Perhaps the biggest treat in a carnivore’s diet, steak has long been the grillmaster’s pride and joy. But it’s easy to ruin a steak. We’ll show you the best way to grill a thick or thin steak (hint: they require different methods), so you can easily have better-than-steakhouse results in your own backyard.
Before we cook it, we need to buy it! First and foremost is meat selection. You have to pick a good steak if you want to eat a good steak. Your special seasoning or secret marinade is only a small part of the equation. Learn more about USDA grades of beef, and how to pick the right steak and it will help you finding the best ones.
If you are cooking a thick steak (over 1.5″ thick) follow a reverse sear variation of our Slow ‘N Sear “low & slow” lighting below. If you are cooking a thin steak (less than 1.5″ thick) follow our Slow ‘N Sear “hot ‘n fast” lighting method. Again, we’d like to point you to an amazing resource, the www.AmazingRibs.com steak page has the best steak grilling methods perfected and laid out for you to slice into. Then come back here and we’ll tailor your cook to your Slow ‘N Sear using the above lighting techniques.
With your Slow ‘N Sear®
If you’re doing a thick steak (over 1.5″ thick), begin by lighting about 1/4 chimney of charcoal (20-25 briquets) however you choose. Wait until they are all well-lit or ashed over, then add them to the charcoal reservoir of your Slow ‘N Sear. Allow your grill to heat up to ~225° F, as measured by a good digital thermometer probe placed about 1″ above grate level on the indirect side, NOT you grill’s lid thermometer. Cook the steaks, indirectly, until they reach about 15-20° under your target finished temp. Then follow the “reverse sear” technique (below)- when it’s time to sear place the steak on the grill grate directly over a new blazing hot batch of charcoal in the Slow ‘N Sear, rotating every few seconds as described, until your target temperature is reached. Remember, we go by temperature not feel, and not a clock. Temperature on steaks is foolproof.
For a high-temp “reverse sear” using your Slow ‘N Sear. When doing reverse sear on a thick steak (or a roast), about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to sear your steak- or let’s say when your steak gets to about ~80° F internal temperature, fill your charcoal chimney anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 full of charcoal (40-60 briquets) and light it however you please, an easy and relatively mess-free way is to use a starter cube. Once the blue smoke dies down and heat waves or flames are visible from the top, you are ready! Add these well-lit coals all at once to the charcoal reservoir. You are now ready to sear! Leave your lid off!
Begin searing when your steak temp is 15-20° under your target temp (Note: if you’re aiming for 135°, medium-rare, begin searing when your steak is around 115-120° F). Our favorite way to get all-over sear and tremendous flavor is to use the “Cold Grate” Technique as demonstrated in the recipe video on the right. You’ll get wall-to-wall color (no tan banding) and all-over brown crust, not just grill marked strips of flavor. Searing generally takes around 4 minutes or until desired target temperature, as measured by a reputable digital instant-read thermometer, is reached.
Using GrillGrates is another option. Or some folks will use a cast iron pan that’s been well heated up directly atop the coals. You have options!If you’re doing a thin steak, be sure to try Meathead’s “afterburner” method, which can easily and effectively be done directly over the blazing coals on your Slow ‘N Sear. With a Slow ‘N Sear, just use the hot & fast lighting method.
When is it done?
How you like your steak cooked is as personal as what you’ll eat with it. Arguably, the most tender, juicy, flavorful and palatable steak comes from medium-rare. If you’re new to cooking your own steak, we’d like to encourage you to give medium-rare a try! Despite what you may have heard, pink beef doesn’t mean its undercooked and pink juices are not blood!
Rare, 120-130° F A finished internal temp of 120-130° F will give you a rare steak. This is not the most popular serving temp, but rare steak has its fans. The center will be bright red and will be only lightly warm, and very juicy.
Medium-rare, 130-135° F (CHEF’S TEMP) A finished internal temp of 130-135° F will give you medium-rare. This is also known as the “chef’s temp”, the temp at which most quality steakhouses prefer to serve their masterpieces. This, with a deep brown crispy sear on the outside and a properly salted interior, will be your best tasting, juiciest steak.
Medium, 135-145° F If solid pink is not an option for you or your guests, but a little pink is ok, we’ll recommend medium. This a finished internal temperature of over 135°, particularly 140-145° F. Still juicy, still some pink, but warmer and a little more firm, medium is still a good choice.
Medium-well, 145-155° F Next comes medium-well, with a temp between 145-155° F. This will give you only a hint of pink deep in the center, but this is also where the meat begins to lose its juiciness.
Well, 155° + Well done, at 155-160° and above, contains no pink color and yields a much firmer and drier steak. Well done steaks are often worthy of using a steak sauce to add moisture and a juicier mouthfeel. We highly recommend that you use a good quality digital thermometer to measure your steak’s internal temperature for best results. Please do not be fooled by those that tell you to cook over ‘medium heat for x-amount of minutes’, or to push on your steak, those aren’t the best measure of doneness.
Unless you have lots of experience, lots of luck with your timing, or are a professional steak chef cooking dozens of steaks every night, you must use a digital thermometer if you want repeatable, foolproof results. For a list of reviews on field-tested thermometers tested with lab-grade equipment by an electronics engineer, see the AmazingRibs.com Searchable Thermometer Database. With all that in mind its time to enjoy your steak, so get cooking.
- Prep: trim and salt (overnight preferably)
- For thick steaks (> 1.5″ thick) cook using reverse sear and the “Cold Grate” searing technique
- For thin steaks (< 1.5″ thick) use high-heat front sear
- Cook to desired temperature, check doneness with an instant read thermometer