Cherry-Smoked Strip Steak

Also known as a reverse sear steak, this recipe achieves the medium rare pink perfection every time.



Published by Workman Publishing Co.

Cherry-Smoked Strip Steak
Cherry-Smoked Strip Steak
This image courtesy of Matthew Benson

Editor's Note: Fans of extra juicy and pink medium rare steak will go wild for this steak cooking method. Instead of tossing the steak in a pan or on the grill like other steak recipes, this method cooks the steak from the inside out slowly, making sure the cut of meat retains all of its juicy flavors. Known as reverse searing, this method is ideal for steak lovers who prefer a pink steak. Don't be fooled by the crispy, dark crust on the steak when you finishing cooking it. Slicing open your meat will prove that it has retained that medium rare perfection you love so much.

Steak is one cut of beef you don’t normally smoke. It requires a hot fire to sear the exterior while keeping the inside sanguine and juicy. But there is a way to smoke a steak low and slow, and if you’re fortunate enough to start with a monster-thick strip or rib eye, this is one of the best methods I know for bringing its interior to a luscious 135°F medium-rare while achieving a sizzling dark crust. You guessed it—reverse searing (you slow-smoke the steak first to cook it through, then rest it, then finally sizzle it over a hot fire to sear the crust).

Makes1 really thick steak, enough to serve 2 or 3

Preparation Time5 min

Cooking Time1 hr

Recipe CourseMain Course




  • 1 thick (2- to 3-inch) boneless strip steak, rib steak, or sirloin (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds)
  • Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and cracked or freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. If using a charcoal kettle grill, light 10 to 12 pieces of charcoal (preferably natural lump charcoal) in a chimney starter. When ready, place the charcoal in one side basket or on one side of the bottom grate. Adjust the top and bottom vents to heat your grill to 225° to 250°F.

  2. Meanwhile, very generously season the steak on the top, bottom, and sides with salt and pepper. Insert the thermometer probe through the side of the steak, deep into the center. 

  3. Add the wood to the coals. Place the steak on the grate as far away from the fire as possible. Cover the grill and smoke the steak until the internal temperature reaches 110°F. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

  4. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, add 10 to 15 fresh coals to the bed of embers and build a hot fire in your grill, readjusting the vents as needed. 

  6. Lightly brush or drizzle the steak on both sides with olive oil. Place it on the grate over the fire and direct grill until the top and bottom are sizzling and darkly crusted and the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer reaches 120° to 125°F for rare to 130° to 135°F for medium-rare (2 to 3 minutes per side, 4 to 6 minutes in all), turning with tongs. If you like, give the steak a quarter turn on each side halfway through searing to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. For really thick steaks, grill the edges, too. 

  7. Serve hot off the grill. I like to cut the steak on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices. I wouldn’t say no to an additional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


  1. Fuel: I like cherry for smoking this steak, but any hardwood will do. You’ll need enough hardwood chunks or chips (soaked and drained if using the latter) for 1 hour of smoking.

  2. Gear: A remote digital thermometer or instant-read thermometer so you can monitor the internal temperature during smoking and grilling.

  3. Shop: Reverse searing works best with really thick steaks: 2- to 3-inch-thick strip steak, porterhouse, rib steak, and sirloin steak.

  4. What else: This steak works best on a charcoal-burning grill or smoker, like a kettle grill or offset barrel smoker with a grill grate over the firebox. That enables you to smoke low and slow, then sear over a hot fire. Otherwise, you’ll need to start the steak in a smoker and finish it on a grill.


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