The Ultimate Guide to Steak Presentation

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At Steak University, we dive into all kinds of steak-focused topics, like incredible recipe ideas, cooking instructions, and resources to help you become a steak connoisseur in your own home. This guide focuses on one of the more creative yet least talked about facets of steak: steak presentation. Get ready to learn what it takes to master gorgeous steak dinners that look like they belong in the pages of a foodie magazine.

Does Steak Presentation Matter?

Let’s be honest: If you’re cooking dinner for just yourself or your family, you might not care about going all out with fancy steak presentation ideas like those you’d find at your favorite restaurant. That’s completely okay. But we also know that plenty of steak lovers want to elevate their meals a bit by honing in their presentation skills.

Learning a few steak presentation ideas can help you take your regular steak dishes to new heights, whether you’re cooking for a special someone or want to get more creative for family meals. And if you have the desire to turn your love for cooking into a career, this must-have skill will be one you rely on daily at your job.

8 Steak Presentation Ideas to Boost Your Dining Experience

Steak presentation takes unique talent. It can be one of the more difficult foods to plate elegantly, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Here are a few steak presentation ideas to learn the basics.

  1. Decide If Slicing Is Best

This is one of the more confusing parts of presenting steak on a plate. Some steak cuts simply look better on a plate when they’re sliced, especially if they’re large, no-so-pretty cuts like the T-bone. However, slicing can let the steak juices run free, and the last thing you want is a dribble of red running all over your plate.

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Often, slicing is a matter of preference, but there’s a good rule of thumb to remember if you are going to pre-slice your steak: Cut against the grain. Doing so shortens the long muscle fibers in steak, which helps keep each mouthful tender.

Also, give the steak 5-10 minutes to rest before slicing it. This way, the juices run back into your meat instead of escaping as soon as you slice through.

  1. Play with Color

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Because steak’s brown hue isn’t the most eye-catching color, it’s important to add color to your plate in other ways. An excellent way to do it is with brightly colored veggies, like snap peas or carrots. But you can also add sauces, purees, and other fun touches for extra pops of color.

  1. Be Picky About Your Plate

Don’t forget about the plate itself, as it can add to the story of your dish. Color is important here, too. Choosing a white plate can really make the steak and other additions stand out. But a black plate can make the overall dish look rugged and rustic. 

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And then there are unique plate ideas, like using a cutting board to serve the steak and its sides on. Or, if you want the steak to continue cooking for a bit after removing it from the heat, add it to a cast iron plate to allow it to sizzle and cook some more.

  1. Add Height

Look at steaks in fancy restaurants or those plated by chefs on TV shows, and you’ll notice a few trends. One of those is that they use height to create a showstopper plate. Steak is fun to do this with, especially with thicker cuts like filet mignon. If you’re careful about what you pile, you can make a plate that catches the eye and pulls all the ingredients together.

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Usually, some form of mashed potatoes makes an excellent base. But you can also stack some veggies or a dense salad at the bottom with steak and garnish on top. 

  1. Think About Your Sides

The sides you choose to plate with steak add to the overall effect of your plating. And, really, any steak side dish goes — you just might need to play around with how to plate it to make it feel more elegant. For instance, mashed potatoes can look beautiful on a plate, but not when they’re in a sloppy pile. Instead, use small spoonfuls to create a few tidy piles or use a stainless steel ring mold to shape the potatoes.

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Some sides that always seem to look beautiful on a fancy plate of steak include asparagus, thinly sliced or baby carrots, and a fresh salad with greens.

  1. Use Garnish

Garnish adds color, texture, height, and balance to a plate. Steak plates can include various garnishes, including herb butter, greens, salads, and salsa.

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Herbs and sauces are among the favorite choices for people looking to boost the look of their steak plates. Rich au jus and creamy pan sauces add flavor, color, and moisture to the plate, while herbs give a rich pop of color and some extra flavor.

  1. Use an Attractive Shape

We all know that steak cuts don’t always look pleasing to the eye when they’re added to a plate. A huge hunk of steak doesn’t really work with an elevated steak presentation, which is why you might consider cutting your steak before you cook it into a more attractive shape.

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Steak with bones can be especially tricky to pull off on an elegant plate, so it might be best to work with boneless cuts until you get the hang of arranging your plates. 

  1. Edit Your Techniques

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Putting too much on the plate at one time can result in an overwhelming mess. As you practice plating more and more, you’ll learn to edit your plates better. Always take an extra look at your plate after each step to decide whether it needs more or less.

And don’t forget to tidy it up when you’re done! Use a clean cloth to wipe off any drippings to get a clean finish.

Simple But Effective Steak Presentation Ideas

Now, it’s time to enjoy getting creative with your steak presentations. The best part about steak plating is that there’s no one way to do it. Follow the tips above for inspiration, but feel free to let your own personality shine through — after all, the best chefs do just that all the time.Try some of our delicious steak recipes using some of the best steaks in the industry from Chicago Steak Company. After that, check out our guide to photographing steak to get some Instagram-worthy photos of your creations. Have fun!