How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 127

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. If you can’t find great beef locally, order it. There are a TON of online purveyors that sell amazing stuff. 

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 001

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.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 016

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 021

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

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 025

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 044

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 058

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.

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

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 060 How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 061

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 069

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

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 073

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

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 080

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 my Thermapen the steak is close to perfection for my taste at 128 degrees:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 089

If you don’t have a Thermapen yet, what are you waiting for? Stop guessing at when food is done. How do you think I get all these great pictures of meat? I don’t do it by hoping that I cooked it to the right doneness. I know I cooked it right.

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):

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 110

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 114

Now inside to slice and serve:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 123

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

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 127

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:

How to Grill the Perfect Steak - 141

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.

Also, you can follow us on our GrillinFools Facebook page and Instagram.

Print Recipe
3 from 2 votes

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

A step by step, picture by picture, tutorial on how to grill the perfect steak.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time17 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Steak
Servings: 1


  • Steak
  • coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper


  • Remove the steak from the fridge and season with salt, black and white pepper and leave on the counter to come to room temperature
  • Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals or burners hot on one side and no heat on the other
  • The hot side needs to be at least 600 degrees
  • Place the steak on the hot side, top side down
  • Allow to sear for three minutes and then rotate 45 degrees to get cross hatch grill marks
  • After another three minutes, flip and allow to sear for three minutes
  • For thinner steaks only do a single hatch, for thicker rotate 45 degrees and sear for another three minutes
  • 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
  • Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes
  • 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

Latest posts by Scott Thomas (see all)


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


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.



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…


Thermapen has a nice budget friendly version that is almost as good as their main model. It is called the ThermoPop and runs for under $30.

Response isn’t as fast as the Thermapen at 5 vs. 3 seconds but still beats all the other cheap models that say instant but are more like 10+ seconds.

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!!!



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…


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



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…


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.


Hi Sue,
I’d like to add the rare beef is more tender than well done. The flavor is also different, which of course is very subjective. I prefer my steak rare, but warm in the center. Some seem to like it cold in the center. Some people like to eat fish totally uncooked, not me however. I used to think rare beef was strange too, until I tried it. Cheers.

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’.}



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…


Rich, just to answer your question about the difference between BBQing and Grilling: The difference primarily pertains to “low and slow” cooking preferred by competition BBQ cooks and involves cooking at temps typically from 200-250 degrees for as long as it takes to break down the collagen in the meat and tenderizing otherwise tough meats (i.e. brisket, pork butts, etc.). This can usually take from 12-14 hours. Grilling involves cooking at much higher temperatures for much shorter periods. No one wants to wait 12 hours for a great steak! Of course, my definition is generalized in that there are many ways to achieve a great cook and tasty results, but that’s typical for competition. BBQing was born centuries ago because great cuts of meat were available only to the wealthy, so most were left with the tougher parts of the pig or cow. The only way to get those cuts tender and edible was to cook them several hours to internal temperatures of 195 – 205 degrees (I wonder what the thermapen looked like in the 1600’s?). Anyway, you probably already know all of this, but just in case …

Just a bit confused. You describe the “two zone set up”, then you don’t use it. What the? You are really just doing a very good job of grilling, aren’t you?

Otherwise, great info.




Shaun, the two zone grilling is for folks that don’t like their steaks as rare as I like mine. For them, they bake on the side with no direct heat to get to the desired doneness…


Scott, I really like your website, but I have a question about your grilling instructions. Have you ever tried to reverse sear your steak? Or Start it on the cool side of the grill for about 10 minutes until the internal temp is about 110 or 115, them throw it on the hottest part of the grill with the lid open for 2 minutes per side to product a nice crust. You almost want the flare up to occur and surround the outside of the steak with fire for a minute. There will not be any burnt meat and you will have that nice pink even temp color from bumper to bumper. I would say most people grill steaks the way to explain above, but once they learn to reverse sear the steak they never go back.



I reverse sear just about everything from chicken to pork to prime rib, but I don’t do it on steak very often. The reason is like my steak really rare. I generally just sear and serve. If I smoke it first, when I sear it will go beyond my desired doneness. Now that’s for standard thickness steaks. If I get a two inch thick monster, then I will go ahead and reverse sear but I din’t get that chance very often. I agree, it’s the superior method, but only if the steak is thick enough to handle longer cook times…


Good article, very similar to the approach that I have refined over the years by trial and error ( after ruining many in the process ).
I wanted to mention that the wine is from Mettler (you missed the r). They also have a wonderful Petite Sirah that pairs nicely with ribeye!



