A perfectly grilled and rich-tasting steak is enough to make your mouth water. With its dark, flavorful crust and beefy flavor. Great grillmasters know how to cook steak on a grill with ease almost every time.
But, you don’t have to spend a ton of money at an upscale steakhouse to enjoy eating a great steak. Even if you are fairly new to grilling, it’s possible to grill steak that’ll impress right at home. Of course, there are some important things to keep in mind to make this happen.
By following some insider tips straight from the award-winning grillmasters you’ll be able to grill a great steak. Let’s take a look:
One of the first things to keep in mind is that not all steaks are the same. There is a variety of different steak cuts and some are much better than others for grilling a thick, tender steak. Knowing what to look for when buying your beef is essential.
You’ll usually find the best options for tenderness and flavor in steak cuts that are from the rib and loin area. A favorite go-to is the ribeye steak. Other great options include the T-bone, porterhouse, and strip steak. As well as cuts from the tenderloin, like filet mignon.
Make sure your cut is 1 ⅛” to 2” thick for best results. It’s often hard to find steaks cut that thick in a grocery store so your local butcher is probably the best bet for a good steak cut.
Source: Omaha Ribeye Steaks
To ensure that your selected steak cut is going to be juicy and tender it is important to make sure it’s got a good level of fat marbling throughout. This intramuscular fat is what will make the meat juicier and hold more flavor as it cooks.
The varying levels of marbling in beef are what the USDA judges use to determine the different beef grades. As many champion grillmasters will tell you, the favored grade to use, that has a good level of marbling, is USDA Prime. Prime beef cuts will be significantly more tender and create more flavorful meat but they will be more expensive.
If you are planning on grilling a lot and are wanting to get good steak cuts like those mentioned above but don’t want to spend the money on Prime beef all the time, your next best bet is upper two-thirds USDA Choice beef.
One of the best things you can do when preparing your steak before cooking is dry brining with salt. Liberally coat both sides with salt an hour or two before cooking and put it back in the fridge. The salt not only helps enhance flavor but it helps the meat hold moisture. When you go to cook the steak, the proteins, natural sugars, and salt combine with the moisture and you end up with a delicious brown crust on the exterior.
You want to enjoy the rich, beef flavor. When salted properly, you don’t need much else to prepare the steak with. Some grillmasters do have some favorite rubs to use, but you definitely want to avoid wasting time on a marinade (check out our blog post on 5 Common Myths Debunked for more info on that).
After your steak has been dry brining and you will be ready to cook soon, take your steak out of the refrigerator to take the chill off. Let the meat sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before cooking.
You want to end up with a steak that is juicy, tender, cooked through evenly, with a nice crust. If you start cooking a steak straight out of the refrigerator you risk overcooking the steak. The interior will end up taking so long to cook to perfect doneness that it becomes overcooked below the surface, turning dry and gray.
When you think of grilling steaks, many people think of searing the exterior over high heat first and then allowing the interior to cook through. This can still be a good method. Some steaks grill beautifully using only direct high heat. But, if you’ve got a thicker steak (over 1”), this method can cause your steak to burn on the outside before it is cooked to your preferred doneness on the inside. This is because meat cooks from the outside in. To avoid improperly cooking a thick steak, try a reverse sear.
So, for a reverse sear, get comfortable with 2-zone cooking. One side of the grill is a lower temperature, indirect heat (about 225 degrees) while the other side is your direct high heat. Instead of starting the steak on direct high heat, start the meat over the lower heat. When the steak’s internal temperature reaches about 115 degrees, move it to the direct high heat side and flip/rotate it often to get an evenly browned crust all over.
By doing a reverse sear, you’ll get perfectly cooked meat throughout the interior and only a thin band of grey under your flavorful brown crust.
When steaks are cooking over direct high heat, fat and juices are pushed out and the steak loses moisture. That’s why it is important to monitor your steak and not have it over high heat longer than it needs.
There’s a small window of time where a steak will go from medium-rare to medium or medium to medium-well. You have to be vigilant with your timing. Ribeye Steaks actually continue to cook for a little bit after they come off the grill. The internal temperature will rise an average of 5 degrees. So, take your steak off the grill a little before it reaches your desired temperature and ensure you end up with a still juicy and tender steak.
If you are serious about wanting to cook great steaks and barbecue, one of the accessories you have to have is a good quality thermometer. Cooking great tasting, tender meat is all about keeping consistent temperatures and perfect timing. With an instant-read thermometer, you’ll avoid overcooking your steak.
Hopefully, now you have some clearer insight into how to grill steak like champion grillmasters. There’s just as much thought that should go into selecting your steak and preparing it as goes into actually cooking it.
If you feel intimidated by trying to grill a perfect steak, we'll show you how to cook steak on a grill like the pros. Learn how to cook them from Champion grillmasters like Terry Roan and Shawna Roppolo. All of whom have perfected how to grill a perfect steak. You’ll learn step-by-step techniques alongside insider secrets, all in stunning high-def video. They will show you from start to finish how to grill amazing competition-worthy steak.
Learn all of the tips and techniques straight from the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy to cook everything from the perfect steak to a mouth-watering brisket.
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