How to reverse sear on a smoker

Reverse searing is one of the most effective grilling techniques for more tender, juicy and flavourful meats with a caramelized outside crust. This process starts by smoking or slow-cooking food until it is close to being done and then searing it over direct, high heat. It may take a little longer, but once you learn how to reverse sear on a smoker, you’ll find it has several key advantages.


  1. Heat Control – Smoking meat low and slow before searing cooks it more evenly throughout the cut, creating a consistent degree of doneness.
  2. More Tender – Warming the meat slowly allows natural enzymes to tenderize the meat over a longer period of time.
  3. Juicier – Less time spent over high heat means the muscle fibres retain more of their water content, making the meat more juicy.
  4. Smoky Flavour – Allows a light smoky flavour to spread throughout the meat before searing.
  5. Serve Hot Off the Grill – Resting meat after smoking and before searing means you can serve it right away.

The Process

Oklahoma Joe’s Smokers® are ideally suited for this revolutionary technique. If you’re smoking on an offset smoker, you can smoke meat in the cooking chamber and then finish it over hot wood coals in the firebox. With drum smokers, you’ll want to slow cook the food with the heat diffuser in “legs facing up” position. Then to sear, switch to grilling mode by placing the charcoal basket on top of the heat diffuser in a “legs facing down” position. Here’s the basic process for using the reverse sear technique.

  1. Slow-roast or smoke your meat until it reaches an internal temperature about 6-7 degrees less than your desired final temperature. For example, if you want your steak cooked to medium rare (internal temperature of 57°C), take the steak off the grill at about 50-51°C
  2. Rest the meat. Food continues to cook for a bit when you take it off the grill. You need to wait until the internal temperature rises to its maximum off-grill temperature and begins to fall.
  3. Sear the meat over the hottest coals for 1 minute or less per side. The food is already cooked, you’re just adding a smoky caramelized crust to it.
  4. Slice and serve.

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