How to Grill Your Steak Exactly How You Want It (Every Time)

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Feb 18, 2016 8:00:00 AM
Cooking steaksLast week we helped you understand the differences between cuts of steak; this week we're here to help you learn how to prepare those cuts because there are few experiences more disappointing than having to eat a piece of steak that was not cooked to your liking, whether it was over- or under-cooked. One way to avoid such an unsavory experience is to learn how to prepare your meat so that it's impossible to ever over- or under-cook it. 

Different Levels of "Doneness"

First, let's get the terminology down. Steaks are ordered in "temperatures." In order from fresh-off-the-cow raw to could-easily-be-mistaken-for-a-charcoal-briquette cooked, the temperatures of steak are:

  • Extra-rare or Blue
  • Rare
  • Medium rare
  • Medium
  • Medium well
  • Well done
  • Overcooked

How to Achieve Your Dream Temperature 

The best way to achieve your dream temperature is with, well, temperature! Below we've listed the temperatures at which you'd order or prepare your meat with the corresponding temperatures in degrees. Pro tip: In some cases you'll want to take your meat off the grill a few degrees shy of the listed temperature because the steak will continue to cook during it's rest period.

  • Extra-rare or Blue — 115°-120°F
  • Rare — 125°-130°F (take off at 125°F, let rest for 3 minutes)
  • Medium rare — 130°-140°F
  • Medium — 140°-150°F
  • Medium well — 150°-155°F (take off at 145°F, let rest for 3 minutes)
  • Well done — 155°-160°F
  • Overcooked — 160+°F

If you don't have a thermometer you can still cook your meat right every time by comparing the firmness of your hand with the firmness of your meat — watch how it's done here!

What to Look for

So, you're liking the temperature you're seeing on your thermometer. Now let's chat about what you should see and experience once you actually have the pleasure of cutting into your meat.

  • Extra-rare or Blue — very red and cold center
  • Rare — cold red center
  • Medium rare — warm red center
  • Medium — pink/red center
  • Medium well — small amount of pink in the center
  • Well done — gray-brown center 
  • Overcooked — blackened center

Which Temperature is the Best?

This is a seemingly simple question on the surface, but the answer is actually fairly complex. The easy answer is, "whichever you prefer!" The technical answer is, "it depends on the cut of meat and its fat content." So, taking into consideration those two answers, when it comes time to grill (or order) you'll have the best experience if you choose a cut that corresponds with your preferred temperature. Not sure which cut matches up with which temperature? Below is a tried-and-true guide for the best steak experiences:

  • Filet: rare to medium rare
  • Tenderloin: rare to medium
  • Strip: medium rare to medium well
  • T-bone: medium rare to medium well
  • Porterhouse: medium rare to medium well
  • Rib eye: medium to well
  • Bone-in rib eye:medium rare to medium well
  • Prime rib: medium rare to well

Ttake your steak game to the next level with this knowledge and a custom outdoor kitchen built by your local contractors at Unlimited Outdoor Kitchen! Give us a call (888) 747-4554 or contact us online to lean more about how we can help you build your outdoor lifestyle. Already know exactly what you want? Go ahead and request your free estimate!

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Topics: Grills, Cooking Tips