How to Grill the Perfect Steak: The Ultimate Grilling Guide
For beef lovers, the quest for the perfect steak can be a lifelong obsession. After all, there are so many types of steak and so many tried-and-true methods of cooking them that you could spend a lifetime deciding which is your favorite.
There’s just something about cooking a steak on an open flame that transcends time. The English word ‘steak’ has Norse origins. The word steikja means to cook on a stake — over an open flame of course.
In America, native peoples have been eating bison steaks since the dawn of time. Some of the earliest beef steaks in the United States were enjoyed on the open range by cowboys driving cattle to market. Many of the cuts we enjoy today were inspired by the original prairie land butchering techniques.
When it comes to grilling steak, there’s a lot to cover. In this post, we’ll highlight many of the methods to help you nail it the next time you flame-sear your steak. Follow Coyote’s guide to cooking the perfect steak and impress your guests the next time you fire up the grill.
Finding the Right Grill
To cook the perfect steak, you need the perfect grill. Luckily, Coyote Outdoor Living has the perfect piece of equipment regardless of your grilling preferences.
Check out some of our lineup to learn more about our professional-level grilling equipment.
36’’ S-Series Gas Grill
Even the most die-hard charcoal fanatic has to admit that a gas grill is the perfect utilitarian option for quickly searing a high-end steak.
Gas grills offer precise temperature control and uniform heat, giving you ultimate control. Using a gas grill enables you to get the perfect sear on the outside of your steak while maintaining the ideal temperature on the inside — regardless of thickness and cut. Our 36-inch S-Series Gas Grill offers an even greater advantage. Made of 304 stainless steel, its Coyote RapidSear™ infrared burner works to perfectly sear steaks uniformly and quickly. These infrared searing burners work through radiated heat. Combine that with our ceramic briquette heat control grid and you will never have to worry about hot and cold spots throwing off the delicate timing of that perfect sear on your steak.
Even the biggest gas grill proponent must admit the smoky taste of charcoal-seared beef adds a depth of flavor to steaks that helps to elevate the experience. There’s just something magical about fire, smoke and steak that stands the test of time.
Our 36-inch Charcoal Grill is the perfect tool to cook a mouthwatering charcoal-grilled steak. Compared to cooking with gas, charcoal offers the challenge of keeping uniform temperatures across the grilling surface. But with Coyote’s adjustable dampers to control airflow and adjustable fuel tray, you’ll be able to keep grill temps right where you want them across the entire 875-square-inch cooking surface — whether you’re cooking with high heat or low and slow.
If you’re looking to make a reverse sear steak, this is the perfect piece of equipment for you.
Although proponents of the sear-first method might think it’s impossible to smoke a steak to medium-rare perfection, our 36-inch Pellet Free-Standing Grill will have them thinking twice.
The three temperature probes included with the system and the wide range of temperatures this grill can achieve — from 175 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit — makes this the perfect tool to give you the best of both worlds. Now you can enjoy the smoky flavor unlocked by our wood-pellet fed system and use the precision temperature control to offer a unique steak experience friends and family members will have a hard time replicating.
A reverse sear is a method in which you first slow cook then sear your steak.
First, preheat the smoking compartment until the temperature reaches about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, place a thick-cut steak like a standing rib, rump roast, or ribeye into the smoker until it reaches about 120 degrees Fahrenheit — about an hour. Then remove the steak to rest. Place a cast-iron skillet onto the grilling surface and crank the heat — you’ll want the pan to get to about 600 degrees. After brushing the steak with peanut oil, flash fry each side for about 45 seconds to sear in all that smoky flavor. The end result will be a juicy moist steak that has a signature smokehouse flavor and the perfect char on the outside.
Finding the Right Steak
No matter how you cut it, freshness is key.
Beef cattle are large animals, and prime cuts can be taken from its many sections. The tenderloin section may be the most valuable real estate and is where tenderloin steak — aka filet mignon — is found. But prime and sub-prime cuts from every section of the animal can reveal mouth-watering flavors in the hands of a true grillmaster who knows their craft. So, if you have a good relationship with your butcher, the ideal cut of steak is whatever he or she is working on that day.
Check out the section below to learn more about some of the most popular types of steak cuts used for grilling.
Tomahawk steak describes a ribeye section in which the rib bone still has been left attached — giving it a ‘handle’ that resembles a tomahawk or axe.
Bone-in steak cuts are versatile and can be smoked or seared depending on your mood. You could sear it on a charcoal or gas grill using indirect heat, for example. Or, cook it slowly using a pellet-fed smoker for about an hour at 225 degrees Fahrenheit and then finish at 450 for about 10 minutes. Or, flash fire with direct heat to end up with a seared outside and rare inside.
The choice is yours!
Rib Eye Steaks
The rib eye steak can describe several cuts from the large rib portion of the animal, some of which have rib bones as part of the cut. Specific cuts include bone-in and boneless ribeye steaks, ribeye cap steaks, and ribeye filet.
