How To Cook Steak

Want to make steakhouse-quality steaks at home? Here’s how to cook the perfect steaks on the grill, on the stove, or broiled in the oven.

T-bone_grilled with potatoes on plate

Photo by Meredith

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Mmm, the tasty combination of smoky, caramelized crust and tender, juicy interior — nothing compares to a steak from the grill.

We won’t get into the fiery debate between charcoal versus gas grills here — we’ve covered that in depth. But for certain, great grilling can be had with either charcoal or gas.

We’ve also covered how to pick the best steak for the job. The good news is, the perfect steak doesn’t need to be the most expensive. If breaking the bank isn’t part of your barbequing plan, consider less spendy sirloin, hanger, flank steak, and skirt steaks.

Choose cuts that are at least 1-inch thick. If the steak is too thin, the interior gets cooked well-done before the exterior can develop the crave-worthy crust. If you can, choose steaks of even thickness so they’ll be done at the same time. Also, meat near the bone will take a little longer to cook.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites | Photo by Meredith

Marinades and Rubs. The ideal steak marinade combines acid, fat, and seasonings. The acid creates a tangy flavor foundation and tenderizes the meat; the fat adds flavor, seals in juices, helps keep the meat from sticking to the grill, and promotes caramelization; and the seasonings complete the flavor profile. Here’s a breakdown of The Best Steak Marinade in Existence.

Rubs are another way to go. These simple seasoning mixtures infuse grilled steaks with exciting flavors. The best rubs enhance the natural smoky flavors of the grilled meat without overwhelming it. Add a little oil, vinegar, or other liquid to the mix, and you have a wet rub. Let rubbed meats sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

Sear steaks over high, direct heat, then move them to indirect heat to finish cooking. That’s the most common method. But if you like to live dangerously, do it in reverse: start with indirect cooking, with the lid on, and then finish with a quick, high-heat sear. You’ll get the same results: a juicy steak with a crisp, caramelized crust.

Now, if your steak was marinating, wipe off the wet marinade with a paper towel, then set it down on the hot grill and leave it alone for several minutes without turning. After a few minutes, the meat will release its grip on the grill, and you can turn it without tearing the meat; If you start to turn it, and it’s still gripping the grill, just give it another minute.

Once your steak is done to your liking, remove it to a plate and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before serving or slicing.

How to Test Your Steak for Doneness

For the most accurate results, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:

  • Rare — 125 degrees F (52 degrees C)
  • Medium Rare — 130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
  • Medium — 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
  • Medium Well — 150 degrees F (65 degrees C)
  • Well done — 160 degrees F (70 degrees C)

You can also use your fist. Admittedly, this method is more art than science, but it will give you a general idea of doneness. First, make your hand into a fist. You’ll notice there’s a fleshy, roughly triangular patch of skin between your folded-up thumb and pointer finger. Touch that flap of skin and compare it to the steak. Here’s the deal:

  • Very loose non-fist — Rare
  • Tight fist — Well done
  • A grip halfway between loose and tight — Medium

See? Not science. But close enough for grill-work.

VIDEO: How to Grill a Steak

See all the secrets for grilling the perfect steak…broken down into 3 easy steps.

Some Favorite Grilled Steak Recipes:

  • Sirloin Steak with Garlic Butter
  • Adobo Sirloin
  • Barbequed Marinated Flank Steak
  • Smothered Filet Mignon
  • More Grilled Steak Recipes
  • Stovetop-to-Oven Steaks

    If you’re cooking your steaks in the kitchen, take a tip from restaurant chefs — start by searing the meat on the stovetop, then finish up in a super-hot oven. This stovetop-to-oven process results in a steak with a deeply caramelized crust and a tender and perfectly cooked interior.

    Oven Roasted Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce — Serves 2

    • 2 (6 ounce) filet mignon steaks
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
    • 2 tablespoons butter

    1. Bring the steaks to room temperature. Rub the steaks with 1/4 teaspoon oil per side and generously season with salt and pepper.

    2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) (a very hot oven produces a juicy interior). Place a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron skillet in the oven as it preheats. When oven reaches 500 degrees F (260 degrees C), use a baking mitt to remove the pan from oven. Be careful! The pan and the handle will be extremely hot. Place the pan on the stovetop and turn the heat to high.

    3. Immediately place steaks in the middle of the hot, dry pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes without moving; turn steaks with tongs, and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

    4. Transfer the pan with the seared steaks to the hot oven. Roast in the center of the oven until the steaks are cooked to your liking, about 3 to 5 minutes. (See below for info on how to determine doneness.)

    5. Transfer the cooked steaks to a warm platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.

    Give it a rest. Before slicing or serving, let the meat sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The steak will continue to cook (the temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after being removed from the oven) and the juices will redistribute throughout the meat.

    6. While the steaks are resting, place the skillet over medium heat. Add ½ cup dry red wine to the skillet and bring to a boil. As the wine boils, use a wooden spoon to scrap any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid boil until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup. Remove pan from heat. Add the butter, swirling the pan to incorporate it into the sauce.

    7. Serve the steaks whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates. Pour the sauce over the steaks just before serving.

    How to cook a steak | Steak with wine sauce and mushrooms

    Photo by Meredith

    From Skillet to Hot Bath. There’s another way to get juicy steaks on the stovetop. It’s a technique called sous vide. And it starts with the same searing technique as above. But instead of going from skillet into a very hot oven, the steak goes into a hot water bath. It’s like a spa day for your steak. You’ll seal up the seared steak in an airtight plastic bag. Interested? Watch this video for all the details:

    VIDEO: Sous Vide New York Strip Steaks

    Chef John’s technique doesn’t require expensive sous vide equipment — all you need is a heavy pot and a cooking thermometer. See how it’s done!

    Check out our collection of Steak Recipes.

    Get more cooking tips and awesome food finds.