How to grill steak

To grill the perfect steak, start by selecting a high-quality cut and seasoning it to taste. Preheat the grill to high heat, sear each side for 1-2 minutes, then lower the heat and cook until desired doneness is reached, occasionally flipping to ensure even cooking.

The cooking process does seem easy; however, grilling steak is an art, an essential skill in the home cook’s arsenal that can elevate a simple piece of meat into a mouthwatering delight. 

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my experience as a chef explaining the secrets to grilling steak to perfection. I’ll cover everything from selecting the right cut of meat to mastering the perfect sear. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and techniques to impress your family and friends with tender, juicy, and flavorful steaks every time you fire up the grill. 

What is grilling?

grilling steak
Explaining 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.

One of the benefits of grilling steak is that it can result in juicy, extremely flavorful, and tender beef steak with a crispy crust on the outside. When the steak is grilled over high heat, the outer layer of the meat is seared, creating a caramelized crust. The high heat also causes the interior of the steak to cook quickly, resulting in a tender and moist texture.

Grill allows you to cook a variety of beef cuts. At the same time, you can use marinades, dry rubs, or simply season with salt and pepper to enhance the natural flavor of the meat. Grilling can be described as an art form. You can use different types of wood chips or charcoal, which can impart a unique flavor to the meat.

However, it’s important to note that grilling can be a bit tricky, as overcooking the steak can result in dry and tough meat. To achieve the perfect grill marks and ideal texture, it’s important to monitor the heat and cooking time of the steak closely. I have to mention different steak cuts because some steak cuts are better for grilling than others.

What type of grill should I use for grilling?

To learn how to grill steak, first, you must 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. However, it comes down to personal preference because some may prefer convenience over a slightly better flavor profile.

How to grill a perfect steak

grilling steak on a charcoal grill
Grilling steak on a charcoal grill

If you want to add additional flavor to the meat, you can use this steak marinade recipe. However, 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.

Equipment for cooking

Ingredients for seasoning

  • Steak of your choice. I’m using a one-and-a-half-inch thick ribeye steak;
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Butter;
  • Fresh thyme;
  • Fresh rosemary;
  • Olive oil.


  1. Bring steaks to room temperature. Take steaks from the refrigerator and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper. Leave steaks to 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;
  2. 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 should be 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;
  3. 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 the steaks to a lower-heat side.
  4. 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;
  5. Check the steak’s 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. The steak continues to cook for a few more minutes after removing it from the heat source. If the temperature is too low – continue cooking;
  6. 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

how to choose a good steak for grilling
Three good quality steaks. Each one is fresh and has a good amount of marbling.
  • 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 running 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.

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 less marbling and has a more pronounced beefy flavor. To top it all off, it’s more nutritious.

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 quite a bit more marbling. It has a milder flavor profile and is a bit more tender 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’s a list of steaks that are perfect for grilling:

Rib-eye steak

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 steaks.

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.

Flank steak

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.

Tenderloin steak

A tenderloin steak is 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

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

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

steak temperature chart
Steak 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.

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.

How long does it take to grill a 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. Here’s an excellent guide explaining how to store steak, both fresh and cooked.

How to reheat leftover steak?

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

how to serve grilled steak
Grilled steak served with asparagus.

Here are a few ideas on how to serve a grilled steak:


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 the 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. The best cuts for marinating are flank, hanger, skirt, and top round steak. For best results marinating should last 24-48 hours.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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