There’s something groan-worthy about taking that first bite of a perfectly cooked tender, juicy well seasoned steak. Here are the steps and tips for how to grill the perfect steak based on years of grilling and research.
This grilled steak recipe is nothing fancy. I use a gas grill (although charcoal is fine too) and the steaks come out great. I think Bobby Flay copied me (haha)!
Actually, most recipes out there are pretty similar. There are different schools of thought on some things like temperature and seasoning so, at the end of the day, there is always a bit of trial and error involved. That’s what I did (over many years) and here’s what I learned.
Steps and Tips for How To Grill The Perfect Steak
Buy a good piece of meat
Try to get Choice, Prime, AAA or Certified Angus Beef. The cut is up to you. My absolute fave for maximum tenderness and flavor is a well-marbled Ribeye steak (with or without the bone). New York Strip Loin (leaner), Porterhouse, T-Bone or Beef Tenderloin/Filet Mignon (very lean, tender and expensive) are also great.
- Tip: Experts will say it’s best to buy a steak 1 1/2- 2 inches thick. I think 1 – 1 1/4 inch steaks are just fine too (although you won’t get as dark a crust on the outside as it won’t be on the grill for as long).
Heat the grill to High
Some say to cook a steak at no more than 500F. I disagree. I like the grill to be screaming hot. If your steak is more than 1.5 inches thick, you can finish the cooking on medium heat for a few minutes after you char it on both sides.
- Tip: It will take 10-15 minutes to heat up your grill. Don’t start until the grill is heated.
- Tip: Clean and spray the grill with oil before you heat it up. Or oil the grill with a paper towel dipped in oil.
Let the steak come to room temperature before you grill it
The steak should sit on the counter for about 30-60 minutes before grilling depending on the thickness of the steak. This is important for even cooking.
Season the steak simply and generously.
Use lots of kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I like to sprinkle on garlic powder as well, but this is optional.
- Tip: Pat the steak dry with a paper towel first, brush with oil, season, then pat seasoning into steak.
- Tip: EITHER season right before grilling OR an hour or more before grilling (nothing in between). I season right before grilling.
Grill the steak
Flip the steak only once. For a 1- 1 1/4 inch steak, you will need a total of approximately 5 minutes (half on each side) for medium rare. More for medium or well done.
- Tip: For nice cross hatch marks, start the steak at a 45 degree angle and move it to the opposite angle half way through each side.
- Tip: The best way to check if your steak is done is to use an instant read thermometer through the side of the steak. Medium-rare will be 130F. Medium 140F. I always take my steak off at 5 degrees lower than what I’m aiming for as the temperature will continue to rise when the steak is resting.
- Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, here’s a video for how to check for done-ness without a thermometer.
Rest the steak, then cut it
Resting is important to ensure the juices remain in the steak. Let it rest, loosely tented with foil, for 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness.
- Tip: If you’re cutting the steak into slices or pieces, cut it across the natural grain of the steak for greater tenderness.
Tailor To Your Taste
- I prefer my steak with just salt and pepper and maybe a bit of garlic powder, but feel free to try other seasonings like chili powder, thyme, etc.
- Toppings: Now here’s where you can get creative. Try
- mushrooms sauteed in butter with balsamic and garlic
- melted butter, parsley (or chives) and thyme
- lemon herb compound butter
- gremolata (chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest)
- dare I say steak sauce
How To Grill The Perfect Steak
- 1 good quality steak at room temperature (Note 1) ideally between 1 1/4 to 2 inches thick
- neutral olive oil
- kosher salt, freshly ground pepper (garlic powder - optional)
- HEAT GRILL: Spray grills with oil or use a cloth dipped in oil to oil the grills to avoid sticking and enhance grill marks. Heat grill to High for 10-15 minutes. Let steak come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes, depending on thickness.
- PREPARE STEAK: Season steak JUST before grilling or an hour or more before - not in between. First pat steak dry with a paper towel, brush with oil, then season steak very generously with kosher salt and pepper on all sides (some will fall off during grilling). Sprinkle on garlic powder if using. Pat down seasonings into steak with your hand.
- GRILL STEAK: For a steak 1 1/4 -1 1/2 inches thick, the total grill time will take about 4-6 minutes for medium rare (a little longer for thicker steak or to cook to medium). Note 2. Place steak on grill. Close lid. Grill steak for 2-3 minutes. Flip once. Grill for another 2-3 minutes depending on thickness. Instant thermometer will read 130F for medium rare (temperature will rise to 135F when resting). Note 3.
- REST STEAK AND SERVE: Remove steak to a plate or cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Don't skip this step. Note 4. Serve plain or with your favorite toppings (or our suggested toppings in the post).
- What steak to buy: Look for Choice, Prime, AAA or Certified Angus Beef. Some of the best cuts are Ribeye steak (with or without the bone). New York Strip Loin (leaner), Porterhouse, T-Bone or Beef Tenderloin/Filet Mignon (very lean, tender and expensive).
- Grilling Technique for Hatch Marks: For nice cross hatch marks, start the steak at a 45 degree angle and move it to the opposite angle half way through - on each side.
- Check for Done-ness: The best way to check if your steak is done is to use an instant read thermometer through the side of the steak. Medium-rare will be 130F. Medium 140F. I always take my steak off at 5 degrees lower than what I'm aiming for as the temperature will continue to rise when the steak is resting. If you don't have a thermometer, here's a video for how to check for done-ness without a thermometer.
- Slicing steak: If you're cutting the steak into slices or pieces, cut it across the natural grain of the steak for greater tenderness.
Here are some other great grill main dish recipes you might like: