How to cook the perfect steak: Delicious grilling tips!

Simple tips that can make you a steak grilling expert!

Grilled steaks are the center of attention in many social gatherings and parties, whether it is an informal backyard barbecue or a prestigious banquet conference with hundreds or even thousands of attendants. Serving a nicely cooked grilled steak is a symbol of culinary generosity and enables guests to enjoy the gastronomic experience of a fine meat dish at its best by satisfying all the senses.

The importance of preparation

When grilling a steak, preparation is equally important to placing meat on the grill. In earlier times in the history of culinary arts, meat was usually cooked without any substantial preparation (apart from preserving it in marinades), prior to the heating process. Nowadays, before it is placed on the grill, a steak can be marinated, seasoned, salted and peppered. It can also be tenderized by beating it with a meat tenderizing mallet.

Although a great percentage of barbecue fans still prefer their steak without any marinade or other seasoning, knowing how to marinate it properly can certainly add a lot to the flavor of a steak. Tenderizing with a mallet is suitable for larger steaks, while small cuts will normally disintegrate if beaten.

There are plenty of recipes providing instructions about how to marinate a steak, and basically, all of them contain an acidic substance, such as lemon, vinegar or wine. The recommended amount of time for leaving a steak in a marinade mixture should not exceed two hours in most cases, because leaving it for longer will not make it tender but rather tougher.

What is grilling? A comparison of grilling vs. other methods of cooking

Since grilling is a dry-heat cooking method, which means that food is cooked without the presence of a wet substance, extra care should be taken so that the food is not burnt when it is rapidly exposed to a source of high heat.

Grilling has got certain benefits over other methods of cooking. One of them is the significant reduction of fats, which makes it a healthy way to prepare a meal. In addition to a better taste, grilling also improves the external appearance of food, which helps a lot to make it more attractive and increase eating appetite.

Image originally uploaded on Flickr by Chun Kit To and is reused here under the terms and conditions of the Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons license

How to cater for different tastes, like well done, rare, etc.?

A lot of barbecue fans may boast about their exceptional ability and skill to prepare a finely grilled steak. However, when it comes to grilling a steak, reaching perfection is more complicated than one may think. It is not about just placing meat on the grill and waiting for heat to do the rest.

There is a whole range of cooking temperatures, from rare to well done, i.e. from 125 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Achieving the expected result can only be assured through the careful monitoring of the external appearance and texture of the meat and by using a thermometer to check meat temperature. Controlling the temperature of the heat source is important, in order to be able to satisfy different individual tastes.

In case of a charcoal fire, placing the steaks on the grill too early, before the actual fire and heat subside, will definitely lead to burning them. Instead, it is highly recommended to wait for the correct temperature, in order to get the perfect result. It is better to grill those meat cuts that are going to be cooked well done first, and then add the rest, from more cooked to less cooked ones.

What are the best meat parts to be used for a grilled steak?

The individual tastes of barbecue eaters will determine the selection of a short loin T-Bone steak over a fillet mignon. The best cuts for grilling are those taken from the short loin, the tenderloin or the ribs of the slaughtered animal, and as it has already been stated, their use depends on the preferences of those who are going to eat them.

Grill with the bone or without it?

According to a little homemade experiment conducted by a huge fan of grilled steaks, there is a significant difference in the level of dryness of the cooked meat when grilling a steak including its bone. Boneless meat cuts tend to lose more juices than steaks with bones. This happens because the bone itself does not allow the moisture of the meat to go away. So, next time you visit your local butcher or the relevant supermarket alley, it would be a good idea to select a steak with the bone, rather than a boneless one. You won’t regret it!

The use of thermometers

Although amateur barbecue chefs cooking at home rarely use a thermometer to check the right temperature of the meat, because they will probably think that this is unnecessary, specially designed thermometers for steak grilling can prove to be valuable accessories in one’s effort to grill the perfect steak.

When it comes to judging when it’s the correct time to turn the steak around or take it off the grill, it is not enough to just estimate from its external appearance (whether the color of the meat is brown, reddish etc. or by checking the amount of juices). With such a great variety of little technological miracles, barbecue thermometers have become so simple to use and they can indicate the exact temperature for any type of grilling (rare, medium, or well done) without much hassle.

Further reading:

Tips for grilling the perfect steak

Garlic butter grilled steak & shrimp

Perfect reverse seared steak on the grill

how to
George Gkoutzouvalos
George Gkoutzouvalos
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George Gkoutzouvalos


I have written articles for various websites, such as Helium, Hubpages, Medium, and many more.

Currently, I work as a translator. I have studied Tourism Management at college.

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