How to Grill Steak

Two Methods:TraditionalMarinades and Rubs

Nothing can beat a perfectly done steak grilled in your own backyard. The key to making great steaks lies in both the cut of meat and the method of cooking. The steaks should be perfectly seasoned to fit your discriminating taste.

  • Prep time (Traditional): 40 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-20 minutes
  • Total time: 50-60 minutes

Method 1

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    Choose a thick cut of meat. Generally, the thicker the better, especially if you like steak that has a perfectly brown, crispy outside and a juicy, pink center. See if you can't get steak that's 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" thick. If a single cut is too large for an individual, it's perfectly acceptable to share the steak with someone else or even to save it for later.
    • Why is thicker steak better than thinner steak? Thicker steak takes longer to cook through than thinner steak. With thinner steak, you're risking overcooking the steak in the center by giving them a nice crust on the outside. With thicker steak, you can cook the outside for longer without worrying about overcooking the steak in the center.
    • Especially when grilling, where high heat is often used, thin steaks become a problem. Best to choose a thicker cut, especially if you can't adjust the heat on the grill with a knob.
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    Season your steak liberally with salt at least 40 minutes before grilling. Salt draws moisture out from meat, which is an incredibly bad thing is you choose to salt right before you grill. Instead, apply the salt at least 40 minutes before grilling, and up to several days (yes, days!).[1]
    • What happens when you salt at least 40 minutes before grilling? The salt draws the moisture out of the meat, but with nowhere to go, the moisture eventually ends up seeping back into the newly tenderized meat. The longer you let the salt sit on the meat, the more tender it becomes and the more moisture it draws back in.
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    Allow the steak to come to room temperature before grilling. Steak that is room temperature cooks more evenly than steak that has recently been refrigerated and is still cold in the center. Steak that has been brought up to room temperature created a more evenly-cooked final product. Plus, you won't have to cook it as long on the grill.
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    For best results, choose a hardwood coal, such as mesquite, for your fuel. If you don't have a hardwood coal, you can also employ briquettes, but briquettes burn at lower temperatures for longer. (Hardwood coal burns at higher temperatures for shorter.) Instead of using lighter fluid, always use a coal chimney.
    • If you don't have a natural-burning barbecue, don't fret. Gas is fine. Just don't expect the exquisite smokiness that's standard in natural-burning 'cues. Gas 'cues also don't get quite as hot as charcoal 'cues, meaning that you'll probably have to cook your steak for a tad longer.
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    Arrange the coals on the grill so that one half contains no coals and the other contains all the coals. This will create a hot side of the grill and a cool side of the grill. You'll be cooking primarily on the cool side of the grill to ensure a juicier, tastier steak.
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    Start the steak on the cool side of the grill, keeping the lid closed. Many grilling guides advise cooks to "seal in" the juices by searing the steak over high heat first. This is a myth.[2] In fact, juices run out of the meat depending on what temperature you cook the meat to, not proportional to what temperature you cook the meat at.
    • Searing the steak first cooks the outer layers to the point where they start to lose juices immediately. It also leaves the outer layer nearly fully cooked before you've really begun cooking the rest of the steak.
    • In contrast, cooking the steak over indirect heat for longer periods cooks the whole steak while developing a nice crust (slowly). Then, when you're just about ready to take the steak off the grill, you can place it over direct heat and develop a golden brown crust, if necessary.
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    Flip often. Flipping often, especially if you're cooking over low heat, helps cook the meat more evenly. When flipping, be sure to use tongs or a spatula. Do not use a fork, as you will begin to lose juices.
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    Use a thermometer to tell you when you're done cooking. Sure, it's not real manly to use an electronic device to tell you when your steaks are done cooking, but it sure works. That's because you want to "peek" into the middle of the steak, which you can't really do by just looking. You can, however, use the finger test to determine whether your steak is done if you don't have a thermometer.
    • 120° F (48.8° C) = Rare
    • 130° F (54.4° C) = Medium rare
    • 140° F (60° C) = Medium
    • 150° F (65.5° C) = Medium well
    • 160° F (71.1° C) = Well done
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    Sear the steak quickly about 15° F before it reaches its ideal temperature. If you've cooked it long and slow, it should already be well on its way to having a wonderful crust. Searing shouldn't take longer than one or two minutes on each side.
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    About 5° F before it reaches its ideal temperature, take the steak from the grill and let it rest. It's very important to let your steak rest. Right after your steak has finished cooking, the muscle fibers on the outside are still relatively tight, which sends the juices toward the inside of the steak. If you cut it open right now, the juices — which are compacted in one small area — will leak all over the place, leaving you with a relatively dry steak.
    • If, however, you let your steak rest before you cut into it, the muscle fibers relax and allow the juices to travel back through the rest of the steak. Instead of a hockey puck, you have a perfectly cooked steak.
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    Enjoy your steak with some summer fare. Why not accompany the steak with some potato salad, grilled zucchini, and homemade chips.

