Three Ways to Perfectly Cook a Steak

Preparing red meat to exact specifications is not hard if you have the right tools to get it done.

Thermopro thermometer with food on the grill
A perfectly prepared steak is delicious, but if a chef doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’re likely wasting good meat.ThermoPro

For people who like their steaks well-done, flopping a piece of meat on the grill and leaving it until it’s cooked all the way through is the easiest cooking chore in the world. However, for the vast majority of people who like a steak cooked less than that, cooking a steak perfectly is more difficult. According to research by Five-Thirty-Eight.com, the most popular way for people to order their steak is medium (37 percent), with another 25.8 percent ordering medium well, 22.5 percent ordering medium rare and about 3 percent ordering rare. To please those folks who get uppity when their steak gets a little too done, try the following tips.

Temperature Matters

Habor Meat thermometer
This simple digital meat thermometer has a four- to six-second ultrafast response time.Habor

One of the most important aspects of grilling the perfect steak is starting with top-quality meat. Without that, you’re always going to have a subpar end result. But with good meat, probably the next most important aspect is cooking it to the desired temperature. The scale for the inside temperature of a steak is fairly straightforward. For a rare steak with a cold, red center, the meat’s inner temp should be 125 degrees (Fahrenheit). For a medium rare steak with a warm, red center, 135 degrees is the magic number. For a medium steak with a warm pink center, cook to an inner temp of 145 degrees. A medium well steak with a slightly pink center has an inner temp of 155 degrees. Last but not least, a well done steak with little or no pink should have an inner temperature of 160 degrees or more. Overcooking steaks is always more problematic than under cooking them, since putting an undercooked steak back on the grill for a few minutes is an easy option. A digital meat thermometer can ensure you get your steak grilled to a perfect inner temperature without overdoing it—that is, if you check it often enough. There are still more steps to reach perfection, but a thermometer is a big step in the right direction.

Go Wireless

ThermoPro Digital Backlight
This wireless thermometer makes it easy to monitor the temperature of your steaks on a smartphone from wherever you are.ThermoPro

Unfortunately, unless you are diligent, your meat thermometer might let you down. If you are sitting in your recliner watching a ballgame and get caught up for longer than you should, by the time you go out to check your steaks on the grill, they might already be cooked to a higher temperature than you had intended. A wireless meat thermometer can help ensure that doesn’t happen. With one of these handy gadgets, you can sit in your recliner, watch the ballgame, and keep a constant eye on the internal temperature of your meat. Consequently, you’ll be less likely to let steaks stay on the fire too long, and more likely to cook them just the way you want them. Another advantage is you don’t have to repeatedly open your grill, which allows heat to escape each time. Some wireless meat thermometers even come in sets with two to four probes so you can keep tabs on individual steaks, which is great if you’re cooking each to different temperatures for different family members or dinner guests.

Failsafe Measures

ChefSteps Joule Sous watts
This sous vide heats up fast and will cook your steak to the perfect internal temperature every time.ChefSteps

Don’t take this wrong, but some people are simply prone to overcook steaks. They’ll always wait too long to check the grill, forget to flip the steaks or check the inner temperatures, or even think their thermometer is lying to them and try to judge what a medium-rare steak should look like on the outside. Fortunately, there is hope for these folks, but they’ll have to be flexible. The answer is a sous vide (pronounced “soo veed”). A sous vide is a simple kitchen gadget that works by cooking vacuum-sealed meat or other food to the temperature of the surrounding water. Put your steak in a plastic bag, drop it in the water and turn your sous vide to 135 degrees, and there’s no way your meat will cook past medium rare since the water temperature is exactly 135. Pull the meat out, plop it on the grill for a few minutes on each side to put a little sear on it (this can also be done in a pan on the stove) and you’re ready to serve the perfect steak. It’s the guaranteed way to not overcook a steak.