The Perfect Sear Using the Cold Grill Grate Technique


Everyone agrees: grill marks = flavor. The brown crust that forms due to the exposure of meat to high heat (Maillard reaction) produces the most flavorful bites. So why are we happy with food that only has strips of flavor? What if we could have all-over flavor? We can! The Slow ‘N Sear and the Cold Grate Sear Technique make it both possible and incredibly easy.


Grill Marks on Steak | SnS Grills

Say goodbye to grill marks… 

Cold Grate Technique | SnS Grills

…and HELLO! to all over sear and fantastic flavor!


Why are we so used to grill marks?

It’s no surprise that we’ve learned to think that a grill-marked steak looks delicious. Most grills (even in restaurants) don’t get hot enough to deliver an all-over sear to the food. Instead, they rely on the heat from the cooking grate to do most of the cooking. The meat touching the grate gets nice and browned but the rest of the surface just gets cooked without any additional flavor. This is why you usually see tan banding around the outside edges of a grill-marked steak when you cut into it rather than the wall-to-wall color you get with the Cold Grate Technique.

Perfect Steak with Cold Grate Technique | SnS Grills

No tan banding here!  This Cold Grate, reverse seared ribeye has wall-to-wall uniform interior color.


How does the cold grate technique work?

The patented design of the Slow ‘N Sear grill perfectly solves the problem of uneven flavor from grill marks and tan branding.

  • The fully walled basket keeps coals away from the kettle wall so heat stays inside the grill
  • The slightly angled walls of the basket encourages even burn of fuel and concentrates heat
  • The basket itself is large enough to hold enough fuel to generate super-high temperatures (1000+ F)

    A cold cooking grate is the key to a perfect cold sear steak

    Now that we have an intensely hot sear zone, we’re going to let the fire do the cooking and not the grate.

    Grill steaks on a cold grill

    Instead of heating up your grill grate, do everything you can to keep it COLD and out of the way of your intense radiant heat.

    Use a thin wire grate

    Use a thin wire grate so it can’t store heat energy and put it on at the last moment so it’s not hot when the steak is first set on the grill.

    Two Zone Fire

    Maintain a two zone fire so only part of the grate is over the sear zone.

    Spin the grate

    When it’s time to flip, spin the grate so that you’re always using a cold grate and a very hot fire to sear.


    Slow ‘N Sear Cold Grill Grate Technique Steps | SnS Grills

    Cold Grill Grate Method

    1. Start with a cold grate. Cook for one minute.

    2. After one minute, this is now a hot grate (red).

    3. Rotate grate a 1/4 turn to move a section of cold grate over the Slow 'N Sear.

    4. Move meat back over Slow 'N Sear onto cold grate. Flip over.


    How to Perfectly Cook Steak. Reverse Seared Ribeye on Slow 'N Sear Kettle Grill Using Cold Grate Technique:


    Video Transcription:

    Welcome back to the SnS Grills channel. I'm Greg from Ballistic Barbecue and today I'm going to be showing you how to cook up the perfect ribeye steak on the Slow 'N Sear Kettle.

    I actually started this cook off last night by dry brining a beautiful USDA prime ribeye steak. Now, to do this, you're going to want to use about one half teaspoon per pound of kosher salt. Just season the steak how you normally would on both sides. If you're using regular table salt, you're going to want to use about a quarter teaspoon per pound. Table salt disappears very quickly and you don't want to risk over salting your steak. After it was seasoned, I placed it on a rack, put the rack on top of a cookie sheet, and put it in my refrigerator uncovered overnight. And this is how the steak has been transformed. As you can see it's this beautiful ruby red color, so what's happening is the salt on the surface of steak is actually bringing water out of the steak onto the surface. It liquefies that salt and then the steak brings that season, that liquefied salt, back into the meat and what you end up with is a perfectly seasoned, very, very juicy steak. It's an amazing technique and I can tell you this, I was very skeptical at one time about this but it works and you owe it to yourself to at least try it once. Take my word for it.

