We’re taking reverse seared tomahawk steaks to the next level with this easy and amazing recipe! We’re going to brine, smoke, sear, and baste our bone-in ribeye for the ultimate combination of flavors. This one is sure to impress!
We’ll be using the reverse sear method on a Weber Kettle charcoal grill. Please check out the recommended equipment list above. See notes below for options on using a gas grill, pellet grill, or oven.
If you skipped right to the recipe but want to learn more, go ahead and jump back to the top of the page – I promise it’ll be worth it!
Please be careful and use heat resistant gloves when handling hot items!
For the Brine:
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
For the Steak:
- 1 Tomahawk bone-in ribeye steak (2–4 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons of your favorite steak rub (optional, but I recommend my Ultimate All-Purpose Rub)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other high smoke point oil or fat
- 1 chunk smoking wood such as pecan, oak, hickory, apple, or mesquite (no need to soak in water)
For the Baste:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1–2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5–6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6–8 cloves garlic (crushed and left in large pieces. Minced would burn too quickly)
- 1 diced or sliced shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine – drained (this is the Kettle Guy secret flavor bomb)
Dry Brine 4 to 24 hours before cooking (for more info, please see above)
- Pat your meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt on both sides. 1/4 teaspoon per pound on each side is perfect. Rest the meat in the fridge uncovered on a wire rack (you want airflow underneath the meat) for at least 4 hours, but 24 hours is better.
25 minutes before cooking
- Light 20 charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney. Once mostly ashed over and ready to use, dump them in a pile on one side of your grill and attach a temperature probe to your cooking grate on the other side. 20 coals will work for both the 22″ and the 26″ Weber Kettle grills but you’ll need to close the bottom or top vent about 1/2 to maintain a temp around 250°F.
When your grill reaches 250°F (anything between 225-275 is fine)
Phase 1 – Indirect Cooking
- Take the steak out of the fridge. (No need to do this ahead of time. It actually takes many hours to come to room temp sitting on a countertop)
- Season with your favorite steak rub or just salt and pepper if you prefer. (Optional, but the brine will not make your tomahawk overly salty.)
- Add a chunk of smoking wood about half the size of your fist on top of the lit coals. (see notes)
- Insert a temperature probe in to the center of your steak and place steak on the indirect side of your cooking grate. Close your grill lid.
- When your tomahawk steak reaches 80°F internal, light a full chimney of coals. (it will take about 30-60 minutes to reach 80°F depending on the size of your steak and your grill temp)
- When your steak is 15-20 degrees below your desired doneness, remove it from the grill. If you’re going for the rarer side of medium rare (a.k.a. the perfect temperature) that will be at 110°F. Don’t worry, we’ll be cooking it more in the next two phases.
Phase 2 – The Sear
Time to whip out your instant-read thermometer. Your steak is going to rise in temperature throughout the searing phase and it’s best to stop searing when you’ve either got the beautiful brown crust you want or you’re about 5 degrees below your desired final temperature. Under seared is always better than over cooked!
- When your chimney of coals is ready to go, and your steak is 15-20 degrees below your desired doneness, dump the hot coals on top of whatever coals you have left from phase 1. Spread them out in a shallow pile, slightly wider in circumference than your cast iron pan.
- Place your cast iron pan over the coals to heat up. Your lid will remain off for the rest of the cook.
- After about 8-10 minutes your pan should be about 450°F to 500°F degrees which is perfect. Anything between 400°F and 500°F will work but the hotter the better. We just don’t want to be above the smoke point for the oil or fat we are using to sear.
- Carefully pour 2 tablespoons of avocado oil in to the hot cast iron pan and let it heat up for 15 seconds.
- Place your tomahawk steak in the pan and sear for 1 minute. (listen to that sizzle!) The bone will probably prevent the meat from laying perfectly flat, so it can help to press it down with a metal spatula or burger press.
- Using metal tongs, (or just grab the bone!) flip the steak over and sear for another minute.
