Grilling steaks is an art form, and one that’s elevated to a whole new level when you’re dealing with extra-thick specimens. Since ribeye is such a fantastic cut, the last thing you want is to mess it up. Here are our tips on how to grill a 2-inch ribeye.
How To Grill a 2-Inch Ribeye
The best way to grill a 2-inch ribeye is to cook it slowly over low heat, then finish it over a hot fire. That will allow the inside to cook to the ideal temperature without burning the exterior. This process is known as reverse searing and is a good choice for all thick steaks, especially filet mignon and ribeye.
Why Are Ribeyes Cut So Thick?
For starters, not all ribeyes are cut 2 inches thick. It’s possible to get them sliced more thinly—around 1 inch.
That said, when it comes to ribeye, thicker is better. That’s partly because the steak is so delicious that a smaller one just won’t do, but it has more to do with the nature of the cut itself.
Ribeye steaks come from the rib primal, which is both tender and well-marbled. Marbling is the term for the intramuscular fat that runs through the muscle. This fat renders as the meat cooks, giving it that unmistakable juicy texture.
When the steaks are cut to at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick, they need more time on the heat in order to achieve the ideal internal temperature. And when the steaks cook longer, all that lovely marbling has the time it needs to render and flavor the meat.
Grilling vs. Pan-Searing
Can you pan-sear a ribeye instead of grilling it? Of course, but there will be a noticeable difference in terms of flavor. Steak that’s cooked over an open fire, especially one that’s fueled by charcoal, will taste much better, thanks to the smoke.
The flames will also singe the fat as it drips from the meat, giving it a boost in the texture department. It’s just not possible to replicate a perfectly charred steak by cooking it on the stove top.
You can use a gas grill if you prefer the instant gratification of that method. However, gas-powered units burn cooler than charcoal fires. That could mean that the exterior won’t be as crisp as you’d like.
How To Grill a 2-Inch Ribeye
When grilling steak, your goal is to achieve a strong sear on the outside without allowing it to get so dark that it burns. Meanwhile, the interior should cook to a perfect medium-rare—about 120 degrees Fahrenheit—before you allow it to rest.
This can be problematic with thick steaks because it’s easy for the exterior to burn while the inside is still cold and raw. Once you know what you’re doing, though, you should be able to achieve optimum results.
Our suggestion would be to use the reverse searing technique. That entails cooking the steak slowly over gentle heat before finishing it off over a hot fire.
Alternatively, you can sear the meat quickly and then finish it over a low fire. Either method is fine, but reverse-searing allows the meat to sear faster because it’s already hot. It also minimizes the risk of overcooking, which you definitely want to avoid.
Here’s how to grill a 2-inch ribeye using the reverse sear method.
1. Take the steaks out of the refrigerator no more than 1 hour before you want to start cooking. Trim the outer layer of fat to within 1/4 inch, if necessary.
2. Sprinkle the steaks with a layer of kosher salt, then set them on a wire rack. Place the rack in a shallow pan.
3. Build a two-zone fire in a charcoal grill by piling the coals on just one side of the firebox. Clean and oil the cooking grates.
4. When the coals are ready, prepare the steaks by patting them dry with paper towels, then seasoning them with a bit more kosher salt, along with freshly ground black pepper. A thin layer of cooking spray or olive oil might be in order to help the spices adhere.
4. Place the ribeyes on the cooler side of the cooking grate and cover the grill. Let the steak cook, undisturbed, for about 10 minutes.
5. Check the internal temperature of the steaks. It should measure about 100 degrees Fahrenheit before you move on to the next step. This might take another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your fire is.
6. When the steaks have cooked to 100 degrees, flip them over and move them to the hotter side of the grill. Sear for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until the exteriors are nicely charred and the internal temperature has reached about 125 degrees.
7. Remove the steaks from the heat and let them rest, loosely covered with foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Other Tips on Grilling 2-Inch Ribeye
These are general tips that work well no matter how thick the steak is, but they come in especially handy with oversized ribeyes.
—Season the meat with plenty of salt, ideally about 30 minutes before grilling. This draws out moisture, which will then blend with the salt before being reabsorbed. In essence, you’ll be doing a quick dry brine to improve the steak’s flavor and texture.
—Let the steak come to room temperature for at least 30 to 45 minutes to ensure that the meat cooks through evenly.
—If you’d rather use the oven for the slow-cooking stage, feel free to do so. Set the oven temperature to 275 degrees and allow the steaks to cook for 30 minutes before you test them.
—When you use a charcoal grill for both stages of the cooking process, it might be necessary to reignite the coals before you sear the meat. Just remove the steaks from the heat and add more briquettes or hardwood, then open the vents and let the coals heat up.
—Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test the steak’s internal temperature. Without it, you’ll have difficulty knowing when it’s time to start the searing phase.
—Don’t forget to let the steak rest before you serve it. Since the internal temp will rise as the juices get reabsorbed into the meat’s fibers, take the steak off the heat when it’s 5 degrees below your intended serving temperature.
—To make ribeye even more decadent, top it with a compound butter. Mix softened butter with minced garlic, fresh herbs, and black pepper, then shape the mixture into a log and chill it in the refrigerator. Top each ribeye with about 1 tablespoon of the butter before serving.
While grilling thick steaks requires some finesse, there’s no reason why you can’t turn out impressive results right off the bat.
If you’re more comfortable using the oven for the initial stage than a two-zone fire, feel free to do so. You can always switch to the grilling-only method once you’ve gotten the hang of things.