Grilling the perfect steak—it’s the holy grail of outdoor cooking and a staple of grilling season. Maybe you’ve already mastered the art, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, you can use these tips to cook yourself a better steak the next time you fire up the grill. Whether you’re working with a gas grill or a pellet grill, we have the information you need.
Cuts of Meat // In order to end your cookout with a perfect steak, you need to start with a perfect cut of meat. In other words, you shouldn’t expect a cheap steak to transform on your grill. You should start with a high-quality, thick cut from behind the meat counter. The best cuts are usually from near the spine of the steer like strip steak, rib eye, porterhouse, and others. These will turn out to be the delicious, tender steaks you’re dreaming of. Talk to your butcher about what’s available.
Seasonings // If you invest in a good steak, you also don’t need to season it with anything except salt and pepper. You can use a mix of herbs and spices if you desire, but the flavor of the meat should be more than enough left on its own. Most importantly, never marinate your steak, as this will totally mask the natural meat flavors that make it so tasty.
Dry Off Your Steaks // Before you start cooking, make sure your steaks are dry. Moisture is your enemy if you’re going for a good sear; it creates steam and prevents browning. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, then apply a generous coat of a salt and corn starch mixture (2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon cornstarch). Pepper the steaks to taste, and freeze for about 30 minutes. You don’t need to bring them up to room temperature before you cook.
The best way to get a consistent medium-rare (or whatever your preference) across the interior with a crisp crust on the surface is to use the reverse sear method. With this method, you cook the steaks on a low heat to bring the internal temperature up to your desired level. After the interior is cooked through, you finish with a sizzling, hot sear. You get the best of both worlds: even color on the inside, and a dark, caramelized finish on the outside.
On a Gas Grill
To reverse sear on a gas grill, set up a two-zone cooking area with direct and indirect heat. You want to cook your steak at about 225° F in the indirect zone.
Cook for about 15 minutes with the lid closed, then start checking the internal temperature with a rapid-read thermometer or similar tool every 5-10 minutes. Be sure to check different spots within the meat to ensure you’re getting even heat.
When the internal temperature reaches 110° F (for medium rare) pull your steaks while you prepare to sear. Heat the direct cooking zone of your grill on high for a few minutes. When the grates are extremely hot, place your steaks and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side. Your steaks should finish around 125° F for medium rare.
On a Pellet Grill
Preheat your pellet grill to 225° F, or Hi Smoke. Smoke the steaks for about 30 minutes, or until the meat has reached your desired internal temperature. You can use the meat probe to keep an eye on your meat throughout the cooking process. Once it’s reached around 110° F, you can start heating your Sear Box or Sidekick. If you don’t own a Sear Box, you can also pull the meat off the grill, turn it to High, and heat a cast iron skillet.
Turn the Sear Box to high to get the cast iron grill grates nice and hot. The hotter, the better. When it’s preheated for a few minutes (or when your cast iron skillet is hot), transfer your steaks over. Sear for 1-2 minutes on each side. Use a rapid-read thermometer to make sure your steak is done at the temperature you prefer.
The real key to grilling the perfect steak is practice. While your first attempt at reverse searing might not produce flawless steaks, you will get better with each shot. Plus, you get to enjoy a lot of delicious steaks along the way. Get grilling today!