Smoked Ribeye Steak: A Mouthwatering Guide to Smoky Perfection

Written by: Imran Shaikh



Time to read 14 min


Welcome to the world of smoked ribeye steak, where the rich and robust flavors of perfectly smoked beef meet tender and juicy cuts of ribeye. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a journey to master the art of smoking ribeye steak to achieve a culinary masterpiece. From selecting the right cut of ribeye to mastering the smoking process, we'll cover it all. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and impress your guests with this delectable smoked delight.

1. Understanding Smoked Ribeye Steak

Smoked ribeye steak is a culinary delight that combines ribeye's rich, juicy flavors with the irresistible smokiness imparted by the smoking process. This cooking technique infuses the meat with a unique, savory taste, creating a tender texture that melts in your mouth.

To truly appreciate smoked ribeye steak, it's important to understand the basics of the smoking process. The steak is carefully seasoned with a blend of herbs, spices, and possibly a dry rub, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat. It is then placed in a smoker and cooked low and slow over a smoldering fire. The smoke from the wood chips adds complexity to the flavor profile, enhancing the natural taste of the ribeye.

Smoking ribeye steak requires patience and precision. The slow cooking process allows the fat to render and the connective tissues to break down, resulting in a tender and flavorful steak. The ideal temperature range for smoking ribeye is typically between 225°F (107°C) and 250°F (121°C), which ensures thorough cooking while preserving the moisture and tenderness of the meat.

The smoking time will vary depending on the thickness of the steak and the desired level of doneness. It is essential to use a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature and ensure that the steak reaches the desired doneness.

Whether you prefer a medium-rare or well-done steak, smoked ribeye offers a unique flavor experience that will impress your taste buds. Experiment with different wood chips, seasonings, and cooking times to find your perfect smoky goodness and juicy tenderness balance.

Understanding Smoked Ribeye Steak

2. Choosing the Perfect Ribeye Cut

When it comes to smoking ribeye steak, selecting the right cut of meat is crucial for achieving optimal flavor and tenderness. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the perfect ribeye cut:

  1. Prime vs. Choice: Look for USDA Prime or Choice grade ribeye cuts. These grades indicate higher quality and marbling, contributing to the steak's tenderness and juiciness.
  2. Ribeye vs. Bone-In Ribeye: Decide whether you prefer a boneless or bone-in ribeye. Both cuts have their own unique characteristics. Bone-in ribeye adds extra flavor and can enhance the presentation, while boneless ribeye offers ease of carving.
  3. Thickness: Opt for ribeye steaks that are at least 1 inch thick. Thicker cuts provide a better surface area for smoking and help retain the juiciness of the meat during the cooking process.
  4. Marbling: Look for ribeye cuts with abundant marbling, which refers to the white streaks of fat dispersed throughout the meat. Marbling enhances the flavor and tenderness of the steak.
  5. Freshness: Choose fresh ribeye cuts from a reputable butcher or grocery store. Check for vibrant color, firm texture, and minimal discoloration or browning.

Considering these factors, you can select a high-quality ribeye cut for smoking. Remember that the quality and characteristics of the cut play a significant role in the final result, so choose wisely to ensure a mouthwatering and satisfying smoked ribeye steak experience.

Choosing the Perfect Ribeye Steak for Smoking

3. Preparing and Seasoning Your Ribeye

Proper preparation and seasoning are essential steps to enhance the flavor and tenderness of your smoked ribeye steak. Follow these tips to prepare and season your ribeye for a delectable smoking experience:

  1. Thawing: If your ribeye steak is frozen, ensure it is fully thawed before seasoning and smoking. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight for the best results.
  2. Pat dry: Before applying any seasonings, pat the ribeye steak dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture allows the seasonings to adhere better and promotes a better sear during smoking.
  3. Seasoning options: Use a simple salt and pepper blend for a classic and savory flavor. Alternatively, explore different dry rubs or spice blends that complement the smoky notes of the ribeye. Popular choices include garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, or herbs like rosemary and thyme.
  4. Apply the seasoning: Generously season both sides of the ribeye steak with your chosen blend of spices or dry rub. Rub the seasonings into the meat, ensuring an even distribution. For a more intense flavor, let the ribeye sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight to allow the seasonings to penetrate the meat.
  5. Oil or marinade: Consider brushing the ribeye steak with a light coating of oil or marinating it for added moisture and flavor. Olive oil, melted butter, or a simple marinade can help keep the meat juicy during smoking.

