Achieving Steakhouse-Quality at Home: The Tomahawk Steak Reverse Sear

Have you ever craved a perfectly cooked steak with a delectable compound herb butter topping, but lacked a grill to achieve that ideal even doneness? Fear not, because I’m here to guide you through the step-by-step process of creating a steakhouse-quality meal without ever leaving the comfort of your kitchen. Not only that, I’ll share five essential tips for a successful reverse sear. This method might even result in a steak that surpasses the quality of what you’d find at a steakhouse.

Traditional steakhouses often cook their steaks under exceptionally high heat broilers, known as salamanders. While this method works well for thinner cuts, it falls short when it comes to thicker cuts. But don’t worry; I’m going to show you how to achieve the perfect steak using a reverse sear technique, indoors, with just an oven and a cast iron skillet. Cooking steak in the oven might require a bit more time, but the results are well worth it.

The Reverse Sear: Unlocking the Secret to Perfect Steaks

You may have heard of searing a steak first to “lock in the juices,” but achieving the desired results with this method requires specific equipment and techniques that most people lack. Enter the reverse sear—an alternative method that flips the traditional approach on its head. Instead of searing the steak first, the reverse sear involves slowly and evenly bringing the meat’s temperature up in a low-temperature environment, typically around 225 °F. This gentle cooking process allows the steak to reach the desired doneness without sacrificing moisture or tenderness.

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After a short resting period, it’s time to introduce the steak to high direct heat, usually in a cast iron skillet, to create the Maillard reaction—the chemical process responsible for the tantalizing charred crust that brings out irresistible flavors.

Perfecting the Sear: How to Heat a Cast Iron Skillet for Steaks

To achieve the ideal sear, your cast iron skillet should reach temperatures of at least 500 °F, but ideally, aim for 650-700 °F if possible. Don’t worry about the skillet; quality cast iron can handle these temperatures without any risk. Just make sure to preheat the skillet properly before placing the steak on it.

The Benefits of the Reverse-Sear Method

The reverse sear method offers two distinct advantages. Firstly, it guarantees that coveted coast-to-coast doneness without overcooking the outer layers of the steak. No more biting into a delectably juicy center, only to be met with an overcooked exterior. Secondly, unlike other cooking methods, the reverse sear allows you to enjoy a piping hot steak immediately, eliminating the need for a resting period.

Ideal Cuts for the Reverse Sear

Although the reverse sear method works wonders for various cuts of meat, it truly shines when used on steaks that are at least 1.5 inches thick. Whether it’s a mammoth tomahawk steak or a thick-cut porterhouse for two, the reverse sear ensures a perfectly cooked masterpiece. Additionally, roasts, such as prime rib, and even filet mignon benefit greatly from this technique. For thinner cuts, you may opt for alternative cooking methods.

Mastering the Reverse Sear: 5 Essential Tips

To ensure your reverse sear is an absolute success, here are five expert tips to keep in mind:

1. The Skillet:

While cast iron is a fantastic heat conductor, it isn’t entirely even. To achieve the most even heating possible, preheat the cast iron pan in the oven along with the steak before transferring it to the stovetop.

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2. The Exhaust:

Be aware that cooking at such high temperatures generates a considerable amount of smoke. Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and turning on the exhaust fan above your range.

3. The Lip:

If using a smaller cast iron skillet, bear in mind that the bone of a large steak, like a tomahawk, might extend beyond the skillet’s raised edge. This might prevent some surface area of the steak from contacting the pan. In such cases, a cast iron griddle can serve as a suitable alternative.

4. The Flip:

Cast iron cools rapidly when a cool or warm food item comes into contact with it. To maintain the desired searing temperature, always flip the steak onto a new, hotter spot in the skillet.

5. The Fat:

Given the high searing temperatures, avoid using low smoke point oils like olive oil in the skillet. Instead, use beef fat trimmed from the steak itself. This imparts excellent flavor and boasts a higher smoke point.

The Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Steak Recipe

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and techniques required for a successful reverse sear, it’s time to put them to the test with a mouthwatering tomahawk steak. Follow these steps for a memorable steak experience:


  • 1 tomahawk ribeye steak
  • 2 tbsp compound herb butter
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or your favorite steak rub)


  1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about an hour, allowing for more even cooking.
  2. While the steak warms up, remove a small sliver of fat from around the edge and set it aside.
  3. Season the steak liberally with kosher salt, pepper, or your preferred steak rub. Insert a leave-in thermometer into the thickest part of the steak.
  4. Preheat the oven to 225 °F and place the cast iron pan inside to warm up.
  5. Place the steak on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet, preferably lined with foil for easy cleanup.
  6. Cook the steak in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 122 °F. This should take approximately 45 minutes but adjust according to your desired doneness.
  7. Once the steak reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest while monitoring the internal temperature.
  8. Place the preheated cast iron pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the reserved fat sliver and allow it to render down.
  9. When the steak’s internal temperature peaks and starts to decrease, add a sprig of rosemary to the rendered fat and increase the heat to the maximum setting.
  10. Carefully place the cooked steak onto the scorching hot skillet, flipping it every 30 seconds for approximately 5 minutes in total to achieve a beautiful charred crust.
  11. Remove the steak from the skillet, top it with room-temperature compound butter, and slice. Serve immediately to savor the exquisite flavors.
  12. If you happen to have leftovers, they make excellent ingredients for indulgent Philly cheesesteak sliders.
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You don’t need a grill to achieve steakhouse-quality results. By utilizing the reverse sear method with an oven and a cast iron skillet, you can create a steak masterpiece in your own kitchen. So, why not try your hand at this tantalizing tomahawk steak recipe and enjoy a truly unforgettable meal?

Remember, for more amazing BBQ experiences and resources, check out Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.

Enjoy the journey of mastering the art of reverse searing, and savor your perfect steak creations!