Reverse Seared Ribeye Steak Tacos
At this point, tacos are every bit as much Mexican-American cuisine as they are purely Mexican fare. The United States has embraced the taco in a big way, and you can find a restaurant serving tacos in just about every city in the country.
One of the best things about tacos is how customizable they are – They can be vegetarian, vegan or featuring meat, can incorporate seafood, and any number of a range of toppings. Adventurous restaurants can stretch the limits in creating tacos with just about any combination of proteins, fillings and salsas or sauces.
But certain tacos are iconic, and tend to be found just about everywhere. The classic ground beef taco. Fish tacos. And steak tacos.
Steak is one of the finest main proteins for tacos, and for good reason. Well-cooked sliced steak is savory and delicious enough to carry a taco on its own with little in the way of extra help from other ingredients. But it’s also versatile enough to hold a wide range of marinades and it accentuated by many common sauces and toppings.
Steak tacos are also a style of taco that’s quite easy to make at home. If you can cook a steak, you can make steak tacos that will rival what you’ll find in a restaurant. In fact, if you use a good-quality piece of meat and cook it to perfection, your homemade steak tacos may very well be better than what you’ll find at a local restaurant.
In order to make steak tacos, the first order of business is picking out and cooking your steak.
How to Make Steak Tacos
This guide will go step-by-step from start to finish, giving you complete instructions for making steak tacos from scratch. We’ll start with picking out a type and cut of steak, then detail a cooking process called reverse searing that produces perfectly-cooked steaks.
Once the steak is ready, we’ll cover some of the best combinations of toppings to fill your taco out with, as well as some excellent side dishes to go with steak tacos.
Picking Out the Steak
As you probably know, there are many different cuts of steak for sale, all of which have slightly different properties that make them suited or less-well suited for certain meals.
There are a good number of cuts that are well suited for steak tacos, and the cut we’ll be focusing on is ribeye. The ribeye is a tender and flavorful cut of steak, with a good amount of fat that lends the meat delicious flavor without a lot of gristle or excess fat.
Most of the time, you’ll find boneless ribeye at your grocery store or butcher’s shop, and this is preferable for making steak tacos. A bone-in ribeye cooks slightly unevenly, making it more likely you’ll overcook part of the steak.
If you’re cooking for some special occasion and can spare a bit of extra cash, choose a ‘Prime’ ribeye steak for the best flavor. For more everyday occasions, a ‘Choice’ ribeye still going to produce an amazing foundation for your steak tacos.
Cooking the Steak
When it comes to cooking a steak, there are a number of techniques at your disposal. The simplest method would be to cook in in a skillet or pan on the stovetop, or on a grill. Far more complicated are techniques like sous vide, in which the steak cooks on very low heat immersed in water for a long period of time.
Here, we’ll recommend the reverse sear method, a middle ground between the simplest and most complicated methods of cooking a steak. The basics of the reverse sear is to first cook the steak on a relatively low temperature in the oven to get it close to done.
Then, to finish the steak you’ll sear it on the stovetop at high heat, giving it that flavorful crust that makes steak extra delicious.
Now that you have a pile of sliced ribeye, you’re ready to fill your tacos and dig in. But there are still many ways you could go in creating the perfect steak taco. Here are some of the best options.
The Classic Steak Taco
If you’ve got a nice piece of steak and are all about the bare-bones experience, the classic steak taco delivers a no-frills experience emphasizing the quality of the steak.
To make classic steak tacos, dice up white onions and cilantro, and place them each into a bowl. Buy soft corn tortillas, and heat them in the microwave for about 30 seconds before serving. Microwaving the tortillas will prevent them from cracking as you fold them. Feel free to use flour tortillas if you prefer them.
Optionally, you can either make or buy from the store a salsa verde – A green salsa usually made from tomatillos and chiles.
Put a generous portion of cooked steak onto a tortilla, as well as a sprinkling of onions and cilantro. If you have salsa verde, drizzle some on top, then fold the tortilla over and enjoy!
