Ever wonder how to cook the perfect steak at home that tastes as good, if not better, than pricey steakhouse steaks? By following a few basic concepts and using certain techniques, you can achieve that perfect steak — one with a sizzling dark crust that is tender and juicy with a bold beefy flavor. By following these tips below, your steaks will be a big hit among family and friends. Here’s how to grill the perfect steak:
1. Choose the right cut
The best cuts come from the rib and loin area of the cow, giving you the most flavor and tenderness. Premium cuts will be on the more expensive side but will be well worth it as soon as you take a bite into your juicy steak. There are four main types of premium cuts you should consider:
- Ribeye: Most people agree that ribeye is the best cut for tenderness and flavor combined.
- Strip: also known as New York Strip, it’s similar in texture to the meat in a ribeye steak. Most people like this cut for it’s tender texture and marbling.
- Tenderloin: also known as Filet Mignon, this cut is the most tender cut of meat. However, tenderloin lacks fat and also many times lacks the flavor you would get from other cuts.
- T-bone: also known as Porterhouse, this cut of meat contains the tenderloin and the strip still attached. It’s definitely an impressive cut of meat, but for best results, grill the tenderloin and the strip separately to avoid accidentally overcooking the tenderloin.
You can also try these lesser known yet very flavorful steaks:
- Flank: Flank steak lies on the belly of the cow close to its hind legs. It is a super lean steak that is great for stir-fry and Philly cheesesteak.
- Flat Iron: A flat muscle off the shoulder blade, this cut of meat is super tender and makes a great strip steak alternative when sliced thinly.
- Skirt: Skirt steak is a long piece of meat that is actually the cow’s diaphragm muscle. It is the traditional cut for fajitas.
When it comes to steak, fat is your friend. You want to check for the steak’s degree of marbling, which is the fat that shows up in white webs throughout the meat. Fat will give the steak more moisture and flavor. Prime is the grade of meat served in the best steakhouses because it has a lot of marbling. You typically cannot find prime beef in a grocery store, so your best bet would be to go with the next grade down: choice.
Pay attention to thickness as well. 1 ½-2 inch steaks will give you the best results. Many times grocery stores don’t sell steaks that thick, so you will need to have them custom cut. All you need to do is ask. Try to avoid thin steaks since they will be well done by the time you get the exterior of the steak to brown.
If picking out the perfect cut is not your forte, when in doubt, you can always ask the butcher for help.
2. Prep the steak
First, you want to trim off excess fat. Although fat is a good thing, too much fat can melt and cause flareups on the grill. Those flames can then leave soot on the meat and char the surface. You don’t need to trim too much fat, though; about 1/8” should be the max you take off.
Most prime steakhouses only use salt and pepper, sometimes just salt. Few of them marinade the steaks. Most people believe a good steak only needs those two things. For best results, generously coat your steaks in kosher salt an hour or two before you plan to grill them.
If you want to marinade your steaks, try ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. Here’s a recipe that seems to be a big hit:
Original recipe makes 1 1/3 cups
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)
You can either blend the ingredients together or just throw them into a Ziploc bag and mix it up. Pour the marinade over steaks, cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
3. Grill the steak
Everyone has a preference for how they like their steaks cooked. However, beef is juiciest, most tender, and most flavorful at medium rare, which is in between the 130-135 degree F range. To achieve the perfect medium rare steak, use two cooking temperatures: one for the interior, one for the exterior.
Amazing Ribs suggests this method:
Summary: Slowly roast the meat at 225 degrees F and bring the meat to about 115 degrees F. Then, move the meat over to high heat to darken the exterior quickly without overcooking the interior. This is called “reverse searing.” This method will deliver a more tender and flavorful steak with a crispier surface.
After about 15 minutes of cooking the meat over low heat, check the interior temp. using a thin thermometer. Flip the meat occasionally so that it heats evenly. When the temperature in the deepest part of the meat hits 110 to 115 degrees F, move the steak to the hot side of the grill and cook the steak with the lid open.
You want to cook the exterior on the highest heat possible. Work with one side at time, checking the color of the surface every minute or so. Do not flip the steak until the color is a perfect, dark brown. After you flip, add some black pepper. Then, follow the same procedure for the second side.
Once the exterior is perfect, the interior should be in the medium rare range (125-135 degrees F). Mastering the perfect steak takes time. Err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking. You can always throw the steaks back on the grill.
Once off the grill, let the steaks sit for a few minutes. Then it’s time to eat your delicious steak! Enjoy!