Pitmaster John Lewis Shares His Crowd-Pleasing Ribeye Recipe for Memorial Day Weekend

This at-home version of his eatery's dish doesn't require a smoker and can be easily prepped in advance.


As the pitmaster and owner at namesake Lewis Barbecue, John Lewis brings his love of Texas-style cooking to South Carolina.

The Charleston restaurant's menu has some staples as well as daily specials on offer, and every Wednesday, diners can order smoked prime rib.

But back at home, the barbecue chef is grilling up his own version — one that's so good he's been eating it once a week for around 15 years.

A photo of a ribeye steak appears beside the words 'Ribeye Steak by Chef John Lewis'
The Messenger; Dish: John Lewis

"This is pretty much the home version of what we do at the restaurant," Lewis told The Messenger.

While the process is pretty much the same, he says the seasoning is different at his eateries.

At home, Lewis leans on Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning, which he says is great for anything you'd want to barbecue, and he uses a charcoal grill.

John Lewis, pitmaster and owner at Lewis Barbecue
John Lewis, pitmaster and owner at Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, S.C. Credit: ANDREW CEBULKA

Lewis loves this recipe because it can be made in advance or all at once, and it's great for both entertaining guests on a weekend and just feeding yourself during the week. He says it's easy to make no matter where you are, since it doesn't require a smoker.

The whole process takes around four to five hours, he warns, so he recommends planning it out a bit in advance.

But the chef breaks this recipe into two parts so home cooks know when to stop and pause if you don't have the consecutive time. He also recommends getting part one out of the way earlier in the day if you're making this dish for a crowd.

When making the recipe below for himself, Lewis says he usually makes some roasted hatch green chili mashed potatoes and sliced veggies on the grill as sides. (See Pro Tip for his recommendations on how to cook the vegetables.)

"This is how I make a ribeye steak," Lewis said. "It's gonna take a little bit longer, but the reward is awesome."

The Ribeye at Lewis Barbecue
John Lewis' famous ribeye on the grill (at left) and plated with hatch-pepper mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. Credit - John Lewis


  • 1 ribeye (between 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick)
  • Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Neutral cooking oil (for spraying)


Part 1

  1. Trim any excess fat from your steak — anything more than 1/16 of an inch — and reserve.
  2. Season the steak with 50% Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning, 50% kosher salt.
  3. Set it on a cooling rack set inside a sheet pan, on the kitchen counter. Let sit for around two hours. (You want the meat to be the same temperature inside as it is outside.)
  4. Use around 1/4 of a charcoal chimney in your grill and push them all the way to one end. Heat the grill to around 250 degrees F.
  5. Add freshly cracked black pepper to your meat.
    • Lewis says the steak will have gotten set or shiny looking on the outside as it sat — this is part of the dry brine process.
    • He says this process is what will help season your steak all the way through rather than just on the outside.
  6. Place the steak on the grill grate, on the opposite side of where your coals are.
  7. Slow cook the steak with the lid down (vents open) until its internal temperature reads 127 degrees F on a meat thermometer. (This will probably take around two hours, Lewis says.)
    • Lewis suggests adding a few charcoal briquets every 30 minutes or so to maintain temperature.
    • He also like to add some wood chips or chunks (Lewis uses mesquite but says you can use what you like best).
    • If you had excess fat that you trimmed previously, you can add it here as well, directly onto the coals.
  8. Remove steak and place back onto your resting rack. Let it cool for one to four hours until the internal temperature dips below 100 degrees F.
    • Editor's note: End here if you're prepping ahead of time and pick up at Part 2 around 20 minutes before you're ready to serve.

Part 2

  1. Spread out the remaining coals in your grill and add more charcoal and wood chunks (if using), and heat grill and grill grate.
  2. Spray the cooked steak with a little bit of a neutral cooking oil and put it back on the grill, cooking it four to six minutes, or just enough to get defined grill marks on the outside and until it develops a crust or bark on the outside.
  3. Remove the steak and put it on a clean sheet pan or plate. Add the butter on top. Cover it with aluminum foil for around 10 minutes to rest.
  4. Pour any juices that collected in your resting dish over the steak. Then slice and eat.

Pro Tips

  • The thickness of your steak is key to this dish.
    • He also recommends using a cut with a high amount of fat marbling, but says low-marble is OK if that's all you can find.
  • Save your fat trimmings to add to the coals.
    • He says adding bits of fat at the same time as your wood chunks and extra coals will help add that familiar flavor of something that has been cooked at a backyard barbecue.
  • While Lewis likes to use mesquite wood — he says it reminds him of Texas — you can choose your favorite type of hardwood for this extra boost of flavor in the smoke.
  • Use a meat thermometer — preferably one with a stainless steel probe and a digital read.
  • Get a cast-iron cooking grate for whatever grill you're using. It doesn't need to fit exactly to size.
  • If you want to grill vegetables:
    • Marinate red bell peppers, summer squash, and zucchini (sliced on the bias) in Wishbone Italian dressing.
      • the sugar from the dressing helps the veggies get grill marks quickly without them getting mushy
    • Place on the grill for four to six minutes while your meat is on its second cook.
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