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Steak Temperature Guide

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Use this steak temperature guide to help you determine the best steak doneness!

Steak Temperature Guide

Let’s be honest. There are fewer things better than a well-made steak. You can master the art of steak perfection right in your backyard or kitchen. Whether using a grill or a cast-iron skillet, this steak temperature guide will help you cook a phenomenal steak. Before starting, you should know your preferred steak doneness. Keep in mind that this is a learning process. So, it might take a few trials and errors before arriving at the perfect steak doneness. 

What is the best temperature for cooking steak?

Several key factors will help determine the best cooking temperature for steak. How thick is the steak? If your steak is 1 1/2″ thick or more, it needs a longer cooking time over low heat. Aim for 300 degrees F for thicker steaks. Moderately thick steaks or anything between 1/2″-1″ is best cooked at medium temperature 325-350 degrees F, and 1/2″ and less should be cooked at 375-400 degrees F.

What is the best steak doneness?

One of the defining characteristics of a well-crafted steak is a crusty, caramelized surface warmed through the middle and yielding your desired doneness. That’s medium rare by most people’s standards or an internal temperature between 130-135 degrees F. Use our steak temperature guide to determine your preference.

How do you thaw a steak?

Thaw frozen steaks for 12-24 hours in your refrigerator. Do not, I repeat, do not thaw your steaks in the microwave. Once thawed, season, and let them stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before cooking.

Seasoning steaks with salt and pepper
Yazan Abedelkhale

How do you season a steak?

Season steaks with good marbling like ribeye, tomahawks, and NY strips simply. Use one teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. A salt and black pepper rub will work wonders, but you can also add savory items like onion or garlic powder. Apply seasonings on both sides of the steak, don’t forget the edges! If you plan to reverse sear your steak, the seasonings will form a deep brown, flavorful crust. For flat steaks, like shirt, flank, and flat-iron, I recommend using a marinade.

Steak Temperature Guide

STEAK TEMPERATURE GUIDE:

Blue Rare Steak: Not pictured above, this is the rarest steak you can eat with the lowest of all internal steak temps, only reaching 84 degrees F. There are precautions that must be taken before consuming a blue steak. First, you’ll need a good searing on the surface but be warned that the meat inside will be slightly cold. If you’d like to try this technique, we recommend reading our informative guide: “What is a Blue Steak.”

Rare Steak: An internal temperature of 120 degrees F. or 50 C. The center should be bright red and cool (or just barely warm), and springy to the touch. The texture of a rare steak is quite tender, or chewy depending on the cut of meat.

Medium-Rare Steak: An internal temperature of 130 degrees F. or 55 C. The middle of the steak is bright red and warm, though not quite as springy. Medium-rare steak temp is considered the gold standard for steak doneness.

Medium Steak: An ideal medium steak temp is an internal reading of 140 degrees F. or 60 C. The center of a medium steak appears bright pink and feels firm when pressed. 

Medium-Well Steak: Look for an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. or 65 C. The center of a medium-well steak should be primarily brown with a light pink color in the center.

Well Done Steak: Anything over 160 degrees F. or 70 degrees C. Center is brown, and the steak is quite firm with a dry texture.

Now that you are familiar with the above steak temperature guide, the next step is determining what temperature works best for different steaks. 

Raw Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

Most filets are 1″-1 1/2″ thick and have a wonderfully tender texture and beefy flavor. Since this cut is so lean, it’s best to cook them to an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees F, or medium-rare to medium doneness. That means grilling the Filet Mignon for 7-9 minutes per side. Try our recipe for Grilled Filet Mignon with Herb Compound Butter.

Raw new york strip steak

New York Strip

If you’re looking for a steak with a more robust beef flavor, then this cut is the one for you. Most New York Strips are around 1″ thick and best cooked to 145 degrees F, or medium doneness. Cook these steaks hot and fast, at 5-7 minutes per side. Try our recipe for Pellet Grill New York Strip.

Ribeye-raw

Ribeye Steaks

These steaks are delicious, beefy, and well-marbled. The recommended temperature for ribeye steaks is 135-140 degrees or medium-rare to medium doneness. Grill these steaks for about 6-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Try our recipe for Delmonico Steak.

Tomahawk Steak Rub

Tomahawk Steak

These steaks are impressive! Tomahawks are quite similar in flavor to the ribeye steak but are thicker and larger. Cook these steaks over indirect heat for 12-14 minutes per side, then reverse sear them over direct heat at the end. Recommended steak doneness is an internal temperature of 135-145 or medium-rare to medium. Try our recipe for Grilled Tomahawk Steaks.

T bone steaks

T-Bone and Porterhouse

These steaks are traditional favorites and make great choices for those who love all that beefy goodness these two large steaks have to offer. These amazing steaks can be cooked to any temperature, but anywhere between 130-150 degrees F, or medium-rare to medium-well is recommended. Try our recipe for Quick n’ Easy T-Bone Steaks.

Sirloin Steak with Cajun Spice Rub

Top Sirloin Steak

This steak has a robust beefy flavor and is best cooked hot and fast. Depending on thickness, 5-7 minutes per side over medium-high heat will do the trick. Aim for an internal temperature between 140-145 degrees F or medium doneness. Try our recipe for Grilled Sirloin Flap Steak.

What is the best equipment for cooking steaks?

Grill: You can make a delicious steak on a charcoal, gas, or pellet grill. For more information, please read my recommendation for the best steak cooking equipment.

Cast-iron pan: If the secret to high-temperature cooking is heat and mass, then a good cast iron skillet will do the job. A preferred method is cooking a steak in a cast-iron skillet. The trick is to get the cast iron raging hot. Heat it over a gas burner or set it directly into burning charcoal. Always use heat-resistant gloves when dealing with high-heat cooking.

Thermometer: The most important equipment for steak cooking is an instant-read thermometer. These marvels will help you remove your steak at your desired temperature. 

Smoking Wood Chips

What is the best wood for steaks?

If you want to add a little smokiness to your steaks, try using cherry, pecan, hickory, apple, or peach wood.

Steak temperature guide - Resting a steak on a wooden cutting board
Farhad Ibrahimzad

Should you rest a steak?

Short answer, yes and no. Long answer. Some steak needs roughly 10 minutes to relax. However, this can be a matter of personal choice, depending on how cooked you like your steak. The more done the steak, the longer the rest time. If you are eating blue steak or rare steak, it doesn’t need much or any rest time.

Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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