Learn to fire up a choice cut like a pro with these expert tips from our food editors.

By Claire Sullivan
July 13, 2021
Advertisement
cut-steak-031-med110108.jpg
Credit: Andrew Purcell

With a great steak on hand, all you need is salt, pepper, and a smoking grill to turn out a sizzling and satisfying main. Here, our food editors share their tips for cooking some of the most popular cuts of steak to perfection, including how to test the grill temperature to make sure it is hot enough and how long to cook different steaks for. Their steadfast mantra is medium-rare, so that's the timing given, but we've also included information in case you want to grill your steak more or less than that.

Rib Eye steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a Rib Eye Steak

A classic for a reason. A rib eye is splurge-worthy piece of meat that's delectable boneless or bone-in. It's sliced from the rib for well-marbled, flavor-rich bites. Cook your rib eye for six to eight minutes per side for a 1 1/2-inch-thick boneless steak.

Porterhouse steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a Porterhouse Steak

The porterhouse is two steaks in one: The large side is the New York strip while the smaller mild-tasting tenderloin. It's a good option for a family, as 2 1/2 pounds will serve four. Cut slices off the bone so everyone can have a little of both. To cook a 1 1/2-inch-thick porterhouse, grill for seven to nine minutes per side.

Skirt steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a Skirt Steak

Taken from just under the ribs, skirt steak is long and flat. It has fat content throughout, which lends extra juiciness and makes it nearly impossible to dry out. We also like that it cooks fast; grill for just two minutes per side for thinner pieces or three to five minutes for thicker ones.

Top Sirloin steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a Top Sirloin Steak

This boneless piece from the loin, which is between the ribs and the round, is naturally lean but still packed with flavor. We prefer it to standard sirloin, which tends to be tougher. For a 1-inch thick top sirloin, grill for four to six minutes per side.

New York Strip steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a New York Strip Steak

A bold statement for a special occasion, the New York strip has rich, intense flavor. It's cut from the short loin and has a firm texture, so be careful not to overcook it. You'll want to grill it for four to six minutes a side for a 1-to-1 1/4-inch-thick boneless steak.

Flank steak illustration
Credit: Illustrations by Enya Todd

How to Grill a Flank Steak

Flank is a boneless steak that comes from the muscle just below the loin. Again, take care not to overcook—you'll be rewarded with deep flavor and tender bites. Grill your flank steak for four to six minutes a side for a 1-to-1 1/4-inch-thick steak.

The Right Grill Temp

Here's how to light your fire, whether it's gas or charcoal, to cook any cut. If you're working with a gas grill, heat on medium-high with the top closed for 15 minutes. Then, turn off one burner, which will allow you to finish cooking thicker pieces over indirect heat, or move steaks if there are flare-ups.

If you prefer a charcoal grill, start by lighting a pile of coals (a chimney works best). When they're uniformly gray with red embers, spread them over three-fourths of the bottom rack, creating direct and indirect zones (see above). Replace top rack; heat, covered, for about 10 minutes. Test the temperature by holding your hand about three inches from the grates and count full seconds: If you can keep it there for three to four (no longer), you're at medium-high heat.

How to Grill Any Steak Like a Pro

Part of preparing a great steak comes down to the prep work. Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to grill, which will ensure even cooking. Fifteen minutes before you start, brush both sides with vegetable oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Scrape the grill grates clean with a wire brush while they're hot, then oil them just before cooking.

Position matters, too. Cook steaks 1 1/2 inches thick or less uncovered, over direct medium-high heat. For anything thicker (say, large porterhouses and rib eyes), start over direct heat; after the times noted above, transfer to indirect, cover, and finish cooking to the temperatures listed at right, so they can cook through without burning.

To check if your steak is done, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of meat from the side (begin at the low end of the time range, subtracting a minute or so if you want rare meat). Our chef's guide: 120° for rare, 125° to 130° for medium-rare, 135° to 140° for medium, 145° to 155° for medium-well, and anything above 155° for well-done.

And don't forget to let them rest. Once you pull the steak off the grill, let it sit for 10 minutes, tented with foil. The residual heat will finish the cooking, and the juices will have time to redistribute throughout (hello, flavor). For the best texture, slice against the grain.

Comments

Be the first to comment!