How to Prepare Smoked Steaks Like A Pro

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Smoked steaks cooked on a smoker

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At Steak University, we like to think there’s no bad way to cook a steak (unless it’s any more than medium-rare, but that’s another article).  Braised, pan fried, grilled, oven roasted or finished, each method lends a distinct set of flavor and texture characteristics to your high quality cuts of beef.  

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There’s one method, though, that tends to be a bit mysterious for the home chef; the smoked steak. But, people like you often want to know: Can you smoke a steak at home?

While online or cable television cooking shows may have you convinced smoking your meat is something best left to the pros, we’re here to debunk that myth. Smoking your Chicago Steak Company steaks can add a punch of flavor and is easier to accomplish at home than you may think.  If you’re ready to impress at your next gathering of meat lovers, read on.  From how to smoke a steak to the best smoked steak recipes, we have everything you need to know to get your smoked meat game on.

Just What Makes a Smoked Steak

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While smoking steaks may seem like a new age phenomenon, perfected by those TV food stars with loads of BBQ awards and impeccably trimmed beards, it turns out smoking meat is a technique that dates back to ancient times.  While in the modern era of refrigerators, smoking steak tends to be less of an exercise in necessity, but the process is still used to impart a host of BIG flavors and nuanced changes in texture to your already delectable cuts of beef.

The technique of smoking refers to the process of burning a variety of woods in an enclosed space over low heat where the meat can cook slowly and take on flavors from the charcoal, fruit or other hard woods.  

Smoked steak recipes usually begin with a dedicated meat smoker, a piece of equipment you can buy online or at your local BBQ specialty store. A charcoal grill can also be adapted to smoke meat using items found in your local home improvement store, like a special grill grate and hickory chips.  While both of these methods will result in authentic, delicious and flavorful meat, when it comes to how to smoke a steak at home from the comfort of your kitchen, we have a few handy shortcuts up our sleeves.

Best Steaks to Smoke

First, let’s get into a few of the best steaks to smoke. While just about any steak can be used in a smoker or grill, in theory, they’re not all ideal for these cooking methods. The best smoked steaks usually use thick cuts with an ample amount of fat. 

Why fat? The fat renders down during the cooking process, leaving behind tender meat that’s full of flavor. That’s why smoked ribeye is so popular! Ribeye is one of the best cuts if you want to get that ideal fat content. Other types of steak to try with your smoker or smoked on the grill include Porterhouse, T-bone, sirloin, and Tomahawk steak.

How to Smoke a Steak at Home Without a smoker

Before we get into the details for how to smoke a steak at home, a quick disclaimer.  We know that our indoor prep isn’t quite the same as traditional smoked steaks, but it sure is easy and accessible for most home cooks that know their way around a kitchen.  Sure, you will probably still need to finish your meat via a traditional skillet, pan or indoor grill (we’ve got advice for that too) but our alternative smoking method will still give you that great smokey flavor, without a lot of extra equipment or fuss.  Now, onto the process:

First you are going to need a few supplies, most of which can already be found in your kitchen:

  • Fruit or other hard wood appropriate for smoking*
  • Deep, high temperature stable pan, such as a quality cast iron or stock pot
  • Metal rack that fits inside your pan of choice (we love steamer baskets for this)
  • Lots of foil

Line the bottom and sides of your pan of choice with plenty of foil, all the way to the top.  Next, arrange your wood chips on the bottom of the pot or pan.  At this point, you can use a long fireplace match to pre-char or light a few of the wood chips, but if you’re leery of indoor flame or don’t have a fire extinguisher handy, you’re fine with skipping this step.  Another layer of foil should go loosely on top of the wood, allowing smoke and heat through but not fire.

Next, place the steamer basket or rack on top of the foil, then drop in your meat, carefully with tongs if you’ve opted to pre-heat.  Place a heavy-duty lid on top of the pot, or seal well with foil.  The trick is to prevent as much of that smoke from escaping as possible, forcing it to surround the meat.

Place the entire pan on the stove and turn the heat on to medium.  Monitor the heat closely and adjust your burner flame as needed to ensure you’re creating smoke and not starting any fires.  

Wondering how long to smoke a steak? The whole process can take about an hour. After 30-45 minutes, remove from heat and allow smoke to escape (preferably through a nearby window).  Carefully remove your steaks and finish in a pan or oven per your favorite cooking method until desired temperature/level of doneness has been attained.  While not quite the same intensity as a steak slow smoked for hours, you’ll have managed to infuse a good deal of the smokey wood flavor of choice.  All that’s left is the eating!

How to Reverse Sear Smoked Steak

Many people love the crispiness of a seared steak and wonder if they can achieve the same results after smoking steak. The good news is that you can, thanks to the reverse sear method. This cooking method allows you to blend the smoky flavor you get from a pellet smoker or charcoal grill with the tasty sear that you get when you pan-sear a ribeye steak.

To reverse sear smoked steak, first season the steak with kosher salt and cook it in the smoker (we’ve got a recipe down below!) or using the at-home method above. Alternatively, you can use a grill to smoke steak. To do this, place a foil pouch filled with wood chips over direct flames. Add the steak to an area of indirect heat, cooking at around 250 degrees until it comes to your ideal temperature.

Then, use a grill to complete the sear. Turn the grill to a high heat and place the steak directly over the heat. Sear for about 1-2 minutes or until a golden brown crust forms. Then, flip to the other side and sear. Alternatively, you can use a pan with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat to sear your perfect steak.

Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Now, you have a seared and smoked steak with tons of smoke flavor and a delectably seared crust!

*Can be purchased online or at local specialty BBQ stores

Smoked steaks cooked on a smoker

Smoked Ribeye Steak Recipe

Want to know how to smoke a ribeye steak using your smoker? Here's a simple recipe that'll get you smoking steak like a pro. Note: Cook times and procedure may vary slightly depending on your smoker. Refer to your smoker's manual for more precise cook times.
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 12 or 16oz Chicago Steak Company premium angus ribeye steaks
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • your choice of wood chips

Instructions
 

  • Season each steak generously with salt. Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to create a dry brine.
  • Add wood chips to the smoker according to its instructions. Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Meanwhile, mix together the pepper, thyme, garlic powder, and tarragon. Rub the seasoning mixture onto all sides of each steak.
  • Place steaks on a smoker rack seasoned with olive oil. Allow to smoke for approximately 45 minutes to one hour, depending on your desired doneness. For medium rare, pull the steaks when they reach 125°F, or 135°F for medium.
  • Use the reverse sear method above, if desired, to sear each steak. Allow steaks to rest for 5-10 minutes under a tent of foil before enjoying.