Here’s how to grill a 2-inch steak without burning or overcooking it. Bring your lovely thick steak to room temperature and season it generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Prepare the grill for two-zone grilling, and once it’s up to cooking temperature, sear the steak on high heat and finish it off on the indirect heat side of the grill. Remember to leave the steak to rest for 10 minutes.
Cooking thick steak seems intimidating to most home cooks. Yes, the porterhouse or t-bone steak size is big enough to make you feel like you do not have the skills to grill it. However, despite the thickness, grilling a 2-inch steak is no different from grilling a thin steak. In fact, grilling thick steak is more forgiving, meaning there’s less chance you’ll overcook the meat.
This article will explain how to grill any thick steak to perfection. For this purpose, I will use porterhouse steaks, although any other thick cut will also work for this cooking method.
Grilling 2-inch thick steak
- Porterhouse steak (you can substitute for any different fatty steak cut);
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- Ligh olive oil (you can use any oil with a high smoke point).
- Thyme and rosemary (optional);
- Butter for basting.
- Charcoal grill, gas grill, or one of my favorite grills – kamado-style grill;
- Instant read thermometer;
- Sharp knife;
- Cutting board;
- Paper towels.
Step 1: Bring steak to room temperature
Leave the steak out for at least an hour before cooking thick steaks. Bringing steak to room temperature is essential because it’ll allow the meat to cook evenly throughout.
Step 2: Season
After taking the steak from the fridge, season it with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you have time, season the steak overnight. Not only will salt make a piece of meat incredibly tasty it’ll also tenderize the steak by breaking down protein cells. Another benefit of salting your steak for an extended period is that the steak develops a better crust.
Step 3: Prepare the grill
Prepare the charcoal grill for the two-zone grilling method. Clean the grill grates and rub them with cooking oil. Once charcoals are ready for cooking, the direct heat side is used for searing, while the indirect heat side is used to bring meat to the desired temperature. The grill should be around 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your hand an inch away from the grill grates; if after 2 seconds it feels uncomfortable to hold your hand, it means it’s ready for grilling.
Note: if using a gas grill, leave one side of the grill on medium heat while the other side should be on high heat.
Step 4: Pat steak dry
Using a paper towel, remove as much moisture from the steak’s exterior as possible. A dry meat surface is much better for achieving a nice golden brown crust.
Step 5: Grill the steak
Sear the steak on the direct heat side of the grill for about 2 minutes on each side. A caramelized brown crust should form, making the steak crispy on the outside.
Move steak to the indirect heat side of the grill and continue cooking to the desired doneness. Use melted butter with fresh thyme and rosemary to baste the steak. It’ll add an extra layer of flavor to an already flavorful beef cut. Using a meat thermometer, check the steak’s internal temperature. It’s best to cook meat medium rare or medium. Beyond medium, steak loses most of its juiciness and flavor and becomes too dry and chewy. Transfer steak onto a cutting board when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired final temperature. Steak continues to cook for about five more degrees when off the heat source (carryover cooking).
Step 6: Leave the steak to rest
Transfer steak onto a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Resting steak allows meat juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s interior, making the steak moist and tender. If you slice a piece of meat right away, you’ll have lots of juices on your plate rather than inside the steak.
Step 7: Slice and serve
Once the meat has spent enough time sitting on the cutting board, it’s time to slice and serve it with your favorite side dishes.
How to choose good quality thick steaks?
You’ll need to trust your butcher or follow your senses to buy a fresh piece of meat.
- Smell. The steak should be odorless. If it has even the slightest hint of ammonia odor, it’s a sign steak is starting to spoil;
- Color. The steak should be red or pinkish. If it’s brown or has some brown spots, it may be a sign a steak began to spoil;
- Texture. Fresh steak should have a firm texture without having a sticky slime on the meat’s surface. If it feels soggy or has a sticky surface, there’s a chance a steak has gone bad.
Choosing steak depends on personal preference. For instance, you can select a steak from a grain-fed or grass-fed cow. You can also choose between wet aged and dry aged steak. Since there’s a significant price difference between fresh and dry-aged and grain-fed and grass-fed, it’s up to you to choose what suits your needs.
However, if you prefer a buttery taste with a smooth and tender texture, then grain-fed steak is a better option since it contains more marbling. Grass-fed is leaner and has a robust beefy flavor. And last but not least, dry-aged is exceptionally tender with a fantastic flavor profile, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than a regular fresh steak.
Steak temperature chart for grilling
- Rare steak: 125° F;
- Medium rare steak: 135° F;
- Medium steak: 145° F;
- Medium-well steak: 150° F;
- Well done, steak: 160° F.
To track steak’s temperature accurately, use a meat thermometer or finger test method. Keep in mind that cooking a two-inch thick steak is easier than a thin cut because it’s more forgiving in terms of overcooking.
Steak cooking times
Here’s a cooking chart for times (for 2-inch grilled steaks):
- Rare steak: 4-6 minutes
- Medium-rare steak: 6-9 minutes;
- Medium steak: 9-12 minutes;
- Medium-well steak: 12-15 minutes;
- Well done, steak: 16+ minutes.
Remember that these steak cooking times may differ depending on the grill you are using, the temperature, and other factors. It’s essential to check the steak’s internal temperature to avoid overcooking the meat.
Do you close the grill when cooking steak?
Closing the lid on the grill is an excellent way to infuse the steak with smoky charcoal flavors. It also creates an oven effect meaning that steak cooks faster and more evenly throughout.
What temperature do you grill a 2-inch steak?
It’s best to grill a steak at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. If the grill is not hot enough, it’ll be hard to achieve a crispy crust on the steak’s exterior.