Smoked Ribeye Steak: Your Guide to a New Favorite!

August 26, 2022

The first time that I tried smoked ribeye steak was at a BBQ festival and I was hooked immediately. With a little bit of convincing, I managed to get the recipe off the stall owner.

Over the years, I have played around with the original recipe, putting my own touches to it. It is now my pleasure to pass it on down to you!

Smoked Ribeye Steak

A Note About Preparing Smoked Steak

Before I show you how to make this recipe, I would like to offer up a quick note about the cooking process.

When making smoked ribeye steaks, you have three options. The first is to only smoke the meat. The second option is to first smoke the meat and then reverse sear the meat over high heat. This gives you those gorgeous grill marks that you typically associate with steaks.

Alternatively, you can finish cooking steak on the stove top in a cast iron skillet. This is another method of reverse searing your steak, but without the grill marks. It can be a great option if you don't want the additional

Now, it is entirely up to you to decide which method to go with. I will be providing instructions to both methods so you can see which one you prefer.

ribeye steak served at a restaurant

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Smoked Steak Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ribeye steaks
  • 1/2 tbs. of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbs. of coarse black pepper

Method for Smoking Meat

Step 1

Sprinkle the salt on both sides of the steaks, place on a plate or baking tray and keep in the refrigerator for up to two hours.

Step 2

20 minutes before smoking begins, take the steaks out of the refrigerator. Season with pepper on both sides and let sit on the counter while covered.

In the meantime, preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Place the steaks in the smoker.

If you are going to grill the steaks later on, then take the steaks out when they register 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you will not be doing this, let the steaks continue smoking until they achieve your desired level of doneness. Personally, medium rare or medium is your best option for ribeye steak.

For medium rare take the steak off the smoker at 130 degrees. For medium, wait until the internal temperature is 140 degrees.

Step 4

If you will not be grilling the meat, then take off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

Method for Grilling Ribeye Steak

This method takes place after Step 3 - take the steak off the smoker when the internal temp is at 110 degrees.

Step 4

Preheat the grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the steaks on the grill grates and cook for three minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches your desired level.

Step 5

Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.

Stovetop Reverse Sear Method

This step takes place after Step 3. Wait until the steaks have reached 110 degrees before moving to the stovetop.

Step 4

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to the hot cast iron pan. Tilt the skillet to coat the entire pan in oil.

Step 5

Add the steaks to the cast iron skillet, searing the steaks for one to two minutes on either side, depending on your desired level of doneness.

Once the internal temp registers the appropriate temperature, take off heat.

Allow to rest for up to ten minutes.

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The Top Smoking Tips

Here are the main tips to follow for a fantastic smoked ribeye:

Choose a Good Cut of Meat

For the best tasting smoked steaks, you first need a good base. This means choosing the right ribeye steaks. Go for cheap ribeye steaks and you will end up with a stringy and unappealing texture. The taste isn't going to be too great, either.

Now, should you splurge on a prime steak? Well, that is up to you. If you are celebrating a special occasion, then I would say that they are worth the splurge. Otherwise, choice grade should do just fine.

Make sure that you are getting the quality that you pay for, however.

This recipe works incredibly well with ribeye steaks, but once you get comfortable with it, you can even move onto filet mignon, porterhouse, New York strip steaks and other options.

Another question that you might have is bone in or boneless. Well, this largely depends on how you like to prepare your steaks. If you enjoy it past medium, then I would say to go for bone in as this can add a lovely bit of juiciness and tenderness to the meat.

On the other hand, if you prefer your meat rare, stick to boneless - bone in at these temperatures can lead to poorly cooked steak that can even be a bit chewy.

Dry Brining the Steak

I have asked you to sprinkle the steak with salt and then leave it for up to two hours in the fridge. If you want, this can even be done overnight as well. If you are short on time, however, a couple of hours will do.

Now, in case you are wondering why this is an important step, the answer is simple - it acts as a dry brine.

See, brining has two main advantages. It ensures that the meat is nice and moist on the inside, while drying out the outside. Thus, when you are grilling or cooking steak later on, you get an evenly browned exterior.

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Keep the Seasoning Minimal

Ask any professional chef and they will all tell you that a good steak only needs salt and pepper. Now, you will find recipes that call for garlic powder, onion powder, etc. If these are flavors that you enjoy, then by all means go ahead.

However, the main point of preparing and enjoying a steak is to allow the natural flavors to come through. Anything other than salt and pepper can overwhelm these notes and take away from the joy of eating a really great steak.

When using salt and pepper, though, opt for coarse versions such as kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. These adhere to the steak better and form a nice crust during the searing process as well.

closeup of a person grilling steak

Bringing the Steaks to Room Temperature

As you will have noticed, in the recipe, I have instructed you to take the ribeye steaks out of the fridge twenty minutes before you place the steaks in the smoker.

The reason that I asked you to do this is that this gives the steaks time to get to room temp. This will allow the meat to cook faster and more evenly.

Make sure to never leave meat out on the counter for more than an hour at a time, though, as this increases the risk of food poisoning. Keep the meat covered at all times too.

