7 Essential Tips for Grilling Perfect Steaks

Steak should be one of the simplest dishes around; all you truly need is a touch of salt and pepper, a brush of olive oil, just the right amount of heat, and a perfect, juicy, marbled cut of meat. Yet, lots of folks are cooking steaks that just aren't up to scratch, or worse, they're hesitant to even try at the risk of failure. For these folks, it's time to bone up on a few great steak tips and finally enjoy steakhouse quality steaks in your own kitchen! Father's Day is just around the corner, so study fast, pick out a good cut of meat, and get cooking!

Charred Red Pepper Steak Sauce from Smitten Kitchen

Charred Red Pepper Steak Sauce from Smitten Kitchen

1. The cut of meat matters

If you want a quality steak, you'll need to start with quality beef. Here is a guide on how to pick the perfect steak for your needs, with everything you need to know from marbling to grades. Generally, you'll want a steak between 1 - 2 inches thick, no more no less. I've also written up a good guide (here) detailing differences between cuts of steak so you can choose wisely between New York Strips, Rib-Eyes, and Porterhouses. If you're using a tougher cut of steak for whatever reason, you should pick out a good marinade before cooking too.

2. A clean grill means a clean cook and a clean taste

Break out that heavy duty grill brush: it's time to clean! If you start with a clean, lightly oiled grill you'll have an easier time cooking your steaks and tastier steaks for it. Brush your clean grate with a bit of oil, and you'll have a nice, non-stick surface to work with before you start your masterpiece.

3. Let your grill get hot, hot, hot before you cook

High heat, somewhere in the vicinity of 450°F, is a great temperature at which to start cooking your steaks. It will help ensure that you get a nice, rich sear on your steak with that perfect steakhouse coloring and crisp. However, if your steaks need more time to cook after they've been seared, you'll need to have an area of medium heat ready for the transfer too!

4. Don't forget to grab that meat thermometer

Exact cooking times for a steak varies depending on your taste and how thick your steak is. At the end of the day, a meat thermometer is the best way of figuring out how cooked your steak is. Here's a rough guide to the internal temperatures you'll want to hit for each level of steak.

Rare: 125°F to 130°F

Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F

Medium: 140°F to 145°F

Well-Done: 160°+

In practice, you'll probably want to remove the steak from heat a few degrees before your steak hits the perfect temperature, since your steak will continue cooking after being taken off the grill.

5. Pass the tongs. No forks allowed!

Forks, knives, and other pointy things (your meat thermometer excluded) should be nowhere near your steaks while they're cooking! When you flip your steak, use tongs or other such implements as to not puncture the awesome sear that you so painstakingly made. Each time you poke a hole in your steak, it's losing another drop of the delicious juices that make this whole endeavor worthwhile.

6. Don't flip out!

Once your steaks are on the grill, don't keep poking and prodding them around. The second they hit the grates, they should sizzle and cook, and once they're ready to be flipped, they should be easy to lift from the grate. Lots of people are tempted to sneak peaks at the bottom of their steaks, but with this process, a more hands-off approach is usually better.

7. Let your meat rest! 

For the best possible steak, you need to let your steak rest for at least 10 minutes prior to cutting it. Right when it’s taken off the pan, the juices inside of the steak are just waiting to burst out. If you let it rest for a bit, the juices will redistribute themselves throughout the steak into each tender, delicious bite, and less will be wasted spilling out onto a cutting board or plate.

And here are a few Yummly steak recipes for you to try!

Spice Rubbed Steak from Serious Eats

Spice Rubbed Steak from Serious Eats

Thyme-Smoked Four-Inch Porterhouse Steak from Leite's Culinaria

Thyme-Smoked Four-Inch Porterhouse Steak from Leite's Culinaria

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce from The Pioneer Woman

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce from The Pioneer Woman