How To Grill Steaks

Learning how to grill steaks is easy once you know the secrets behind the way that the professional chefs do it. Resting the steak after grilling is just as important, here we discuss why. Follow these tips how to grill steaks and you’ll get it right first time, your steak will be cooked exactly to your liking and maximum flavor too.

How To Grill Steaks Over Hot Coals

Before you go anywhere near the grill here's a couple of preparation steps that will really help the flavor of your steak

  1. Choosing Your Steak
    Look for steak that has a good marble of fat running through it because this is where the flavor is. The best cuts (in my opinion) for marble and flavor are Ribeye and Sirloin, less preferable is filet or tenderloin but there's no arguing on the melt in the mouth texture of filet.
    Check out the fat marble in these ribeye steaks

  2. Hanging
    Well hung beef will taste better than that which has been hung for less time and typically the longer hung beef (up to 21 days) will be at your butcher rather than down the supermarket. Whichever source you've used though, your steak needs to be dry prior to cooking and to achieve this, the best thing is to place your steak in the refrigerator on a cake cooling rack for 2 days. This let's the air circulate all around the steak and clear up any excess moisture.

Now more patience is required because you don't want to take your steak straight out of the refrigerator and onto the grill. You need to give it at least two hours at room temperature to warm through. This is especially important if you like your steak rare, it's only going to get a short cooking time and if you cook straight from the refrigerator the center of your steak will still be cold by the time the outside is cooked. Allowing your steak to come up to room temperature before cooking means that the center will be pink like you like it and warm too.

Now we're ready to cook

Season your steak with salt on one side. The salt protects the steak from the heat (something we want to avoid) so seasoning on one side only at least keeps the flip side at the mercy of the hot grill. In addition, don't be tempted to season with pepper until after the cooking because the pepper will scorch during the cooking.

Juicy ribeye Fiorentina style

Use tongs to turn and remove steak from the grill. Never press down on it whilst cooking or use a fork to turn it, all either of these will do is to let the juices run out leaving your steak dry.

Timing is tricky though because whether you like it rare, medium or well done is dependent on two things:-

  1. The thickness of the steak
  2. How hot your grill is

This latter point is more easily addressed if you have a controllable gas grill but if you’re on charcoal it makes it a little more difficult but in essence, the hotter the better.

The flavor that's added of food when it cooks is down to a chemical transition called the Maillard reaction and this reaction takes place when temperatures exceed 300°F or 150°C. In short, the hotter you can sear your steak (upto 500°F or 260°C) the more flavor you are going to add. It's at this point though that I differentiate between how to grill steaks on gas and how to grill steaks over charcoal.

If on gas you can really get some heat into the searing plates which is great news because this way you can keep the temperature of the steak as high as possible for as long as possible. The best way to do this is to turn your steak every 15 seconds during the whole of the cookout. (Usually between 2 - 4 minutes in total).

With charcoal it is difficult to really get that same level of heat that comes with direct grill plate contact so I recommend that the best way to get the highest heat for the longest period of time is only to flip the steak once.

How To Grill Steaks Exactly To Your Liking

For me a steak should be crisp and caramelized on the outside, and pink on the inside to the point that the absolute center hasn't actually been cooked at all.

Ask any professional chef and they will tell you that timing is approximate and the best way to measure how well done your meat is is to feel it. Gently push down on the steak and if it’s soft and takes time to recover (like the flesh at the base of your thumb) its form then it’s rare. If your steak is firm and doesn’t form an imprint when you press it, then it’s well done.

Medium (a similar feel to the flesh in the palm of your hand) and all points in between are a matter of experience but once you’ve got it sorted you’ll get it right every time and delight your guests. 

If you're like me and hate reading instructions then I've prepared a quick "how to grill steaks" video of the above principle and you can watch it right here:

Alternatively you can use an instant read bbq thermometer and the corresponding core meat temperatures are as follows:-

  • 135°F (57.2°C) - Rare
  • 145°F (62.6°C) - Medium rare
  • 160°F (71.1°C) - Medium
  • 170°F (77.7°C) - Well done

Now there's still one final point to remember - after the intense heat of cooking you must rest your steak for 5 minutes before tucking in. This gives the muscle time to re-shape after cooking and this helps retain the juices. It's at this point to you can season with pepper.

Note:- During the resting phase, the core meat temperature will continue to rise so take this into account when using an instant read thermometer. To cook your steak perfectly, take it off the grill when the thermometer reads between 5-7°F (3-4°C) lower than your target temperature.

Follow this process and you should get perfect steaks every time and packed with flavor. I hope that you agree.

Dirty Steak

Is "dirty cooking" a fashion or here to stay? For the initiated, dirty steak is where you simply throw your steak directly on the coals.

For some veg I really like it but when it comes to steak there are pro's and con's.

  • Inevitably you will get some ash on your steak
  • You won't get grill lines
  • Cooking directly on the coals does cool the coals and you won't get all your steak in direct contact so cooking is uneven

Considering texture, flavour and the uneven cooking I quite like it but then I like to my grilled steak blue so I'm happy to eat something that's barely cooked. At the end of the day it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea but it certainly makes for a talking point.

Steak is an expensive cut of meat so learning how to grill steaks the "dirty" way takes courage but overall I'd recommend that everybody tries it at least once.

When you're ready to give it a go, use this grilled ribeye steak recipe.

Easy Grilled Steak Recipe

Now that you've mastered how to grill steaks to perfection, here's my ever so easy grilled steak recipe, preparation time is minimal and the sweet mustard paste really packs a punch.

Use whatever cut of steak you prefer (I always choose ribeye).

Serves:- 4 people

Preparation Time:- 10 minutes
Cooking Time:- 5-10 minutes

Total Time:- 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:-

  • 4 steaks
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
  • Salt and pepper

Method:-

If refrigerated, get your steaks out a couple of hours prior to your cookout.

In a small pot, mix up the mustard, sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Season your steaks on one side with salt and then brush on some of the mustard mix.

Coated side down, grill the steaks for the time that you like and apply the mustard mix to the top side.

When you flip the steaks you can continue to coat the mustard mix on the freshly cooked side and add a little pepper too.

I've served mine with green beans and grilled mushrooms.

See Also:-

Grill Charms - Unique Grilling Gifts For Your Steak
How To Grill Chicken
Barbecue Beef Boneless Rib Recipe
How To Grill Corn
How To Grill Asparagus
How To Grill Shrimps

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