Cooking steak can be a challenge, but with these tips you can rule the grill and kitchen. Determining the best way to cook steak will be a matter of preference, and you might have to try out a few methods before you decide for yourself. Luckily, each attempt ends with (hopefully) a delicious steak.
How to prepare steak
- Trim the excess fat off your steak and vertically slash a line through the thin piece of fat around the outside. This will keep the meat from curling as it cooks.
- Salt both sides liberally 30–40 minutes before grilling. During this time, the salt is drawing moisture from the inside out, after which the steak will draw the moisture back in. Don’t miss this step because it will help make your steak flavorful and tender.
- Use a paper towel to wipe away moisture from the steak. Too much moisture will steam your steak instead of searing it.
- Tougher and low-fat cuts of meat are great for marinating. If you’re using a marinade, place your steak in a shallow container and let it sit overnight or for a minimum of 30 minutes. Shake off excess marinade before cooking.
- Allow your steak to reach room temperature before cooking. Avoid stabbing or poking your steak. It will not help tenderize the meat.
How to grill steak
- Set up your grill at least 30 minutes before you plan on cooking. Determine the hottest area on the grill by hovering your hand about 6 inches above. This is where you’ll want to first place the steak.
- Oil the grill using tongs and a folded paper towel dipped in oil.
- Pat steak to remove any moisture.
- Place steak on the hottest area of the grill for 2–3 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 2–3 minutes.
- Check the temperature, and if more cooking is needed, move your steak to a cooler section of the grill.
- When the steak is done, cover it in aluminum foil or put it in a container and let it rest for 5–10 minutes. This keeps the steak warm and the juices from running out when you cut into it. When you’re ready to serve, slice against the grain.
Cooking time and temperature
How long you grill your steak depends on how well you like it cooked. Choose a 1–1 ½ -inch thick steak. You can either use a thermometer to determine when the steak is done, or you can do a touch test.
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak. The USDA recommends a minimum temperature of 145°F (62.8°C).
- 120°F (48.8°C) = Rare
- 130°F (54.4°C) = Medium rare
- 140°F (60°C) = Medium
- 150°F (65.5°C) = Medium-well
- 160°F (71.1°C) = Well done
Press the steak with your finger and compare how this feels when you touch your hand. This will get easier with time, and the benefit is that you’re not losing any juice by poking a hole in your steak with a thermometer.
- Base of hand by thumb with flat palm = Rare
- Base of hand by thumb with index finger and thumb touching = Medium rare
- Base of hand by thumb with middle finger and thumb touching = Medium
- Base of hand by thumb with ring finger and thumb touching = Medium well
- Base of hand by thumb with pinky and thumb touching = Well done
How to cook steak in the oven
- An excellent cut of meat for cooking steak in the oven is a 1-pound ribeye steak. Put a cast-iron skillet in your oven and preheat to 450°F for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the hot skillet carefully from the oven to the stovetop using a thick oven mitt.
- Coat the bottom of the skillet with a neutral oil, like safflower, and set the temperature to high heat.
- Pat the steak with a paper towel to remove moisture.
- Use tongs to place your steak in the pan for 30 seconds on each side. Avoid pressing the steak; this decreases its juiciness.
- Add butter to your pan, and put it back in the oven.
- Cook steak for 2 minutes on each side for medium rare. Add 2 minutes for medium. A medium-well steak should take about 8 minutes total.
If you like some extra flavor or are hosting a BBQ, you can season your steak with a sauce or gourmet rub.