How to Grill Steak Like a Pro
Grilling steak is an art and a science. Depending on the type of steak you purchase, you'll have to learn the proper way to grill them. You can't treat a filet mignon like a flank steak, after all. In order to get the juiciest grilled steak results, we'll go over the step-by-step process for the popular cuts using both charcoal grills and gas grills. We also provide times for how long to grill steak so you can achieve the perfect desired internal temperature. The perfect grilled steak starts with high-quality meat—and the right cut. Buy the best beef you can afford from a vendor you trust, and study up on our complete guide for how to select steaks before you shop.
These are the best steaks for grilling:
- Chuck: Most cuts in this section are considered a bit too tough for grilling. One exception: flat iron steak.
- Rib: This section offers tender, full-flavor cuts, such as ribeye and prime rib steaks.
- Short loin: Some of the most tender steaks for grilling come from the short loin, including porterhouse, T-bone, filet mignon, and top loin (strip) steaks.
- Flank: This is the belly area, which produces flank, skirt, and hanger steaks. For the best results while grilling steaks from this section, tenderize before grilling.
Now that you've met your meat match, it's time to talk specifics about how to grill steak. First, we'll give you an overview of our new favorite method for grilling steak, then we'll explain different methods for other cuts so you can customize your supper based on your steak, whether you're preparing grilled flank steak, filet mignon, or tri-tip.
How to Reverse-Sear a Steak
Many of the barbecue experts we've interviewed this year can't stop talking about their new go-to grilling steak strategy: the reverse sear. It results in remarkably juicy meat, plus a crunchy, satisfying crust. Here's how to grill steak reverse-sear-style:
Step 1: Prep Your Steak
It doesn't take much to get your steak ready to grill. Before adding the meat to the grill, follow these steps:
- Use a paper towel to dry off surface moisture so the meat can get a nice sear and brown on the surface.
- Trim excess fat that could cause flare-ups while grilling steak.
- Optional step: To boost the flavor before cooking, stir together a steak marinade and marinate meat for 4 to 24 hours. Season the meat with a spice or herb rub, or simply cover with olive oil, salt, and ground black pepper. Our pros say just salt brings out the juices, too.
Test Kitchen Tip: When possible, salt your steak for grilling 4 to 48 hours before you plan to cook, suggests Aaron Franklin, the pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. This allows the seasoning to infuse and results in a more tender steak.
Step 2: Grill and Reverse-Sear the Steak
Select a thick cut (about 1½ inches), such as New York strip or ribeye, for this grilling method. Prepare your grill as follows.
- Prepare a two-zone fire on your grill. For a gas grill, light all burners to preheat, then turn off the center burner for a cool zone to cook indirectly. For a charcoal grill, with vents open, ignite 50 to 75 briquettes for a 22-inch grill. Once the coals look ash-covered, push them to opposite sides of the grill to create a cool zone in the center to cook indirectly. Place rack on grill. (Discover more step-by-step advice about how to light a charcoal grill.)
- Place steaks over the indirect flame (the grill temperature should be about 300°F) and cook the meat low and slow with the lid closed.
- Remove steaks from the grill once they reach 100°F internally.
- Adjust your grill to high heat, or about 450°F to 500°F, by igniting more briquettes (for charcoal grills) or igniting the center burner on high (for gas grills).
- Place steaks back on the now-hot grill and sear, turning often, until well-browned. This should take 4 or 5 minutes.
Step 3: Test for Doneness
From rare to well-done, how long to grill steak is often a matter of personal preference. When grilling steak for a group, stagger when you put the steaks on the grill, starting with steaks to be served well-done and ending with steaks to be served rare.
Try this tech-free test to determine the grill temp for steak: Shake out your hands. Using one hand, follow the directions below touching that thumb to different fingers on the same hand. Use your opposite hand to touch the fleshy area between your thumb and the base of your palm to assess level of doneness. Be sure to keep your first hand relaxed.
- Rare: Touch your thumb to your index finger.
- Medium rare: Move your middle finger to touch your thumb.
- Medium: Press your ring finger to your thumb.
- Well: Touch your pinky finger to your thumb.
You can also use an instant-read thermometer if you're unsure how long to grill steak. Cook medium-rare steaks to 145°F and medium steaks to 160°F.
Step 4: Serve Your Perfect Grilled Steak
Let the steaks rest 5 minutes after grilling and before cutting. This allows the juices to redistribute and helps keep them from escaping the meat as soon as it is cut (read: steak that's supremely juicy!).
