Our Easy, Foolproof Method for Grilling the Perfect Steak

updated May 20, 2020
summer
How to Grill Steak

Learn to grill strip steaks with our fail-proof grill method.

Serves2 to 4

Prep25 minutes to 2 hours

Cook8 minutes to 12 minutes

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Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

When beef steaks meet grill grates, a magical thing happens: The high heat gives steaks a lightly charred crust and rosy, juicy interior, resulting in what will likely be the very best thing you grill all summer. If you’re intimidated by grilling steak — worried it’ll come off the grill dry or undercooked — this is the recipe for you. Our easy, foolproof method walks you through which type of steak to buy, how to prep it for the grill, and exactly what to look for once it hits the grates. It’s smart, it’s easy, and it yields flawlessly grilled steak every single time.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

What Are the Best Types of Steaks for Grilling?

Out of all proteins, steak is particularly well-suited to the grill. The high heat delivers a gorgeous sear, caramelizing the exterior and quickly heating the interior. That said, each kind of steak requires a slightly different method.

This particular recipe works best with boneless strip steaks that are at least 1 inch thick, but 1 1/2 inches is even better. Strip steaks are a great starter steak because they are well-marbled, meaning they’ll cook up juicy every time, but not be full of fat that you have to worry about flare-ups. Plus, there’s no bone to work around.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

How Do I Season a Steak for the Grill?

The best grilled steaks are seasoned two ways: with salt, before cooking, and with butter, added to the steaks while they rest.

You’ll start by generously seasoning each steak on all sides with kosher salt before you even light the grill. Plan on at least 1/2 teaspoon per half pound of steak. For thick strip steaks that weigh in about 12 ounces each, that’s roughly 3/4 teaspoon per steak, but don’t fuss too much over exact measurements — just salt generously. Once salted, return the steaks to the fridge, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or overnight if needed. As they sit, the salt permeates the steak, making them juicy. It also draws some of the proteins and sugars to the surface of the steak, giving it that crave-worthy crust you’re after.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

The Beauty of Compound Butter

Compound butter sounds fussy, but it’s really just seasoned butter. You can make it in advance, and it’s a great way to season the steaks after they’ve been sliced. Use the recipe below as a framework — you should really use your favorite herbs and spices. If you’re in a pinch for time, grab some cultured butter and use that instead.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

How to Grill Steak, Step by Step

  1. Take the chill off the steaks. About an hour before grilling, remove the steaks from the fridge. This window between the chill of the fridge and the screaming-hot grill makes for a better sear and a more evenly cooked steak. This is also the best time to lightly brush the steaks with a tiny bit of oil.
  2. Get the grill nice and hot. High heat gives the steaks their characteristic grill marks and tender-crisp exterior. Let the grill preheat for at least 20 minutes before grilling the steaks.
  3. Sear the steaks. Place the steaks directly over the hottest area of the grill. If your grill has a hot spot (where everything seems to burn) that’s where you should sear them. Place them on the grill for at least 3 minutes before flipping. Sear for another 3 minutes.
  4. Check the steak’s temperature. When you’re happy with the sear on your steaks, begin checking the internal temperature with a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak. You’re looking for:
  • 125°F for rare
  • 130 to 135°F for medium-rare
  • 140°F for medium

Your steak should be medium-rare after about eight minutes total cook time. If you feel like your steak is getting too browned, reduce the heat to medium.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

How Do I Slice and Serve Grilled Steak?

Conventional wisdom is to rest a steak before you slice it, but I’d argue that a steak hot from the grill is the best, juiciest steak you can have. With that in mind, remove the steaks from the grill and slice across their grain immediately. Top the warm steak with slices of the compound butter and enjoy immediately.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn
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How to Grill Steak

Learn to grill strip steaks with our fail-proof grill method.

Prep time 25 minutes to 2 hours

Cook time 8 minutes to 12 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch thick) New York strip steaks (about 12 ounces each)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    canola or peanut oil

For the compound butter: (optional)

  • 1 stick

    (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons

    chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 teaspoons

    chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Equipment

  • Measuring spoons

  • Dinner plate or small sheet pan

  • Tongs

  • Gas or charcoal grill

  • Digital probe thermometer

  • Small bowl

  • Fork

  • Plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. Season the steaks in advance. Season the steaks with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat (3/4 teaspoon total for two 12-ounce steaks). Make sure to season the edges as well as the sides. Place on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. Make the compound butter. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mash with a fork or spatula until combined. Scoop the compound butter onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, then roll into a log. Twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

  3. Remove the steaks from the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Remove the plate of steaks from the refrigerator and let sit out at room temperature for about an hour before grilling. Coat each steak in about a teaspoon of oil.

  4. Heat the grill to high. Heat an outdoor grill to high, direct heat.

  5. Put the steaks on the grill. Scrape the grill grates clean if needed. Place the steaks on the grill, cover, and grill until grill marks form on the bottom, about 3 minutes.

  6. Sear the other side of the steaks. Flip the steaks, cover, and grill until grill marks form on the second side.

  7. Grill to desired doneness. Flip the steaks again and continue to grill until desired doneness. If the steaks are browning too quickly, turn a gas grill down to medium or move the steaks to a cooler part of a charcoal grill. Use the an instant-read thermometer to determine when your steaks are cooked to your liking: 125°F for rare, 130 to 135°F for medium-rare, or 140°F for medium. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board.

  8. Slice the steak. Slice the steak on a diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices. Top with a slice or two of the compound butter, if desired, just before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Compound butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.

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