Skip to main content

The Secret to Making Meat More Tender is Easier Than You Think

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Forget temperature guidelines or cooking time constraints. The best way to gauge the tenderness of your meat is by way of an old culinary school trick.

Related Reading

Turns out, you don’t need much when assessing the doneness of steak. You can detect its status simply by comparing how it feels to certain parts of your hand. Dubbed the touch test, it’s a handy way to quickly see how ready your meat is.

We first heard about the test through Dan Thiessen over at Walla Walla Steak Company. He’s made a career out of cooking steak and uses the touch test often. What it may lack in exacting precision it more than makes up for in convenience and efficiency. Plus, it doesn’t require any tools or expensive gadgetry. It’s easy to memorize and a fun little party trick for your next backyard gathering.

This is a great little trick to keep in your back pocket and useful in any setting, whether you’re grilling for company in your backyard or making steak on a camp stove during a weekend in the outdoors. If you don’t want to use your fingers directly on a warm steak, you can use a fork or any other utensil to test the firmness and see how close to dinner you are.

Keep in mind that with steak, this test refers to the consistency of the middle of the cut, as that part cooks the slowest due to its core proximity. And obviously don’t press too hard in any of these scenarios as your palm will flex to a firmness level that’s useless for inspecting meat. We’ve pulled some images together for reference and whipped up a little guide so you can take on and utilize the touch test at home.

Raw Steak

Touch Test Meat Doneness
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To get a sense of what raw steak feels like, mimic the above image, pressing down on the pad of your thumb. This is generally what uncooked meat feels like and can serve as your baseline going forward. As meat cooks, it becomes more firm.

Rare Steak

Touch Test Meat Doneness Rare
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Rare steak is a bit firmer. To feel something similar, place your pointer finger and thumb together. With your other hand, again touch the pad of your thumb.

Medium Steak

Touch Test Meat Doneness Medium
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’re probably catching on to the formula by now. To feel what a medium-done steak is like, place your middle finger and thumb together. Again, the pad of your thumb hardens a bit more. If your steak feels like this to the touch, it’s medium.

Medium-Well Steak

Touch Test Meat Doneness Medium-Well
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A medium-well steak will feel like the pad of your thumb when your ring finger and thumb are pressed together.

Well-Done Steak

Touch Test Meat Doneness Well-Done
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Finally, a well-done steak will have the consistency of the pad of your thumb when your thumb and pinky finger are pressed together.

Here’s the full video of the touch test, should you need to review anything. Now, grab your tongs and apron, thaw some steaks, and get to grilling.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
How To Make a Killer Meatloaf (It’s Easier Than You Think)
Meatloaf, Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Crispy Onion Straws from Joy's Cafe in Atlanta

A favorite of family meals and diners, a well-made meatloaf is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The best part about this versatile dish is that it's a blank canvas for seasoning, allowing adventurous cooks to experiment with sweet or spicy flavors. As a bonus, meatloaf is also great for leftovers. Our advice? Crisp up some slices in a pan and throw between bread for a killer sandwich.
Related Guides

How to Make Keto-Friendly Meatloaf
How to Cook Hamburger
Best Food Recipes

Read more
Everything You Need To Know About Wagyu Beef
wagyu beef raw steak marbling

Before we can jump into all things Wagyu, we need to understand what it is, where does Wagyu come from, and what does it mean across the world. For example, do you know the difference between Wagyu and Kobe? Kobe Beef is a type of Wagyu that is raised under strict standards. So, Kobe is Wagyu but not all Wagyu is Kobe. Wagyu in the Japanese language means "Japanese Cattle" (Wa means Japanese, gyu means cattle).

There is no denying that Black Angus Beef is a top seller and the most common breed of cattle in the United States but Wagyu beef is the reigning champion beef of all beef. You can't find anything better than a piece of Wagyu beef unless it's a side to accompany it.

Read more
How To Make Keshi Yena: The Meat-Stuffed, Baked Cheese of Aruba
Dutch Gouda Wheels in Cheese Shop

Throughout the Caribbean, there are countless amazing meat dishes ranging from spicy jerk chicken to crispy pork chicharron. One of the most decadent meat dishes is Keshi yena from the island of Aruba. A rich dish of baked Dutch gouda stuffed with a savory and slightly sweet mixture of chicken and herbs, keshi yena is beloved among Aruban locals. Here to help guide The Manual through this unique multicultural dish is Chef Ever de Peña, the Complex Executive Sous Chef of La Vista restaurant located in the Aruba Marriott Resort.

La Vista Restaurant in Aruba Marriott Resort. Image used with permission by copyright holder
Related Guides

Read more