6 Tips for Grilling the Perfect Steak
04.20.2020 Meat Tip Monday
Spring is in the air and so is the smell of steaks on the grill! We’re enjoying the warmer weather by perfecting our grilling skills for the upcoming cookout season. Grilling a delicious steak is easy, as long as you follow a few simple steps. As with anything, some practice always helps. Read our six tips below, grill a few steaks for practice, and soon you’ll be serving perfectly cooked, juicy steaks in no time!
1. Bring the Steaks to Room Temperature
A common mistake is to take steaks directly from the chilly fridge to the hot girl. This is a recipe for disaster resulting in an unevenly cooked steak as the outside of the meat will cook quicker than the inside. It’s best to take the steaks out of the fridge about half an hour before you plan to grill them; remove the steaks’ wrapping, place them on a plate, and let them come to room temperature on the kitchen counter. Once the steaks are at room temperature, sprinkle them with salt or another seasoning of your choice.
2. Clean & Oil Your Grill
No matter if you are grilling steaks, corn, or pineapple, you should always start with clean grill grates. Not only does cleaning your grill make flipping food easier, but it also prevents flavors from previous grilled meals from mixing with your current meal. To clean your grill grates, use a stiff wire brush. The best time is when you just finished grilling and the grates are still warm. Although, you can also clean the grill while it’s preheating if you notice any caked on residue.
You will also want to coat the grill grates with vegetable or canola oil (or another neutral-flavored oil) before firing up the grill. To do so, pour a little bit of oil on a paper towel and rub it onto the clean, cold grill grates.
3. Grill at 2 Different Temperatures
To achieve a crust on the outside of your steak while keeping the inside cooked to your liking, you will need to have two different temperatures set on your grill.
In order to get those nice grill marks, you’ll need to set your grill on high heat to essentially sear the steaks. To determine if the heat is high enough, you should be able to hold your hand about an inch above the grill grate for one second before it feels too hot and you must pull away.
You also want a cooler, medium heat area to move the steaks to once they’re seared and crispy on the outside. If you have enough burners and space on your grill, set them to a lower heat. If you don’t have enough room, simply turn off the burner. If you’re using a charcoal grill, one side should have a hot fire while the other a smaller, cooler flame.
4. Touch the Steaks, But Don’t Play with Them
One of the only ways to know if your steak is done is to poke it at different stages of cooking. Raw meat is almost squishy, rare meat is quite soft, medium-rare meat resists your poking a bit, and medium meat springs back. Once your steak feels firm, it’s at least well-done, if not completely overdone. Gently press your finger on the steaks – being careful not to burn yourself – to learn the difference.
While you should touch the steaks to test for doneness, you should not be flipping, moving, and poking them excessively. Steaks only need to be flipped once and moved once from a higher to a lower heat. First, place the steak on a hot grill where they should sizzle immediately. Then, leave the steak there until they release on their own accord. If you’re pulling and struggling with a steak, they’re not seared nor ready to flip.
Once the steak is ready, flip it once and cook until it feels done. Do not stab the steak with a fork as it will release its flavorful juices into the flames below. Avoid poking the steak with anything but your finger! Do not press down on the steak with a spatula, simply let it cook.
5. Use a Thermometer and/or a Timer
For steaks that are at least 1.5 inches thick, you will want to use a meat thermometer to get an accurate temperature reading. For a rare steak, remove it at 120-125°F. For a medium-rare steak, remove it at 125-130°F. For a medium steak, remove it at 130-135°F.
It’s nearly impossible to get an accurate temperature reading on steaks thinner than 1.5 inches so it’s best to use a timer instead. For 1 inch steaks, grill them for 3 minutes on each side over high heat for quite rare, 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, and 5 minutes on each side for medium.
Avoid taking a peak at your steak, but if you just can’t help it, remove the steak from the grill and use the tip of a paring knife to make a cut into the center of the steak to see how it’s cooking. Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook as it rests after being removed from the grill. Cutting into the steak is discouraged because it will release juices that help flavor and tenderize the meat.
6. Always Let the Meat Rest
Possibly the most overlooked step is allowing the steaks to rest once they have been taken off of the grill. Steaks need to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before they are served or cut into. This time gives the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the steak, which not only helps the steak finish cooking evenly, but also keeps the steak moist and flavorful. To do so, place the grilled steaks on a cutting board or a platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. After the 5 to 10 minutes, either slice the steaks or serve them whole.