Because they come in so many shapes and sizes, ribeyes offer a lot of variety. Ribeye filet is relatively lean while a traditional ribeye boneless steak is much more marbled. Bone-in ribeyes are great for a crowd and can be quickly seared using any type of grill.
Flank steaks describe a cut from the flank portion of the beef cattle, which describes the belly near the back legs. This budget-friendly cut is lean and boneless and best when marinated before grilling to ensure it retains moisture as the flank steak cooks.
Flank steaks are great for things like grilled tacos, where the marinade and supporting ingredients mesh together with its robust beef flavor. Stewing the meat helps to break down the muscle without drying out the meat.
Skirt steaks are cut from the plate portion of the beef cattle’s belly. Marbled cuts from the skirt include inside and outside skirt steaks, which are also best enjoyed after marinating. By using a marinade with citrus, you help to break down some of the molecules in the meat that might otherwise result in a tough texture.
Skirt steaks must be cooked quickly before the inside gets too dry. Direct heat is a great method. Each side of the steak will need only a few minutes of flame before letting it rest. Then, cut thinly the grain for mouthwatering, tender bites of steak.
Filet mignon is one of the most coveted beef steak cuts available. Harvested from the loin portion of the animal, it is tender and juicy.
If you are picking up filets from the butcher, tell them the thicker the cut, the better. Many prefer to quickly sear the outside while leaving the delicious juicy red meat in the heart of the steak rare or medium-rare.
Filet mignon is a great option for reverse sear cooking on a pellet-fed smoker. When using direct heat, be sure not to overcook this delicate cut to ensure the inside remains juicy.
Steak Temperature Guide
How you cook your steak has a huge impact on flavor. A few minutes one way or the other could be the difference between a juicy, tender steak and a dry, burnt hunk of shoe leather. And a few degrees of internal temperature can be the difference between a delicious dinner and getting sick.
In this section, we will give you all the tips you need to be able to judge the doneness of your steak using a temperature probe, texture, color, and juiciness.
One quick note on internal temperatures — the United States Department of Agriculture recommends cooking beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people prefer rare steaks that may be cooked below that threshold. Only fresh, carefully trimmed, high-quality meat should be used for rare steaks cooked to below 160F, and considered at the diner’s risk.
For a certain sub-section of beef lovers, rare steak is the way to go.
Beef steak is considered rare when it is cooked to an internal temperature of about 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. To the touch, poking a rare steak should have the same texture as the fat part of your palm when your thumb and index finger are spread apart. While this video from Chef Paul is a recipe for pork chops, his description at about the 4-minute mark should help explain steak cooking temps as well.
Longtime grillmasters might talk about the ‘one flip’ rule, where the steak or burger is flipped only once to sear in the juices and prevent overcooking. Once the juice starts to appear on the top of the steak, it is ready to flip to let the other side cook.
These juices are a substance called myosin and are a result of heating ligaments in the muscle that cause it to coagulate. Most often when a juicy raw steak is described as ‘bloody’ it is actually myosin being released from the steak — not actual blood.
Vegetarians are beginning to have an appreciation for these meat-bound proteins as well. Designers of vegetarian meat alternatives have recently unlocked protein chains similar to actin, myosin, and myoglobin from vegetable sources like legumes and soy. This helps vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives unlock the ‘umami’ flavor and mouthfeel of real meat.
For steak lovers, medium rare is the best of both worlds. Chefs often say medium rare is their go-to and the most often ordered in restaurants. It should be more firm than rare and should have great sear when cooked on an open flame, but still juicy in the middle.
If you are using the finger test, poking a medium rare steak should feel the same as the fatty part of your palm when touching your index finger to your thumb.
Medium rare steak has an internal temperature of about 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Well done is at the other end of the grillmaster’s steak chart. Much more of the juice will have been cooked out of the steak at this point, causing it to shrink.
Meat is considered well done when it is above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Above this temperature, all microbes will have been killed, ensuring the safest steak possible.
Steaks cooked on the grill will show heavy searing from exposure to flame. The texture can be described as stiff and the color can be described as grey or brown. Poking a well done steak should feel similar to your palm when touching your index finger to your pinky.
Robert Irvine’s Rosemary & Thyme New York Strip Steak
Now that you are a steak pro, where do you start? We recommend Robert Irvine’s Rosemary & Thyme New York Strip Steak. This is the perfect recipe that keeps steak as the star of the dish, with simple seasonings and cooking techniques that make for a delicious meal. You can find this recipe in the Seasoned & Savory Cookbook, which you can find on Coyote Outdoor Living’s site.
This recipe services 2
- 2 New York strip steaks, 8 oz each
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 sprigs thyme, picked
- 3 sprigs rosemary, picked
- In a mixing bowl add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and soy sauce
- Marinate the steak for approximately 24 hours
- On a hot grill, cook for 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees
- Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to serving
- This recipe serves 2
- Calories: 547
- Protein: 67 g
- Fat: 28 g
- Carbs: 3 g