How To Cook a Thick Steak: The Ultimate Guide

thick steak

There are few things in life as satisfying as a perfectly cooked thick steak. A good steak is juicy, tender, and full of flavor. But cooking a thick steak can be tricky. The meat can be tough and dry if not cooked properly.

This article will teach you how to cook a thick steak like a pro. We’ll start by choosing the proper cut of meat. Then I’ll show you how to cook it in the oven on the grill on a stovetop and how to reverse sear.

As a chef and someone who loves food, I like to experiment with different cooking techniques. My two favorite methods have to be grilling steaks and pan-frying. However, it doesn’t matter which cooking method you’ll choose – they are all excellent.

First, let’s start by choosing the proper cut of meat.

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How To Choose The Right Cut Of Meat

how to choose a right cut of meat

When choosing a thick steak, you will want to look for one that has plenty of marbling. Marbling is the fat that runs through the meat. It makes the steak juicy and flavorful. So be sure to choose a cut with lots of thin lines of white fat running through it.

Grass-fed beef has more marbling than grain-fed beef, which will have more flavor. When choosing a grass-fed steak, look for one with an evenly colored fat cap instead of yellowish spots throughout the meat. It indicates that the cow was raised on pasture and ate its natural diet. Worth mentioning is that grass-fed beef packs more nutrients compared to grain-fed.

Grain-fed beef is less flavorful and usually less expensive. So if you’re on a budget, go ahead and choose the grain-fed beef.

You can choose between dry-aged and wet-aged steak. Dry-aged means that the meat has been hung in a temperature-controlled room for at least 21 days. This process helps to develop flavor and tenderize the meat. You can find dry-aged beef in most high-end grocery stores, butcher shops, and local farmer’s markets.

Wet-aged steak is sealed in a plastic bag and left to age for 14 – 21 days. This process helps break down the meat’s connective tissues, resulting in a more tender steak. It is less expensive than dry-aged because it does not require special equipment or storage space. You can buy it in high-end food stores or butcher shops.

Should you choose a thick bone-in or boneless steak? A bone-in steak has slightly more flavor than a boneless steak. However, it also takes the meat longer to cook. Keep in mind unlike thin steaks, thick steaks are more forgiving to cook so there’s more room for error.

A boneless steak has a lot of flavors and cooks faster. It all comes down to personal preference. Both bone-in and boneless steaks are great for all types of cooking methods.

Here’re a few steak buying tips:

  • Look for a steak that is thick and has a good marbling of fat;
  • Make sure the steak is bright red, with no signs of browning;
  • Avoid steaks that are wet or slimy to the touch;
  • Smell the steak – it should smell fresh and beefy.

These thick steak cuts are excellent for cooking:

How To Cook a Thick Steak

how to cook a thick steak four different ways

Below you’ll find four different methods to cook a thick steak. For the seasoning, you’ll need a few essential ingredients. As for cooking, you do not need any special equipment apart from the meat thermometer and a heavy pan. Below you’ll find a list of ingredients and equipment required for all four cooking methods.

Here’s an ingredient list:

  • Thick steak. I’m using a 2-inch bone-in rib-eye steak;
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground pepper;
  • Fresh rosemary;
  • Fresh thyme;
  • Butter.

Here’s the equipment list:

How To Cook Thick Bone-In Rib-Eye On The Grill

  1. Bring steak to room temperature. Remove steak from the fridge about an hour before cooking it. Season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dry brining the meat with salt will make it even more tender;
  2. Prepare the charcoal grill. Make sure to distribute the charcoal in a way where one side of the grill is very hot while another side is medium-hot;
  3. Pat steak dry. Using a paper towel remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. It’ll help for the steak to develop a nice caramelized crust;
  4. Sear the steak over high heat. Place the steak over high heat and sear it for one to two minutes on each side before moving it to medium heat;
  5. Continue cooking. Turn the steak over every 3-4 minutes. Halfway through cooking, check the steak’s temperature. I’m cooking my 2-inch bone-in rib-eye steak medium-rare; therefore, it’ll cook for about 20 minutes. You can check steak cooking times below in the article;
  6. Rest the steak. Remove the steak from the heat source and rest for 10 minutes. Resting is essential because it allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak. When cooking, the heat pulls all the juices to the center of the meat. If you cut into a steak straight after it’s been removed from heat, all the juices will come rushing out and make your steak dry.

Note: remove meat from the heat source when the internal temperature is 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. It’s called carryover cooking. It means that the steak will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill. This is why you should take a steak off heat when its internal temperature is 5 degrees lower than your desired doneness. When cooking on a gas grill, start searing the steak on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking.

