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Why You Should Let Steak Rest After Cooking

January 11, 2021

Think back to the best steak you’ve ever had. Aside from the way it was cooked, how it was seasoned, or the piece of meat you chose, there’s one thing that all great steaks have in common: resting time after the meat is cooked.
It’s critical to let your meat rest for a few minutes after cooking and before diving in with a fork and knife to keep the moisture and heat inside.
But why does this trick always result in a perfectly juicy cut when you slice it? There’s science behind the tactic, but not everyone understands how it works.
Below, we’re diving into the benefits of letting your steak rest after cooking and how long your steak needs to rest to create the perfect bite every time.

Why Let Steak Rest?

When you’re cooking steak at a high temperature, you’re heating the muscle fibers and proteins in the meat. The longer the meat is cooked, the more set the proteins become. This is why we usually poke a piece of meat with our tongs or fingers to gauge how cooked it is.
As the fibers set, they will push the meat’s juices toward the center of the cut. If you were to slice the piece of meat immediately after cooking it, all of the moisture in the center would pour out, and you’d lose a lot of flavor. This is one way to create tough meat, and it also looks pretty unappetizing.
However, when you let it rest after cooking, the temperature will slowly come down, and the juices will have time to redistribute into the meat and become reabsorbed by the fibers.
Here’s how it happens:

  • The constricted muscle proteins begin to relax as the temperature cools.
  • There is less pressure in the center of the steak, allowing the moisture to redistribute through the piece and become re-absorbed by everything, from the center to the outer edges.
  • When it’s time to slice into the meat, you’ll reveal a flavorful and moist steak that will melt in your mouth.

Concerned about your steak reaching an unsafe food temperature while leaving it out? Have no fear. The meat will continue to cook for a bit even after taking it off the grill or stove. You can even wrap it in some aluminum foil to trap in more heat if you’d like.

How to Rest Steak

To give your steak the proper rest it needs, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take the meat off of the heat burner, out of the oven, or off the grill once done cooking.
  2. Transfer your meat to a warm plate. You may also use a cutting board.
  3. Create a tent with aluminum foil to retain a bit of the heat.
  4. Let it sit for the appropriate amount of time (see below).
  5. Remove the foil and slice.
  6. Promptly serve and enjoy!

How Long Should Steak Rest?

Resting your steak aims to reduce the amount of juices that you lose when cutting into the meat. If you can rest it long enough, your meat will retain these juices, and you'll bite into the tender, tasty, and incredibly juicy steak.
How long you let the meat sit will depend on your cut of meat's size and thickness. As a general guide, the bigger the steak is, the longer you should wait for it to rest and come to the appropriate internal temperature.
If you're not sure how big your meat is compared to others, a rule of thumb is to let your steak rest for at least five minutes (an absolutely no less than three). However, if you've just cooked a whole steak roast, you should let it sit for at least 10 minutes - 20 minutes, maybe longer.
Additionally, these guidelines may help:

  • Five to seven minutes should be the minimum if you’re in a rush.
  • If you know your cut is thick, give it at least 10 minutes.
  • You could rest it for 5 minutes for every inch of thickness.
  • You could rest it for 10 minutes for every pound.
  • You could rest the meat for half as long as it took to cook. If the meat is thicker, you may rest it for the whole time it took to cook.

Final Thoughts

Cooking the perfect steak is an art that requires a little bit of know-how and technique. If you want to impress your friends, your partner, or even yourself with a great steak sometime soon, be sure to allow for the proper time for the meat to rest before serving.

Blake Hitzfield

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