Tips & Tricks

Barbecue Basics Why Do You Sear Meat?

How to sear meat

A good sear on the barbecue is a start to mouth-watering meals

Nothing says summer like the smell of grilling meat! Delicious barbecue is not only the science of blending combinations of smoke, flavour and heat it’s an art learned through practice, trial and error. Imperative to magic barbecue is the process of searing the meat. A good sear is a start to mouth-watering meals. In this article, we explain how and why you sear meat. If you’re just getting started and want to know how to cook smoking hot delicious barbecue, here’s something to help you on your journey to becoming a smoked barbecue connoisseur. And even if you’re a barbecue smokin’ veteran, we’re sure you’ll find some golden nuggets when you follow along

To be able to create magic meals and barbecue it is imperative to start with a 2 zone fire. When setting up your fire simply plan that you are going to need a cool or indirect heat zone and a hot direct heat zone. The indirect zone is used for meats that require long, low and slow cooking. Typically all meats and poultry require a sear on the hot zone before being transferred to the indirect zone for the slow cook. Searing meat is one of those fundamental cooking and barbecue techniques that needs to be mastered and is 100% about building flavour sealing in the jucies for moist, tender mouth watering meals.

A sear is always done on the direct hot dry heat of the barbecue and the meat undergoes something called the Maillard reaction, which is a browning reaction. When the meat hits a hot pan, moisture on the surface of the meat evaporates and undergoes a chemical change that results in a rich meaty aroma and flavour. Think of it as caramelizing the meat. So does this mean the browned meat now seals in the juices? The answer is no, juiciness in meat comes from the fat content and not the browning, Moist and tender meat comes from cooking at the right internal temperature and resting the meat before serving.

How to sear meat!

Searing meat is simple and easy, how long you do it for depends on the meat. Steaks and chops take a quick minute or two on the hot direct zone turning once. Larger cuts and joints will take longer. What you really want is a dark brown look on all sides of the cut. Once seared move the meat to the indirect zone for the slow cook and finish the cooking

We sear the meat for 3 reasons


Simply put, seared meats have a much more complex, concentrated and rich flavour. Roasted, broiled and fried meats have a crust that is more intensely flavoured, the meat dries out when it hits the hot surface allowing the Maillard caramelization browning reaction.


Meat that is not seared is a pale grey colour where seared meat takes on the rich dark brown look. Science doesn’t know if the colour has anything to do with it but the Maillard reaction creates such an appetizing aroma as it occurs that maybe we have just been trained to go for the brown caramelized look.

Sauce base.

Any cook will tell you to use the leftover over juices of the cook after draining excess fat and oil as the base for any sauce. As the meat browns, it leaves behind tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan or dish. Pan sauces get their incredible tasty flavour from the leftover juice and bits called sucs, Without them, the finished sauce won’t be as good.

Now that you know how to sear and why you do it, make sure you do it every time you fire up the grill or want to pan fry a delicious juicy steak. It’s an extra step but well worth the effort.

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