Remember to adjust the seasoning amounts based on the size of your ribeye steak. The goal is to enhance the meat's natural flavors without overpowering it. With the right preparation and well-balanced seasonings, your smoked ribeye steak will burst with mouthwatering flavors that will leave your taste buds craving more.

Prepare the Ribeye Steak for Smoking

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4. Mastering the Smoking Process

Smoking ribeye steak is a slow and low cooking method that infuses the meat with a rich, smoky flavor. Here are some key steps to help you master the smoking process and achieve tender and flavorful ribeye steak:

  1. Preheat the smoker: Preheat your smoker to a temperature of around 225°F (107°C). This low and steady heat will allow the ribeye to cook slowly and develop a beautiful smoky flavor.
  2. Choose the wood: Select the right type of wood for smoking, such as hickory, oak, or mesquite. Each wood imparts a unique flavor profile to the meat. Soak the wood chips or chunks in water for about 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker.
  3. Set up the smoke: Place the soaked wood chips or chunks directly on the heat source or in a designated smoker box. This will generate the smoke that flavors the ribeye steak.
  4. Monitor the temperature: Use a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the ribeye throughout the smoking process. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 130°F (54°C), medium at 140°F (60°C), and medium-well at 150°F (66°C).
  5. Smoking time: Smoking time can vary based on the thickness of the ribeye and personal preference for doneness. As a general guideline, plan for approximately 1 hour of smoking time per inch of thickness.
  6. Baste and rotate: Every 30 minutes or so, baste the ribeye steak with a mixture of melted butter and your preferred seasonings. This helps to keep the meat moist and adds extra flavor. You can also rotate the steak while smoking to ensure even cooking.
  7. Rest and slice: Once the ribeye reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker and rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures a tender and juicy steak. Slice the ribeye against the grain into thick, juicy slices before serving.

By following these steps and maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process, you'll achieve a perfectly smoked ribeye steak that is tender, flavorful, and sure to impress your guests.

Mastering the Smoking Process for Ribeye Steak

5. Achieving the Perfect Doneness

When smoking ribeye steak, it's crucial to cook it to the perfect level of doneness to ensure a tender and juicy eating experience. Here are some guidelines to help you achieve the desired doneness:

  1. Use a meat thermometer: Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the ribeye accurately. This is the most reliable way to determine the doneness of the steak.
  2. Medium-rare: Aim for an internal temperature of around 130°F (54°C) for a medium-rare ribeye. At this temperature, the steak will be pink in the center with a warm, red hue, and the juices will be locked in, resulting in a tender and succulent texture.
  3. Medium: If you prefer a slightly more cooked ribeye, target an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C). The center of the steak will have a pinkish hue, and the texture will be slightly firmer than medium-rare.
  4. Medium-well: For a medium-well ribeye, cook it to an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C). The center will remain slightly pink, and the texture will be moderately firm. This level of doneness suits those who prefer less pink in their steak.
  5. Well-done: If you prefer a well-done steak, cook the ribeye until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C) or higher. Remember that cooking the steak to be well-done may result in a drier texture, so it's important to monitor the cooking process closely to avoid overcooking.

Remember that the cooking time can vary depending on factors like the steak's thickness and the smoker's temperature. It's always best to rely on the internal temperature rather than time alone to determine the doneness.

By paying close attention to the internal temperature and adjusting the cooking time accordingly, you can achieve the perfect doneness for your smoked ribeye steak, ensuring a delightful eating experience for yourself and your guests.

