How to Grill a Perfect Steak
Perfectly grilled steaks are one of my family’s favorite entrees. I’m sharing my tips for how to grill a perfect steak on your barbecue.
Over the years, we’ve learned how to grill steak so that it’s tender and flavorful every single time! There’s definitely an art to grilling steak, but it’s easy to learn.
Why You’ll Love
- Good steaks are expensive and it’s important not to overcook them.
- This method will make you a grill master!
- This “recipe” is perfect for special company.
How to Grill Steak
A good steak or beef roast always makes my family happy. I splurged on some dry-aged rib-eye steaks from a local butcher shop for Nick’s last dinner before leaving for college. But these techniques work for beef tenderloin steaks, New York strips, or whatever steak you prefer.
- Buy the best beef you can afford. Good marbling (fat distribution) makes for a tender, juicy steak. A lean steak won’t be as flavorful either. If you can afford Prime beef, it is top of the line, otherwise, look for Choice. Select is the least expensive and is not recommended since it has little to no marbling and will lack flavor.
- The cut of steak is important, too. My husband prefers rib eyes and New York strips. Although I love a great filet, the leanness of this cut is not ideal for grilling, but wrapping in bacon and/or a light coating of olive oil adds some needed fat.
- PRO-Tip: Season early. Salt your beef 30 minutes before cooking. I often season my steaks a day before I plan to cook them and let them “dry brine” in the refrigerator overnight.
- PRO-Tip: Bring your steaks out of the fridge about 1/2 hour before grilling so they don’t go on the grill cold. This allows for more even cooking.
- Use charcoal if available and make a hot fire. The smokiness from the charcoal adds a wonderfully complex flavor. The goal should be a 450-500º fire.
- Move only 2-4 times during the cooking process, twice if just flipping but twice per side to make cross-hatch marks.
- Allow your grilled steak to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. This allows any juices to be reabsorbed.
How to Tell When Steak is Done
The men in my family prefer their steaks rare with a capital R. Just shy of mooing says the hubby. I’m more of a medium-rare gal and I’m constantly sending my steak back out to the grill! You need to know how long to grill steak when you’re cooking for those will different tastes.
I’ve tried to teach the grill master the hand trick for how to tell when a steak is done. This is a technique where you press on the fleshy spot beneath your thumb while making the “OK” sign with your thumb and other fingers.
Using the thumb and pointer finger makes that fleshy spot feel like rare beef when you press on it, and pressing together the thumb and pinky finger makes that fleshy spot feel like well-done beef, etc. Go ahead and google “hand test for beef doneness” for details.
Once you get used to checking your beef that way, you won’t ever need a meat thermometer. But for those who don’t want to learn this technique, though I won’t name names, a good meat thermometer is key for knowing when the steak is done.
How Long to Grill Steak
According to the Certified Angus Beef website, the temperature for each stage of doneness is as follows (Note: I always pull our meat off 10º before it reaches the temperatures listed and let the beef rest. During the resting period, the beef will warm another 10º). Here’s How Long to Grill Steak using a meat thermometer:
- Rare (cool red center): 125º
- Medium Rare (warm red center): 135º
- Medium (warm pink center): 145º
- Medium Well (slightly pink center): 150º
- Well (little or no pink): 160º
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a number of variables involved. First, it depends on the heat of your grill. It’s better controlled on a gas grill than on a charcoal grill. But with both, there can be flare-ups and the temperature can get hotter or cooler if you’re not paying attention.
The temperature of your beef when you put it on the grill makes a difference. I like to bring the steaks out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before grilling. A cold steak will take longer to grill plus it won’t grill as evenly.
Also, the thickness of your steak matters. A very thin steak will be done much faster than a thick steak. So there’s no set answer to this question. Use a meat thermometer to monitor for the best results.
Light your charcoal and let the grill come up to 450-500 degrees F. Move some of the coals to the side making direct and indirect heating available. Start by searing the steak over direct heat, about 3 minutes per side.
Then move the steaks to the indirect heat and continue grilling until the steaks are up to your desired doneness by using a meat thermometer.
Like with the charcoal grill, you’ll want two zones, both direct and indirect heat. Sear the steaks over direct heat as mentioned above, then move to indirect heat, and with the lid closed finish grilling to your preference.
You May Also Like:
If inclement weather hampers grilling, try this recipe for Pan-Seared Steak from 15 Spatulas.
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- Grilled Flank Steak with Soy, Garlic and Ginger
- Flank Steak with Chimichurri
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- More Beef Recipes
- One 1 ½ inch thick, 8-ounce rib eye steak per person, prime or the best quality you can afford
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
- A couple of hours or the night before grilling, pat steaks dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle each side with a scant ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and return to the refrigerator, uncovered.
- Bring steaks out to sit at room temperature one hour prior to grilling. Rub each with a garlic half and re-season with salt and pepper.
- Grill over hot coals (or set your gas grill to high heat) with the lid open for about 3-4 minutes per side for rare.
- If you want the classic cross-hatch sear marks, turn the steak 45º (one ⅛ turn) at the 1½-2 minute mark, then grill for a couple more minutes before flipping.
- Repeat on the other side and grill for 3-4 minutes total. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature: remove at 120º for rare and 125º for medium-rare. There will be carry-over cooking and the temperature will rise during the resting period.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Grilling times will vary depending on the heat of your grill along with the temperature and thickness of your steak. Use an instant read thermometer for the best results.
Your meat will continue to cook after it's removed from the grill. Pull it off before it reaches the desired temperature, cover and let rest 10 minutes before serving. It's best to remove your steak when it's 10° below your desired finished temperature.
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Serving Size:1 steak
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 629Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 177mgSodium: 447mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 57g
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Photo circa 2012