How Long to Grill Steak for the Best Taste and Texture

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perfectly grilled steaks


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Grilling steak is one of the most popular methods for several cuts. But it’s no secret that grilling times for steak can vary greatly, depending on the cut of steak, its thickness, and how done you like it. There’s no clear-cut answer for how long to grill a steak, but our guide will cover some of the most popular cuts so that you can get a better idea of how to grill them to perfection.

What’s the Best Steak for Grilling?

Honestly, when it comes to cooking a steak on the grill, you can’t really go wrong with any cut you choose. However, getting a perfectly cooked steak from a grill can be tricky if you’re new to steak cooking or using a grill. Each cut of steak is a different size, thickness, and texture, so it’ll be a different process to grill ribeye steak than it would be to grill a much thicker steak, like a filet mignon.

Another issue you might have with the grill lies in the fat content of steak. Although steaks with more fat tend to be more flavorful and tender (the fat tenderizes the steak), they also can be more dangerous to cook on the grill. As fat drips off cut steaks, grill flare-ups can happen. This is especially common with cuts like the rib eye, which are known for their marbling.

That doesn’t mean you can’t grill them, but you’ll definitely need to take extra precautions when doing so. Whether you want to cook a rib steak, a T-bone, or flat iron on the grill, you can learn to do it by following our helpful grilling tips for steak. 

Preparing for the Grill

One thing that most steaks have in common is that they need a bit of preparation before you get started. Your grill will, too, to ensure that it’s at the proper temperature and ready to cook up the perfect steak.

First, make sure your steak cuts are at room temperature before you place them on the grill. Doing so will help you get a more even cook so that the inside can cook to your preferred doneness without charring the outside.

Then, get your grill oiled and fired up! Make sure your grates are greased so your steaks can turn easily without getting stuck. Turn the grill on high heat and allow it to warm up before adding your steaks to give it the incredible sear you’re after.

Common Grilling Steak Times

So, how long do you cook steak on the grill? That answer largely depends on the thickness of the meat you’re cooking. You can cook thin or thick cuts on the grill just fine, but you’ll definitely want to alter your times to cook your desired cuts to the right doneness, which, again, is a matter of preference.

One good tip to keep in mind is to use a meat thermometer for thick cuts of steak and a timer for thin ones. A steak that’s ¾ of an inch thick or less may be difficult to get an accurate temperature reading from, so a timer can help. But a meat thermometer can give you a more precise idea of the doneness of your steak to make sure it’s right.

For a medium-rare doneness, you typically will need to grill your steak between 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. For medium cooks, shoot for closer to 5 to 8 minutes on each side. It’s always best, though, to start with the lower grilling steak time and check with your finger to see if it might need a bit more time, instead of allowing it to cook for a couple of extra minutes. You can always cook it a bit longer if required, but you can’t get back tenderness you lose from overcooking.

When you touch the center of your steaks, a medium rare cook will spring back slightly, yet still feel squishy. A medium cook will be more springy than squishy. If all else fails, you can always cut a small slit in the center of your steak to check its color, but this should only be used as a last resort. 

A better option is to use the finger and palm trick. Touch the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. Using the index finger of your other hand, poke the fleshy part of your palm that sits under your thumb. This is how your medium-rare steak should feel (a medium steak will feel similar to the fleshy part when you touch your ring finger to your thumb).

How Long to Grill Ribeye for Medium Rare and Medium Doneness

Rib eye steaks are usually between 1 ¼ and 1 ½-inch thick, so they’ll typically need more time on the grill than a New York Strip, for example.

Rib eye steaks should be cooked to 130 degrees for medium-rare doneness, which typically takes about 5 minutes on each side. For medium doneness, cook a grilled ribeye steak to 140 degrees for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side.

How Long to Grill Sirloin for Medium Rare and Medium Doneness

Sirloin steaks are similar in thickness to a ribeye, but some may be a bit thinner, around 1 inch. A 1-inch sirloin generally takes about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare doneness or 5-6 minutes for a medium steak doneness.

How Long to Grill Filet Mignon for Medium Rare and Medium Doneness

Filet mignon is one of the thickest cuts of steak you can have, usually ranging from two to three inches thick.

