Why should you let the steak rest, and for how long?

So why should you let the steak rest after cooking, and how long? Cooking steak causes muscle fibers to shrink and push juices toward the center of the meat. Leaving steak to rest allows juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s interior. And you know what? It only takes 5 minutes. Yes, it’s tempting to slice the steak right after it is cooked; however, you’ll end up with steak juices on your plate rather than inside your meat.

It doesn’t matter if you are grilling steaks or using a frying pan; letting the meat rest will transform any meat. It doesn’t matter if it’s chicken breasts or lamb; resting meat works for any type of meat.

In this article, I’ll explain in detail why it’s important and how long to let the meat rest before slicing into it.

How long to let the steak rest?

Here’s a resting period for each steak size and thickness:

  • Thin steak (less than an inch) – resting time 5 minutes;
  • Medium thickness steak (1-1,5 inches thick) – resting time 6-8 minutes;
  • Thick steak (1,5-2 inches) – resting time 9-12 minutes;
  • Whole roast (depending on the size and thickness) – resting time 15-20 minutes.

Steak resting time depends on many factors, such as steak size and thickness. The bigger the steak, the more time it takes to rest after cooking. Generally, the minimum amount of time steak requires to rest is 5 minutes. The rule applies to a thin steak (about an inch thick). The thicker your steak is, the more time it needs.

Why should you let the steak rest?

Why should you let the steak rest
The importance of leaving the steak to rest

Resting steak after cooking allows steak juices to redistribute throughout the meat’s interior. Not only does it make steak moist, but it also makes the meat more tender. During the cooking process, the muscle fibers shrink in diameter and length, causing meat’s juices to flow toward the center of the steak. When you poke the steak, you notice that it is becoming tougher and tougher the more you cook it. If you were to slice the steak immediately after cooking it, you’d end up with a dry steak and loads of steak juice on your plate. Make sure to aim for a perfect internal temperature which is between 135-145 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature range, you’ll get a flavorful steak that is moist and tender.

When the steak is resting, it continues to cook for another few minutes. It’s called carryover cooking. Immediately after that steak will start to come down in temperature, and the fibers throughout the steak will reabsorb the juices pushed to the middle.

Note: check the steak’s internal temperature to ensure the meat does not overcook. When the steak is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness, remove it from the heat source and let it rest. It’ll reach the desired level of doneness in a minute or two.

How to rest steak?

How to rest steak
Steak resting on a cutting board

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to rest a perfectly cooked steak properly:

  1. Take the steak off the heat source when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness level;
  2. Transfer steak onto a cutting board or plate;
  3. Cover the steak with aluminum foil. It’ll allow the steak to come down in temperature gently;
  4. Leave the steak to rest. Above, there’s a steak time resting chart. Make sure to have a look at it;
  5. Slice the steak. Using a sharp knife, slice the resting steak against the grain. It’s important to use a sharp knife and equally as important to slice the meat against the grain. Cutting against the grain makes a steak more tender while using a sharp knife helps to reduce the loss of steak juice when slicing.

Should you leave the steak out before cooking?

Should you leave the steak out before cooking
Steak left on a cutting board to get to room temperature before cooking

It’s essential to leave the steak out before cooking because the steak cooks more evenly throughout. It takes a while for the center of the steak to reach the desired level of doneness when the meat is cold. While meat towards the surface cooks fast, the steak center is coming to the desired level of doneness much slower. Here’s an article explaining how long to leave the steak out before cooking.

Note: you can cook frozen steak without overcooking or making it dry or tough. It requires freezing steak properly and cooking steak as you would cook steak brought to room temperature.


To cook a perfect steak takes a bit of time and practice; however, cooking alone is just one part of the cooking process. Ironically, the easiest and most often overlooked part requires patience. So the next time you cook juicy steak, please do not forget to let the meat rest for at least five minutes. Yes, that is all it takes for a well-rested steak to taste so much better.


What is carryover cooking?

Carryover cooking is when cooked meat continues cooking when off the heat source. Usually, the temperature of the steak will rise by another 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the environment temperature steak rests.

How much does meat temperature rise when resting?

Meat temperature rises by 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the resting environment. If you cover the steak with aluminum foil, it’ll most certainly carry over cooking, whereas if the steak is left outside in colder conditions, the meat will start to drop down in temperature.

What happens if you don’t rest your steak?

If you were to slice the steak right after it is cooked, the juices would flow from the steak leaving the meat tough and dry.

Can you rest the steak for too long?

If you leave the steak for too long, it can become too cold. However, if you’re worrying that the meat will overcook, there’s no chance that can happen.

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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