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We grill steaks all the time on this site. Partly because it is quick and easy and partly because we love steak! Not sure which is more. We have a ton of steak recipes, but I thought I would step back and discuss the basics of grilling the perfect steak.

First, find a great steak. I found this one at a local meat market near my house called Mateker’s. I’ve grilled a lot of grocery store meat in my day, but it just doesn’t compare to what you can find at your local butcher. The knowledge the meat cutters have is far superior to what you will find at your grocer. I am a big believer in getting to know your local butcher and he or she will steer you in the right direction every time. Get it? Steer? I crack myself up!

I started with this well marbled rib eye steak. I could’ve had the guys at Mateker’s cut me a thicker one, but I feel that most people grill steaks a little over an inch thick and thought I would cater to that crowd. Here is the well marbled beauty that will be my dinner on a plate on the counter coming up to room temperature:

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Perfect Steak Ingredients:

Steak
Coarse salt
Black pepper
White pepper

No amounts here. This is totally personal preference. Why both black and white pepper? Both hit different points on the tongue and thus the white pepper adds a little depth to the flavor profile. The white pepper is completely optional.

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All I do is hit each side with a pretty liberal coating of coarse salt plus the pepper which is totally to my taste. You may want to add garlic, or red pepper, or a rub, all of which I have done. But here is what this beauty looked like with a little seasoning:

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And a close up of the marbling with the seasoning over the top:

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Leave the steak on the counter to come up to room temperature and let the seasoning work into the meat while you stoke up the grill. Time to play with fire! The goal here is two zone grilling with uber hot coals on one side and no heat on the other.

I used my Looftlighter to spark up the Rockwood lump charcoal that I’ve been using lately:

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By the way, Rockwood Charcoal is made right here in Missouri from nothing but local hardwoods. Outstanding stuff.

In three minutes I had a pretty nice little fire. I closed the lid on my Char-Griller Akorn, opened the bottom vent all the way and the top about half. In about 30 minutes, I had a nice internal temperature of about 600 degrees:

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Not all grills get this hot and thus will take a little longer to get a proper sear. This is a feel and practice thing that we can’t quite teach from a website.

If you only own a gas grill, you can absolutely grill the perfect steak, just make sure that you can do two zone (or indirect) grilling so turn on one burner and leave the other(s) off. Also make sure that the grill can get uber hot. If not the steak will overcook before it gets properly seared. If your grill isn’t getting as hot as it used to, it’s usually a quick fix. Don’t trash the grill and buy a new one. Get the parts you need from GrillPartsSearch.com.

I took an internal temperature reading and found that my steak was not quite room temp at only 60 degrees, but I was hungry!

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So onto the hot side of the grill, the top side of the steak going down because the bottom side, which is on the plate, is loaded with juice and will have to steam off before I get good grill marks. The juice will now be on top and will evaporate while the other side sears:

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After only three minutes, rotate to get those cross hatch grill marks:

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After another two minutes, flip over the soon to be perfect steak and admire those wonderful cross hatch grill marks:

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Here’s a tip: With steaks this thick, if you go for cross hatch grill marks on both sides and want a nice rare to medium rare, you are going to be disappointed. Putting cross hatch grill marks on both sides is going to make those wonderfully caramelized proteins but take the steak straight to medium. Instead, go for a single hatch on one side and as you can see from the instant read thermometer the steak is close to perfection for my taste at 128 degrees:

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I flipped the steak, got the single hatch grill marks and plated it. If you would like it a little more done, then by all means move it to the side of the grill with no heat and close the lid. After about 4 minutes it will move from one degree of doneness to another. So from rare to medium rare. After 8 minutes from rare to medium, etc.

Here’s another tip: This might be the most important tip of the whole process. People talk about “Searing in the juices,” or, “Sealing in the juices,” when cooking steak. That’s a myth. Searing does not keep the juices inside the meat, resting does. Put that steak on the plate and don’t touch it for 2-3 minutes. That’s perfect for a blogger like myself to take a couple shots of it with a great bottle of wine (thanks Dad for the Mettle Zin from Lodi. It was delicious and paired well with the steak):

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Why let it rest? The juices inside the steak are in an excited state from the heat. They are moving a million miles an hour. Slice into it right away and they will run out all over the plate. Allow the steak to rest and those juices will calm down and redistribute throughout the meat and ensure that each bite is juicy and delicious.