Achieving the perfect Doneness for Smoked Ribeye Steak

6. Resting and Slicing Your Smoked Ribeye

Resting your smoked ribeye steak is essential to ensure that the flavors and juices are evenly distributed throughout the meat. Here's how to do it:

  1. Remove from the smoker: Once your smoked ribeye reaches the desired internal temperature, carefully remove it from the smoker and place it on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Tent with foil: To keep the heat trapped and promote even distribution of juices, tent the ribeye with aluminum foil during the resting period. This allows the steak to retain its heat and continue cooking gently.
  3. Let the juices redistribute: Resting allows the juices in the ribeye to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and tender steak. This also helps to prevent the juices from flowing out immediately when you cut into the meat, keeping it moist and succulent.
  4. Slice against the grain: When it comes time to slice your smoked ribeye, be sure to cut against the grain. This means cutting perpendicular to the direction of the muscle fibers. Slicing against the grain helps to break down the meat fibers, resulting in a more tender bite.
  5. Optimal thickness: Aim for slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. This thickness provides a satisfying texture and promotes an even distribution of flavors.
  6. Allowing your smoked ribeye steak to rest before slicing ensures that the meat remains tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Take your time to slice against the grain, and you'll be rewarded with perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth ribeye slices that will impress you.
Resting and Slicing Smoked Ribeye Steak

7. Flavorful Sauces and Pairings for Smoked Ribeye Steak

While a perfectly smoked ribeye steak is delicious, adding flavorful sauces and complementary side dishes can take it to the next level. Here are some ideas for sauces and pairings to enhance the flavors of your smoked ribeye:

  1. Chimichurri Sauce: This vibrant green sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar adds a refreshing and tangy kick to your smoked ribeye. Drizzle it over the steak or serve it on the side for dipping.
  2. Garlic Butter: A classic choice for steak lovers, garlic butter adds richness and a decadent flavor to your smoked ribeye. Melted butter infused with garlic, herbs, and a squeeze of lemon creates a luxurious topping that melts into the warm steak.
  3. Creamy Horseradish Sauce: A creamy horseradish sauce is a fantastic choice if you enjoy a bit of heat and tang. The sharpness of horseradish complements the smoky flavors of the ribeye, while the creaminess adds a velvety texture.
  4. Grilled Vegetables: Alongside your smoked ribeye, consider serving grilled vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, or zucchini. The charred and smoky flavors of the vegetables pair well with the steak and provide a refreshing contrast.
  5. Roasted Potatoes: Roasted potatoes are a classic and satisfying side dish for smoked ribeye steak. Seasoned with herbs and roasted until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, they provide a hearty accompaniment to the meat.

Remember, the sauces and pairings you choose should complement the smoky flavors of the ribeye without overpowering them. Get creative with your selections to create a well-rounded and memorable dining experience.

Sides for Smoked Ribeye Steak

8. Expert Tips and Tricks

  1. Choose the right wood: The choice of wood for smoking can greatly impact the flavor of your ribeye steak. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, or mesquite are commonly used for a robust and smoky flavor. Experiment with different wood varieties to find your preferred taste.
  2. Opt for a reverse sear: To achieve a perfectly smoked and tender ribeye steak, consider using the reverse sear method. Smoke the steak at a lower temperature until it reaches your desired internal temperature, then finish it off with a quick sear over high heat to develop a flavorful crust.
  3. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer: To ensure your smoked ribeye steak is cooked to perfection, use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. This will help you achieve the desired level of doneness, whether it's rare, medium-rare, or medium.
  4. Let the steak rest before slicing: After smoking, allow the ribeye steak to rest for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute and results in a juicier and more flavorful steak.
  5. Season generously: Don't be afraid to season your ribeye steak generously with your favorite dry rub or marinade. The smoky flavors from the smoking process can mellow out the seasonings, so it's important to be generous with the amount of seasoning you use.
  6. Control the temperature: Maintain a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process. Fluctuations in temperature can affect the cooking time and the overall outcome of the steak. Use a reliable smoker or grill with good temperature control to ensure consistent results.
  7. Experiment with different flavors: Don't be afraid to experiment with different flavors and seasonings to create unique smoked ribeye steak variations. Try adding spices, herbs, or even a marinade to infuse additional flavors into the meat.

