From Grill to Smoker: How to Smoke the Perfect Steak

Written by: Samir P.



Time to read 4 min


Cooking meat over a fire is undeniably primal and satisfying, and smoking a steak takes this experience to another level. Smoking infuses the steak with rich, complex flavors; the process is both an art and a science. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned grill master, this guide will walk you through how to smoke a steak.

Why Smoke a Steak?

Smoking steak imparts a depth of flavor that is hard to achieve with other cooking methods. The slow cooking allows the steak to absorb the smoky aroma, creating a unique taste that pairs beautifully with the meat’s natural flavors. Additionally, smoking can help tenderize tougher cuts of steak, making them juicy and succulent.

Choosing the Right Steak

Not all steaks are created equal when it comes to smoking. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Ribeye: Rich and marbled with fat, this cut is flavorful and tender.
  2. New York Strip: Leaner than ribeye but still flavorful and tender.
  3. Filet Mignon: This is the tenderest cut, but it has less fat and can benefit from the added flavor of smoking.
  4. Porterhouse/T-Bone: These cuts offer a combination of tenderloin and strip steak, providing a variety of textures and flavors.

Selecting the Steak

Look for steaks that are at least 1 to 1.5 inches thick. Thicker steaks are more forgiving and less likely to dry out during the smoking process.

Preparing the Steak


Seasoning is crucial for adding flavor to your steak before it hits the smoker. Here’s a simple yet effective method:

  1. Dry Rub: Combine salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika to create a dry rub. This combination enhances the steak’s natural flavors without overpowering the smoke.
  2. Marinade: Consider marinating the steak for a few hours or overnight for added tenderness and flavor. A simple marinade might include olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and fresh herbs.

Bringing the Steak to Room Temperature

Before smoking, let the steak sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This ensures even cooking and helps the meat cook more efficiently.

Setting Up the Smoker

Choosing the Wood

The type of wood you use for smoking will significantly impact the flavor of your steak. Here are some popular choices:

  • Hickory: Strong and smoky, perfect for a robust flavor.
  • Mesquite: Intense and earthy, ideal for those who like a bolder taste.
  • Oak: Medium smoky flavor, a good all-rounder.
  • Cherry or Apple: Fruity and mild, these woods add a subtle sweetness to the meat.

Preheating the Smoker

Set your smoker to 225°F (107°C). This low-and-slow method ensures the steak absorbs the maximum smoky flavor without cooking too quickly.

Why Smoke a Steak?

How to Smoke a Steak?

Initial Smoking

  1. Place the Steak: Put the steak directly on the grill grates in the smoker. Ensure enough space around each piece for the smoke to circulate.
  2. Insert a Meat Thermometer: To monitor the steak's internal temperature, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. This is crucial for achieving your desired level of doneness.

Smoking Process

  1. Monitor the Temperature: Keep the smoker at a consistent 225°F (107°C). Avoid opening the smoker too often, as this releases heat and smoke.
  2. Flip Occasionally: Flip the steak halfway through the smoking process for even cooking.

Cooking Times and Temperatures

The internal temperature of the steak is the best indicator of doneness. Here are the general guidelines:

  • Rare: 120-130°F (49-54°C)
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
  • Medium: 135-145°F (57-63°C)
  • Medium Well: 145-155°F (63-68°C)
  • Well Done: 155°F (68°C) and above

Estimated Smoking Times

  • Smoking a 1 to 1.5-inch thick steak typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach medium rare. Times will vary based on the thickness of the steak and the consistency of your smoker’s temperature.

Finishing the Steak:

Reverse Searing

Reverse searing involves smoking the steak and then searing it for a perfect crust. This method ensures both the deep, smoky flavor and the classic charred exterior.

Steps for Reverse Searing

  1. Preheat a Grill or Cast Iron Skillet: While the steak is smoking, preheat a grill or cast iron skillet to high heat (about 500°F or 260°C).
  2. Sear the Steak: Remove it from the smoker once the steak reaches an internal temperature of about 10-15 degrees below your desired doneness. Sear the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side to develop a crust.
  3. Rest the Steak: Let the steak rest for about 5-10 minutes after searing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy steak.
Smoking a Steak Process

Serving Suggestions


When slicing your steak, always cut against the grain. This means cutting perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers, which helps ensure each bite is tender.


Smoked steak pairs well with a variety of sides and sauces. Here are some ideas:

  1. Sides: Grilled vegetables, mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, and a fresh green salad.
  2. Sauces: Chimichurri, blue cheese sauce and peppercorn sauce.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Consistent Temperature: Maintain a consistent smoker temperature for even cooking and optimal smoke absorption.
  2. Quality Meat: Start with high-quality, well-marbled steaks for the best results.
  3. Patience: Don’t rush the smoking process. The low and slow-method is critical to achieving a tender, flavorful steak.
  4. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different wood types and seasoning blends to find your perfect combination.
  5. TroubleshootingDry SteakIf your steak turns out dry, it’s likely due to overcooking. Use a meat thermometer to avoid this. Also, consider marinating the steak or adding a water pan to the smoker to maintain moisture.

Lack of Smoke Flavor

Ensure that you use enough wood chips and that your smoker maintains a steady temperature. Experiment with different types of wood for more intense flavors.

Uneven Cooking

Ensure the steaks are even spaced in the smoker and avoid overcrowding. Flip the steaks halfway through smoking if necessary for even exposure to the smoke.

Serving Suggestion Smoked Steak

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Smoking a steak is a rewarding culinary endeavor that transforms a simple cut of meat into a flavorful masterpiece. You can create a dish that impresses and satisfies you by choosing the steak, preparing it properly, and mastering how long to smoke a steak during the smoking process. Patience and attention to detail are the keys to a perfect smoked steak. So fire up your smoker, select your favorite wood, and enjoy a smoky, tender, absolutely delicious steak. Happy smoking!

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