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Don’t ruin your meal: This is how long to let steak rest

Just put the steak down and walk away.

Steak on a cutting board
radosnasosna / Adobe Stock

There are many factors that go into cooking a delicious steak. After all, there are a lot of things to consider—a steak’s cut, thickness, preferred cooking method, how to season your steak, and many other culinary tidbits. Arguably, the most important step of all, though, has nothing to do with seasoning or searing but simply leaving the steak alone.

If you’ve ever prematurely sliced into a cooked steak and been met with a pink pool of juices all over your cutting board, you’ve learned the hard way the importance of resting steak. The science behind this is actually quite interesting. Steaks, like everything else, are comprised of many, many tiny cells. These steak cells are each filled with delicious juices. When steak is cooked, these cells contract and run for an easy means of escape – the steak’s cooler center. There, they pool together and wait out the heat. If a steak is cut in this step of the process, all of those beautiful juices will immediately run out all over your cutting board instead of staying inside the meat where it belongs. However, when given the chance to rest, those cells will revert back to their original shape and make their way back to their original places, evenly distributing throughout the steak. The simple step of waiting a few minutes before slicing makes the difference between a dry and flavorless steak and a juicy, succulent, tender one.

It’s also important to consider resting time when pulling your steak from the heat. Resting steak not only allows juices to redistribute but will actually continue to cook your steak, albeit just slightly. Depending on your preferred doneness, pull your steak from the heat and begin resting when it reaches an internal temperature about five degrees less than where you want it.

How long should you rest your steak?

Steak in pan with rosemary
felix_w/Pixabay / Pixabay

There are a few helpful tips and tricks for remembering how long to let steak rest. Generally, a steak should rest for as long as it was cooked, roughly between five and seven minutes. Another rule of thumb some cooks like to use is to let the steak rest five minutes for every inch of the steak’s thickness, or ten minutes for every pound of meat. Whichever guideline you prefer, all of these end up being about the same time frame – between five and ten minutes.

The best way to rest a steak is on a wooden cutting board tented beneath foil. This will both allow the steak to rest away from the elements (if you’re grilling outdoors) and keep it warm. These few minutes will give you the perfect opportunity to whip up a few delicious side dishes or mix up your favorite batch of cocktails.

We know that hesitating to cut into that beautifully luscious steak can be absolute torture when you’re hungry, but we promise—it will be well worth the wait.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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