-seared steak is cooked in a method that allows for a properly, thoroughly cooked interior without drying it. With a reverse sear steak, you will bring the temperature up slowly but surely in the oven or on the cool part of a grill before finishing it with a searing heat. This leads you with that ‘best of both worlds’ approach – nice cooked inside of the steak without making the crust of the steak overly crispy.

Is this the best way to cook steak?

Everyone will have their views and opinions on that side of the discussion. However, most people who go down the route of a reverse searing process will find it delivers an excellent end product. This method also works well for indoor and outdoor steak cooking, which is nice. It can be your ‘party trick’ if you cook steak for someone who prefers a medium-rare style.

Why You Should Reverse Sear Steaks

So, there are many benefits to going down this route of steak cooking. Most of the time, the main advantages of a reverse sear steak cooking method include:

As you can see, the benefits of going down the reverse sear route are very easy to spot. Now that you know what reverse sear steak cooking is and what it leads to, let’s look at how you reverse searing a steak properly.

How To Reverse Sear A Steak

The good news about learning how to reverse sear a steak is that it is easy. Other steak cooking methods can feel like learning how to construct a rocket, but reverse sear methods are very easy. The steps that you need to take include the following:

Step 1. Start by seasoning your steak – we recommend a steak of at least 1.5” to 2” in thickness – and add the seasoning you want to use on your steak.

Step 2. Now, once the steak is seasoned, put the steak meat on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet. Once on the baking sheet – set the meat into your low oven. On the low event, the ideal reverse sear steak temp will be around 200 to 275°F (93°C to 135°C). This should be cooked at this level until about 15°F before your ideal temperature.

seasoning your steak

Need help deciding the right temperature? See our reverse sear steak time chart below to get a good idea of what kind of time and temperature is right for your preferred method.

Step 3. Once it reaches the above temperature by checking with a wireless meat thermometer, take the steak out and let it rest. Resting is so important. Allow that steak to rest for around 10 minutes, perhaps longer for thicker cuts.

Step 4. Now that your steak has rested place it into your skillet. Make sure the skillet is piping hot before you begin, though. What if you lack a skillet? You can use a standard grill –ensure you set the temperature to the maximum your grill will allow.

Step 5. Get the steak in there for around 45 to 60 seconds, sometimes a little longer, and flip the steak to repeat the trick on the other side.

By the way, just a quick note: you need a good-quality thermometer to make this work on your behalf. DO NOT try to guess the temperature: this is a surefire way to end up burning the steak and being unhappy with what you are left with at the end of the process.

Reverse Sear Steak Temperature And Time

The good thing with a reverse sear steak is that it often does not include most of the challenges or confusion that come with other steak cooking methods. To help you ensure you can go through the process quickly, we recommend using this reverse sear steak time chart and reverse sear steak temperature plan to have a good idea of times.

Please note, though, that these are all rough approximations. Depending on the kind of steak, the equipment you are using, and the conditions you are cooking in, these numbers could rise or fall by an important margin. So, again, ensure you are using a thermometer to keep an eye on this!

If you are putting a steak of around 1.5” in an oven heated to around 250°F (120°C), then you should focus on the following times:

Steak DonesnessStarting TemperatureTarget TemperatureTime To Cook
Rare105°F (40°C)120°F (49°C)20-25 minutes
Medium-Rare115°F (46°C)130°F (54°C)25-30 minutes
Medium125°F (52°C)140°F (60°C)30-35 minutes
Medium-Well135°F (57°C)150°F (66°C)35-40 minutes

Stick to the above times, and you should be well on target for cooking a steak that tastes great and fits in perfectly with the cooking style that you are looking for.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Reverse Sear?

Now that you have a good idea of how long it takes to reverse-sear steak meat, you hopefully can see why this is so advantageous. However, we are not here to pretend that the reverse sear steak is perfect. The above should give you a good idea of how to reverse sear a steak and get the best flavor, but there are some considerations. Some of the most common disadvantages of reverse sear include:

Of course, some of these disadvantages are not a huge issue. But still, you should take them into account anyway.

Is Sous-Vide Steak Better Than Reverse-Seared Steak?

Good question! Reverse searing is, after all, a ‘cheap’ way to get a sous vide style. However, it would be fair to say that even with a top-class sous vide setup, you will not get the same quality of searing with sous vide as you do with a reverse sear steak.

Sous vide steaks come out a bit damp/wet from the bag, meaning they often lack that same ability to get them to crisp up so well. Reverse sear steaks will always have a greater quality of ‘crust’ atop the steak. However, it would be fair to say that sous vide steaks are easier to get right compared to reverse-seared steaks. Reverse searing is, for many, a trial and error issue, which could mean wasting some pretty expensive meat without meaning it.

If you want a consistent finish to your steaks and do not want to risk wasting meat, go for a sous vide. If you are looking for a high-quality sous vide station, we recommend the Typhur Sous Vide Station. It is one of the best on the market and can make it easy to start cooking sous vide steaks without messing around or learning any methods.

sous vide station schedule cooking

FAQs About Reverse Seared Steak

Now that you can understand the benefits of reverse sear steak cooking, you must decide whether this is right. If you have any questions remaining, hopefully, the below answer for you in some detail.

6.1. What Cut Of Steaks Are Best To Reverse Sear?

The best cut of steak to use for reverse searing includes anything in the 1.5” to 2” size category. You should avoid using anything smaller than this. If 2” is too thick for you, some recommend using a single 2” steak for two people, slicing it in half to give each person around 1” each.

Regarding steak style, ribeye, and filet mignon work best in our experience.

6.2. Do You Flip Steak When Reverse Searing?

Yes, it would be best to flip your steak while cooking it. Allow the first side to brown for around 60 seconds in the searing solution you are using, and then flip it so the other side can get properly seared. You might even wish to sear the sides for that extra-special finish.

6.3. Do You Need To Let Steak Rest After Reverse Sear?

Yes, once the steak comes out of the oven, you should allow it to rest so the internal temperature can rise to the right level. This should be around 10 minutes of resting time, in our experience, though this can vary from cut to cut.