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How to Grill the Perfect Steak

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Season your meat, light the grill, and get ready to savor what summer is all about

Six Tips on Grilling the Perfect Steak.

It’s summer grilling season, and what better to take advantage of the warm weather than by grilling a juicy steak and some fresh vegetables and throwing together a crisp salad? Whether you’re firing up the grill for an Independence Day barbecue or hosting a summer cookout, executive chef Cenobio Canalizo, of Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse NYC, has some grilling tips to help your steaks achieve nothing short of perfection.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

As Michael Jordan stated, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. This isn’t just true on the court. At Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C., The Glaziers take this intense approach to the food. That passion drives to the ultimate goal – the perfect steak – Bone-In Rib Eye, my favorite cut, grilled to perfection with a charred exterior and a warm, juicy center, creating a smell and sizzle that’s synonymous with summer.”

So season your meat, light the grill, and get ready to savor what summer is all about.

  1. Start with High Heat…: Steak cooks best over high heat, so preheat the grill and get it roaring to go. Bring your meat to room temperature before grilling to help it cook quickly and evenly. If the steak stays on the grill too long, it loses moisture, so the goal is to get it on fast and then off the heat the moment it’s done.
  1. …. But Don’t Let it Burn: You want to avoid flare-ups and burns and attain that perfect char. Coat your steaks with a little safflower oil — but not so much that it drips onto the coals. The oil will protect the meat with its naturally high smoke point.
  1. Season Assertively…: Don’t hold back: season your steaks with a healthy amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. These basics bring out the flavor. Then, after the meat is cooked and is ready to serve, finish it with coarse sea salt. You can add some fresh, finely chopped herbs. The key is to season as you go.
  1. …. And Butter it Up: To raise your steak to a level of rich beauty, make a compound butter to top it with. Compound butter is a mixture of softened butter with your favorite flavorful ingredient. Some examples of winning mix-ins are fresh herbs, chipotle, diced truffle, roasted garlic, cognac, fresh herbs… the possibilities are endless. These blends are a steakhouse tradition — chefs often have their own signature combo — classically called maître d’hôtel butter. Add it when the steak is off the grill.
  1. Let it Rest…: Even if your friends are circling the pit, hungry for the steak, it’s extremely important to let it rest — ideally for half its cooking time. This gives the meat’s moisture a chance to evenly distribute throughout the steak — if you cut it too soon, all the natural juice will spill out and be lost.
  1. …. Now Slice and Serve! It’s time for the payoff — slice carefully, and always against the grain. Cutting against the grain ensures maximum tenderness — this way the muscle fibers are short and buttery soft. If you’re serving a crowd, it’s fun to grill larger cuts to slice, serve and share. Not only are these cuts economical, they are also impressive to show off — they look and taste great.

How To Grill The Perfect Steak

Every master griller has their own way of preparing the perfect steak. Ryan Bloom of Urban Bonfire shares his no-fail recipe for a sizzling and mouth-watering seared steak.

Every master griller has their own way of preparing the perfect steak. Ryan Bloom of Urban Bonfire shares his no-fail recipe for landing a sizzling and mouth-watering seared steak on your plate, using a SABER® grill.

Ryan walks us through two techniques: a traditionally seared filet mignon and the popular and wildly fun reverse sear, used here on a rib steak.

Ryan’s no-fail instructions for grilling the perfect steak are below, but we encourage you to watch the video to see just how easy it is to deliver an elegant meal, perfectly timed and utterly delectable.

The key is to start out with good meat and to take the steak out of the fridge about 30-45 minutes before you’re ready to grill. You want the steak to be room temperature.

We like to reverse sear our steaks, which is what Ryan shows in the video below.

What's the Best Cut for Grilling?

While personal preference is certainly a big factor when choosing the right cut, steaks with significant fat marbling are always going to be preferable for grilling —�use when it comes to steak, fat equals flavor.  

