Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

How to Grill the Perfect Steak Every Time

Be your own 5-star restaurant
Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

Backyard burgers are delicious and grilled chicken is far from boring, but the king of the cookout is always perfectly grilled steak. And, believe it or not, steak is one of those foods you’ve likely been cooking all wrong. From the essential tools to the most refined cooking technique, this is how to grill the perfect steak every time.

It all starts with defrosting properly

It all starts with defrosting properly
FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock

Before starting the grill or adding your marinade, you need to first properly defrost your steak. If you’re working with a thin steak, it will take less time to defrost. Also, the longer you wait to cook it, the less red the steak will look. Defrost your raw steak in the fridge about a day or two before cooking, and it can last in the fridge for up to five days.

Safety first

Safety first
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

When making any home-cooked meal, it’s important for safety to be a top priority — a rule that especially applies to grilling. Give your grill a once-over before firing it up this summer. Make sure the burners haven’t rusted out and that there’s no damage to the propane tank.

Know how to set up your charcoal grill

Know how to set up your charcoal grill
tab62/Shutterstock

Say goodbye to dinners made from canned goods — it’s time you fire up that charcoal grill that’s been sitting in your backyard all year. Start by lifting the lid to the grill and removing the top cooking grate. Then, add your coals to the grill by arranging them in a pyramid shape. Add lighter fluid to the top of the coals and light them immediately. Once the coals turn grey with ash, put the top grate back on and close the lid. Let the grill heat up before cooking on it.

Know how to set up your gas grill

Know how to set up your gas grill
William McDill/Shutterstock

You don’t need to take an online cooking class to learn how to grill. To cook with a gas grill, start by lifting the lid — this will let out any built-up gas. Then turn the valve on top of the propane tank counter-clockwise until it no longer turns. If your grill has an igniter button, turn the burners all the way up and press the button. If you don’t have an igniter button, just use a long lighter to start the burner. Let the grill heat up before starting to cook.

Clean your grill before cooking

Clean your grill before cooking
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

After starting your grill and letting it heat up, make sure it’s clean. You should use a grill brush to clean the grill grates. Then, coat the grates in a grill spray or vegetable oil.

Have a safe zone

Have a safe zone
Lesterman/Shutterstock

Steak isn’t one of the easiest weeknight dinners to make, which is why you want to make sure you get it right. To avoid overcooking your steak, have a safe zone on the grill. This is where the heat is slightly lower than the heat on the rest of the grill. If you’re using a charcoal grill, one easy way to do this is by having a section of the grill where there are no coals underneath.

Buy a strong pair of tongs

Buy a strong pair of tongs
Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz/Shutterstock

There are plenty of cooking tools you need in your kitchen, and a good pair of tongs is one of them. If you’re planning to grill the perfect steak this summer, you shouldn’t be using a flimsy pair of tongs, or even worse, a fork. It’s dangerous and you could even end up dropping the steak.

Get a grill thermometer

Get a grill thermometer
jeffwqc/iStock via Getty Images

Next time you go to the grocery store, invest in a grill thermometer. This will let you know when the grill is hot enough to properly cook on. The best temperature to cook steaks is between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit

A sharp knife is a must

A sharp knife is a must
BublikHaus/Shutterstock

One mistake commonly made by amateur cooks is not investing in a sharp set of knives. Why cook a perfect steak and then ruin everything by slicing it with a dull knife? No way. Make sure to cut against the grain so you can enjoy your delicious, perfectly cooked steak the proper way.

Have a variety of seasonings on deck

Have a variety of seasonings on deck
Sebastiana Raw.Shutterstock

If there’s one lesson you’ve taken away from watching your parents cook, it’s that seasoning is everything. And if there’s one step that can truly take your steak to the next level, it’s to season with intent and generosity. While it may seem simple, salt, pepper and garlic might be all your steak needs for a nice seasoning.

Know what cut of steak is best for you

Know what cut of steak is best for you
Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Whether you’re cooking a rib-eye, porterhouse or other cuts served at the best steakhouses in America, you should know what you’re buying before you bring it home. The method you use for cooking your steak depends on the cut you get. Assess your budget, skill level and what kind of dish you want to cook before you fire up the grill.

Dry your steak

Dry your steak
Natalia Lisovskaya/Shutterstock

One steakhouse secret only the experts know is the importance of a dry steak. If the surface of your steak is not dry before it hits the grill, you aren’t going to get that desirable crust, so make sure you pat off any excess moisture with a paper towel prior to cooking.

Choose your rub

Choose your rub
VasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock

One way to take a cheap steak up a notch is by making a good rub, which is most commonly a mixture of dry spices and seasonings that are rubbed onto the surface of the meat. One great advantage of rubs is their ability to help create a particularly delicious crust on your steak, which helps seal in flavor and moisture.

Or choose a marinade 

Or choose a marinade 
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

You can also add a marinade to your steak. Marinades, which are usually a mixture of oils, acid, herbs and spices, are great when cooking thinner cuts of meat. But, to make an effective marinade, you should leave a chunk of time to let the meat marinate in it before cooking. 

Don’t be stingy with salt

Don’t be stingy with salt
Patrick Krabeepetcharat/Shutterstock

One lesson you definitely learned from grandma’s cooking is to not be stingy with salt. Well, the same holds true for cooking the perfect steak. When preparing your steak, make sure you coat the entire thing in salt before it goes on the grill, this will give it that restaurant-quality flavor you’re looking for.

Use a meat thermometer

Use a meat thermometer
LauriPatterson/E+ via Getty Images

Two safety measures you should take before grilling include making sure your meat hasn’t spoiled and making sure it’s cooked through before serving. One way to do this is by investing in a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer guarantees that the inside of your steak is the right temperature before pulling it off the grill. But everyone has different preferences on the color of their meat, so this will vary.

To cook a rare steak

To cook a rare steak
vengerof/Shutterstock

For a hearty steak, perfect to pair with a refreshing beer, you’re likely going to want to cook it rare. To achieve a cool red center while maintaining safety, the temperature of the steak should be 125 degrees.

To cook a medium-rare steak

To cook a medium-rare steak
grandriver/E+ via Getty Images

Unlike grilling chicken, steak can be a little undercooked. To cook a medium-rare steak, which has a warm red center, the temperature of the steak should be 135 degrees.

To cook a medium steak

To cook a medium steak
nata_zhekova/iStock via Getty Images

Like the way you might grill a salmon, cooking steak medium leaves it with a warm pink center. To achieve this, the temperature of the steak should be 145 degrees.

To cook a medium-well steak

To cook a medium-well steak
martinh70/E+ via Getty Images

To cook a medium-well steak, which has a slightly pink center, the temperature of the steak should be 150 degrees. This is a method you can achieve in less than an hour.

To cook a well-done steak

To cook a well-done steak
Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

If you’re cooking steak for your kids, they’ll likely want theirs without any pink in it. To achieve a steak that’s cooked through with very little to no pink, the temperature of the meat should be 160 degrees.

Take it off the grill a little early

Take it off the grill a little early
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Use your meat thermometer to make sure the steak is cooked to your preferred doneness. Remove the meat from the grill when the thermometer reads 5 degrees lower than the desired temperature. And, if you’re planning to save some for leftovers, check out our guide for making your food last longer.

Know how to slice it

Know how to slice it
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Make dinner at home feel like a true restaurant experience by slicing your steak like a pro. After letting your meat rest for a few minutes, carefully slice against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness. Doing so results in shorter muscle fibers, which will ensure that each mouthful is buttery and delicious.

Get fancy

Get fancy
Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

After putting your steak on the grill, leave it be for a few minutes. This will ensure that the meat gets a nice crust on the outside. Then, to achieve grill-master level, give the steak a 1/3-turn on each side — a technique that will give the steak those iconic criss-cross grill marks you see at great steakhouses.

How to shut down a gas grill

How to shut down a gas grill
William Hager/Shutterstock

Shutting down your grill properly is the last step to cooking the perfect steak. If you have a gas grill, turn off the burners and close the valve on the propane tank. Afterward, sit back, relax and enjoy your delicious and hearty dinner.

How to shut down a charcoal grill

How to shut down a charcoal grill
senk/Shutterstock

If you’re grilling with a charcoal grill, fully close the vents and dampers, cutting off the oxygen supply to the coal. Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, be sure to clean the grate while it’s still hot — this will make it easier to get off any food stuck on the grill. Keep in mind that forgetting to turn off your grill and not cleaning it properly are two bad cooking mistakes you need to stop making.

More from The Daily Meal:

Father's Day Recipes to Make Together With Kids

Homemade Pizza and Pizza Dough Recipes for Weeknight Dinners

Mexican Recipes: How to Make Your Favorite Dishes at Home

Expiration Dates: How to Know If Milk, Eggs and More Have Gone Bad

Foods You Should Never Refrigerate and How to Store Them Instead