Learn how to grill steaks perfectly with a few easy tips and tricks to remember. There is nothing like biting into a juicy, flavorful grilled steak right off the grill. Grilling steaks is very easy and all you’ll have to worry about is the sides.
You can ask a hundred people about what the perfect steak should be like and you will get several different answers. That’s because the meaning of a “perfect steak” changes from person to person. Whether they like a certain cut of meat, different amount of seasoning, or different level of doneness.
I am not going to show you just 1 specific steak but more importantly help you make your steak perfect. Mainly because not everyone shares my love for ribeye steaks or the absolute need for them to be medium rare.
That’s why we’ll talk about choosing steaks for grilling and the important things to remember. We’ll talk about seasoning the steak, grilling it, and of course, how to finish it.
WHAT STEAKS TO CHOOSE
Theoretically, you can throw any steak on the grill but the results will not be the same at all. Many steaks are just not good enough to simply grill and eat. Steak cuts that are too lean, or too tough, or too small are not meant to be simply seasoned and grilled. Steaks like flank, flat iron, and skirt should be marinated, grilled, and sliced thin. They are meant for tacos, fajitas, or sandwiches. Frankly, they are not the star and not the ones we are here to talk about.
We are talking about the mouthwatering prime steaks that are so juicy and flavorful, all you need is very simply seasoning and a few minutes on the grill. My go-to steaks to grill are ribeyes due to a great amount of marbling and wonderful flavor. There are several steaks you can choose from.
An important thing to remember when selecting the steak is the thickness. They should be between 1 1/2 and 2 inches thick and no thinner. Thinner steaks will not come out as good and you have a high chance of overcooking it.
What steaks are good to grill?
Ribeye – this cut is rich, juicy, full of flavor, and has great marbling throughout.
Rib steak – is also called bone-in ribeye. It is the same as ribeye but with the rib bone still attached.
Porterhouse – great prime steak where you get the strip on one side of the bone and tenderloin on the other. Lots of flavor and nicely tender.
T-Bone – similar to the porterhouse but much smaller. More importantly, the tenderloin part of T-bone is a lot smaller than you would find in the porterhouse.
Strip steak – it’s tender and lean. Although, leaner does mean less marbling and less fat, which results in less flavor and juiciness.
Top sirloin – this steak has a nice flavor and one of the most versatile steaks. It has a good flavor and decent amount of marbling. These are great to grill or make into steak kebabs.
Filet mignon – one of the most coveted steaks because of the great tenderness and smooth beef flavor.
What do steak grades mean?
Even though there are actually eight steak grades, you will run into the main three when shopping.
USDA Prime – this is the highest quality. It comes from young, well-fed cattle and has a lot of intramuscular marbling. It is not as widely available as choice quality.
USDA Choice – high quality and much more widely available. These cut will have less fat content and less marbling than prime.
USDA Select – these are lower quality steaks and therefore much cheaper. There is less marbling so it is leaner, tougher, and less juicy.
When choosing your steaks, try to get prime or choice grade and remember that you will get what you pay for.
WHAT SEASONING TO USE ON STEAKS
Since you are choosing a good quality prime steaks, there will already be so much delicious flavor so no need for excess seasoning. These steaks benefit from a little enhancement of salt and pepper and finishing butter.
Coarse salt and pepper is the only seasoning that I even put on a good steak. But remember, even though there is only salt and pepper, don’t under-season. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the steak, even all along the sides.
A good steak also benefits from some melted butter at the end and a faint whisper of rosemary. I highly recommend brushing the steaks with melted butter using a rosemary brush during the last couple of minutes of cooking. To make the rosemary brush, simply tie a few prigs of fresh rosemary to the wooden end of a kitchen utensil. Dip it in melted butter and brush generously on both sides.
QUICK GRILLING NOTES:
What types of grill to use?
Charcoal or wood are your best choices. These grills will bring great additional smokey flavor.
How hot should the grill be?
First of all, you will want to set up two temperature zones. After the original searing of the steaks, you will move them over to the cooler side to finish cooking to your desired temperature.
Make sure to preheat the grill for about 10 minutes before adding the steaks. You want to the hot side to be hot, somewhere between 425° and 450°.
How long to grill steaks?
Can I be honest and say that I hate this question? There is no magic number that will tell you exactly how long to cook the steak you are holding. Since every steak is different in exact thickness and amount of marbling, the best option is to use an instant read thermometer and check the temperature. Internal temperature will tell you when the steak is done.
I always say that the time is an estimate only, so here is an estimate for steaks that are about 1 1/2 inches thick:
Rare: 8-10 minutes
Medium-rare: 10-13 minutes
Medium: 12-14 minutes
Well: 16-18 minutes
Why do I have to let it rest?
It’s important to let the meat rest before cutting into it. While meat is cooking, all the fibers and juices inside the meat tighten up and condense. Meat continues to cook for several minutes after you pull it off the heat so if you try to cut into it right after, juices will be concentrated in certain areas and fibers will be tight. While the meat is resting and cooling, the fibers relax and all the juices can spread out throughout the whole piece evenly.
125°-130° degrees = Rare
135°-140° degrees = Medium-rare
145°-150° degrees = Medium
155°-160° degrees = Well
(*First number is when to take off the grill.)
HOW TO GRILL STEAKS
Rest: Take steaks out of the refrigerator and out of the wrapping 30 minutes before cooking. Let them sit on the cutting board to warm up.
Trim if needed: if you see large, outer chunks of fat, trim it off so it doesn’t cause flare ups.
Set up the grill: make sure the grill grate is clean and set up two temperature zones. Start enough charcoal for high temperature. You want to the hot side to be hot, somewhere between 425° and 450°. Preheat the grill for about 10 minutes after spreading the charcoal.
Season: Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry and rub it with some oil on all sides. Remember you should oil the steaks and not the grill. Season the steaks generously with coarse salt and pepper on all sides. (Melt the butter and prepare a rosemary brush.)
Grill: place them over direct heat and sear for 2-4 minutes on each side. After you get a nice sear on each side, move steaks to the cool side of the grill. Close the lid and continue to cook until it reaches desired internal temperature.
Butter: brush steaks with melted butter liberally while they finishing cooking on the cool side of the grill.
Check temperature: use a digital instant-read meat thermometer to check temperature. Hold the steak with metal tongs and insert thermometer through the side of the steak, towards the middle. You want to hit the reading on the thickest part and in the middle.
Rest: take them off the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes on the cutting board before serving.
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- 2 1 1/2 inch ribeye steaks (for other steak options check the post)
- canola oil to oil the steak
- coarse salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 kitchen utensil with a long wooden handle
- Take steaks out of the refrigerator and out of the wrapping 30 minutes before cooking. Let them sit on the cutting board to warm up.
- If you see large, outer chunks of fat, trim it off so it doesn’t cause flare ups.
Set up the grill:
- Make sure the grill grate is clean and set up two temperature zones. Start enough charcoal for high temperature. You want to the hot side to be hot, somewhere between 425° and 450°.
- Preheat the grill for about 10 minutes after spreading the charcoal.
Season the steaks:
- Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry and rub it with some oil on all sides. (Remember you should oil the steaks and not the grill.)
- Season the steaks generously with coarse salt and pepper on all sides.
- Melt butter and tie rosemary sprigs onto a wooden end of the spatula or a spoon with a piece of kitchen twine.
Time to grill:
- Place steaks over direct heat and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side. After you get a nice sear on each side, move steaks to the cool side of the grill. Close the lid and continue to cook until it reaches desired internal temperature.
- Use the rosemary brush to brush steaks with melted butter liberally while they finishing cooking on the cool side of the grill.
- Use a digital instant-read meat thermometer to check temperature. Hold the steak with metal tongs and insert thermometer through the side of the steak, towards the middle. You want to hit the reading on the thickest part and in the middle.
- Take steaks off the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes on the cutting board before serving.
- 125°-130° degrees = Rare135°-140° degrees = Medium-rare145°-150° degrees = Medium155°-160° degrees = Well(*First number is when to take off the grill.)