How To Grill Steak Step By Step
- 125°F for rare
- 130 to 135°F for medium-rare
- 140°F for medium
Your steak should be medium-rare after about eight minutes total cook time. If you feel like your steak is getting too browned, reduce the heat to medium.
How To Test Your Steak For Doneness
For the most accurate results, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:
- Rare — 125 degrees F
- Medium Rare — 130 degrees F
- Medium — 140 degrees F
- Medium Well — 150 degrees F
- Well done — 160 degrees F
You can also use your fist. Admittedly, this method is more art than science, but it will give you a general idea of doneness. First, make your hand into a fist. You’ll notice there’s a fleshy, roughly triangular patch of skin between your folded-up thumb and pointer finger. Touch that flap of skin and compare it to the steak. Here’s the deal:
- Very loose non-fist — Rare
Tips For Grilling The Perfect Steak
- Season, then chill: I apply the same technique I use for getting crispy chicken and turkey skin to grilling this steak: season, then let it chill in the fridge uncovered for up to 48 hours. This essentially dry brines the steak while also letting it air-dry. This approach allows the surface moisture to evaporate while the seasoning has time to penetrate the meat resulting in deeply flavored steak that sears beautifully and develops a nice crust on the grill.
- Start with clean grates: Just like you use a clean skillet with a little oil to cook dinner on the stovetop, you want to start with clean and oiled grill grates.
- To flip or not to flip? Flip your steak to your hearts content. Harold McGee, food science writer and author of On Food and Cooking, discovered that frequent flipping creates a steak that cooks more evenly and quickly than those flipped only once.
- Grilling directly on coals: Raichlen seemingly knows an infinite number of ways to grill meat, and theres one in his new book, Project Fire , that I particularly like: he cooks steak directly on hot coalsno grill grates necessary. I love the idea, and its on my list of things to try in the near future.
The Two Best Ways To Grill Steak
The ideal grilled steak has an appetizing browned exterior with tender, still-pink meat inside. The tricky part is making sure that you don’t burn the surface of the meat before the inside gets warm enough to eat, or cooking the inside too much before getting those nice surface grill marks.
There are two ways to go about it.
Direct grilling: Cooking the steak over high heat, and flipping occasionally until the meat reaches the desired internal temperature .
Reverse searing: Cooking the steak slowly at a low temperature with indirect heat to get the meat 10 to 15 degrees from the final desired internal temperature, then finishing by cooking over high heat to get browning and grill marks.
How To Cook Medium Well Steak
This level of doneness is for those who don’t want a lot of pink in their meat. A medium well steak should have just a hint of pink in the very middle of the steak with a dark brown surface and good charring on the top and bottom. The steak will be very stiff but still have a little squish in the center.
For a 1-inch steak, place steak on a hot grill for 7 minutes. Turn and continue grilling for another 5 minutes. Cook to an internal temperature of 155 to 165 F .
Taking Off The Chill Speeds Up Cooking
The goal of grilling a steak is to brown and lightly char the surface while also cooking the interior to a perfectly juicy doneness, right? If the steak is too cold, the interior might require so much cooking time to reach that perfect doneness that the steak overcooks deep below the surface, turning gray and dry.
Let your steaks stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. They will cook faster all the way to the center and stay juicer.
How Do You Grill A Frozen Steak
Never grill a frozen steak. Frozen steak must be defrosted before cooking.
Grilling a steak while fully frozen is a health risk because bacteria can form while the steak lingers at low temperatures. Also, the surface of the steak is likely to burn while the inside is raw.
To defrost frozen steak, put it in a dish in the refrigerator. Most cuts will fully defrost overnight.
If you need to defrost frozen steak in a hurry, put it under cold running water.
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Taking Off The Chill Of Your Steak Speeds Up Cooking
Grilling steak until it’s a brown with a light char on the surface, while also making sure the interior is cooked to a perfect juicy doneness is the goal, right? However, if the steak is too cold it can require so much cooking time for the interior to reach that perfect doneness that the steak may overcook and turn gray and dry. To remedy this, allow steaks to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before you grill them. They will cook faster through to the center and stay juicer.
How To Buy Steak
You’ll see these terms in supermarkets, at the butcher’s or on restaurant menus here’s what they mean.