You&aposll also want to pay attention to the thickness of the steak. Thicker steaks — about 1 ½ to 2 inches — are the best choice for beginners because they&aposre harder to overcook. Thick, well-marbled cuts recommended for grilling include ribeye, strip (also called top loin), and filet mignon (also called tenderloin). 

Cheaper cuts like skirt and hanger steaks are also good for grilling, but there&aposs more room for error with these, as they are thinner cuts. For best results, marinate overnight and use a meat tenderizer to break down the muscle fibers. 

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

If you are a grill master or a grill dud, here are a few hints to making a great steak.

The first thing we recommend is buying a quality steak when possible. Another thing to try is to marinate the steak first in Italian dressing or something similar for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Next, we recommend when grilling at home is to bring your steak to room temperature before cooking, if your steak is refrigerated, you should bring it out 15 to 20 minutes before grilling.

While your meat is warming up, warm up your grill. We recommend a hot grill at least 400 degrees. Once your grill is hot, make sure you season the grill with a piece of fat or vegetable oil. This will help your steak from sticking to the grill or picking up left over flavor from the last time you used it. Place your meat on the grill, and lightly butter the meat and season it. Don’t be dainty with your seasoning, make it stick. We like a combination of salt, pepper, garlic and hickory or mesquite seasoning to add a little smokey flavor to your meat. You should season your meat even if you marinated it. Try to pick seasoning that accentuates your marinade.

Once the meat is grilling don’t mess with it, you should only turn your meat once. If you like grill marks on your meat, half way through cooking per side rotate your meat one quarter turn. If you touch your meat, press it or turn it repeatedly, it will not cook evenly and you will lose the flavorful juice in it.

The toughest part is trying to figure out when your steak is done. We do our steaks by touch, we gently press the meat with tongs or a spatula, we do not recommend a fork because you will pierce the meat. The firmer the meat feels, the more done it is. We recommend for a normal thickness on a steak (1-2 inches) to grill on each side for at least 3 minutes. A thicker steak will take longer, if you are cooking a baseball cut of meat (3 or more inches) your steak will take at least 15 to 20 minutes to cook.

Once your steak is done, take it off the grill. Do not use the grill to keep your meat warm your steak will continue to cook and dry out, even at a low temperature. The best thing to do is to pull it off the grill, let it rest for a minute or two(not to long, a cold steak is not good) and eat. If you do have to hold the meat, we recommend gently wrapping it in aluminum foil and keep it away from any heat source. Good luck, we hope these tips helped. Happy grilling!

Heat Your Fire

To achieve a crust on the outside while keeping the interior of the steak cooked to your liking, you need to have two different temperatures set on your grill. In order to get those nice grill marks, you need to heat your grill to high heat to essentially sear the steaks. To determine the heat is hot enough, you should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the grill grate for 1 second before it feels too hot and you must pull it away.

You also want a cooler, medium heat area of the grill to move the steaks to once they're seared and crispy on the outside. If you have enough burners and space on your grill, set them to a lower heat if you don't have enough room, simply turn off the burner. If you are using a charcoal grill, one side should have a hot fire while the other a smaller, cooler flame.

If you are cooking very thin steaks, they will only need a short time over high heat.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Aside from burgers and hot dogs, steaks are some of the most (deservedly) popular foods to cook on the grill. Here’s how to take yours to the next level, plus our go-to recipe.

Grass-fed and grass-finished beef tastes better and has a bolder flavor that holds up particularly well against the grill’s flames.

T-Bone Steaks with Black Pepper Butter

Skip the steak sauce: A pat of plain or compound butter, like the black pepper butter featured here, is the perfect finish to a nicely-grilled steak.

