01 of 09
Grilling Steak - Preparing the Steak
Knowing the steak you are going to grill is very important. I encourage you to literally get a feel for the meat. A steak changes in texture and density as it cooks and knowing how it feels before it hits the grill, is going to help you hit the desired doneness. Given the differences between grills, cooking surfaces, and cuts of steak, there isn't a set rule for how long it will take to cook. Knowing the feel of the meat will serve you better than any clock. If you feel better using a... thermometer, I also go over the temperatures as we get cooking.
Take note of the thickness of the steak. I'm using a 1-inch thick steak for this demonstration but will tell you how to adjust for other thicknesses. Make sure you know how thick the steak is and that you remember that thickness for later.
Things you will need:
Continue to 2 of 9 below.
- A Steak
- Salt and Pepper (or your preferred seasoning)
- A very hot Grill
- a reliable Meat Thermometer (optional)
- A Clock or Watch with a second hand
02 of 09
Grilling Steak - Oiling the Cooking Grate
Try to maintain good contact on the grill without allowing the steak to stick. This means making sure that your cooking surface is clean and oiled. It is a good idea to oil the cooking grate while it is hot. This is best done when heating up the grill. The easiest way to this is with an oil soaked paper towel and the brush used to clean the grates.
Fold a paper towel in half until it is the size of your grill cleaning brush. Soak it with some oil. I suggest an oil with a high smoke point like an... extra light olive oil or grape seed oil. Brush this over the cooking grates evenly. Yes, it will smoke some, but that's okay. As long as you don't let the grill sit at its highest temperature for too long before grilling, the oil will remain there when the steaks go on.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Grilling Steaks - Seasoning the Steaks
A good steak doesn't need a lot of seasoning. A little salt and pepper will enhance the flavor. Small amounts of herbs and spices can go a long way. When seasoning a steak it is important not to overdo it. Make sure that you get an even application of whatever you use. Remember that some of these seasonings will come off during cooking. You can apply the seasonings early to let the flavors sink in a little, but the effect isn't very noticeable.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Grilling Steaks - Hot as you can Go
To get your steak cooked right, you need to do this hot and fast. This sears the surface giving the steak a crisp, caramelized surface while letting you pick how well you want it done in the middle. This means that you need to get you grill as hot as it will go. If using charcoal, you need a heavy layer of burning, white hot charcoal. If using a gas grill, you need to let that grill heat up as hot as it will go. It is a good idea to know how hot your grill can get, so you know when it hits this... temperature. Put the steaks on as soon as your grill reaches this point.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Grilling Steaks - Position One
Finally, we are ready to put the steak to grill. Make sure that you don't have anything else to do because it is important to stay by the grill. This is going to go quickly, so have everything you need on hand.
Keep the grill closed as much as possible to hold in the heat. Before putting on the steaks, take a good look at them. Find a "top". When we turn the steaks in a minute you will want to know where that top is in order to get the perfect grill marks.
Before we put that steak on, let's... talk about time. If you are looking for a medium rare 1-inch thick steak, our cooking times are going to be one minute (four units of one minute). If you want your steak medium well or well done, turn down the heat now to a medium high heat (but leave it hot for the start). Your cooking times are going to be two minutes. If using a thicker steak (but under 2-inches) then the cooking times are going to be 1 1/2 minutes or 3 minutes for medium well or well. If your steak is less than 3/4-inch thick (but more than 1/2-inch) the cooking times are going to be 45 seconds or 1 minute for medium well to well.
Having said that, you need to know your grill. Some grills comfortably hit temperatures over 700 degrees F, while others have trouble mustering 500. If your grill runs at a lower temperature, you might need to increase these times by as much as a factor of 2.
Now, open the grill, put the steak on with the top farthest from you. Meaning that the top of the steak is to the back of the grill or at the 12 o'clock position.
With the steaks on the grill, close the lid and start counting the time. I'm going to stick with the 1-minute cooking time for this demonstration but adjust based on your steak thickness and desired doneness.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Grilling Steak - Second Position
After the first minute, it's time to turn the steak. We are not turning the steak over, we are going to rotate the steak 45 degrees from the 12 o'clock position to the 1:30 position. This will give us the diamond pattern on the steaks that looks so professional.
Turn the steaks quickly and close the lid again and start watching the time again.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
Grilling Steaks - Third Position
We're half way through the cooking time and ready to flip the steak over. Grab the steak and flip it over returning the top to the 12 o'clock position. When you lift the lid of the grill, the steak should appear gray on the top (uncooked side). The heat of the grill is cooking the steak around the surface. If the steak appears raw on the top, put the lid down without flipping it and let it go for another minute.
Otherwise, close the lid and start timing the next minute.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Grilling Steak - Forth Position
As we prepare to turn the steak for the last time, it's time to start checking for doneness. The steak should show no red around the side by this point and the top side should have a rich brown color. As you pick the steak up to turn (not flip) 45 degrees as we did in step 6, feel the density of the steak. A medium rare steak should be firm, but still have a good amount of give.
This should give a good indication of how much time you still need. Close the lid and continue grilling. After this... last minute, turn down the heat on your grill and test the temperature of the steak. The steak temperatures are:
- Rare - 120 to 130 degrees F. (50 to 55 degrees C.)
- Medium Rare - 130 to 135 degrees F. (55 to 57 degrees C.)
- Medium - 140 to 150 degrees F. (60 to 65 degrees C.)
- Medium Well - 155 to 165 degrees F. (68 to 74 degrees C.)
- Well - 170 or higher degrees F. (77 or higher degrees C.)
If your steak needs more cooking time, leave it where it is and continue grilling on a medium heat until done.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Grilling Steak - Resting your Steak
With your steak grilled, it's time to get it off the grill and onto a plate (not a cold plate). Resting meat is one of the most important steps when grilling. Let your steak rest for 5 minutes before serving. This will allow the meat to relax and the heat and juices to redistribute. This is a vital step to the perfect steak, so don't forget it.
Once you've eaten the steak it is time to record your findings. Keep track of the thickness and cut of the steak, the grilling temperature on your... grill, and the time spent cooking it. Then consider how it was done. If your steak was undercooked by the end and needed more time, then next time, increase the four cooking times. If it was overdone, then decrease the four cooking times. Practice and observation are the key to becoming a great steak griller.