Grass-fed beef: Grass-fed cattle get to walk around and graze on pasture, which means the meat is leaner with a richer, gamier flavour that tastes of the environment it was reared in. This is why Scottish grass-fed beef will taste different to Irish.
Marbling is the fat found interlacing the inside of a cut of meat. As the meat cooks, the marbled fat melts without this, the meat would be dry and flavourless. Meat with a lot of marbling mostly comes from the back of the animal where the muscles get little exercise.
Wagyu: Wagyu is a generic name for four breeds of Japanese cattle. They are fed foraged grass and rice straw, then supplemented with corn, barley, soya bean, wheat bran and, in some cases, even beer or sake. Wagyu cattle produce meat with heavy marbling but this comes at a hefty price.
Ageing: The ageing process improves the taste and tenderness of meat. There are two methods: dry ageing, which is the traditional process where carcasses are hung in a cool place for 30-60 days to intensify the flavour and cause the meat to shrink, while wet ageing is when the meat is butchered and vacuum-packed, which stops the meat from shrinking.
Do you have any foolproof techniques when cooking your steak? You’ll find more inspiration in our recipe collection, too.
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Selecting The Right Cut
First, a definition. Steaks are basically any piece of meat that falls under the category of “fast-cooking” cutscuts that are low enough in connective tissue that they don’t require the long cooking times that “slow-cooking” cuts require. The difference between a steak and roast essentially comes down to size. Any good roast can be cut into individual steaks .
How To Cook Steak On The Grill
We won’t get into the fiery debate between charcoal versus gas grills here we’ve covered that in depth. But for certain, great grilling can be had with either charcoal or gas.
We’ve also covered how to pick the best steak for grilling. The good news is, the perfect steak doesn’t need to be the most expensive. If breaking the bank isn’t part of your barbeque plan, consider less spendy sirloin, hanger, flank steak, and skirt steaks.
Choose cuts that are at least 1-inch thick. If the steak is too thin, the interior gets cooked well-done before the exterior can develop the crave-worthy crust. If you can, choose steaks of even thickness so they’ll be done at the same time. Also, meat near the bone will take a little longer to cook.
The ideal steak marinade combines acid, fat, and seasonings. The acid creates a tangy flavor foundation and tenderizes the meat the fat adds flavor, seals in juices, helps keep the meat from sticking to the grill, and promotes caramelization and the seasonings complete the flavor profile. Here’s a breakdown of The Best Steak Marinade in Existence.
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How Long To Grill Steak
The cooking time is hugely subjective, as it depends on two things:
- How cooked you like your beef
- How big your cut of meat is
One of the best ways to cook it to perfection is to get a temperature probe. You insert this into the steak, and it’ll tell you how done the meat is.
Here is a general guide to internal temperature :
- Rare: 120-130
- Medium Well: 140-150
- Well Done: 150
In general, the consensus is that for a prime steak, medium-rare is the holy grail. It maximizes tenderness and flavor in the relatively pricier cuts of meat we tend to use for this process.
However, it’s your party, and you can grill how you want to. Many people prefer medium or even medium-well. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on it.
Another tip is not to turn the steak too much. This will allow the meat to brown well on each side as it picks up grill marks. The Maillard reaction is what makes seared meat so delicious, and to make the most of this effect, let each side pick up good color before you turn it over.
For big, thick cuts, turning it a few times is more common to allow better heat penetration right through the meat.
Amp Up The Flavor With Butter Sauce
When I first began work on this recipe, I tried dry rubs, oil, and simple salt and pepper. All of these are wonderful things to put on steaks, but I felt like it needed more.
I settled on basting the steak with an herbed butter sauce. First, because butter. Second, because I have an extensive herb garden and it didnt require a trip to the store. I was worried that the butter might burn on the grill, and leave an acrid flavor, but it didnt.
It was pure deliciousness. The herbs added complexity without masking the meatiness of the steak.
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Fourth Position And Testing For Doneness
As you prepare to turn the steak for the last time, it’s time to start checking for doneness. The steak should show no red around the side and the top side should have a rich brown color. As you pick the steak up to rotate it 45 degrees , feel the density of the steak. A medium-rare steak should be firm but still have a good amount of give. Close the lid of the barbecue and continue grilling.