How To Reverse Sear Thick Bone-In Rib-Eye Steak

  1. Bring the steak to room temperature. Remove steak from the fridge about an hour before cooking it. Season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper;
  2. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit;
  3. Pat steak dry. Remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. It’ll help for the steak to develop a nice brown crust.
  4. Place the steak on a wire rack on a baking sheet;
  5. Place the baking sheet on the center rack. Let the steak cook for about 40 minutes to an hour at 275 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it and searing it on a hot pan. Cooking times depend on the desired doneness;
  6. Check internal temperature. Halfway through cooking, stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak to get an accurate reading. It’s best to use a leave-in thermometer;
  7. Cook until internal temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness;
  8. Preheat heavy pan over high heat. When cooking reverse-seared thick steak, you’ll need to use a cast iron pan or another heavy pan that can take high temperatures. Before placing the steak make sure it’s smoking hot;
  9. Add cooking oil or any other oil with a high smoking point to the pan;
  10. Sear the steak for one minute on each side.
  11. Reduce heat to medium and add butter, thyme, and fresh rosemary to the pan. Baste the steak using a tablespoon for about another minute. It’ll add an extra depth of flavor;
  12. Rest the steak. Resting steak is essential because it allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak. When cooking, heat pulls all the juices to the center of the meat. If you cut into a steak straight after it’s been removed from heat, all the juices will come rushing out and make your steak dry.

Note: You can use aluminum foil to cover the steak while it’s resting. It’ll speed up the carryover cooking process.

How To Cook Thick Rib-Eye In a Skillet With Oven Finish

  1. Bring the steak to room temperature. Remove steak from the fridge about an hour before cooking it. Season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper;
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit;
  3. Pat steak dry. Remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. It’ll help the steak to develop a nice brown crust.;
  4. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and sear the steak over high heat for one-two minutes on each side. Always preheat the pan before searing the steak. Add some fresh thyme and rosemary;
  5. Place hot skillet with the steak into 450 degrees Fahrenheit preheated oven. Alternetaviley, if you do not have an oven-proof pan, then place the steak onto the wire rack on a baking sheet;
  6. After 8 minutes, check the steak’s internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer, and if you do not have one, use a finger test method;
  7. Continue cooking until the steak’s internal temperature is 5 degrees below the desired doneness. For example, I’m cooking my 2-inch thick bone-in rib-eye to medium-rare; therefore, it’ll cook for around 14 minutes;
  8. Rest the steak. Remove the steak from the oven and let it rest for 8-10 minutes at room temperature. Resting is essential because the steak juices redistribute and gives you a more evenly cooked steak. You lose all juices if you slice into it right after cooking, and the steak will become dry.

How To Broil Thick Rib-Eye In The Oven

  1. Bring steak to room temperature. Remove steak from the fridge about an hour before cooking it. Season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper;
  2. Set oven for broil and preheat it before cooking. It must be very hot. Move the top rack of the oven about 5 inches away from the broiler;
  3. Pat steak dry. Remove excess moisture from the steak’s exterior because moisture creates steam in the oven and prevents browning. It’ll also help form a nice crust;
  4. Place the steak onto the wire rack onto the baking sheet. If you do not have a wire rack, place the steak on the oven rack (place baking sheet below the oven rack to collect fat dripping);
  5. Cook the steak to your liking. Flip the steak every 3-4 minutes. I’m cooking my steak medium-rare, so it’ll take about 20 minutes;
  6. Check steak’s internal temperature. Using a meat thermometer, check the steak’s doneness. Continue cooking until 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness;
  7. Rest the steak. It’s important to rest it because the juices redistribute and give you a more evenly cooked steak. When the steak is cooked using high heat, juices flow towards the center of the steak. And when you cut into it, all juices will come out, leaving you with dry meat. Resting helps juices redistribute, giving you a more even texture throughout.

Steak Doneness Temperature Chart

steak doneness temperature chart
  • Rare steak: 125° F;
  • Medium rare steak: 135° F;
  • Medium steak: 145° F;
  • Medium-well steak: 150° F;
  • Well done, steak: 160° F.

You can check the steak’s doneness with a meat thermometer. Stick it into the center of the steak to get an accurate reading. This method is reliable; however, it has one downside: it causes the juices to run out of the steak.

The finger test is another method for checking steak doneness. The finger test actually works better than a meat thermometer. It takes some practice, though. All professional chefs rely on this method. Here’s a short video explaining how to use the finger test method:

Note: remove steak from the heat source when the internal temperature is 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. The steak continues cooking for a few more minutes when off the heat.

Steak Cooking Times

Here are the steak cooking times for a 2-inch thick steak on the grill:

  • Rare: 18-20 mins;
  • Medium-rare: 20-22 mins;
  • Medium: 22-24 mins;
  • Medium-well: 24-26 mins;
  • Well done: 26-28 mins.

Here are the steak cooking times for a 2-inch thick steak in the oven:

  • Rare: 10-12 mins;
  • Medium-rare: 12-14 mins;
  • Medium: 14-16 mins;
  • Medium-well: 18-18 mins;
  • Well done: 18-20 mins.

Here’s how long to broil a 2-inch thick steak:

  • Rare: 17-19 mins;
  • Medium-rare: 19-21 mins;
  • Medium: 21-23 mins;
  • Medium-well: 23-25 mins;
  • Well done: 25-27 mins.



FAQ

What is the best way to cook a 2-inch thick steak?

The best way to cook a 2-inch thick steak is by pan searing and finishing in the oven or grilling. It’s best to cook a thick steak to medium-rare or medium. These two methods are best because they do not require a lot of time. Both pan-frying and grilling are best in terms of taste.

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