dougthecook logo
Knowledge is Delicious
small chefs hat

How to Grill Steak

steak on a grillNothing tastes better than a juicy steak hot off the grill. There are many variables in grilling a steak but with a little practice you'll be cooking like a pro.



Shop for outdoor grills and grilling items

Steak Prep

You'll need room temperature steaks, a long pair of tongs, and (optional) a digital meat thermometer.

Choose a good steak from the deli: prime cut is best followed by choice cut. T-bone and Porterhouse are excellent choices for the grill. Other choices are rib eye, NY strip, and club.

The steaks should have interspersed thin streaks of white (marbling). Ask the butcher for help.

Trim the fat from the beef. If there is a long strip of fat on the edge, trim it or cut it in a few spots or else the steak will curl when it cooks.

Grill Safety

Do not forget about grill safety

Grill Tips

  • Only use tongs (or a long spatula) to handle the steaks - never use a fork because it will puncture the steak and let out the tasty juices.
  • Make sure grate is hot and clean before putting on the steak
  • Steaks should be at room temperature before cooking (about an hour out of the fridge)
  • Pat steaks dry with paper towel before cooking
  • If putting on BBQ sauce, put on at last minute or else it will burn

Charcoal grill

Charcoal grilling is king!

If you are using wood chips to induce a smoke flavor, soak the chips in water for 30 minutes before putting them on the coals.

Charcoal Types

The best charcoal is lump charcoal which has no impurities in it.

Starting the Coals

There are several ways to prepare charcoal for the grill. We prefer the chimney starter since it it easy, requires no starting fluid or electricity and does not add strange flavors to the meat.

Chimney Starter

chimney starter for grillingA chimney starter (any home improvement store has them) is an excellent way to heat up the coals. Make sure to get a sturdy one. It does not require lighter fluid or electricity - only newspaper to ignite the coals. Use briquettes or hardwood charcoal - do not use lighter fluid or charcoal that can be lit with a match. It imparts an acrid taste to whatever is cooking.

Pack the bottom of the starter with newspaper and fill the starter with charcoal. Place starter on lower rack in grill. Ignite the newspaper and wait about 20 minutes or until the charcoal is ashen.

Electric Starter

electric charcoal starter for grillThe electric starter is easy to use: just cover it with coals, plug it in for 10 minutes and the coals are piping hot.


Other Methods

charcoal lighter fluid containerCharcoal lighter fluid, though fun to some, is not recommended. Not only can it leave off flavors in food, it is dangerous.


Arranging the Coals

Open all vents on the grill bottom and leave them open - adjustments are made using the top vent(s) only. For steaks, build a two-level fire: half the grill is one layer of coals, the other half two layers of coals. Now is the time to add a few wood chips on the hot coals.ood chips on the hot coals.

Set the grill rack (grate) so it will be 5 inches above the charcoal. Cover the grill for a few minutes (open vents on top) so the grate gets hot. Remove the lid and clean the grate with either a grill brush or crumpled up aluminum foil.

Grilling

The grill should be medium-hot (able to hold hand over 1 layer part just above the cooking rack about 3 seconds).

When grilling, the food cooks fast so there is no need to put the lid on. Only use tongs (or a long spatula) to handle the steaks - never use a fork.

Put the steaks over the 2 layer (very hot) part. They will seize (stick) to the grate so don't try and move them. After a minute or so, the steaks will release (not stick) then flip them and wait until they have released again.

  * note these times are approximate. Weather and heat level affect cooking times. Remember you cannot undo an overcooked steak.

Move steaks to 1 layer (hot) area. Flip after 2 minutes.

Remove when:

 

  • Rare - internal temp is 125 (about 2 1/2 min)
  • Medium - internal temp is 135 (about 3 min)
  • Well-done - internal temp is 155 (about 4 min)

Remove and place on warm plate and cover the plate (I use a similar plate as a cover). Let sit for 5 minutes - the steak temperature will rise about 5 degrees. This gives the steak time to redistribute its juices redistribute. When a steak is cooked, the juices withdraw away from the edge (dries out). After the steak cools a bit, the juices redistribute back.

back to top

Gas Grill

Prep

Turn one burner on high (very hot), the other on medium (hot). Cover for several minutes to let the grate get hot  then open the lid and clean the grate with either a grill brush or crumpled up aluminum foil.

Grill

A gas grill is not as hot as a charcoal grill so when you are cooking always cover it.
Put the steaks over the very hot part. They will seize (stick) to the grate so don't try and move them. After a minute or so, the steaks will release (not stick) then flip them and wait until they have released again.

  * note these times are approximate. Weather and heat level affect cooking times.

Move steaks to hot area. Flip after 2 minutes.

Remove when:


  • Rare - internal temp is 125 (about 2 1/2 min)
  • Medium - internal temp is 135 (about 3 min)
  • Well-done - internal temp is 155 (about 4 min)

Remove and place on warm plate and cover the plate (I use a similar plate as a cover). Let sit for 5 minutes - the steak will raise in temperature and redistribute its juices. When a steak is cooked, the juices withdraw away from the edge (dries out). After the steak cools a bit, the juices redistribute back.

back to top

FAQ

Q: Why does steak curl when cooked?
A: The fat on the side of the steak is the problem. It either needs to be trimmed or sliced every inch.


print this page