Using a Meat Thermometer

I can't stress this enough - never smoke, grill, or cook a steak based on time. Instead, always track the internal temperature with a meat probe - an instant read thermometer is a quick and easy tool to use.

Although you can use cook time and smoke time as a guide, never rely on them fully. This is because there are too many variables to consider. This includes the thickness of the meat, the temperature of the smoker or grill - and even the climate of the day!

Instead, always use a probe and you will never go wrong.

Choosing When Your Smoked Steak is Done

I fully appreciate that everyone likes their steak to be done to a certain level. And, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the professionals say - all that matters is that you are enjoying your steak.

This is why I will not tell you how to cook your steak. In case you are curious, though, ribeye steaks taste best at medium rare or medium.

Just to make sure that I am covering all of my bases, though, here is a list of the temperatures and their associated doneness:

  • Rare: 125 - 130 °F
  • Medium Rare: 130 - 135 °F
  • Medium: 135 - 140 °F
  • Medium-Well: 140 - 150 °F
  • Well-Done: 155 °F or above

If you are going to reverse sear your ribeye steaks, then I would suggest taking them off the smoker at around the 100 or 110°F and placing them on a hot grill, depending on how well done you want your steak to be.

Another tip is to take your smoked ribeye steaks off the grill or pan when it is about 10 degrees away from your desired temperature. This is because meat continues cooking even once it is no longer exposed to heat.

It can rise as much as 10 degrees after you remove it from the heat so taking it off before the smoked steak is fully cooked can prevent it from overcooking.

A Guide to Setting Up Your Smoker

Here are the top tips that you should follow for the ultimate smoked ribeye steaks:

Choosing the Right Smoker

The key to a great smoked steak is a lovely smoke flavor. And this flavor is all down to the smoker that you use.

Now, if you already have a smoker or you are happy with what you have, then you can skip ahead. However, it is worth reading this section to get a better idea of how your smoker can impact the quality of your steak.

As you are aware, there are lots of types of smokers to choose from. Personally, I prefer pellet smokers - they offer up a great smoke flavor and are relatively simple to use. Offset smokers and Kamado grills are a close second.

Regardless of which type you opt for, make sure that you choose a good brand and a high quality model. In this case, making a good investment can go a long way. Before you get too antsy about the price tag, remember that a good smoker can last you a very long time.

If you don't want to buy a separate smoker, then it is possible for your grill to double as a smoker. This only really works with a charcoal grill, however, as a gas grill will not be up to the task.

Choosing Wood Chips

If you do have a pellet grill, then you do have to think about wood chips you are going to use. This decision should be based on the type of flavors you want to encourage in your smoked steaks.

If you want the natural flavor of the meat to shine through, with the smoky flavor as an accompaniment, then oak may be a good option for you. It is mild and doesn't add too much of its own notes into the mix.

On the other hand, if you prefer something a little sweeter or a bit more notable, then cherry wood is the way to go.

While woods such as hickory and mesquite can offer a gorgeous smoky flavor, I am hesitant to use them with smaller cuts of meat. If you do use them, add only a handful of chips and let the rest be oak.

steak cooking on a girller

Tips on How to Reverse Sear a Steak

Once you are done smoking steak, here are the tricks that will produce the perfectly seared steaks:

Use a Cast Iron Skillet

Technically, you can use any type of pan, but in reality cast iron is the only way to go. This type of cookware heats up evenly and maintains this heat incredibly well too.

Such features are ideal when it comes to reverse searing.

Heat the Grill Well

It doesn't matter what kind of grill you are using, just make sure that it is heated incredibly well. With a charcoal grill, this means allowing the coals to have warmed the grill grates sufficiently. Make sure your gas grill has been preheated as well.

Once you are certain you have a hot grill on your hands, place the steaks over direct heat.

Limit the Flipping

I understand the ever present urge to keep flipping your steaks while they are in the pan or on the grill. However, you won't be doing you or your ribeye steaks any favors.

Depending on how well you want the steaks to be cooked, leave them on high heat on one side for a minute or two without touching it. Then, flip it over to the other side and leave alone for the same period of time.

Next, check the internal temp of the meat. If you are happy with it, then take the steaks off the heat. Otherwise, leave the steak for another minute. Flip it over and leave for another minute and take the temperature again.

This is your ultimate guide to making smoked ribeye steak! Sure, it can feel a bit daunting at first but you will get the hang of it in no time at all. And once you do, this is going to become one of your favorite ways to prepare ribeye steaks, guaranteed!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some things you may be curious about:

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Ribeye Steak?

Depending on the thickness of the steaks and the temperature, it can take between an hour and a 1.5 hours to smoke a steak. You can't rely on time alone and it is important to focus on the internal temperature instead.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a ribeye at 225?

It will typically take up to an hour, provided that you do want want to reverse sear the steak afterwards.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Ribeye Steak on a Electric Smoker?

The time can depend on the temperature at which you are smoking the steak as well as the thickness of the meat. It can take nearly an hour, however.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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