After this last position, turn down the heat on your grill and, if needed, test the temperature of the steak. The internal temperatures for different levels of doneness are:
- Rare: 120 to 130 F
- Medium Rare: 130 to 135 F
- Medium: 140 to 150 F
- Medium Well: 155 to 165 F
- Well: 170 F or higher
If your steak needs more cook time, leave it where it is and continue grilling on medium heat until done.
Things To Keep In Mind Before You Cook Steak On A Grill
Before your steak goes anywhere near the grill, you’ll want to consider the cut. This will change depending on who you’re serving:
- Larger cuts like Porterhouse are perfect for gatherings, as just one of these can feed a few people.
- If you’re just feeding a couple of guests, a smaller cut like New York strip might be appropriate.
Finding a farm where you can get to know the farmer who raises your food is a great way to be sure you’re getting a higher quality product than youd get from a large supermarket.
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Prepare Your Steak For The Grill
Part of this step is the infamous allow your steak to come up to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. While thats great when you have the time , its not strictly necessary. For example: in most restaurants, your steak is kept under refrigeration until the moment you order it. So, while this step is helpful when grilling steak, its not required
A better way to prepare your steak for the grill is to make sure the surface is very dry. If you salted it the night before, youre set. The steak sat uncovered in the refrigerator and the surface dried out really nicely. If you didnt have time for that, pat it dry with paper towels before hitting the grill.
The Best Cuts For Grilling
First, let’s talk beef: rib-eye, strip and tenderloin are all great cuts for the grill. If you choose bone-in steaks, keep in mind that they take longer to cook. Look for good marbling to guarantee a juicy and tender cut. And ideally, steaks should be at 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick to form a nice charred crust without overcooking.
Flank, skirt and hanger steaks are also great on the grill. These thinner cuts are best marinated, grilled quickly over high heat and sliced against the grain to serve.
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Should You Boil Steak Before Grilling
Never, never, never boil steak before grilling. Boiling the steak will give the exterior an unpleasant grey color, and it will probably be overcooked before it gets to the grill.
There is a technique called sous vide cooking where you immerse steak in warm water to cook it to a desired temperature, then finish cooking it on the grill. But the water temperature is kept closer to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, never as high as the boiling point of 212 degrees.
Salt The Steak At Least 30 Minutes In Advance
Salting is the very best thing you can do for a large steak. You dont need much salt just a nice sprinkle of kosher salt over the entire surface. Then, place it on a rack inside the fridge.
For best results, youll want to salt the steak a day in advance. If youre running short on time 30 minutes will workbut when it seasons longer, the salt can work its way deep into the meat. As the salt seasons the meat, it also pulls out moisture. Given only 30 minutes, youll have to blot off that excess moisture off with a paper towel. But, with more time, the brine will reabsorb into the meat and create a super flavorful steak.
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Thicker Steaks Should Slide Over
Most steaks grill beautifully over direct high heat alone. The only time you might need to move them is if/when they cause flare-ups. However, some steaks are so thick that if you left them over direct heat alone, they would burn on the outside before they reached the internal doneness you like.
If your steaks are much thicker than an inch, consider the sear and slide approach. After you have seared both sides nicely over direct high heat, slide the steaks to a part of the grill that is not so hot, perhaps over indirect heat, and finish cooking them safely there.
Tips For Grilling Steaks:
- Choose the cut thats right for you. There are many good cuts of steak to choose from, depending on your preference. I love rib-eyes, strip steaks and T-bone steaks. If you prefer a thin steak they cook faster and youre not dealing with a big thick piece of meat when you eat. If you cant find the thin cut youre looking for, purchase a thicker cut of meat and ask the butcher at the store to slice it in half, horizontally.
- Choose high quality steak. The quality of the meat you purchase plays a huge factor in how good your steaks will turn out! Steaks are given different grades based on the marbling and the age the animal was at slaughter. The highest quality meat is younger beef that has the most marbling. At most grocery stores, youll have your choice of the following three grades:
- Select: cheaper, or sale priced meat.
- Choice: The best choice for your local grocery store. Higher quality and widely available.
- Prime: the best of the best. Not found at most supermarkets but you can find prime cuts of meat at Costco!
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