And here is a close up of the single hatch grill marks:

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Now inside to slice and serve:

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Oh my! That’s just my speed! And a close up:

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How does that look? Wanna see the first bite? I want to see it again. Of course I got to eat it after I took this picture:

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To sum up. Take the steak out of the fridge, season, and let it come to room temperature (or close to it). Fire up the grill for two zone grilling with a raging hot fire on one side and no heat on the other. Sear the steak over the hot coals, rotating after 3-4 minutes before flipping over to get the cross hatch grill marks. If the steak is more than an inch thick, repeat otherwise only sear once on the other side without rotating. If the desired internal temp is more than rare to medium rare, go for the cross hatch on both sides. If you want it more than medium, move to the side with no heat, close the lid and bake until the desired doneness. Most important, let the steak rest when removed from the grill to ensure it is juicy.

If you have any questions about how to grill the perfect steak, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Steak
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A step by step, picture by picture, tutorial on how to grill the perfect steak.
Ingredients
  • Steak
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove the steak from the fridge and season with salt, black and white pepper and leave on the counter to come to room temperature
  2. Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals or burners hot on one side and no heat on the other
  3. The hot side needs to be at least 600 degrees
  4. Place the steak on the hot side, top side down
  5. Allow to sear for three minutes and then rotate 45 degrees to get cross hatch grill marks
  6. After another three minutes, flip and allow to sear for three minutes
  7. For thinner steaks only do a single hatch, for thicker rotate 45 degrees and sear for another three minutes
  8. The steak is now rare, place on the side with no heat and close the lid for 6-8 minutes to take it to medium rare and another 6-8 for medium
  9. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes
  10. Serve
 

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool

http://t.co/FxaUMvg9r4 - Dedicated to step by step, picture by picture, foolproof grillin' instructions.
Scott Thomas

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11 comments

Nice looking ribeye, great marbling, and you cooked it up superbly.

Reply

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it!

Since you reference your Thermapen thermometer, what is a good “budget” thermometer you can recommend? I am way too much of a cooking novice to spend $96 on a Thermapen, right now anyway.

Reply

Aaron,

I love the Thermapen and it is worth every nickel. If you follow them closely, they have some nice sales throughout the year. Other than that, I also keep a cheapo that I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond in reserve for when I lost my thermapen for a couple weeks (slipped out of my pocket at my in laws). Cost me something like $12. Couldn’t tell you the brand though. No idea…

…….Scott

Why do you mention having the grill setup for two-zone grilling, when your recipe seems to only require one hot zone? I could see searing and then moving to the cooler side, but your recipe seems to finish the steak while cross-hatching.

Just curious, because intend to need two zones, one hotter than the other for cooking steaks and fish at the same time. Need to please the whole family!!!

Reply

Blair,

I like my steaks rare, and that steak was not very thick, so it was done to my liking after just searing. If you want to cook it longer, then slide it over to the side with no heat…

…….Scott

Good tips but I will still never understand why so many people enjoy eating uncooked cow flesh.

Reply

Sue,

It’s called personal preference. There is no arguing it. I don’t understand how people can drink copious amounts of soda or smoke cigarettes, but I don’t ask them about it, or question their tastes. It’s their choice, not mine. I find my life is so much less stressful when I don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and just worry about myself. But hey, that’s just me…

…….Scott

Okay, well thanks for setting me straight there. Sorry if I offended you. I didn’t intend that. It was meant as a light hearted statement not an attack on you personally or your Preferences. :) Most people like their steaks rare.