Great catch. Will fix that right away! I’ll also check out that Petit Sirah…


My two-zone grilling for rib-eye is slightly different. While the grill is pre-heating, I put a cast iron skillet on one side. At 500-600 degrees, I place the rib-eye in the pan for 2 minutes, then flip it for another 2 minutes. Then I move the steak to the cooler area of the grill to finish. Great cararmelization on the entire steak and with my thicker cuts I can do grill marks too.

Finish by topping it with The Original Zip Sauce for an amazing steak!


1 star
uh, that steak is terribly done. It’s well done on the edges and medium rare in the middle. You want same color edge to edge with a 1/8″ crust…only way to do that is low and slow followed by reverse sear.

Sorry, but that steak was poorly cooked.


Sorry, Matt, but there is no way to do a reverse sear on that steak and have it close to medium rare or rare. It’s not thick enough. Once you take it up to 120 and then hit it with the sear the steak will go straight to 145+. I love the reverse sear on a thicker cut, but this was not the thickest of cuts and thus just can’t stand up to the longer cooking times. That being said, I will be doing a reverse sear with a nice thick steak here pretty soon…



Great looking steak both before and after! Rib eyes are probably my favorite, next to big, thick Porterhouses. Of course, my bank account doesn’t have my addiction to Porterhouses, but I digress… I appreciate the fact you gave nice, detailed instructions regarding cooking time. I’ve tried getting the crosshatch look but the steaks were always a little too done for my liking. I wonder why??? You connected the dots for me and I’m now waiting for the weather to warm up a little before making another BBQ attempt this fall.

By the way, I like your comment about the Char-Broil infrared grill. I picked one up last year after my old regular Char-Broil finally rusted out a little too much and I found a smoking(!) deal at Kame-Apart. Best. Investment. Ever.


I’m sorry Scott, but I must disagree with the “cross-hatch” grill marks technique. Let me explain why –

Look in between the grill mark lines and what do you see? Gray. Our eyes focus on the deep brown/black grill marks, but we ignore the unappetizing gray color in between. When you go to a high-end steakhouse (NOT Sizzler and NOT Outback, think Peter Luger), you don’t see grill marks – you see a deep even crust over the entire surface. You get the Maillard caramelization on every bite, not just on the grill lines.

So how do you achieve this? Forget the rule about “don’t touch it for two mins”. Nonsense! Keep rotating the steak around every 30 seconds. Go ahead and keep flipping it every minute. Be gentle and use tongs and don’t push on the meat or squeeze hard and you won’t lose juice. The old advice has no basis in food science.

Try this, and you’ll get a deep brown crust over the steak and an even cook on the inside. It’s so counter to what we’ve all been taught but I have done this many times on the grill and in a cast iron pan and the results are fantastic. Before you condemn this technique – try it!


5 stars
Thanks for the great article and tip on using white and black pepper! I recently watched two videos, one from Gordon Ramsay and one from Jamie Oliver, and both had identical methods for cooking exactly one minute before flipping and continue flipping every minute until desired doneness is achieved. I tried this method the past two times cooking prime rib-eyes and seemed to get a little less penetration of the overcooked exterior and more mid-rare on the interior. I did get less grill mark and char. Not sure if my observations are accurate as I have not tried longer cooking times side by side with the one minute method.

Wondering if you have any thoughts and/or direct experience comparing the methods? And to the previous poster Aaron, buy a Thermopen, worth every cent. I also use mine to check liquid temps, check my HVAC temp output and I even check my pool temp.




That’s the new push here to go for an even crust rather than grill marks. I will be playing with other methods (including the reverse sear) in the very near future and report back…


Wife wants me to cook 3/4 inch Ribeyes for 8. Plan to try this recipe. I have a Char-griller gas/charcoal/smoker combo. Plan to use charcoal. Any suggestions?


Ben, steaks less than an inch should be single hatched, rather than cross hatch if you want to keep them rare or medium rare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating