6 Tips for a Great Grilled Steak
Food and Drink

6 Tips for a Great Grilled Steak

Nothing beats the taste of a great steak.  The anticipation of that first bite and its soul satisfying melt-in-your-mouth tenderness has fueled mankind for years. While going to your favorite steakhouse is always fun, it can be expensive and therefore typically reserved for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. However, you don’t have to deny yourself that great meal to a handful of days during the year.  The more affordable alternative is to create a steakhouse quality steak at home! Be sure to get a good cut of meat, prime if available, and follow these tips for a great grilled steak every time.  

Salt and Pepper

Use kosher salt, the bigger grains make for a superior crust. Cracked pepper not only adds an element of spice to steak, but also adds crunch. Season the entire steak generously with kosher salt first, then follow with cracked black pepper. Pat seasonings into the steak so that they adhere well. Salt helps the cells retain water, guaranteeing juicy meat. 

Warm It Up

Let steaks stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. They will cook faster all the way to the center and stay juicer. If the steak is too cold, the interior might require so much cooking time to reach that perfect doneness that the steak overcooks deep below the surface, turning gray and dry.

Searing for Flavor

Lock in flavors and aromas on the surface of steak by searing it. Place steak over high heat for about 2½–3 minutes, rotating it 45 degrees at the halfway point for crosshatched, diamond sear marks. Then flip steak over and repeat the process for same amount of time. Once the searing process is complete, let the steak cook over the low heat for 4-5 minutes.

Consider the Thickness

If your steaks are much thicker than an inch, consider the sear and slide approach. After you have seared both sides nicely over direct high heat, slide the steaks to a part of the grill that is not so hot, perhaps over indirect heat, and finish cooking them safely there. 

Temperature Matters

The “doneness” of a steak is determined by the internal temperature of the beef. A temperature of 125º F means medium-rare. Instant-read thermometers  guarantee you’ll get it right. Use a high-quality meat thermometer for reliable and accurate results.

Let It Rest

Meat continues to cook after it comes off the grill. Remove steaks when they reach 5 degrees below your target temperature. If you want your steak to be at 125˚F, take it off the grill when it reaches 120˚F. Ten minutes of resting does wonders for a steak. Fibers relax, juices spread, colors are recalibrated, and flavors retained.

Nothing beats the taste of a great steak. The anticipation of that first bite and its soul satisfying melt-in-your-mouth tenderness has fueled mankind for years. Create a steakhouse quality steak at home. Be sure to get a good cut of meat, prime if available, and follow these easy steps to grill the perfect steak every time.

Cherry-Smoked Strip Steak

Excerpted from PROJECT SMOKE: Seven Steps to Smoked Food Nirvana, Plus 100 Irresistible Recipes From Classic (Slam-Dunk Brisket) to Adventurous (Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp), by Steven Raichlen. Photo credit Matthew Benson

"Steak is one cut of beef you don’t normally smoke. It requires a hot fire to sear the exterior while keeping the inside sanguine and juicy. But there is a way to smoke a steak low and slow, and if you’re fortunate enough to start with a monster-thick strip or rib eye, this is one of the best methods I know for bringing its interior to a luscious 135°F medium-rare while achieving a sizzling dark crust. You guessed it—reverse searing (you slow-smoke the steak first to cook it through, then rest it, then finally sizzle it over a hot fire to sear the crust)."

Prep time: 5 minutes Smoking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour Grilling time: 4 to 6 minutes Yield: Makes 1 really thick steak, enough to serve 2 or 3


1 thick (2- to 3-inch) boneless strip steak, rib steak, or sirloin (1  1/2 to 1  3/4 pounds)

Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and cracked or freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

  1. If using a charcoal kettle grill, light 10 to 12 pieces of charcoal (preferably natural lump charcoal) in a chimney starter. When ready, place the charcoal in one side basket or on one side of the bottom grate. Adjust the top and bottom vents to heat your grill to 225° to 250°F.
  2. Meanwhile, very generously season the steak on the top, bottom, and sides with salt and pepper. Insert the thermometer probe through the side of the steak, deep into the center.
  3. Add the wood to the coals. Place the steak on the grate as far away from the fire as possible. Cover the grill and smoke the steak until the internal temperature reaches 110°F. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add 10 to 15 fresh coals to the bed of embers and build a hot fire in your grill, readjusting the vents as needed.
  6. Lightly brush or drizzle the steak on both sides with olive oil. Place it on the grate over the fire and direct grill until the top and bottom are sizzling and darkly crusted and the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer reaches 120° to 125°F for rare to 130° to 135°F for medium-rare (2 to 3 minutes per side, 4 to 6 minutes in all), turning with tongs. If you like, give the steak a quarter turn on each side halfway through searing to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. For really thick steaks, grill the edges, too.
  7. Serve hot off the grill. I like to cut the steak on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices. I wouldn’t say no to an additional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.