The Ultimate Guide to Steak Temperatures

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grilled steaks and medium rare temperatureWhen you order a steak from a restaurant, you’re blessed with having the finished product on your plate and ready to eat. You tell the waiter or waitress the level of doneness you’d like your beef, they relay that to the chef, and you get a perfectly cooked steak done to your liking.

If you’ve cooked steaks at home and aren’t a master chef, then you know it’s not as easy to replicate the process in your own kitchen. Steaks can become overdone quickly and they can also trick you into thinking they’re done enough. Cooking times also vary depending on the cookware and cooking method you use.

How, then, are you supposed to know when a steak’s done? The Chicago Steak Company experts are here to help you out with this guide to getting the steaks cooked to your desired temperature.

Is One Temperature Better Than Another?

First, let’s cover the hot debate of what the best level of doneness for steak is. While some people like a slight pink hue in the center of their steaks, others like them practically mooing. Although most of it boils down to personal preference, there also is some science that goes on when you cook a steak that could make it taste better the more cooked it is.

Most steaks are best at medium-rare to medium. These temperatures cause the fat within the cuts to render, which allows the flavor from fat to move throughout the steak and keep it tender. Cooking only to rare doesn’t give the steak quite enough time to benefit from this process, and cooking to well-done can cause the meat to become chewy and lose that tenderness that steak’s known for.

How to Temp Steaks the Right Way

The absolute best way to get an accurate temperature of steak is to use a reliable digital meat thermometer to do the job. The temperature should be quick-reading to make sure you’re not risking overcooking the meat while you wait for the reading.

Place the thermometer’s probe into the center of the steak from the side, making sure the probe reaches into the middle of the cut where it’s the coolest. When this reading reaches the temperature you’re looking for, then you’ll know that your beef has an even internal temperature and it’s safe to remove from the grill, pan, or oven.

No Thermometer? Use the Hand Method

If a thermometer isn’t available, you might still be able to check the level of doneness of your steak by using your hand. It’s not as accurate as a temperature but it’s better than nothing.

Press two fingers gently into the surface of the middle of the beef. Then, feel press those same fingers into the palm of your hand right underneath your thumb as you touch the thumb to each finger. The squishiness of that muscle will differ as your thumb touches each finger and can give you an idea of your meat’s doneness. Thumb to index finger is rare, thumb to middle finger is medium-rare, thumb to ring finger is medium and thumb to pinky finger is well-done.

Doneness Temperatures vs Cooking Temperatures

It’s crucial to remember that the steak temperature for your level of doneness is not the same as the internal temperature you’ll want to cook your steaks. Instead, you should remove steaks when they’re about 5-degrees Fahrenheit away from your desired temperature as the steaks will continue to cook for a few minutes after removed from the grill.

Follow this handy guide for doneness vs cooking temperatures to help you get the perfect cook:

  • Rare: Temperature: 115°F; Remove when it reaches 110°F
  • Medium-Rare: Temperature: 125°F; Remove when it reaches 120°F
  • Medium: Temperature: 135°F; Remove when it reaches 130°F
  • Medium-Well: Temperature: 140°F; Remove when it reaches 135°F
  • Well Done: Temperature: 150°F; Remove when it reaches 145°F

It’s tempting to want to cut right into your steak to check the inside and see if it’s done to your liking, but refrain from doing this until you let your meat rest for about 10 minutes. This rest period gives the steak time to get its juices flowing back through the meat and finish cooking to your liking.

Conclusion: Steak Temperatures

Stop guessing when it comes to cooking your beef the way you want it. Not much is worse than spending good money on steaks only to overcook them! Order some of your favorite Chicago Steak Company steaks, get them shipped to your door, and cook them with confidence using this helpful guide.