Are you interested in experimenting with smoked steak instead of just grilling it? If so, you’ll need some timing guidelines to get you started. Here’s a primer on how long to smoke steak at 250 degrees.
How Long to Smoke Steak at 250 Degrees
It takes 30 to 45 minutes per pound to smoke a steak at 250 degrees. It’s best to check on thinner steaks after just 30 minutes, as these will cook through faster. Make sure the smoker temperature remains stable throughout the process to avoid overcooking the meat.
Smoked vs. Grilled Steak
A perfectly grilled steak is a thing of beauty, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit. Smoked steaks can be equally delicious in their own right.
When you grill a steak, you’re cooking it quickly over high heat. Of course, for thicker steaks, you might have to enlist the reverse searing technique, which involves cooking the meat at a low temperature and then finishing it off with a nice sear.
By contrast, smoking is done at lower temperatures. This allows the wood flavor to fully permeate the meat. You can sear it towards the end of the cooking process to give it a crisp exterior, but that’s not always necessary (see below).
Should You Sear Steak Before or After Smoking?
If you want to sear your steak, you can do so either before or after it hits the smoker. Doing so beforehand will seal in moisture, while grilling it quickly over high heat when it’s almost at the ideal temperature will give it a good charred finish.
Tips For Smoking Steak
—First of all, you should begin with a thick cut of meat. Thinner steaks will dry out during the long cooking process, which will defeat the whole purpose of the exercise. T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, tomahawk, sirloin, and tri tip are all solid options.
—The steaks you choose should also contain a high amount of marbling. That’s the term butchers use for the intramuscular fat that ribbons through the meat. As the steaks cook, this marbling will render, making the end result nice and juicy.
—At the same time, the steak should be well-trimmed, with no excessive fat around the edges.
—It’s acceptable to marinate the steak before you smoke it, particularly if it’s less than 2 inches thick. This simple step will help the meat retain its moisture as it cooks.
—Allow the steak to come to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before you start to cook. This will help it cook more evenly. Don’t let it sit out for longer than an hour, though, especially in hot weather.
—Don’t neglect the resting period. You should always let the smoked steaks rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes before you cut into them. Otherwise, the juices will run out, leaving the meat dry and tough.
—Locate the grain before you start to carve the meat and be sure to slice against it. Carving meat with the grain results in a chewy texture.
What’s The Best Temperature to Use When Smoking Steak?
Any temperature between 200 and 250 is ideal for smoked steak. You don’t want to set the temperature any lower, or the meat will have a drier texture reminiscent of beef jerky. But if the temp is too high, the smoke flavor will be less pronounced.
How Long to Smoke Steak at 250 Degrees Fahrenheit
When you set the smoker temperature to 250 degrees, the steaks should smoke at a rate of 30 to 45 minutes per pound. It’s important to note that this is just a guideline, as the actual cooking time is dependent on a number of factors.
For example, if your smoker temperature is erratic due to weather or manufacturing defects, the steaks could take more or less time to finish cooking. Keep an eye on the thermometer to be sure the temp is staying within your desired range.
The size and thickness of the steaks also play a role. Obviously, smaller and thinner steaks will cook through faster than larger ones. If your steaks weigh less than 2 pounds apiece, check them after the first 30 minutes.
Finally, your desired serving temperature will serve as an important benchmark. Do you prefer your steaks cooked rare or medium? Take the meat off the smoker at 115 degrees for rare, 125 for medium-rare, and 130 for medium.
To Turn or Not to Turn
Do you have to flip the steak over when you smoke it? That depends on the configuration of the smoker you’re using.
With pellet smokers, the firebox is usually situated in the middle. That means it’s a good idea to turn the steak over midway through the smoking process to ensure even cooking.
On the other hand, if you have an offset smoker, the heat isn’t coming from the area directly below the steaks. That allows the heat to circulate more evenly, which eliminates the need for flipping.
Remember that the smoker will lose some of its heat every time you open the lid. So don’t be tempted to turn the steaks more than once, no matter what type of smoker you’re using.
How To Smoke Steaks in an Electric Smoker
Electric smokers are easy to use, and they tend to maintain a stable temperature better than fire-powered smokers do. The main drawback for us is that they take some of the romance out of the process, but they still turn out well-flavored steaks.
After setting your smoker to 250 degrees, season the steaks using the ingredients of your choice. It’s fine to keep it simple with salt and pepper, as you want the smoke flavor to take center stage.
When the smoker is ready, place the steaks inside and let them cook for 30 to 45 minutes per pound, or until they’ve achieved your desired temperature. Let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes after taking them out of the smoker.
Transforming Your Grill into a Smoker
Don’t have a dedicated smoker yet? You can transform your grill into a smoker with nothing more than a handful of wood chips and some heavy-duty aluminum foil.
To begin, select your wood chips. Oak-fired steak is a classic, but feel free to experiment with whatever flavors you feel are appropriate. Remember that mesquite can impart a bitter taste, so use it sparingly if your steaks are on the larger side.
Arrange your wood chips on a sheet of aluminum foil, then cover them with a second sheet to create a packet. Poke holes in the top of the packet so that the smoke will be able to escape.
After preheating the grill, set the wood chips directly on the coals, or on the burner if you’re using a gas-powered unit. You’ll want to light just half of the burners to create an indirect heat zone.
When the smoke starts to waft out of the packet, place the steaks on the cool side of the cooking grate and close the grill’s lid. Let the meat cook for about 30 minutes per pound, or until it’s within 10 degrees of your desired internal temp.
During the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, move the steaks to the hot side of the grill and sear them, turning them once, so that the meat gains a golden brown crust.
Let the steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
Though it takes a bit longer to smoke steaks than to grill them, the results are savory and delicious. We would recommend trying it at least once, even if you don’t yet own a real smoker.