With this recipe, I aimed to make a grilled steak that would make a novice look like a master, and a master look like her backyard flame-created opus was nothing short of child’s play.
How to Grill the Best Steak
To make the best steak, I wanted something juicy with a nice crust that could be sliced and served family style.
I brushed an herb butter sauce over the steak while it was cooking. In addition to balancing the richness of the meat, the sauce added a fresh, light flavor. Ultimately, I had a steak that everyone raved about, and it was special but not overly fussy. My Fourth of July party plans would not have been complete without it.
What Is the Best Steak Cut for Grilling?
Due to the substantial marbling of fat, any one of these cuts will taste great grilled. Here are some details about each:
- Ribeyes vs. Rib steaks: Ribeye steaks have their bones taken out; rib steaks, also known as bone-in ribeyes, have their bones intact. This cut cooks beautifully on the grill, bone in or out, due to its extensive marbling. You should trim the fat from the outside edge of the steak. Leaving it on will cause flame flare-ups, giving your steak an unpleasant burnt taste. Trimming it off won’t affect the taste.
- T-Bones vs. Porterhouses: Many people confuse these two cuts because they both come from the loin (behind the ribs of the cow) and both have a T-shaped bone with meat on both sides. Porterhouses are larger and have more tenderloin than T-bones. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications, the tenderloin of a porterhouse must be at least 1 1/4 inches thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 1/2 inch thick.
Because of its flavor, size, and the fact that it has no bone, I chose to use ribeye steaks for family-style serving.
To test this recipe, I used ribeyes that were 1 1/2 inches thick and weighed a whopping 1 1/4 pounds each. After grilling, this cut remains tender and tastes great due to its extensive fat marbling. Besides serving two people, this steak is also large enough to hold less meat on the grill at a time, making it easier to grill.
It’s pretty easy to overcook a 1-inch steak, so just adding a half-inch can give you some extra leeway when you’re first learning how to grill.
Having said that, a big bone-in steak is an impressive sight and wonderful to serve. You decide whether to keep or remove a bone!
Butter Sauce Amplifies the Flavor of the Recipe
First, I tried dry rubs, oils, and simply salt and pepper with this recipe. While these are all wonderful additions to steak, I felt there was something more I needed. (I was thinking of the Fourth of July and wanted to make it special but not complicated.)
Herbed butter sauce was the perfect choice for basting the steak. First of all, because butter. Furthermore, I had an extensive herb garden, so I didn’t have to go to the store. Initially, I was worried that the butter would burn on the grill, leaving a bitter taste, but it didn’t.
Charcoal or Gas Grill for Steak?
Grilling steaks on a charcoal or wood-fired grill is always the best option because it provides additional flavor and charring. Additionally, if you have a charcoal grill, you can add different kinds of wood to the fire to add smokiness and enhance the overall flavor of the meat.
Gas grills are just as capable of cooking a good steak as a charcoal grill. Light the grill when the lid is opened and the gas is on. If you light the grill with the lid closed, gas can build up inside and cause an explosion.
What Is the Ideal Grill Temperature for Steak?
According to grilling expert Steven Raichlen, you should have two cooking zones in your charcoal grill: one for sear and one for finish. If you’re using a gas grill, fire up two burners for about 10 minutes to get to 450°F, and then reduce one burner to medium to create two cooking areas.
Are you unsure if the grill is hot enough? If you can hold your hand 3 inches above the grill grate and count “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…”, then the grill is ready.
The hot zone was where I started my steak cooking, then I moved it to the medium zone to finish cooking. The solution worked like a charm.
How Long to Grill Steak
Cooking times for a 1 1/2-inch thick steak are as follows:
- 6 to 8 minutes for rare (125°)
- 7 to 10 minutes for medium-rare (135°)
- 10 to 12 minutes for medium (145°)
- 12 to 15 minutes for well done
The USDA recommends cooking beef to an internal temperature of 145°F.
You should be aware that the thickness of your steak, the heat of your grill, and your desired level of doneness will all affect the time it takes to grill. Check the steak’s temperature by inserting a digital meat thermometer from the side instead of the top.
Tips for Grilling the Perfect Steak
- Season, then chill: To grill this steak, I use the same method I use to get crispy chicken and turkey skin: season, then let it chill in the fridge uncovered for up to 48 hours. This method basically brines and air-dries the steak at the same time. It allows the surface moisture to evaporate while the seasoning penetrates the meat, resulting in a deeply flavored steak that sears beautifully and develops a nice crust on the grill.
- Start with clean grates: You need to start with clean and oiled grill grates, just like you would with a skillet on the stovetop.
- To flip or not to flip? The steak is yours to flip until you’re satisfied. Harold McGee, food science writer and author of On Food and Cooking, discovered that frequent flipping results in a steak cooking more evenly and quickly than steaks that are flipped only once.
How to Grill the Best Steak
A sauce such as this works well with any steak; you may also skip it or use a different sauce.
Instead of cooking smaller, thinner individual steaks, I prefer cooking thicker steaks and sharing them with others. A thicker steak is also more forgiving if you are a grilling novice.
I aim for medium to medium rare in this recipe. I want the marbling in ribeyes to break down as much as possible; grilling it to rare would not achieve that.
For the steak:
- 1 1/2-inch thick ribeye, bone in or out (about 1 1/2 pounds without the bone)
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the herb butter sauce:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, about half the size of a golf ball, minced
- Cut the fat:Trim the outer layer of fat from the ribeye. Marbling on the interior of the meat will impart flavor, while fat on the exterior will cause flare-ups on the grill, adding a burnt (not charred) flavor.
- Steaks should be seasoned and chilled. Dry the steak with a paper towel. You will achieve a better sear by removing surface moisture.Rub salt and pepper into each side. Put the steak in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least an hour and up to 48 hours.
- Make the herbed butter: Melt butter, garlic, herbs, and shallots in a small saucepan. Heat to low and melt. Prepare the steak at least 10 minutes before you put it on the grill. The longer the herbs sit in the butter, the stronger the flavors will be.Butter can also be made up to 2 hours ahead and refrigerated. You can reheat the butter gently before you grill the steaks so it melts again.
- Preheat the grill: Ensure that half of the grill is hot and the other half is warm before grilling. You know you have a hot grill when your hand can only be held for a moment or two over the hot zone.Heat the grill to 450°F with two burners on, which should only take about 10 minutes, then turn one burner down to medium to create two cooking zones.
- Cook and baste the steak: Place the steak on the hottest part of the grill. Sear the meat for two minutes after sealing the lid. Flip the steak over and baste it with the melted herb butter and herbs. Close the lid. Add 2 more minutes to the cooking time.Move the steak to a lower temperature side after flipping it again. Butter it again. Flip and bast every two minutes for the next six minutes, closing the lid between each flip.When the steak has been on the grill for a total of 10 minutes (for medium-rare), transfer it to a clean platter; the internal temperature should be 137°F to 140°F. It should be baste with butter again. (Cook the steak longer if you like it well-done.)
- Let the steak rest: Let the steak rest for 5 minutes; it will climb a few degrees more as it sits and the juices will redistribute.
- Slice and serve the steak: The steak should be sliced against the grain. Serve with the remaining herb butter sauce.
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