Follow these 6 easy steps from a chef on how to grill the perfect steak. It’s easier than you think!
My carnivorous, farm-boy husband has been waiting our whole marriage for me to write this post. Can anybody say “wife bonus points”?
So, I shared earlier this year how I finally learned how to make the perfect pan-seared, oven-finished steak thanks to my pal and personal chef, Chef Bryan at Hy-Vee. The deal is: It ain’t hard!
For Father’s Day, I gave it a try over the gas grill using the same principles that Chef Bryan taught me for the indoor steak. It was delish. However, since then, Bryan sent me a few more tips to help me in my quest of the perfect grilled steak. Spoiler alert: Again…it ain’t hard!
6 Simple Steps to Select and Make the Perfect Grilled Steak:
1. Choose your perfect cut of meat.
If you’re like me, you might need to start with the basics: what are the different cuts of steak? Hy-Vee’s Summer Grilling Guide has a helpful infographic…
I realize everyone has different tastes. However, my husband’s favorite of all these is probably the New York Strip, or as we like to call it in these parts, the Kansas City Strip. And mine would have to be the Tenderloin (hello, birthday meal once a year!).
Then, at the meat counter, you may also see various grades of meat. Here’s what they mean…
David Walzog, executive chef at Michael Jordan’s Steak House in NYC, says to look “for meat with the most marbling, i.e., visible grains of fat running through the steak. As the steak is cooking, the fat melts, naturally tenderizing the meat and building in flavor. (He avoids vein steaks — the ones with a half-moon-shaped vein running through the cut — because they’re too tough.)” (source)
Don’t be afraid to ask the expert at the meat counter for recommendations if you’re unsure of what to get. These guys at Hy-Vee are very knowledgeable and love to offer suggestions.
2. Get Your Grill Screamin’ HOT!
Chef Bryan says, “I am a fan of a hot grill–gas or charcoal! I preheat the grill and brush the grate with an appropriate brush for your grill. Ceramic coated grill grates don’t like metal bristles much. Aluminum foil crumpled up can be used for many grills with tongs to scrub the grates too.” So your grill isn’t ready until it’s seriously hot–hot enough to sear the outside of the steak quickly and form a crust.
3. Season Your Steak
Set your steaks out on the counter for about 30 minutes to bring them up to room temperature. Pat them dry, rub each steak with a little oil (Gordon Ramsey suggests using a groundnut oil since it withstands high heat and has a mild flavor), and the seasoning is up to you. Chef Bryan says, “I love Montreal Steak Seasoning, but the classic kosher salt and ground black pepper is great, too.” Chef Walzog thinks it’s ideal to coat each side of the steaks with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. “You can’t have too much salt on a steak,” he says. “It makes a great crust.” (source)
4. Sear Both Sides of the Steak
How long you grill your steak on each side depends on the thickness of the steak and to what doneness level you desire. Here is the general grilling concept, but note the cooking times and temps in Step 5:
- Place the meat on the hottest part of the grill, keeping grill lid off.
- Grill for a few minutes on the first side and then gently turn the steak 45 degrees. Sear for another few minutes, to get those perfect char marks.
- Once you have good grill marks on that side, flip the steaks over to another hot part of the grill and sear for another few minutes. Then, turn the steaks 45 degrees one last time for the final few minutes of cook time.
Cooking Note: If at any time the grill flares up, move the steaks to the outside edge, returning them to the center when the flame dies down. Gently pick up with tongs, instead of sliding the steaks. The key is not to flip them around.
5. Cook to the Perfect Internal Temperature
A meat thermometer and paying close attention to internal temperature is key if you want the perfect steak every time. The USDA recommends these safe cooking temperatures, but most chefs will disagree that this is the best way to cook a steak. Chef Bryan recommends removing the steaks off the grill when the internal temperature (taken in the thickest part of the steak and before resting) is:
- 115 degrees for rare
- 125 degrees as medium-rare
- 135 degrees for medium
- 145 degree for med-well
- 155 degrees for well-done
Once the steaks are removed, “carry-over” cooking happens for the next few minutes while they rest. Cover the steaks with some foil and they’ll continue to cook an additional 5-10 degrees.
If you’re wondering how long a particular steak will take to cook on the grill, this chart from Omaha Steaks is a helpful resource. Please notice that their suggested cooking temperatures are higher than Chef Bryan’s, so it’s important to cook your steaks a little less than they list.
6. Let It Rest
After pulling steaks off the grill and covering with foil, let them rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. The purpose of resting the steak is to let the temperature even out and let the juices settle in the steak. If you cut into a steak right off the grill, all the delicious juices will run right out on your plate and not stay in the steak.
7. Top With Butter
Everything’s better with butter, right?! Chef Bryan says he loves to make different steak butters to top his grilled master pieces with–like a roasted garlic/red wine butter or a chimmichurri butter. Try this simple Herbed Butter from Epicurious.