Steak Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce
Another outstanding option for steak tacos is making an oil-based sauce known as Chimichurri sauce. This spicy sauce is the perfect complement to steak tacos, and is relatively simple to make.
To make Chimichurri sauce, put the following ingredients into a blender or food processor:
Pulse the blender or food processor until the contents are fairly well mixed but not smooth. Next, add the following:
And blend until the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a bowl and it’s ready to serve.
To make the tacos, again you’ll want either corn or flour tortillas. For these tacos, you will also want chopped tomatoes and some shredded or crumbled cheese. One great (and authentic) option is Cojita cheese, a crumbled Mexican cheese. But any cheese you enjoy is a good pick.
Place steak onto the tortilla, then add tomatoes and cheese. Finally, liberally apply Chimichurri sauce and roll up the taco to eat.
These two recipes for steak tacos are proven winners, but any number of combinations are great with steak in taco form. You can combine other salsas, guacamole, or go with the more traditional Tex-Mex toppings of lettuce, olives and sour cream. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re starting with well-cooked, choice ribeye steak.
Some of the best side dishes to pair with steak tacos are classic staples of Mexican cuisine.
Refried beans can be bought in the can and quickly heated to go alongside steak tacos. And the great thing about refried beans from the can is that it’s easy to touch them up for even more flavor.
Depending on your tastes, you can add either sour cream, hot sauce or both as you’re heating the beans on the stovetop. Creamy refried beans with a little zip from the hot sauce make an ideal pairing with steak tacos.
Another great side is guacamole along with some tortilla chips. While chips and guacamole stand up on their own, the added bonus is that to add some variety you can put guacamole directly one or two tacos in addition to your other toppings.
Reverse searing a steak for steak tacos is one of the best ways to produce meat cooked to exacting standards, unlocking the best of its flavor.With some tacos, it can seem like all the toppings and salsas are trying to hide the lack of quality of the meat on the taco. But with this recipe, the natural deliciousness of the steak takes center stage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is reverse seared steak?
Reverse searing is a cooking method that involves first cooking a steak at low temperatures. Then, once the steak is very close to the target medium-rare temperature, you sear it at high temperatures. This is the opposite of normal cooking techniques, which involve first searing steak and then finishing it in an oven or on the indirect heat side of the grill.
Is reverse sear better than traditional cooking techniques?
Many people prefer the reverse sear technique because it ensure the steak cooks very evenly inside and out. When you sear a steak, you start out exposing it to very hot temperatures. Reverse searing, on the other hand, exposes the steak to lower, more gentle temperatures, keeping the meat tender as it cooks. Both steaks result in a delicious crust on the outside, but many say the reverse sear steak is juicier inside.
How long does it take to reverse sear a steak?
If you’re cooking a steak in a 275 degree F oven, it should take about 45 minutes to an hour to reach its target temperature. Since you’re going to sear the steak afterwards, we recommend pulling the steak at 90 degrees F for medium rare and 100 degrees F for medium. Then, the searing part should only take about two minutes a side.
How do you reverse sear on a charcoal grill?
If you’re grilling a steak outside, you can still use the reverse sear cooking method! Simply prepare your grill with a two-zone fire so you can cook over indirect heat. Start by cooking the steak on the indirect heat side until it reaches the target temperature. Then, transfer the steak to the hot side of the grill and get those beautiful grill marks to finish cooking the steak the rest of the way.
What is the best cut of beef for steak tacos?
Many people use flank steak or carne asada cuts when making steak tacos. For this recipe, we’ve opted to use the ribeye steak. You can use any steak you like, really, it just depends on your budget and how much fat you’d like to include in the finished product. Since ribeye is a fattier steak, it will turn out more flavorful and won’t require the use of a marinade. For reverse sear tacos, we recommend using a steak like ribeye, New York strip, or porterhouse.