A perfectly grilled steak needs no embellishment, but you can dress it up if you want with a bit of herbed butter, purchased steak sauce, or homemade sauce. Serve steaks with steak knives or other knives that are sharp enough to easily cut through the meat without tearing it.
How to Grill Different Cuts of Steak
Curious how to grill the perfect steak if ribeye or strip isn't your prime pick? Read on for cut-by-cut advice for grilling steak that's just as scrumptious as you'll find at a fancy steakhouse.
Related: BHG's Best Grilling Recipes
How to Grill Filet Mignon
Go gourmet and grill filet mignon! This ultratender option deserves to be the star of the show. Follow these instructions:
- For a charcoal grill, place the meat on a grill rack directly over medium coals; grill uncovered.
- For a gas grill, preheat the grill; reduce heat to medium. Place the filet on the grill rack over the heat. Cover the grill.
- Turn your filets once halfway through the grilling time, and use the following timings for how long to grill steak: For a 1-inch cut, grill 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 12 to 15 minutes for medium (160°F). For a 1-1/2-inch cut, grill 15 to 19 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 18 to 23 minutes for medium (160°F).
- Transfer the meat to a platter. Cover with foil and allow it to stand 5 minutes before serving.
How to Grill Flank Steak
Grilled flank steak is delicious on its own, but also stands out inside burritos and on steak salads. It's best when soaked in a steak marinade before grilling, so don't skip that step in your grilled flank steak recipe.
- To marinate: Trim fat from steak. Score steak on both sides by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Place meat in a self-sealing bag set in a shallow dish. Pour desired marinade over meat in bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes or as long as your recipe calls for. Drain meat and discard marinade.
- For a charcoal grill: Place meat on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill 17 to 21 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°F for medium-rare doneness or 160°F for medium doneness.
- For a gas grill: Preheat gas grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place meat on rack over heat. Cover and grill, following the same instructions for grilling on a charcoal grill.
- Transfer the meat to a platter. Cover with foil and allow it to stand 5 minutes, then thinly slice meat against the grain.
How to Grill Strip Steak
Serving up a New York strip steak might sound fancy, but it's simpler than you think. Try serving your juicy grilled steak with compound butter or with a squeeze of lemon for a hearty meal. Follow these instructions for grilling:
- For a charcoal grill: Grill steaks on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals to desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling. Allow 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 12 to 15 minutes for medium doneness (160°F).
- For a gas grill: Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place steaks on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed above.
- Transfer the meat to a platter. Cover with foil and allow the steak to stand 5 minutes before serving.
How to Grill Tri-Tip
Want to know our secret for a perfect grilled steak when you have a tri-tip handy? Get our in-depth information on how to cook tri-tip steaks. Here's the general process:
- Consider seasoning or marinating tri-tip steaks. They are a lean cut and benefit from added flavor.
- For a charcoal grill or gas grill, grill steaks, covered, over medium to desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling. For ¾-inch-thick steaks, grill 9 to 11 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 11 to 13 minutes for medium (160°F). For 1-inch-thick steaks, grill 13 to 15 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 15 to 17 minutes for medium (160°F).
Related: Learn How to Cook Tri-Tip Roasts
How to Grill Skirt Steak
The most important part of serving skirt steak actually comes after grilling steak. Always cut skirt cuts thinly and against the grain for buttery, tender results.
- Season steak with salt and black pepper, and, if desired, marinate.
- For a charcoal grill: Grill steak on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals about 4 minutes or until steak is lightly charred, turning once halfway through grilling.
- For a gas grill: Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place steak on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed above.
- Remove steak from grill. Cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Slice steak against the grain and serve.
How to Grill Flat Iron Steaks
Also known as top blade steak, flat iron steaks are very similar to flank steaks. This is one of the best steaks for grilling and is at its best when you season with a sprinkle of spices and serve with plenty of zippy sauce (try homemade chimichurri or romesco sauce).
- Season or marinate steaks as desired.
- For a charcoal grill: Grill steaks on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals 7 to 9 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 10 to 12 minutes for medium doneness (160°F), turning once halfway through grilling.
- For a gas grill: Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place steaks on grill rack. Cover and grill as directed above.
- Serve steaks with desired sauce.
This grilling season, put your steak skills to work and get ready for rave reviews. Don't forget about the barbecue sides: A grilled steak is amazing, but it gets even better with the right accompaniment for a complete meal.