Reply

Sadly the difference between grilling (w/heat source too distant from fare) and BBQ-ing is almost never explained to the prospective consumer of propane powered devices. Basically I see it as a convenience to be able to crank up the grille and have it ready to use in 10 minutes. as a tertiary thought… I am wondering where and what the acryonym “BBQ” means… in my younger years the ‘BB-part’ often meant ‘burnt-by (insert My name here)’. hahaha

I’m not in the habit of repeating myself too often but since many newer members are on SPEC-LIST now, i re-offer my cure for improving tastiness of gas grille fare. [see Full Disclosure below]

WARNING: this method can ‘appear’ dangerous to the uninitiated observer and those who are adverse to getting a little additional scar tissue, so practice a little on your own before trying it out, or you may have your invited-over in-laws make up their minds you’ve Really/Finally turned into a Junior PyroManiac. And after you’ve mastered this little Playing w/Fire trick, the observable facial concern plus impressing aforementioned observers is PRICELESS.

The cure for improving tastefulness of propane heat producers (yes i DO own one, and have strangely not blown myself up… yet) is adding another type of fuel to the lava rocks (if you have those ceramic things, throw them away & get lava rocks, as they are much more porous and hold drippings-of-flavor much better). Then you can start the cooking-with-fire process, literally. i just pre-heat the lava rocks (5-10 minutes) on low heat usually does it. then pour small stream of liquid cooking oil (wesson, crisco, etc) ONTO the area where i Want a fire to erupt-on-purpose. then place the meat INTO the fire, searing NOT yourself in the process. turn once when the desired degree of seared/charred effect is evident [long tongs, asbestos-skin, or Very Speedily executed movements, are helpful here] [see note #2]. by the time the oil has burned off the rocks, the fire should have burned itself out [this ratio of fuel (i.e.., volume {note #1 below}) to burn-time has Not been counted by humble self yet, so i suggest it’s better to UNDER apply fuel until you’re a little more confident that your neighbors won’t assume the worst and call the fire dept on your behalf], and you can then keep heating the vittles as you apply your favorite bbq sauce(s). the sauces will help trap any escaping internal juices w/in the fare as cooking to desired degree of doneness continues. for long time users of gas grilles, the annoyance of conflagration-like flare-ups for no particular reason will become a thing of the past as the rocks are now cleaned of fuel from previous endeavors, which brings to mind….

Equally important & not to be overlooked: when grilling has finished, DO NOT follow manufacturer’s instructions about turning up the burners to high and closing the lid for 10-15 minutes to clean the grille and rocks and blahblahblah. if you stand there just once while that is happening, the Scent of A BBQ will be observed wafting/wasting away. just turn off the unit when you’re done using it, and then the dripping-laden rocks will be “partially loaded” and available for the next time you’re grilling. and those flavor-drippings will last for MONTHS.

{note #1, guideline is a few tablespoons for beef/pork, a little less for chicken & still less for fish, poured on rocks above the burner, typically right over the center portion of the grille where you’d be placing the meat anyway. Burntime depends of course on volume/application-area ratio. for a longer burntime in a particular area, drenching the rocks will have the oil run off before it catches fire (diminishing returns), where not enough oil will not make any fire to speak of. to increase burntime, if necessary, just pour a little more fuel where you want it [aka: adding to a position if you’re sure it needs to be done] and don’t worry if you get some on the meat… the oil will get so hot that it’s viscosity will allow it to run off quite quickly, so it won’t really soak into the meat, nor does it stay there and burn on the meat.}

{note #2, this time period is QUITE SHORT, and unforgiving. but given the volume of FLAMES you’ll be playing in, it’s rare one will forget to check the status of the dinner too many times. after you’ve mastered this technique you’ll be able to go inside and do *other things* for short periods whilst the flames are ablazin’.}

Reply

Rich,

I appreciate your comment and all the detail you went into. I can say this. I used to do your same method. I found that if the conditions were not perfect that the oil could leave a nasty residue on the steak. With my new Char-Broil Infrared or my Grill-Dome Kamado, I can get temps MUCH higher than anything using the lava rocks, and not risk that oil residue. And I will tell you this, having done that for a while, I got used to the oil residue and didn’t realize I was putting that onto my meat and that of my guests. I would recommend something that can crank out 700+ degrees and skip the oil entirely. I promise you that you will be very pleased with the results…

…….Scott

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