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How to grill the steak of your dreams: An aspiring steak master’s guide

Grill up your steak just like a pro with these tips

Sirloin steak on a grill
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With summer coming faster than expected, you’re likely firing up that grill every day to cook ribs, grill vegetables, or smoke a brisket. We love them all, but to be frank, nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak. Its succulent, smoky flavor alone is enough to bring your loved ones together for a protein-packed cookout in the backyard. And that makes grilling steak a rewarding culinary experience.

Grill masters have probably mastered the art of grilling. But if you just purchased your first grill or are looking for some beginner-friendly pointers, we’re here to help. We enlisted the expertise of Dusmane Tandia, executive chef at Mastro’s Steakhouse in New York City, for some expert tips on how to grill a restaurant-quality steak. Light up your grill, don your best apron, and read on to learn how to grill a perfect steak.

How to grill the perfect steak

Beef steak with garlic butter
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Keep these reminders in mind before you start grilling steak:

  • Seasoning is important
  • Make sure the meat is dry
  • Keep the grill hot
  • Don’t cut to check doneness
  • Cast iron is your steak’s best friend.
  • Let the meat rest before enjoying it

Step 1: Season

Having a barbecue and seasoning the meat
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Generously salt your steak in advance and let it sit, uncovered, for a few hours or (if possible) overnight in your fridge. This process helps season the meat all the way through. It also draws out some of the moisture in the meat, resulting in an even better sear.

Pre-made seasonings are great, but if you’re grilling high-quality steak, it’s always best to let the flavor of the steak shine through. You can have some steak sauce handy for after, but let the salt (and perhaps, a bit of pepper) do its thing during the grilling process.

Step 2: Make sure the meat is dry

Adding salt to center of grilled steak with flames and smoke dark background
user10113695 / Freepik

Once you’ve salted the meat and let it sit, pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. It’s good to put some salt, but a ton of salt on a steak will force you to buy a ton of cheap beer at your favorite store. Quick reminder: Excess salt will make you thirsty.

Step 3: Check the temperature

Meat and kebabs being cooked on a barbecue
Getty Images

Preheat your grill to medium-high or high to make the steak hot! The heat helps achieve the perfect sear while preventing sticking. Here’s a quick guide to temperature based on your preferred level of doneness:

  • Rare: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium rare: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Well-done: 160 degrees Fahrenheit

How to tell when the steak is done

Well-done steak with rice garnish and grilled zucchini
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To tell if a steak is done, many chefs use the age-old trick of touching themselves (FYI, it’s not what you think it is). Understanding how different parts of your hand feel is an easy way to gauge the relative doneness of your steak. To do the hand trick, make an OK sign.

  • Rare: Touch the pad at the base of your thumb. It should feel spongy with very little resistance.
  • Medium-rare: Press your middle finger to your thumb and again touch the pad below your thumb. Search for the same sponginess.
  • Medium-well: Press your ring finger to your thumb, then feel the area below your thumb.
  • Well-done: Press your pinky to your thumb. It should feel firm with no give. (Note: Please don’t ruin your steaks by cooking them this long.)

The skin you’ve just been pressing gets progressively firmer with each finger tap. A medium steak (140ºF) would be between medium rare and medium well. If this step is too hard, feel free to use a thermometer

Cast-iron skillet is steak’s best friend

Large fatty T-bone steak in a skillet with herbs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you aren’t confident in your grilling skills or don’t have an outdoor space and you want that fool-proof steak, cook your meat in a cast-iron skillet. It’s one of the best surfaces for getting a perfect sear and crust. As a bonus, you can transfer the cast iron from the stovetop to the oven seamlessly, leading to quick and easy cooking without having to dirty more than one pan. (If you’re using cast iron, remember to clean it properly when you’re done.)

Let it rest

Plate of grilled shell steak with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables at Holy Smoke Grill in Wantagh, New York on January 23, 2020.
Alejandra Villa Loarca / Newsday RM / Getty Images

After cooking, let the meat rest before cutting and serving. This lets all the juices settle so the beef stays moist. Ideally, you want to let the steak rest for about five minutes for each inch of thickness. Most steaks you will get from the market are around 1.5 inches thick, so you’ll be looking at a seven- to eight-minute rest time. And now, with all of this fresh steak knowledge, it’s time to put it to work by cooking up this bone-in ribeye recipe.

Mastro’s bone-in ribeye

Mastro's bone-in ribeye
Mastro’s Steakhouse

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in ribeye steaks, 22 ounces each
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • Steak rub of choice (Mastro’s uses a blend of fine sea salt, spices, starch, and papain extract)

Method:

  1. Take out the steaks from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Tip: Want an evenly cooked steak? Try getting your steak closer to its final cooked temperature. The closer it is, the better.
  2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill (or preheat the broiler and position a rack 4 inches from the element). Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil cooking spray. The coals should be medium-hot for the charcoal grill and the burners should be on high for the gas grill.
  3. Season the steaks by dredging them on both sides in the steak rub. Shake off the excess.
  4. If using a charcoal grill, cook on one side for 10 minutes. Turn using tongs and grill the other side for 10 to 12 minutes for medium-rare or until the desired degree of doneness. If using a gas grill, grill for 7 to 8 minutes. Turn using tongs and grill the other side for 6 to 7 minutes for medium-rare or until the desired degree of doneness. If using the broiler, broil 4 inches from the heat source for 8 minutes. Turn using tongs, and broil the other side for 6 to 7 minutes for medium-rare or until the desired degree of doneness.
  5. Remove the steaks from the heat and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. To serve, slice the steaks into 3/4-inch-thick slices and place them on a hot plate. Drizzle the steak with melted butter and fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
  7. Eat that perfectly cooked masterpiece, and then give yourself a pat on the back.

Side dishes that go well with grilled ribeye steak

Bowl of mac and cheese
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Several side dishes can complement your grill steak. Here are a few ideas.

  • Creamy mashed potatoes: This is a classic and comforting side dish, even in the summer months. Creamy mashed potatoes can soak up the delicious juices from your steak.
  • Baked sweet potatoes: Here’s a healthier option with a touch of sweetness. Baked sweet potatoes pair well with the savory flavors of the steak.
  • Scalloped potatoes: These thinly sliced potatoes layered with cream cheese or bechamel sauce add a rich and decadent touch to your meal.
  • Mac and cheese: With this creamy and indulgent side, you’ll have a crowd-pleaser that goes perfectly with steak.
  • Grilled vegetables: You can grill your veggies with your streak, including asparagus, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Grilled vegetables give you a healthy and flavorful accompaniment to your steak.
  • Salad sides: Toss a Caesar salad, wedge salad, or green salad for a lighter dish with the richness of the meat.

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Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
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