Here’s how to grill steak perfectly every time. You’ll need to start with a good cut of meat, season it well, and use the proper cooking techniques to get that perfect grilled flavor. We’ll show you how to do it all so that you can have the perfect steak every time!
What is grilling? Grilling is a form of cooking in which food is cooked over direct heat on a grill. The two most common types of grills are charcoal and gas. Charcoal produces more smoke than gas, while gas heats up faster but has less flavor. This article will teach you everything from what type of grill to buy for your specific needs, tips for seasoning your meat before grilling, how long each type of meat should be cooked for at different temperatures, and even how to tell if your steak is done just by using the touch test without cutting into it!
How To Grill a Perfect Steak
To learn how to grill steak first, you need to get familiar with different grill types.
There are two most common types of grills. The first is a charcoal grill. Charcoal provides more flavor to the meat, but it takes longer to heat up and much longer to cool down once you’re done cooking.
The gas grill is popular because it heats up very quickly, which is fantastic since you do not have to set up the grill. The other good thing about gas grills is that they heat even throughout, so you’re unlikely to have cold spots where your meat won’t cook properly.
All in all, the charcoal grill is my favorite because it gives you a flavor that can’t be beaten.
Here I’m using a charcoal grill and a thick-cut ribeye steak. I’m not using any marinade because I like the meat’s natural flavors.
You can marinate the steak, but In my opinion, sometimes less is more. Cuts like rib-eye and t-bone are so delicious with some kosher salt, black pepper, and butter. You do not need to overdo them. However, if you like marinating, these beef steak cuts are best for marinating: flank, hanger, and skirt.
Equipment For Cooking
Ingredients For Seasoning
- Steak of your choice. I’m using a one and a half-inch thick-cut ribeye steak;
- Kosher salt;
- Freshly ground black pepper;
- Fresh thyme;
- Fresh rosemary;
- Olive oil.
- Bring steaks to room temperature. Take steaks out of the refrigerator and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper. Leave steaks rest at room temperature for about an hour before cooking. You can season steaks up to 24 hours before cooking. Since I’m using a tender rib-eye steak, dry brining is not necessary;
- Preheat the grill. First, clean the grill grates and rub them with olive oil. Oiled grill grates will prevent the steaks from sticking to them. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone grilling. Half of the grill should be hot while another half warm. You can check if the temperature is hot enough using an infrared thermometer. The hot side of the grill should be around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold your hand about 3-4 inches above the grill if you do not have an infrared thermometer. If it gets uncomfortably hot after 2-3 seconds, it means the grill is hot, and you can start cooking;
- Place the steak on the grill. Place a steak on the hottest side of the grill using tongs. Close the lid and sear the steak for about two minutes. Open the lid and flip over the steak. Close the lid and sear for 2 minutes. Once both sides have an excellent golden-brown crust, move steaks to a lower heat side.
- Baste the steak. I like to use butter for basting the steak; however, it’s optional. Take 50 grams of butter and put it in a saucepan over low heat. Add some fresh herbs. I’m using fresh thyme and rosemary. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes before removing it from the heat. Use this butter for basting the steak. Take a silicon brush and baste the steak with warm butter. Do it every 2-3 minutes;
- Check steaks temperature. Using your hand or meat thermometer, check the steak’s internal temperature. It’s best to do it about halfway through cooking. Remember steak should be 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness before removing it from the grill. Steak continues to cook for a few more minutes after removing it from the heat source. If the temperature is too low – continue cooking;
- Leave the steak to rest. After the steak is about 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the desired doneness, take it from the heat source and let it rest. Resting steak is essential because it allows the juice to redistribute between the meat tissue. If you cut the steak immediately, all juice will pour out, and you’ll end up with dry steak.
Note: if you’re using a gas grill, sear the steak on high heat for two minutes on each side, then turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking.
How To Choose a Good Steak For Grilling
To buy a good steak for grilling, you need to understand – what is a good steak?
There is grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Gras-fed is considered a premium because it was raised in its natural habitat eating grasses and plants rather than in a feedlot eating grains. Grass-fed beef contains more marbling, flavor, and tenderness. To top it all off, it’s more nutritious. When shopping for the steak, make sure it’s grass-fed.
Grain-fed beef is the most common type of meat found in grocery stores. Grain-fed steaks have been raised in feedlots where they are fattened on grains such as corn and soybeans. Grain-fed steaks contain less marbling, flavor, and tenderness than grass-fed beef. Grain-fed is a budget option if you’re not willing to pay a premium for grass-fed steak.
There’s also dry-aged and wet-aged beef. The dry-aged steak is hung in a cooler to dry for around 2-4 weeks, concentrating the flavor. It’s more expensive than wet-aged, but it’s worth it!
Wet-aged steak is vacuumed sealed in a bag, and aged for around 10 days. It’s considered less flavorful than dry-aged beef, but it does help to tenderize the meat. If you’re not willing to spend extra on a dry-aged steak – wet-aged is still fantastic.
To buy a good quality steak, you’ll need to go to your local butcher shop, farmers market, or in some cases, a supermarket like Whole Foods Market.
Do not buy pre-packaged steak with lots of liquid in the packaging. Steak should never be wet or soggy when you pick it up.
You can also choose between bone-in or boneless steak for grilling. Bone-in steak has more flavor but takes longer to cook.
Boneless steak cooks faster and is easier to cut into portions after grilling.
