The Very First Thing You Should Do When Cooking Steak

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Despite all of the different cuts of steak and all the ways you can cook and serve it, one universal rules applies to preparing steak, and it is so simple: Take it out of the fridge ahead of time.

Take off the chill.

Many recipes suggest that taking your steak out of the fridge before cooking is all about bringing your steak to room temperature (between 68°F and 72°F. But most steaks, especially a thick-cut rib-eye or porterhouse, would actually require hours out of the fridge to reach such internal temperatures.

Instead think of this step as taking the chill off your steak; even just 30 minutes makes the steak’s exterior warmer, but keeps the center chilly. That leaves just enough time to gather your other ingredients (namely butter and herbs) and also preheat your pan.

Don’t chill for too long.

Any more than two hours out of the fridge and your steak will start to lose its chill in a bad way. Moisture can be drawn out, especially if you’ve salted in advance, which makes the steak harder to brown. You’ll also notice that a steak left at room temperature for longer will have a larger band of gray meat between the crust and the rosy interior.

3 Small Tips for Improving Steak Just Out of the Fridge

  • Pat it dry with paper towels. This helps the salt stick and creates a nice dry surface for searing.
  • Salt it generously on every single side. This gives the salt a little time to season the steak and create a dry surface for seasoning. Thirty minutes is all the time it needs.
  • Put it on a cooling rack. This is a little more finicky personal hack, but I like to get even air flow on all sides of my steak. Don’t have an extra cooling rack? Just flip the steak halfway through it’s de-chilling time.

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