How to Grill a Steak: The Ultimate Guide

How to Grill Steak: The Ultimate Steak Grilling Guide

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Most people head to a quality steakhouse when they are craving the juicy tenderness of a good grilled steak. The idea of grilling one at home is often intimidating. Confusion surrounds everything from the cut of steak to purchase to cooking temps and times.

Luckily, if you have been wondering how to grill steak, this article breaks this process down into a simple step by step guide- and walks you through what to look for without making it too complicated. I don’t like a big fuss when something can be quickly and easily explained, and my whole household loves a good steak so read on to discover how to create a decadent, tender meal.

What You Need

Obviously, your biggest need in grill a steak is the meat itself. This isn’t a tricky choice, as you can grill any cut of beef you want, but you do need to understand a few basics to choose what you feel is best for your palette

Your Choice of Steak

raw steaks in the packagingWhether you understand your cuts of steak or not, the following options are excellent to consider:

Ribeye

This is a boneless cut of steak that comes from the rib area of the cow. Ribeye is boneless, and usually has great marbling for excellent flavor infusion and high moisture content as the fat cooks into the meat.

Ribsteak

Ribsteaks are almost the same as ribsteaks, but have the bone in. You can trim the outer fat layer off to avoid a flareup while cooking when the fat drips into the burner.

Porterhouse

A porterhouse is a larger cut of meat that comes from the loin area behind the ribs. This is a very tender cut and thick, making it a favorite for grilling. It also is pricey compared to other cuts.

T-Bone

T-bone, like a porterhouse, are from the loin area behind the rib, but doesn’t contain as much tenderloin. It also isn’t as big or as thick, and care should be taken when grilling to avoid toughening it up by cooking too long.

New York Strip

A New York strip steak is actually part of the t-bone. The t-bone has a strip and loin, connected by the bone. The New York strip is the strip removed from the bone, and isn’t as tender as the loin. You can tenderize them prior to grilling, or take care to cook only to a medium-rare or medium doneness at best to keep it flavorful and easier to chew.

Charcoal or Gas Grill

Although I prefer a charcoal grill for steaks (think smokey flavor and easier to crust), a gas grill works just as well to get it cooked in a manner that is both delicious and acceptable. For this guide all I had available was a gas grill at the time, but if I had a choice, I would choose charcoal.

Olive Oil

A little olive oil brushed over the steak can help hold your seasonings in place and give the surface a nice, rich flavor.

Salt and Pepper + Other Seasonings to Taste

raw steak seasoned with salt and pepper and grill seasoningA little salt and pepper, garlic powder, or anything else you like on your steak to help enrich the natural flavor is entirely a personal preference.

Olive or Grapeseed Oil For the Grill Grates

It’s always a good idea to ensure your grates are clean and well oiled. Use an oil with a high smoke point and brush it over the grates every few time you cook.

How to Grill Steak

Step 1:  Let Your Steak Warm Up to Room Temperature

Okay, there are a few different ways to prep your steak in advance. Some people swear it is best to season and then chill your steak, uncovered, in the fridge for up to 48 hours before grilling. This helps to dry brine the meat and makes it tender.

However, I did not have this opportunity as we were hosting an unexpected gathering. So I used another tried and true technique I almost always fall back on (mainly because I rarely know what I’m cooking until the afternoon).

Before seasoning, let your steak sit out for about 20 minutes after being in the refrigerator. You don’t want to grill a steak straight from the fridge if you haven’t seasoned it yet. These are New York strips, so you can also trim the side fat if you want, but we left it on for added flavor and moisture.

Step 2: Heat Grill to Medium-High

hand near warm grill to check temperatureWhile your steaks settle on the counter, heat your grill to a medium-high heat, right around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You can clean and oil at this time as well.

The grill I was using had a broken temperature gauge, so I learned how to quickly, and fairly accurately, figure out the approximate temp. All you have to do is simply hold your hand 3 inches from the grill grate, and count 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi… and if you can’t count any further, the grill is hot enough!

This was my first time using this technique, so I was a little nervous, but I am happy to say everything worked out quite well!

Step 3: Season Your Meat

Drizzle and brush olive oil over your steaks and then season with salt and pepper to taste. You also can add any other of your favorite seasonings. I added a salt-free seasoning mix that included onion, garlic, and a few other favorites as well. Do that to both sides and let it sit to help make a nice, flavorful coating when you grill. The olive oil will help it stay in place as it cooks.

Step 4: Place Steaks on Grill

raw steaks on hot grillSpace out your steaks when you set them on the grill so you have room to turn them and move them as needed if you have one area hotter than another. If you are grilling multiple steaks that need to be done to various doneness, you can purposely create areas of lower temperature in order to take advantage of slower and faster cook times so they all come out at the same time.

Step 5: Turn as Often as You Like

It used to be grilling experts swore never to turn more than once, but today it is generally accepted that you can flip and turn your steaks as often as you like. In fact, you may just end up getting them done more quickly, and evenly than if you only turned them once or twice.

Step 6: Watch Grilling Times and Temperatures

Temperature is key to determining how you like your steak done. I suggest always using a digital thermometer and stick it in the side, not the top of the steak to check the temperature. And yes, we did have a guest who wanted a more well done steak, hence the 150 degree reading. The other steaks are sitting over an area of no heat and are no longer cooking.

steaks on grill medium rare

In general, these temperatures will give you a great steak of various wellness each and every time:

Rare

Grill 6 to 8 minutes and to a 125 degree temperature for a red, cool center.

Medium-Rare

Grill 8 to 10 minutes to a 135 degree temperature for a reddish, warm center

Medium

Grill 10 to 12 minutes to a 145 degree temperature for a pink, warm center

Medium-Well

Grill 12 to 14 minutes to a 150 degree temperature pink-brown warm center

Well-Done

Don’t do it! Any longer is going to be considered well-done, and be a drier and tougher cut of meat. If you do like it this way, I’m not judging, I just don’t suggest it.

Step 7: Remove Steaks From Heat and Rest 5 Minutes

Meat continues to cook even when taken off the heat, so be sure to remove it as it nears your desired temperature in order to avoid over-grilling. As you can see, all the steaks look similar on the outside, but we had everything from medium-rare to well-done included in this pile!

Step 8: Enjoy!

grilled steak on a plate with salad and beansPair your steak with backyard grilling favorites, rice, fresh salads, baked beans, grilled veggies, and anything else you love with steak. Steak also is wonderfully served with compound butter, or a strong cheese such as blue cheese, or smoked white cheddar.

Conclusion

Even though some guests preferred their strip steak more done, the steaks were a success. Personally, I prefer a medium steak and mine ended up perfectly done with a warm, pink center and a nicely grilled outside with a light char. The temperature of mine was 138 degrees when I removed it from the heat, so I figured it was closer to medium by the time I cut into it.

Hopefully this has been a helpful tutorial with various tips to ensure you get a great steak each time you grill. Let us know in the comments below, and, as always, please share!

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