You can decide which you prefer based on your grilling method, the time you’re willing to spend cooking, and how many people you’re serving.
I do not prefer one over the other. Both bone-in and boneless steaks are excellent for grilling. Usually, bone-in steaks are bigger than boneless. Also, cooking a thick steak is more forgiving since thin ones tend to overcook faster.
Here’re a few steak buying tips:
- Smell: Always smell your steak before buying or grilling. If it has an ammonia odor, do not buy it. Steak should have a clean, neutral smell;
- Marbling: good steak has marbling ruining through the meat. It will keep your steak juicy and tender during grilling. Marbling should look like white, shiny fat lines or small chunks throughout your steak. Avoid buying a steak without marbling;
- Color: dark red color is a good indicator that your steak is fresh. Steak should never be brown, gray, or green on the surface. Grass-fed beef color can vary from watermelon red to deep red, depending on the cut. If you buy grain-fed steak, it will have a consistent light pink color throughout.
Here’s a list of steaks that are perfect for grilling:
Rib-eye steak is cut from the rib primal. It has an extremely thick marbled fat cap with all that fantastic steak flavor. It’s excellent for grilling because of the extra fat and marbling in the meat. It’s best when cooked medium-rare because overcooking a rib-eye will dry it out quickly. Overall it’s one of the best steak.
New York Strip Steak
The New York strip steak is cut from the short loin primal. It’s a flavorful steak that’s quite tender but still has a nice chew to it. It’s great for grilling because of the quick cooking time and versatility with different marinades or seasoning. New York strip steak is best when cooked medium-rare.
The flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It’s also called the London Broil. It’s thin, so it cooks fast and is usually marinated to add flavor. The flank steak is excellent for grilling. It’s best when cooked medium-rare.
A tenderloin steak is a cut from the loin of the cow. It’s very tender, lean, and expensive. Filet mignon does not have a lot of marbling, but that makes it easier to cook on a grill because it doesn’t dry out quickly. It’s best when cooked medium-rare.
T-bone steak is cut from the short loin primal. It’s not too big in size and has more fat than other types of steak. The flavor is fantastic because it combines both strip steak with tenderloin, making it an excellent choice for grilling. T-bone steak is best when cooked medium-rare.
Porterhouse steak is cut from the short loin primal. It’s similar to the T-bone steak in size, but it has more tenderloin than strip steak. It’s considered to be a favorite of steak lovers. It tastes fantastic, is great for grilling, and is best when cooked medium-rare.
How To Check Steak’s Temperature
- Rare steak: 125° F;
- Medium rare steak: 135° F;
- Medium steak: 145° F;
- Medium-well steak: 150° F;
- Well done, steak: 160° F.
Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of beef steak. Insert the thermometer into the center of the steak or roast away from bone and fat. If you’re checking a large cut such as a prime rib, insert the thermometer from the side, not from the top. The chart above will give you a general idea of what temperature your steak should be at for its doneness level.
You can also use a finger test method to ensure your steak is cooked to perfection. This method works best with beef steaks. Press your finger on top of the steak. A rare steak will give very little and feel spongy, a medium-rare steak will be soft to the touch but still have some resistance, a medium steak will be moderately firm to firm and spring back from your finger quickly when you press it, and well-done steak will feel rock hard with no give.
Here’s a quick video explaining e finger test method:
How Long Does It Take To Grill Steak?
Below you’ll find the approximate cooking times for a 2-inch thick steak on a 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’s how long it will take to cook a one-inch steak on a grill:
- Rare: 7-8 mins;
- Medium-rare: 8-9 mins;
- Medium: 9-11 mins;
- Medium-well: 11-13 mins;
- Well done: 13-15 mins.
Note: steak cooking times may differ depending on the size and your grill. Grilling times are also affected by the temperature outside, how full the grill is, etc.
How To Store Leftover Steaks?
Store leftover steaks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Steaks are best within three to four days of being cooked. You can freeze leftover steak. Frozen steaks should be used within six months.
If you are trying to reheat leftover steaks, follow these steps: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the steaks on a baking sheet so they aren’t touching. Bake for eight to ten minutes, depending on how thick your steak is.
How To Serve a Grilled Steak
Here are a few ideas on how to serve a grilled steak:
- Serve it with a baked potato, steamed vegetables, or a salad;
- Serve it with grilled asparagus;
- Serve it with grilled corn on the cob;
- Serve with béarnaise sauce and grilled vegetables;
- Serve it with french fries.
Charcoal or Gas Grill for Steak?
Charcoal is a more traditional way of grilling. It provides an excellent smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. On the other hand, gas is a more modern way of grilling. It heats food quickly and is good at searing steak but does not give off much smoke.
How do you cook steak on a gas grill?
Steak cooks on a gas grill very similar to how it cooks on charcoal. The main difference is that you can have precise control of temperature. First, you should sear the steak over high heat, then turn it down to medium and continue cooking steak to your liking.
What temperature do you cook steak on a gas grill?
You should sear the steak over high heat (450 degrees Fahrenheit), then turn it down to medium-high (360 degrees Fahrenheit) and continue cooking steak to your liking.
Should I put olive oil on the steak before grilling?
Yes, you can rub the steak with olive oil; however, it’s not necessary if it contains a good amount of fat.
Should I marinate steaks before grilling?
A marinade is not necessary unless you use a lean cut of meat to get the most flavor. Best cuts for marinating are flank, hanger, skirt, and top round steak. For best results marinating should last 24-48 hours.