grilling guides icon.Grilling Guides

Afterburner Chimney Seared Steak — A Screaming Hot Searing Method

Afterburner steak is so named because the flames out of the chimney look like the afterburner out the rear of a jet. It’s screaming hot, cooks very quickly, and is a fantastic way to sear thin steaks, creating great crust without overcooking the center.

Mark Jenner profile picture
Written by:

Last Updated: March 12, 2024

Afterburner steak grilling on top of two charcoal chimneys.

Would you believe it if I told you that a charcoal chimney and a grill grate are all you need to achieve seared steak perfection?

It’s true! By lighting half a charcoal chimney and placing a grill grate on top you can create some of the best steaks of your life using the ‘Afterburner Grilling Method.’

Have you never heard of this method, let alone tried it? Afterburner steak is possibly one of the quickest ways to grill insanely good thin steaks, those cuts that come in under an inch thick.

In this article, I’ll teach you all about it, and how it’s done.

History of the Afterburner

Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn at calls this the Afterburner Method. According to Meathead, he noticed one day how his lit charcoal chimney looked somewhat like the afterburner of a jet, with blue and red flames shooting out the top.

Curious, he placed a cast iron pan on top and whipped out an infrared thermometer to measure the temp. To his surprise, it was a whopping 800 °F!

Because the charcoal was bunched together in the chimney, and because the pan was so close to the heat, it was easily able to achieve this super-hot temp.

From here, he did what any warm-blooded, red meat-loving American would do: he placed a grill grate on top of the chimney and quickly seared up an amazing steak in less than 6 minutes!

You can see Meathead Goldwyn discussing the technique in this video where he afterburner grills a sous vide steak:

What Type of Steak to Use

In our beef cuts diagram, we describe many cuts as one of the best steaks for grilling, but not all are suitable for the afterburner method because the thicker ones will burn on the outside before the insides are cooked.

Meathead recommends using this method on thinner cuts like hanger steak, skirt, and flank. These are cuts that are usually between ½” to ¾” thick. The afterburner steak grilling method is ideal for these cuts because you’re able to achieve a perfect medium rare on the inside, with great, even browning on the outside with the method.

The method is also great if you like to eat blue rare steaks, because you can get the best sear possible while cooking the inside the least.

You could use this method on a thicker steak, but you must be forewarned: It’s easy to end up with a steak that’s well below medium-rare, or worse, you could end up with a medium rare steak with a burned and charred exterior!

If you’re unfamiliar, here are some detailed guides on some of the thinner, most suitable steaks available that really benefit from this cooking technique:

Afterburner Reverse Sear

The reverse sear is a popular way to cook a steak to perfect medium-rare that lends itself to the afterburner method.

Unlike the conventional method of cooking a steak by searing it over a hot flame the entire time you cook it, the reverse sear is when you slowly bring the temperature of the meat up and only finish with a sear.

The afterburner could come in handy with that last step to provide a deep, even, mahogany crust that many steak lovers want to achieve. Better yet, since the steak has already slowly come up to temp, you can use as thick a steak as you like.

How to Cook Using the Afterburner Method

It doesn’t take much to cook a steak using the afterburner method. So long as you have a charcoal chimney and a grill grate, you’re in business. However, I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t mention the super cool Chimney Griller, by Unknown BBQ Competition Team.

This awesome little tool replaces the need to use a grill grate and safely fits directly on top of the chimney. With the Chimney Griller, there is no worry of trying to handle the grill grate, or what to do if it falls off.

I have a similar but different one, from a company called ProQ:

Aan afterburner charcoal chimney grate for searing steak, sitting on the star.
This is my (new at the time) afterburner chimney searing grate. Makes searing quick and easy. (If you’re unsure of exactly what searing is, check out our detailed article: What is searing?)

Dry Brine

A few hours before you cook your steak, you’re going to want to dry brine by sprinkling a generous amount of kosher salt on your steak and let it rest in the refrigerator.

This process will draw moisture out of you steak, which will, in turn, dissolve the salt which will then be reabsorbed into your steak, bringing the salt in with it.

You’re going to want to avoid using rubs or applying pepper to the steak until after it is cooked. That’s because the ingredients found in a spice rub — and especially black pepper — will easily burn and turn bitter when they are placed so close to the fire.

How Much Charcoal?

Avoid the temptation to light a full load of charcoal in your chimney. This will result in way too hot a cooking surface that will surely burn your food.

Also, the charcoal will take longer to light.

Instead, only light about a half chimney load of charcoal. This will provide more than enough heat to reach screaming hot searing temps of up to 800°.

The Cook

Once your charcoal is lit and your grill grate is in place, it’s time to put your meat on.

First, you should use a paper towel to dry up any moisture on the steak. This is done to avoid any surface moisture from evaporating and cooling the meat surface once laid on the grill grate.

Once your steak is on, don’t walk away and leave it unattended — this can burn pretty quickly.

Flip your steak every 30 – 60 seconds. Doing so will assist with creating that dark and tasty Maillard crust we’ve been talking about this whole time.

If you left your food on the grate for too long, your meat will surely burn, and we don’t want that.

After the first couple of flips, it’ll be time to check the temperature.

If you’re like me, you have at least two Thermapens. Take one and use it to read the internal temp of the steak. If it’s below 125°, keep cooking and flipping. Once your steak has reached a perfect medium rare internal temp of 125°, it’s time to rest your steak before digging in.

Overall cooking time will vary depending on the particular cut. We cover most times in our article on how long to grill steak.

Head shot of the editor, Mark jenner Editor’s Note

Because the afterburner sear method is so hot, take your steak off a good 7 or 8 degrees F under your target temp, as it will rise a lot while resting due to carryover cooking. More so than the rise you’re used to after standard grilling.

— Mark Jenner

How to Cook Using Afterburner With Reverse Sear

As we already discussed, if your steak is thicker than ¾” you might want to implement the reverse sear.

Start by dry brining like you would any other steak and setting up a grill for two-zone indirect cooking at approx. 250 °F – 300 °F and place your meat on the “cool” side of the grill.

Once your steak is brought up in temperature to approximately 115° – 120 °F, remove from your grill and prepare your charcoal chimney for the afterburner.

Best part, your meat will rest while the charcoal chimney is coming up in temp, so you won’t have to rest it after you’re done with the searing.

Once you’ve lit your chimney, you can add your meat and complete your sear. Just like the thinner steaks, you’re going to want to flip every 60 seconds or so and check for temp after a couple of minutes to avoid burning your meat.


Well, there you have it, kids. If you haven’t tried the Afterburner Method this is a sure fire way to impress your party guests next time you have them over for steaks.

Have you tried the Afterburner Method? What did you think of our take on it? Is it accurate, or would you suggest changes? Leave us a comment down below with your thoughts.

Happy grilling!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Mark Jenner profile picture

Written By: Mark Jenner

I'm a BBQ fanatic and have been barbecuing and grilling since 2005. I founded FoodFireFriends in 2017 and have extensively written for the site since.

I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke whatever the weather, and I currently own over 30 grills and smokers of all varieties that I frequently cook on to produce epic food.

My goal with this site is to help as many people as possible enjoy and be good at doing the same.

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *


  1. Avatar for Jeff Breitz Jeff Breitz says:

    I love the article, thank you! My grill has a searing burner and the Temptation is always putting on there first and then finish the cook, cooking it first and throwing it on their last sounds much better! I am an engineer and fabricator so tomorrow morning first thing I’m going to take a piece of 10 inch round stainless pipe and fabricate a special Grill just for the purpose you laid out. Can’t wait to try it, thanks for all the great info!

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Thanks, Jeff. Best of luck!

More From Grilling Guides

A close up shot a vacuum packed frozen steak.
Grilling Guides

Grilling Frozen Steak — How to go From Freezer to Plate in Record Time

Did you know you can grill steak from frozen? It can actually result in fantastic steak, done to perfect doneness levels if you keep in mind these few little tips. Maybe not surprisingly, it can even help avoid overcooking the center while you build a deliciously tasty crust!

Close up of Himalayan slat blocks used for grilling, sitting in a charred wooden holder.
Grilling Guides

Himalayan Salt Block Grilling — How To and Why You Should Try It

Himalayan salt is loved for its healing benefits and nutritional value. But did you know you can grill on it too? Learn the technique and benefits in our latest guide covering how to grill on a slat block, why you should, and many tips and tricks to get you going.