For a medium rare cook, you should plan on a grill time between 5-6 minutes on each side. A medium cooked filet mignon will likely take closer to 6-8 minutes on each side. You may also need to move your filets to indirect heat and close the grill lid for a few more minutes to make sure the inside cooks to your desired temperature.

Helpful Tips for Grilling to Keep in Mind

Once you have a good grill sear over high heat, you can move your steaks to a lower temperature to make sure they don’t dry out quickly. This is known as indirect grilling. To do this, sear both sides over high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, and then move to low heat. Only turn your steaks once the full time for one side has been reached. Flipping too often on the grill can ruin the cooking process and dry out your steaks faster.

Also, always allow your steaks to rest. You should plan to rest your steak for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the juices to move back through the meat for ultimate flavor and tenderness.

If you do use a digital meat thermometer to better gauge your time for steaks on the grill, make sure you remove your steaks when its internal temperature reaches about five degrees below your desired temperature, since it will continue to cook a bit after you remove it from the grill. If you want your steak to cook to 135 degrees, then remove it when it hits about 130 degrees.

Grilling the Perfect Steak: A Simple Grilled Steak Recipe

Want a recipe for grilling the perfect steak that you can try out for dinner tonight? You can do this with rib eye, porterhouse steaks, boneless strip, or whatever other cut delights you the most. You can also use a steak marinade overnight and grill the steaks the next day. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients

4 of your favorite delicious steaks (try to choose cuts between 1 and 1 ½-inches thick)

Salt, pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning or steak rub

Olive oil

Instructions for the Perfect Steak on the Grill

  1. Allow steaks to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, fire up your charcoal or gas grill (either one works with steak!). Make sure the heat is high before beginning to grill.
  2. When you’re ready to start grilling, brush both sides of the steaks with oil and sprinkle generously with your choice of seasoning or rub your steak rub into the meat. 
  3. Place steaks on the grill over the area with the most heat. Allow steaks to sear on that side for 3-5 minutes, or until a brown, crisp crust forms. Flip the steaks over with tongs and do the same to the other side. 
  4. How long to grill steak depends on the type of cut you chose and their thickness. Remove from the grill when a digital meat thermometer reads 135 degrees for medium-rare or 140 degrees for medium. If your steak is still rare after searing both sides, you may need to move each piece to a low-heat area of the grill, close the lid, and wait a couple of minutes for the heat to continue cooking the inside. 
  5. Place the steaks on a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, giving the juices time to work back through the meat to create the perfect steak.

Steak Grill Charts

FILETS MIGNON & BONELESS RIBEYES

ThicknessRare 110° To 120° FMedium Rare 120° To 130° FMedium 130° To 140° F
1.5″3 min EACH SIDE3.5 min EACH SIDE4 min EACH SIDE
1.75″3.5 min EACH SIDE4 min EACH SIDE4.5 min EACH SIDE
2″4 min EACH SIDE4.5 min EACH SIDE5 min EACH SIDE
SIRLOIN STRIP STEAKS, BONE-IN RIBEYE STEAKS & PORTERHOUSE STEAKS
ThicknessRare 110° To 120° FMedium Rare 120° To 130° FMedium 130° To 140° F
1″5 min First Side
3 min Second Side
4.5 min EACH SIDE6 min First Side
4 min Second Side
1.25″5 min First Side
4 min Second Side
5.5 min EACH SIDE7 min First Side
5 min Second Side
1.5″6 min First Side
4 min Second Side
6 min EACH SIDE7 min EACH SIDE
1.75″6 min First Side
5 min Second Side
6.5 min EACH SIDE8 min First Side
7 min Second Side
2″6 min EACH SIDE7 min EACH SIDE8 min EACH SIDE

Final Thoughts: Grilling Steak Times

Hopefully, this guide helps you learn how to cook a medium steak or medium rare steak on the grill! As with any other cooking method, learning how to cook steak on the grill takes some practice to perfect. But, once you get the hang of checking the temperature and understanding how each level of doneness feels with your finger, you’ll become a pro at grilling ribeye steak or any other cut of steak you choose. You can always check out Steak University for other helpful grilling tips and recipes to create your perfect steaks.