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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Tips for Grilling Steak

Follow these four simple grilling tips and your steaks will come out perfect every time.


Thick steak on a grill with flame

Father’s Day is Sunday and I’m remembering my dad in front of his Charmglow natural gas outdoor grill. Our backyard was Dad’s happy place. It was always groomed and in bloom. He loved to putter in his vegetable garden, tend to his beautiful roses and make the yard a welcoming place for our family and friends.

 

I remember when Dad bought his gas grill. He already loved summer, but the grill and accompanying gas light were the cherry on top for him. And holy cow, could Dad make a great steak.

 

He grilled everything: chicken, burgers, bratwurst, pork steaks (a St. Louis specialty) but his ribeyes were restaurant quality. And we knew Fourth of July meant the Weber kettle was coming out from the garage to be fired up for his succulent barbecued ribs.

 

Dad had a simple approach to outdoor cooking: Start with good ingredients; never put cold meat on a hot grill; turn the steak once (maybe twice); and allow the meat to rest before cutting. Follow his tips for grilling the perfect steak.


senior woman with glasses and man; author's parents
Mom and Dad in a photo from the 1980s. He was a backyard grilling expert.

Start with good ingredients.

 

As Mom used to say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a cow’s ear.  A thin cut of beef with little fat is not going to have much flavor. Take a moment at the store or your butcher shop to select a great steak. Dad liked a ribeye or a T-bone.

 

Ribeyes can be boneless or have part of the rib bone intact. I prefer the boneless ribeye. The steaks come from the rib primal area under a cow’s backbone. Generally, this area is not heavily worked making it a naturally tender piece of beef. Because ribeyes get their name from a heavily marbled piece of meat near the center of the cut (it’s “eye”), you’ll want to see a good amount of marbling in your steak. As to thickness, 1¼ or 1½ inch can be commonly found. Obviously the thicker the cut, the heftier the price.

 

The T-bone comes from the cow’s short loin. The T-bone is cut closer to the front of this area and contains a smaller section of tenderloin. A T-bone is really two steaks in one: the tenderloin and the strip. This makes it more challenging to grill perfectly but it can be achieved by using direct and indirect heat. Like the ribeye, you want to see a good amount of marbling, and it’s cooked quickly on the grill.

 

Allow meat to come to room temperature before putting it on the grill.

 

Because cold meat won’t cook evenly on your grill, bring the steaks out of the fridge 20 to 30 minutes ahead of cooking time. The muscle fibers in the meat contract when cold. This can cause a steak to be tough.

 

Unwrap the meat, pat it dry, season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. How much salt? One teaspoon per pound is a good guide. Let your tastebuds guide you on pepper. Dad sometimes used Lawry’s seasoned pepper blend that adds sugar, paprika, and red bell pepper to the black pepper. But honestly, good meat doesn’t need a lot of seasoning.

 

Stop touching your meat.

 

I’ve been to several barbecue competitions, and I never see the pros standing in front of fire constantly turning meats. It’s a common mistake to think this keeps the meat from sticking. A steak will release itself from the grill grate when it’s ready.  

 

First, be sure the grill has been cleaned and lightly oiled. The best time to do this is when the grill is hot, so use the grill brush after preheating the grill to scrap away any “gunk.” Then, using a clean kitchen rag or small towel that’s been dipped in vegetable oil, wipe the grates down (use tongs for safety).

 

When grilling a ribeye, place the room-temp, seasoned steak on the hot side of your grill. Close the lid. Allow the steak to cook 4 to 5 minutes before turning it over. Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes (internal temperature should be 130 to 135 degrees).

 

When grilling the T-bone, cook each side of the seasoned steak 5 minutes over direct heat. Move the steak over to the indirect heat (cooler side of grill), placing the tenderloin portion of the steak farthest from the heat source so it doesn’t overcook. Allow the steak to cook an additional 10 minutes for a total of 20 minutes (internal temperature should be 130 to 135 degrees). This cut is thicker than the ribeye, thus requiring a little more time on the grill.


Grilled steak on white plate with side of potato cubes

Rest to the right internal temperature.

 

Resting a steak before cutting into it allows the juices to evenly distribute. That’s why it’s good to take the steak off the grill a little early and allow the cooking process to continue off the heat.

 

And invest in a digital thermometer. That poke-your-thumb trick to interpret a steak’s doneness is a wives’ tale. For medium-rare, the finished internal temp should be 135 degrees F; for medium, 140 degrees F (so says Iron Chef Bobby Flay). The USDA guidelines of 145 degrees will get you a medium-well steak. Me, I tend to follow an Iron Chef over the government, but you do you.

 

I hope to get my outdoor grill ready for the weekend so we can enjoy a good steak in Dad’s honor. However you fete the men in your life this weekend, I hope your celebration is filled with good times and good food.


photo of author sipping coffee with bio info

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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