Method 2
Marinades and Rubs

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    Use a marinade of beer, lime, and chili powder. This marinade sounds Mexican in flavor, but appeals to many different people. It involves fresh ground pepper, salt, lime, beer, and chili powder.
    • Transfer one (light or dark) beer into a bowl. Make sure the bowl is big enough to cover nearly all of the steak in order to tenderize and infuse it. Squeeze a full lime to the marinade sauce and season with chili powder.
    • Soak the beef in the marinade for at least 30 minutes and as long as 6 hours inside a refrigerator.
    • Before grilling, give the steak a good rubbing of fresh ground pepper and salt. Cook as directed above.
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    Use a marinade of soy sauce, lemon, garlic, and honey. This marinade is a classic riff on a recipe that is usually reserved for flank steak but that works just as well with classic steak. It involves soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and honey.
    • In a blender, blend:
      • 2 cloves of garlic
      • 2 teaspoons ginger
      • 2/3 cup of soy sauce
      • 4 tablespoons olive oil
      • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 4 tablespoons honey
    • Soak the beef in the marinade for at least 30 minutes and as long as 6 hours inside a refrigerator.
    • Before grilling, give the steak a good rubbing of fresh ground pepper and salt. Cook as directed above.
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    Create a five-spice dry rub.[3] The five-spice mix is an Asian-inspired dry rub that combines element of sweet, smoky, and spicy. It makes an absolutely great rub for other cuts of meat, including poultry.
    • In a coffee grinder, blend:
      • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
      • 6 star anise
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
      • 1 stick cinnamon
      • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds.
    • Rub the entire steak with the five-spice blend and let sit until room temperature. Cook as directed above.


  • How do you know when your steak is done? Here are some tips using a 1" cut of meat as an example...
    • Rare (all red in the middle) 120-125 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a relaxed hand
    • Medium Rare (all pink in the middle - but only the middle!) 125-140 degrees
    • Medium / Medium Well (some pink in the middle/mostly gray) 145-155 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a straightened hand
    • Well Done (no pink), >160 degrees, feels roughly like the flesh between the thumb and the forefinger of a clenched hand.
  • Marinate the steak for at least 3 hours to a full 24 hours. Note: You don't need to do this for tender cuts like rib eye.
  • Have your steaks at room temperature about an hour before grilling.
  • The fool-proof method for getting perfect medium steaks is to leave the steak to cook on one side, without touching it. When you see blood rising on the upper side turn over and cook the other side for almost as long as the first side.
  • Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, liquid smoke and black pepper.
  • If you have a small brush, apply the extra marinade from dish to steak while cooking or brush your steak with your favorite HP or Teriyaki sauce while cooking.
  • Keep some freshly prepared marinade on the side if you're going to apply while cooking - Never allow marinade that has come in contact with raw meat to be applied during cooking - it not only increases unhealthy bacteria, but also tends to destroy the flavor of a good cut of meat.
  • Place steaks on hot grill for 3-5 minutes to sear then turn over for 3-5 minutes more. If you like rare then they're done. I prefer medium and will move them to a cooler side of the grill for a few more minutes on each side. Take them off and rest them for a few minutes while you get your baked potato, corn on the cob and green salad ready then enjoy a most flavorful meal.
  • In a shallow dish, mix the following for a paste rub:
    • 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
    • freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
    • the juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard or chili sauce
    • spices (i.e. 1 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp cilantro)
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar and beer to taste. Options: If you want to make a wet marinade to soak overnight you can use the 12oz. dark beer. You can also experiment with cider.
  • Let sit 30 minutes then turn over and do the same again for another 30 minutes.


  • Use tongs. A grilling fork will poke holes in your steak allowing those good juices to escape.
  • Keep an eye on it so you don't overcook the steak.
  • Optionally preheat with all burners on for 5 minutes. Open the grill and add the steak, leaving all burners on high. Close grill lid. Cook on first side, depending on steak thickness and desired style (med rare, med, well) for 4 minutes, flip, and cook on the other side for 4 minutes. Watch it closely. On high heat, it will burn easily.

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