By following these expert tips and tricks, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of smoking ribeye steak and delight your taste buds with a tender, flavorful, and smoky culinary experience.

Expert Tips and Techniques for Smoked Ribeye Steak

9. Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Over-smoking: One common mistake is over-smoking the ribeye steak. Excessive smoke can overpower the meat's natural flavors and result in a bitter taste. Use moderate smoke and monitor the cooking process to avoid this issue.
  2. Inadequate seasoning: Don't forget to season your ribeye steak adequately. The smoking process can mellow out the flavors, so be generous with your seasoning to ensure a well-seasoned and flavorful steak.
  3. Ignoring the resting period: Resting the smoked ribeye steak is essential to allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to relax. Skipping this step can result in a dry and less flavorful steak. Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
  4. Inconsistent temperature: Maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process is crucial. Fluctuations in temperature can lead to uneven cooking and an inconsistent result. Use a reliable thermometer and adjust the heat to maintain a steady temperature.
  5. Cutting too early: Avoid the temptation to slice into the ribeye steak immediately after smoking. Cutting too early can cause the juices to escape, resulting in a drier steak. Let the steak rest before slicing to retain its juiciness.
  6. Overcooking or undercooking: Achieving the perfect doneness is key to enjoying a tender and flavorful smoked ribeye steak. Pay close attention to the internal temperature and cooking time to avoid overcooking or undercooking the steak. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches the desired doneness.
  7. Not using a water pan: To prevent the meat from drying out during the smoking process, consider using a water pan in your smoker. The water pan helps maintain a moist environment and can produce a juicier result.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can enhance your smoking skills and achieve a deliciously smoked ribeye steak that is tender, flavorful, and enjoyable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid while Smoking Ribeye Steak

10. Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I smoke a frozen ribeye steak?
    It is recommended to thaw the ribeye steak before smoking it. Thawing allows for more even cooking and better flavor absorption during the smoking process.
  2. What wood chips or pellets are best for smoking ribeye steak?
    For ribeye steak, you can use a variety of wood chips or pellets to add flavor. Popular options include hickory, mesquite, oak, or cherry wood, which provide a rich and smoky taste. Experiment with different woods to find your preferred flavor profile.
  3. How long does it take to smoke a ribeye steak?
    The smoking time can vary depending on the thickness of the steak and the desired level of doneness. As a general guideline, a 1-inch thick ribeye steak can take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours at a temperature of around 225°F (107°C).
  4. Can I use a gas grill for smoking ribeye steak?
    Yes, you can use a gas grill for smoking ribeye steak. Set up your grill for indirect grilling by heating one side of the grill and placing the steak on the other side. Use a smoker box or aluminum foil packet filled with soaked wood chips to generate smoke.
  5. What internal temperature should I aim for when smoking ribeye steak?
    For a medium-rare ribeye steak, aim for an internal temperature of around 135°F (57°C). Keep in mind that the temperature will rise a few degrees during the resting period, so consider removing the steak from the heat a few degrees below the desired doneness.
  6. How long should I let the smoked ribeye steak rest before serving?
    Allow the smoked ribeye steak to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes after removing it from the smoker. This resting period helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak.

By following these frequently asked questions and their answers, you can enhance your knowledge and skills in smoking ribeye steak, ensuring a successful and delicious outcome.

FAQs for Smoked Ribeye Steak

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Congratulations! You've embarked on a flavorful journey into the world of smoked ribeye steak. Armed with the knowledge and techniques shared in this guide, you're now equipped to create succulent, smoky, and unforgettable ribeye steaks. Experiment with different seasonings, sauces, and side dish pairings to personalize your smoking experience. With practice and a passion for grilling, you'll soon become a master of smoked ribeye steak, impressing family and friends with your culinary skills. So fire up that smoker, savor the aroma of smoldering wood chips, and get ready to indulge in the incredible flavors of smoked ribeye steak like never before.

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