- Continue the cycle of searing and flipping until each side has been cooked for about 3 minutes.
- Put the steak up on its side and sear the fat cap for 1 minute.
- Remove the steak from the pan and set aside.
If you’ve seared for 3 minutes each side and you’re still 10 or more degrees under your desired temp, it’s ok! Just place your steak back on the indirect side of the grill and close the lid until it’s ready to baste.
Phase 3 – I’m All About That Baste!
If all has gone to plan your tomahawk steak should be beautifully browned and just below your desired temperature. If you don’t have a pan or just want to skip this step, you would still have a GREAT meal at this point, but if you want to crank your flavor dial up to 11….this is the way!
- Melt a stick of butter in your cast iron pan. While it’s melting add the green peppercorns.
- Add the crushed garlic, shallot, thyme, and rosemary.
- Put the steak in the butter and herb mixture.
- Wearing BBQ gloves, lift the bone end of the steak up a bit to angle the steak for basting.
- Use a metal spoon in your other hand to repeatedly baste the steak with the butter and herbs for 15 seconds. (try to get some of each of the ingredients up on to the steak)
- Flip the steak over and baste the other side for an additional 15 seconds
Final Step: Take a picture for the ‘Gram and enjoy your masterpiece!
For Gas Grills: For 4 burner grills, turn on 2 burners on the same half of the grill. For 3 burner grills, use one burner. Adjust the strength of the flame as needed to maintain a 250°F temperature and cook on the indirect side of the grill. While gas grills aren’t ideal for smoking, you can place 2 chunks of wood right on the grate above the flames. This will produce a good amount of smoke, but most gas grills are designed to let smoke out so the smoke flavor won’t be as pronounced. For the sear I would still prefer a cast iron pan but a searing station would work if your grill is equipped with one.
For Pellet Grills: This will work much like the original recipe except for the sear and baste. If your pellet grill has a searing station you’re all set! If not, you should still be able to crank up the heat enough to get cast iron pan screaming hot. Alternatively you could use a stovetop to sear, but I never do this because I smoke out the house every time I try!
Using an Oven: Professional chefs use an oven and stovetop to make steaks all time, so this won’t be a stretch. We’ll just be doing it in reverse order. Cook your tomahawk steak at 250°F just like on the grill. When it’s time to sear and baste, just make sure you’ve got good ventilation because it can get a wee bit smoky (ask me how I know). All you’ll be missing is the wood smoked flavor, but it will still be delicious.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can sear using a griddle topper, Grill Grates, or right over the fire. Since you wouldn’t be basting, you could always make a compound butter ahead of time to finish your steaks with. I am obsessed with the basting process though and the flavor is out of this world.
I tried to be as thorough as possible because I want to help people of all experience and skill levels produce amazing results. When cooking over live fire, things don’t always go 100% according to plan. Just keep in mind that temperature is the most important factor. Keep an eye on the internal temperature of your steak throughout the cook and you’ll do great!
If you prefer more smoke flavor, feel free to use a larger chunk or more than one even. If it’s your first time, I would start with a chunk about half the size of your fist and then adjust up or down from there. For more info on using wood, check out these tips on smoking meat on a charcoal grill.
I can’t stress enough the importance of using good BBQ gloves. I highly recommend using gloves that are waterproof (also scalding hot oil proof) which also provide some forearm protection. The ones I linked above are not expensive and fit the bill nicely.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Brine Time: 4-24 hours
- Cook Time: 80 minutes
- Category: Steak
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 16 ounces
- Calories: 1240
- Sugar: 0
- Sodium: 41mg
- Fat: 80g
- Saturated Fat: 30g
- Unsaturated Fat: 50g
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 7.2g
- Fiber: 0
- Protein: 93.7g
- Cholesterol: 570mg
Keywords: steak, tomahawk, ribeye, reverse sear, kettle grill, charcoal, Weber, The Kettle Guy, cowboy steak, cast iron, reverse seared steak recipe