    I'm going to go ahead and show you now how we're setting up the kettle. So as you can see, I have the Slow 'N Sear and the Drip 'N Griddle in place. To the Slow 'N Sear I'm going to add about 25 fully lit charcoal briquettes. Go ahead and put the spin grade in place. I want the hinged portion over the top of the coals. I'm going to go ahead and set up my temperature probe and I'm using the new SnS 500 thermometer for this cook. Put that lid on. I want the damper over the side where there's no charcoal. I'm going to set the top damper to about 1/3 open. Fully close that bottom damper and then open that smoke halt where it's about one third of the way open. Now I plan on running this cooker between 225 and 250 so once it hits my target temp we'll go ahead and start cooking that steak.

    Okay we are now at 238 degrees, well within that range i'm looking for of 225 degrees fahrenheit and 250 degrees fahrenheit, so let's cook that steak finally. So we're starting this cookoff in direct heat so the steak is over the area where there is no charcoal. I'm going to monitor the temperature obviously of the steak again on a really thick steak like this. This is thick, it's like two inches thick. Rather than sticking the thermometer through the top and then having to remove it when I flip it, I'd rather stick it through the middle, kind of gauge where I want it to be, make sure that it's not, you know, sticking into the fat, and put it right in there so now it's right here in the meatiest part of this steak. I want a little smoke on this cook so I'm going to add a nice chunk of hickory to the charcoals. Get that lid on.

    Now all I have to do is monitor the temperatures of both the kettle and the steak. I do not want to let this kettle exceed that 250 degree threshold that I have set, so if it does, all I have to do is shut the dampers down a little bit. I also don't want it to drop below that 225 degree baseline that I set, so if it does just have to open the dampers up a little bit. Easy stuff. Now my target temperature for the steak is 115 degrees fahrenheit. My ultimate goal is to come out with a medium rare steak so for this technique, for the indirect portion, we want to shoot for 20 degrees below my target temperature. Now once the stick hits 80 degrees fahrenheit we're going to flip it and then just continue cooking it to the 115. Once it hits 90 degrees, I'm going to light up a full charcoal chimney of charcoal to set the kettle up for the sear, which is the fun part. I'll see you guys on the flip side.

    We just hit 80 degrees as you can see I'm getting a really nice color. So now the next milestone will be that 90 degree mark when I light up the chimney of charcoal. Other than that, it's 115 degrees fahrenheit when I pull the steak, prior to the sear that usually takes anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour to achieve and we're right on track for that time frame. I'll see you then.

    Alright, we just hit that 115 degree mark. Get the steak out of the way. Now I'm going to remove this grate. Now that's a very important step - removing that grate and allowing it to cool down completely before we start the sear. The reason is we don't want a hot grate burning into the steak. We want that intense even heat from the charcoal searing the steak and you'll see the results are amazing. We're going to end up with a perfectly seared steak, gorgeous color. My mouth is starting to water right now. What I'm going to do now is show you how we're going to prep the steak prior to the sear.

    Alright, so the next thing we're going to do is just make sure we get any moisture off the steak. We're doing this because we want the heat to not have to work as hard, if that makes any sense, to get that really nice sear. If it's wet then it has to evaporate that moisture before it really starts cooking the meat, you know. I have some extra virgin olive oil I'm just going to brush on. This is actually going to help the sear. And some fresh black ground pepper.

    Alright, we're ready for the sear. Now let me go ahead and get the charcoal added in the Slow 'N Sear and this is where it gets fun. I love this technique. Fully open the bottom damper right of a full basket of lit charcoal. Now the top's not completely lit so we'll get it in here and stir it around and let it get really good and going. This looks good. Literally give it another two minutes. Get that steak on the grill and get that cold side over the fire and we're going to sear this for a minute per side four times so a total of four minutes. That's what it's all about right there. Okay I'm gonna let this rest a little bit and give you guys a try.

    So I rested this about 10 minutes. My favorite part right here - that is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful, perfectly cooked, that's why I like that technique, alright. You just cannot deny that's so juicy, wow, little nugget of goodness right here. Like I said, perfectly seasoned, juicy as all get out, then you top that off with a crust like that. This technique has kind of ruined really good steak shops for me and my wife. It's just hard to beat this real caramelly flavor, a hint of char, but not too much. This kind of sweetness, I mean, it's perfect. Now close your eyes and picture this. This is going to be my lunch, I'm a nice guy so i'm actually sharing half of it with my wife, but this is our lunch today and I'm stoked. Remember two zones are better than one.