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Sear vs Reverse Sear Steak Methods Explained

sear vs reverse sear

Today we explain the Sear vs reverse sear methods and the difference between these two steak cooking techniques. When it comes to cooking a mouthwatering steak, the searing cooking technique you choose can make all the difference. Two popular methods that divide grillmasters are the Sear and the Reverse Sear method.

Let’s dive into the techniques, benefits, and drawbacks of each method, so you can choose the right one for your next steak extravaganza.

The Cooking Techniques: Sear vs Reverse Sear

The Sear Technique

Searing involves quickly cooking a steak over high heat to form a delicious crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and tender. Because the steak is cooked at very high heat, hot and fast, this method creates a nice crust or bark on the steak fast.

sear a steak

However, because searing involves cooking with direct high heat, is hard to cook steaks beyond medium rare without burning the steak, especially thick steak cuts.

Here’s what you need to know about the sear technique:

1. Process:

  • Start by preheating your grill or skillet to high heat. If you are using a grill, we are taking 500 degrees at least over direct heat.
  • Season your steak with salt and pepper or use our seasoning Gypsy for a better crust and flavor, allowing it to rest at room temperature, or place it in the fridge for a while.
  • Place the steak on the hot grill or skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side until you achieve a beautifully browned crust.
  • Searing locks in the flavors and creates enticing grill marks, resulting in a caramelized and savory exterior with a great texture.

2. Benefits

  • Fastest way to cook a steak
  • Nice think crust
  • Juicy steaks

3. Drawbacks:

  • The high heat of searing can sometimes lead to uneven cooking, especially for thicker cuts. The risk of overcooking the outer layer while the interior remains undercooked is something to consider.

The Reverse Sear Method

Reverse Searing takes a different approach, focusing on low and slow cooking initially, followed by a quick sear at the end of the cook. This is my preferred method since I like my steaks cooked to a medium temperature. ( For the kids )

With reverse searing, you start by gently cooking the meat at a low temperature in the oven or on a grill, allowing the interior or center to slowly reach the desired doneness level. Then, you finish the steak by searing it at high heat to develop an appealing and flavorful crust.

To reverse sear a steak using your grill, set up two cooking zones by arranging all the charcoal on one corner of the grill or if using a gas grill only use the burners on one side.

The reverse sear method ensures that the meat is evenly cooked from edge to edge and retains its juiciness. While it may require a bit more time, the result is a tender and succulent piece of meat that will surely impress your guests.

reverse seared steak

Yes I know, medium rare is the way to go but some people might have children in their homes or simply like their steak cooked to higher temps and this is when reverse sear shines.

Ultimately the reverse sear technique is perfect for cooking large think steaks like tomahawks, think ribeyes and even chuck steaks. Cooking these large steak cuts low and slow allows for the meat to cook thoroughly and evenly.

Also if you enjoy smoke flavor and are using a pellet grill, charcoal grill, or smoker, this method allows for the meat to be infused with smoke flavor longer. Reverse searing is very easy to do using a charcoal grill configured with two grilling or cooking heat zones. Cook the steak on indirect heat, then switch over to the direct heat side for a perfect sear.

Let’s explore the ins and outs of the reverse sear method:

1. Process:

  • Begin by preheating your grill or oven to a low temperature, typically around 250 to 275 degrees.
  • Season your steak with your preferred salt and pepper, spices, and herbs, or to make things simple use our steak seasoning, Gypsy.
  • Place the steak on the indirect heat side of the grill or in the oven until it reaches the desired internal temperature. This slow-cooking method allows for even doneness throughout the meat.
  • Finish by searing the steak over high heat for a brief period, just enough to create a beautiful crust.
  • The reverse sear technique results in a steak with a consistent level of doneness, from edge to center, while still achieving a delectable crust.

2. Benefits

  • More flavor since the meat is exposed to flavoring smoke or pellet flavor longer.
  • Easier to get large steak cuts to higher internal temperatures without burning the meat.
  • More cooking control.

3. Drawbacks:

  • Reverse searing vs regular sear takes longer compared to the traditional searing method. It requires some patience. However, the additional time investment is well worth it as it results in a perfectly cooked piece of meat with a beautifully caramelized crust.
  • Since the steak is cooking for a long time, you will lose some of the seasoning, don’t worry, and garnish with some salt at the end.

When deciding between sear vs reverse sear, consider the following factors:

Choose the Sear Technique if:

  • You want a quick cooking method that results in a flavorful crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy.
  • You prefer a caramelized and savory exterior with grill marks.
  • You have thinner cuts of steak that will cook quickly and evenly.

Choose the Reverse Sear Technique if:

  • You have thicker cuts of steak that require more time to cook evenly.
  • You prioritize achieving a consistent level of doneness, from edge to center.
  • You want a tender and succulent piece of meat with a beautifully caramelized crust.
  • You have the time to invest in the slower cooking process, as reverse searing takes longer than traditional searing.
  • If you like smoke flavor and want to infuse the steak with smoke flavor, look no further,

Let’s Wrap it up

Ultimately, the choice between the sear and reverse sear methods will depend on your personal preferences, the thickness of the steak, and the time you have available. Experimenting with both techniques can help you discover which one produces the steak that suits your taste preferences best.

Reverse sear works best for large steaks and can result in more smoke flavor whereas sear is quick and hot and works best for cooking thinner steak cuts.

Picture of Writen By: Hector

Writen By: Hector

Hector is the CEO and Founder of Stella On Fire Co. As a self-taught chef and entrepreneur at heart, he set out to create amazing seasonings and rub flavors everyone can enjoy. Hector is also our Food Safety and Protection Manager for Stella On Fire Co.

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