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How to Cook Steak on a Grill - an Easy Step-by-Step Guide

June 24, 2020
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A perfectly grilled steak is one of life's great joys. The warm summer air, the laughter of friends, and beautiful cuts of meat cooking to perfection on the grill create some of the best memories and meals.

Of course, if you're the one cooking for your family or throwing the party, you have to know how to get it just right. It's just as true if you're cooking for yourself as a group - you deserve amazing steak all of the time!

Read on to discover how to grill meat just right, every time.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Cook Steak on a Grill

Before your steak goes anywhere near the grill, you'll want to consider the cut. This will change depending on who you're serving:

  • Larger cuts like Porterhouse are perfect for gatherings, as just one of these can feed a few people.
  • If you're just feeding a couple of guests, a smaller cut like New York strip might be appropriate.

Finding a farm where you can get to know the farmer who raises your food is a great way to be sure you're getting a higher quality product than you’d get from a large supermarket.

How to Prepare Steak for Grilling

Two things are important here - temperature and seasoning. Especially for larger cuts, letting the meat come to room temperature before you cook it ensures the beef will cook evenly.

Small steaks benefit from a bit of chill if you're aiming for mid-rare, as they cook much more quickly. We highly recommend letting the cut sit out for at least half an hour, even up to two hours for big pieces of meat.

Secondly, seasoning is king. Salt and pepper are the classics, and there's a reason for that. While all sorts of rubs and marinades exist, if you're just starting out, learn how to use the basics first. They're your best friends when it comes to getting to know seasoning.

Salting your steak a couple of hours before you grill allows the seasoning to penetrate right through the meat, making it flavorful throughout. Some people even salt overnight.

If you're in a hurry, don't salt a cold steak 10-20 minutes before cooking - this will mostly just draw out moisture and dry the meat out. Salting right before the steak hits the heat means that you won't lose moisture in this way.

One final tip is to pat the beef dry when you're bringing it up to temp. This will allow it to develop a better sear when you grill it.

How Long to Grill Steak

The cooking time is hugely subjective, as it depends on two things:

  • How cooked you like your beef
  • How big your cut of meat is

One of the best ways to cook it to perfection is to get a temperature probe. You insert this into the steak, and it'll tell you how done the meat is.

Here is a general guide to internal temperature (given in degrees Fahrenheit):

  • Rare: 120-130
  • Medium Rare: 130-135
  • Medium: 135-140
  • Medium Well: 140-150
  • Well Done: 150

In general, the consensus is that for a prime steak, medium-rare is the holy grail. It maximizes tenderness and flavor in the relatively pricier cuts of meat we tend to use for this process.

However, it's your party, and you can grill how you want to. Many people prefer medium or even medium-well. Just make sure you're keeping an eye on it.

Another tip is not to turn the steak too much. This will allow the meat to brown well on each side as it picks up grill marks. The Maillard reaction is what makes seared meat so delicious, and to make the most of this effect, let each side pick up good color before you turn it over.

For big, thick cuts, turning it a few times is more common to allow better heat penetration right through the meat.

What Temperature to Cook Steak on a Grill?

You should aim to reach a temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to this kind of meat, high heat is essential.

Fire up your charcoal grill at least half an hour before you plan to put any meat on it. You don't want the steak to be touching a flame, as this will add an unpleasant burning taste.

If possible, create different sections of heat on your grill - if you're using charcoal, this means moving the coals around a bit to utilize some indirect heat. The meat needs to cook on high heat to get a good sear. Also, create a low-heat area to let the steak rest once it's cooked (more on that later).

Ingredients for the Perfect Steak

Salt and cracked black pepper are your best bets when it comes to seasoning your steak. For beginners, getting to know what levels of these seasonings to apply will make you a wiser chef. They let the flavor of the meat really come through before you add any extra.

Always remember: the meat is your main ingredient. You should never overpower the flavor of the meat by overseasoning.

Once you're comfortable with the basics, the world is your oyster. Marinades and dry rubs come in an endless variety. From punchy Cajun spicing to Korean flavor-bomb marinades, there's so much to discover.

Most of all, buy a good quality steak.

Look for good marbling (little veins of fat running through the meat) as this will add flavor and juiciness. It melts as you grill, keeping the meat tender and delicious.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Many of the best steaks in the world don't use anything more than the basics as seasoning. But if you want to get creative, there's a whole world to choose from.

How to Cook a Steak on a Grill: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Prep the Meat

Take your steak out of the fridge 30-120 minutes before cooking and let it come up to room temperature. Season well in advance to allow maximum flavor penetration.

Step 2: Prep the Grill

Pre-heat your grill and create a hot zone and a cooler zone. Brush a little olive oil on the bars to prevent too much sticking.

Step 3: Sear the Steak

Drop the steak on the hot zone. Allow it to sear for a few minutes before turning.

Turn to get color on the other side. Let this cook for a couple of minutes less than the first side.

Step 4: Check the Temp

Check the temperature with a probe. If the temp is more than 5 degrees lower than your desired result, keep cooking; turn again if necessary.

Step 5: Transfer to the Cool Zone

When the center of the beef comes up to around 5 degrees lower than the desired result, move it to the cooler zone. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes. This allows the proteins to relax and the meat to re-absorb juice. It also continues to cook, bringing it up to the desired level.

Last Step: Serve and Enjoy!

Serve the steak with refreshing side dishes of your choice to your delighted guests!

Conclusion

Grilling steak isn't rocket science, but it does require attention to detail and respect for the delicious cut of meat you're using. At Seven Sons, we believe steak is one of the most delicious foods known to man. When you aim to make your cuts really special, you'll always create meals that are above and beyond.

Grill with confidence and spend the summer wowing your friends and family with a gorgeous steak! Browse our selection of grass-fed meats to grill the best cuts possible.

Bruce & Alyssa Hitzfield

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