I recently moved into a new place that has a hard-wired smoke detector into a central system. The smoke detector is incredibly sensitive, and my usual techniques for searing or reverse-searing a steak are setting it off.

Is there anything I can do to produce a good sear while minimising smoke?

  • 4
    I see that one of our mods flagged this as a duplicate...The suggested dupe doesn't respond to your question, since your alarm is hardwired and the suggested duplicate is mainly focused on dealing with the smoke detector, as opposed to the cooking technique. Perhaps a rephrasing of the question will convince folks to reopen.
    – moscafj
    Commented Mar 1 at 18:42
  • I haven't used one so this is a comment rather than answer, but would a blowtorch be an option for the searing? Or would it make just as much smoke?
    – dbmag9
    Commented Mar 1 at 22:34
  • I don't think this is a duplicate. I think the question could be re-worded to ask "how to sear a steak without causing smoke". And then a valid answer would include a low temperature technique such as this: youtube.com/watch?v=uJcO1W_TD74
    – hodale
    Commented Mar 5 at 19:16
  • Be aware that smoke alarms can become MORE sensitive as they age (as they detect when radiation is being blocked, and the radioactive source gives off less as it ages). If your alarm is near 10 years old, it might be time to replace it, even if it is hardwired
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 6 at 17:16
  • Boil them in a ziplock bag (making sure you don't exceed 180°F and are using actual ZipLock-brand freezer bag, or have checked the material specifications sheet), then sear.
    – Arctiic
    Commented Mar 8 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


Cook's Illustrated had a feature on this a while back: use lower heat - I end up with a medium/medium-low, enough for a gentle constant sizzle; cook in a nonstick pan so anything that browns sticks to the steak; and flip every two minutes until the desired temperature is reached, 10 or 15 minutes for a typical ribeye. I even use this technique with steaks straight from the freezer and the results are perfectly acceptable:

a cut steak

You won't get the extreme char that you would from a grill or broiler but this might be the best you can get without setting off the smoke alarm.


Other than external venting or a strategically placed fan and an open window...high smoke point oil...a dry pan (lightly oil the steak)... I think beyond that your only other option is a lower temperature. Of course, this means a longer time in the pan, so you may have to adjust your cooking technique.


Good question....I think heat the heck out of the pan, make sure steak is at room temp or dont laugh but you can microwave stake prior for 1 min...then flop it on to pan 10 sec then 10 sec then take the pan with steak in it outside with lid ofcourse and flip accordingly and keep lid on!

  • I think with a cast iron pan which is heavy and has a lot of heat capacity this could work quite well. Have you tried this yourself?
    – quarague
    Commented Mar 7 at 11:39

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