For the black-pepper butter:

8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Tbs. freshly cracked pepper

6 T-bone steaks, each about 10 oz. and 1 1/2 inches thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make the black-pepper butter, place the butter in a small bowl. Using a fork, work in the shallots, pepper and steak sauce, distributing them evenly. Season with salt. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate to harden. Alternatively, spoon the seasoned butter into a rough log shape near one long edge of a 12-by-6-inch sheet of waxed paper. Roll the paper over the butter and press the butter into a solid, uniform log. Continue rolling the waxed paper around the butter and twist both ends to seal securely, then refrigerate. (The butter will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)

About 30 minutes before you are ready to begin grilling, remove the steaks from the refrigerator. Season the steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Brush the steaks on both sides with the olive oil. Place the steaks on the grill directly over the heat and cook for about 3 minutes. Using tongs or a wide spatula, rotate each steak a quarter turn (90 degrees) to create crisscrossed grill marks. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, then turn the steaks over. Cook until well grill-marked and cooked to your liking, 5 minutes more for medium-rare, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a steak, away from bone, registers 130ºF.

Transfer the steaks to warmed plates. Put a generous pat of the butter on each steak and let the steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Grill Master , by Fred Thompson (Weldon Owen, 2011).

Second Position

After the first minute (for a medium-rare, 1-inch steak), it's time to rotate. You are not turning the steak over, you are going to rotate the steak 45 degrees from the 12 o'clock position to the 1:30 position. This will give you a professional-looking diamond pattern of grill marks on the steaks.

Turn the steaks quickly and close the lid. Start the timer.

Traeger Tips- How to Grill the Perfect Steak

A steak off of your Traeger, when well executed, will flavor the socks off of any other steak out there. Follow the tips below for the most delicious steaks of your life.

Tip 1: Meat Freshness. When cooking a steak, freshness is top priority. Buy your steaks early on the same day you plan to cook them.

Tip 2: Marbling. Look for steaks that are well marbled with fat. Those thin streams of fat will dissolve in the heat of your grill and moisten the meat from the inside while cooking.

Tip 3: Preparation. Before grilling, allow your steaks 4-6 hours to come to room temperature. Having your steaks start out at a slightly warmer temperature means more even cooking.

Tip 4: Season. How you season your meat matters. Whether you use a rub, like Traeger's Beef Shake, or simple salt and pepper, the key is in the application. Apply liberally, and always just a little more than you think you will need. Instead of just shaking the seasoning on and then slapping your steaks on the grill, pour your rub directly into the palm of your hand and massage it into the meat.

Tip 5: Smoke. After your fire up your grill, leave it on smoke and give your steaks 25-30 minutes (at least 15 minutes) to really take on some delicious flavor. This is what makes a Traeger steak incomparable to any other steak out there.

Tip 6: Preheat. After your steaks have smoked, remove them from the grill. Crank your temperature up to High and let your grill preheat for 10-15 minutes. You want your grill to be running at the highest possible temperature. Return the steaks to the hot grill and cook to desired doneness. (If you want more tips, check out our post about how to tell when your steak is done)

Tip 7: Finishing Touches. For a finishing touch to please all palates, we recommend melting a pat of butter over the steak immediately after grilling. Without taking anything away from the steak, the melted butter adds richness to each bite that will make your steaks the talk of the town.

7. Let the Steak Rest Briefly, Then Serve

"You always want to account for carryover cooking in the time that it takes to get the steak off of the grill and on the table," says Epi Food Director Rhoda Boone. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, and it'll be ready to slice or serve whole so that your hungry guests can attack it with their own knives. (Although one grilling expert thinks you shouldn't let the meat rest at all!)

Now that you've learned how to grill the perfect steak, dress it up and add variety with delicious sauces, marinades, and spices. And don't forget the sides!

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

The Rule of Fours: Start with a fully thawed, dry, room temperature steak. Put on a HOT (and I mean HOT. ) grill, 4-minutes per side over direct heat, then remove and tent with aluminum foil for an additional 4 minutes. Finishes rare/medium rare. Salt and pepper. Eat. If it’s just too pink for you, then put it back on the grill, away from direct heat for 4 minutes. Finishes medium.

1) If you have a WICKED HOT grill, then you may only require 3-minutes a side. Just take a peak at this point and see if you have a good char going – if so, then flip it.

2) If you have a not-so-hot grill, the steaks are still a bit cold from the fridge, or you otherwise just want a more done steak, then it might take 5-minutes a side or more. Just be attentive through the 3-6 minutes phase.

3) No prodding. Prodding suggest insecurity and you don’t want to be insecure around your grill, family, and friends. Be confident. Go to the bathroom in between flips (don’t doddle and make sure and wash your hands). Now that would be impressive.

2) Most Sun Prairie steaks are cut thick to 1 1/4″. If you get a cut that appears a bit thin (due the vagaries of the piece it was cut from) then reduce the cooking per side to 3-minutes per side.

3) There’s nothing wrong with making a surgical incision into the beef to check for redness – but hold off doing this until after your steak has rested since it will continue to cook during this important phase. An even better, surefire way to check for doneness is to use a digital thermometer (I like 120-130 degrees – rare to medium rare)

Best Cuts for this Recipe: Tenderloin, Porterhouse, T-Bone, Bone-in Ribeye (aka Rib Steak), Delmonico, and Sirloin.

Good Cuts: Flatiron, Flank, Skirt, and Sirloin Flap. These cuts are thin. The method still works, but it’s for a much shorter time (ie less than 3mins)

Avoid: Ranch Steak, Tenderized Top Round, Sirloin Tip Kebobs, Spare Ribs, Roasts, London Broil, and Brisket.

To watch a real pro, check out Mark Bittman’s “The Basics of Grilled Steak”


Tenderloin Steak – Otherwise known as the fillet mignon, this is a very tender steak with great mouth feel. We don’t get many of these from each animal, so availability is limited. Salt, pepper, grill…don’t try to hard with this one. Light flavorful sauces are divine with this steak.

T-Bone Steak – The T-bone is really a bone-in New York strip with a bit of tenderloin on the other. Another wonderful steak with two distinct parts – don’t overcook and tread lightly with the spices – keep it simple.

New York Strip – See above. This is a boneless steak that sits well on the grill. This is a tender cut that doesn’t need a lot of additional support. Great with mushrooms.

Porterhouse Steak – The is a large steaks that is really a bone-in New York strip on one side and big chunk of tenderloin on the other. It is a favorite for many and for good reason. See above for treatment.

Rib Steak – aka Bone-in Ribeye. Classic and one of my favorites. The meat is tender with great flavor. Pairs nicely with a robust red wine and grilled broccoli.

Top Sirloin Steak – A boneless cut with a full, beefy flavor, it is somehow so positively different from a grain-fed version of the same name. While it can stand alone on the grill with little preparation, I prefer this steak with an adventurous rub – open your spice drawer and go crazy as this steak can really hold up to the challenge. Try sage, pepper corns, salt, and a few red pepper flakes.

Flatiron Steak – aka the top blade steak. This small steak’s only detractor is the unfortunate strip of gristle that runs down the center. Carve around it on your plate for one of the most tender and flavorful pieces of beef. It tends to thin, so be attentive at the grill. I favor light spice treatment.

Flank, Skirt, and Sirloin Flap Steak – These cuts, listed in order of quality, can be used interchangeably when demanded in recipes. These cuts are thin, grainy, and incredibly delicious. I prefer these as classic fajitas grilled with a dry rub and finished with a squeeze of lime during the rest. They also do well with a southwest marinade (see website for Keith’s Fajitas).

Top Round Steak – We mechanically tenderize this steak to increase its versatility. Appropriate for the grill after a marinade (store bought varieties are great for this one), this under appreciated cut can be turned into a delicious fajita or stir fry meal. Slice thin across the grain. Keith’s Fajitas recipe makes this cut sing!

Ranchers Steak – These are relatively small steaks that is best as diminutive cubes for a beef and bean stove top recipe or in an asian stir fry, though they can still be grilled. Another good candidate for store bought marinades, this steak should not be overcooked. Also known as the center cut steak.

Sirloin Tip Kebobs – aka “Tips”. This cut is the only one that I recommend cooking to and beyond medium. These pre-cut large cubes are obviously great for kebobs, but also are excellent in everything from beef stroganoff, casseroles, and buef au poivre. Incredibly versatile and popular.