Any grill master worth his or her weight in charcoal knows how to grill a steak. Whether you’re grilling with gas or charcoal, we’ll show you how to get perfect results every time.
First, let’s talk beef: rib-eye, strip and tenderloin are all great cuts for the grill. If you choose bone-in steaks, keep in mind that they take longer to cook. Look for good marbling to guarantee a juicy and tender cut. And ideally, steaks should be at 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick to form a nice charred crust without overcooking.
Flank, skirt and hanger steaks are also great on the grill. These thinner cuts are best marinated, grilled quickly over high heat and sliced against the grain to serve.
Prep Your Steak
Place the steaks on a paper towel-lined pan and pat dry. Too much moisture will prevent searing and cause flare-ups and smoke. (If your steaks are marinated, drain away the marinade and pat them dry.) Then allow the steaks to come to room temperature for 20 minutes. This helps them cook more evenly.
Prep the Grill
Always start with a clean grill. Brush away any food residue with a grill brush. Then lightly coat a bunched-up paper towel with olive oil. Using tongs, wipe the oil on the grates. Don’t let the oil drip–you only need a little.
Get in the Zone
Next create two cooking zones – a hot one for charring and searing and a cooler one for gentle cooking. For a gas grill, turn the burners on one side to high and the other side to low. If you’re using a charcoal grill, push the hot coals to cover half the grill and leave the other side empty.
Cover the grill and preheat for 15 minutes so it gets very hot–about 500 degrees F. Keep the lid vents open if using charcoal.
Season and Grill
Meanwhile, generously season the steaks with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
Open the lid and place the steaks on the hot side of the grill.
Leave the lid open while grilling steaks. When a hard sear forms in about three minutes, rotate the steaks a quarter turn to create grill marks and cook for another three minutes. Flip the steaks to cook the other side, rotating them a quarter turn halfway through.
If the steaks are burning before cooking to your preferred doneness, move them to the cooler zone to finish up.
How to Tell When Steak Is Done
How long steaks take to cook depends on many factors like the cut, thickness, grill temperature and preferred doneness. The best way to see whether or not your steaks are ready is to check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Measure the temperature in the thickest part of the center and make sure not to touch any bones.
Meat Doneness Temperatures:
Rare: 120 degrees F
Medium-rare: 130 degrees F
Medium: 140 degrees F
Well-done: 160 degrees F
Remove the steaks right before it reaches the desired doneness. Carryover cooking will take the steaks about 5 degrees higher off the grill. Rest for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and the steaks to finish cooking.
Related Memorial Day content: