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Our Guide To Grilling The Perfect Steak

As any barbecue chef can tell you, grilling a perfect steak is an art! It combines technique, timing, and attention to detail. A juicy, flavorful steak with a beautifully seared exterior is the height of grilling achievement. 

Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a beginner, this comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of the process to ensure that your next steak grilling session is a resounding success.

Choose the Right Cut

Selecting the right cut of steak is crucial to achieving the desired flavor, tenderness, and texture. The most popular choices include ribeye, sirloin, New York strip, and filet mignon. Each cut has its own characteristics, so choose based on your preferences.

Prepare the Steak

Thawing: If you’re starting with a frozen steak, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Never thaw at room temperature as it can lead to uneven cooking. It can also allow harmful bacteria to grow.

Seasoning: Season the steak generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper at least 30 minutes before grilling. This allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat, enhancing its flavor. You may add other sauces or seasonings, but we think simple is better and makes it more about the steak.

Preheat the Grill

If you’re cooking on a gas grill, preheat it on high for about 15 minutes with the lid closed.

If you prefer cooking over charcoal, light the charcoal and let it burn until covered with white ash. Spread the coals for two heat zones, one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat.

Set Up the Grilling Zones

You’ll need two zones for grilling your steak.

The first is a direct heat zone. This is where you’ll sear the steak. The direct heat zone is directly above the heat source and is ideal for creating grill marks and a flavorful crust.

Next, you’ll move your steak over indirect heat. This is where you’ll finish cooking the steak to your desired doneness without overcooking the exterior.

Oil the Grates

Use tongs and a folded paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to oil the grill grates. This prevents sticking and promotes clean grill marks.

Grill the Steak

The first step is searing. Place the steak on the hot grill over direct heat. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side to develop grill marks and a caramelized crust. Avoid pressing down on the steak to retain juices.

To finish the steak, move it to the indirect heat zone to continue cooking. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. You can rely on this guide for “doneness”:

  • Rare: 120-125°F (49-52°C)
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
  • Medium: 140-145°F (60-63°C)
  • Medium Well: 150-155°F (65-69°C)
  • Well Done: 160°F (71°C) and above

Resting the Steak

Remove the steak from the grill when it’s about 5°F below your desired internal temperature. Let it rest on a clean cutting board or plate for about 5-10 minutes with a piece of aluminum foil loosely tented over it. 

Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier steak.

Slice and Serve

Slicing the steak against the grain helps ensure tenderness. Serve it up with your favorite sides and sauces. Vegetables from your own garden are great complements to the steak you so carefully grilled!

Tips for Grilling Success

These pointers will help you get the most delicious steaks:

  • Quality Matters: Invest in high-quality, well-marbled steaks for superior flavor and tenderness.
  • Don’t Overcrowd: Leave enough space between steaks to ensure even cooking and proper airflow.
  • Trim Excess Fat: Trim excessive fat from the edges to prevent flare-ups.
  • Keep an Eye on Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to achieve your desired level of doneness accurately.
  • Let It Rest: The resting period is essential for allowing the juices to redistribute and settle.
  • Experiment with Marinades and Rubs: Experiment with marinades, rubs, and herb butters to add extra layers of flavor.
  • Practice Patience: Grilling a perfect steak requires patience. Rushing the process can lead to uneven cooking.

Grilling the perfect steak is a skill that takes time to master, but with the right techniques and attention to detail, you can enjoy restaurant-quality results in your own backyard. So fire up the grill, follow these steps, and get ready to savor a steak that’s tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor.