The Perfect Steak Guide

Steak is considered by many to be the ultimate meal. Fortunately, preparing a spectacular steak dinner is easy by following a few basic steps. The goal of this steak guide is to help anyone cook up a perfect steak.

The Perfect Steak Guide

Ready to start mastering the perfect steak? We’ve included a few pro tips so even the most proficient steak master might find a new trick or two.

For a memorable steak dinner, it’s critical to start with beef of the highest quality, like any of the cuts from Snake River Farms. Whether you choose our top-selling Filet Mignon or go for the gusto with our Cap of Ribeye, you’ll be amazed at the delicious difference.

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Which Steak Should I Buy?

There are four major steak cuts that top the list of which steaks to buy – filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip and t-bone/porterhouse. Select an option to get the lowdown on each cut.

Filet Mignon

steak-center-profile Profile: You love steak with a pure, light beef flavor and texture so tender you can cut it with a butter knife.

This popular cut is also known as the tenderloin, which is the perfect name because it is without a doubt the most tender cut of beef available. The filet mignon is low in fat, mild in flavor and buttery in texture. The melt-in-your-mouth texture is the calling card of this steak.

Filet Mignon

Ribeye

steak-center-profile Profile: You want a steak that’s marbled, juicy and packed full of rich beef flavor.

For many, this is the very definition of “steak” due to its high level of marbling. All that intramuscular fat makes ribeyes the most juicy and flavorful steak. When cut in the traditional style, there is a savory layer of fat and the intensely flavored cap. Ribeye filets are cut from the center or “eye” of the ribeye section for a boneless steak that is easy to cut and eat with minimal waste.

Ribeye

New York Strip

steak-center-profile Profile: Your idea of a perfect steak is one with beefy flavor and firm texture you can really sink your teeth into.

The New York Strip is a steak house classic and is known for good marbling and strong beef flavor. This is a steak with a definite grain that’s tender, but pleasingly firm to the bite.

New York Strip

T-Bone/Porterhouse

steak-center-profile Profile: You believe “variety is the spice of life” and enjoy having a filet mignon with your strip steak.

These two well-loved cuts are two-steaks-in-one, with a New York strip on one side and a tenderloin on the other. T-bones are the smaller of the two steaks because they’re cut from the front end of the short loin. The Porterhouse is cut from the larger end of the short loin and has a larger tenderloin portion.

T-Bone:Porterhouse

Other Steaks to Consider

TOP SIRLOIN

steak-center-profile Profile: You like a steak that’s lean, full-flavored with a nice chewy bite.

Steaks cut from the top sirloin are a great value due to their excellent flavor and lower price relative to the “Big Four” steaks listed above. These boneless steaks have little fat and are well known for their beefy flavor and moderate tenderness.

FLAT IRON

steak-center-profile Profile: You love well-marbled tender beef, but also enjoy saving a few bucks on your steak.

The flat iron steak is a favorite of butchers and beef experts due to its uniform size and delicious taste. It’s sometimes called a top blade steak and comes from the shoulder or chuck. The flat iron features intense marbling, robust beef flavor and a tender texture but costs less than other more well-known cuts.

CAP OF RIBEYE

steak-center-profile Profile: You must have the single most flavorful cut of beef available.

The cap of ribeye, also known as deckle steak or spinalis dorsi, just might be the best steak available. Look at a ribeye steak and you’ll see the large eye of meat that’s the center of the cut. Surrounding this center is cap of ribeye. This beautiful cut has the tenderness of a filet mignon, the rich marbling of a rib steak and a mouthwatering flavor and texture all its own.

PREPARING YOUR STEAK

DEFROST

steak center icons-DEFROST The best way to thaw a frozen steak is to place it in the refrigerator and allow to slowly defrost. Place your packaged steaks on a plate or baking sheet to catch any liquid that might escape during the thawing process.

Our steaks range in size from 6 ounces all the way up to 3 pounds. Small steaks can thaw in a matter of hours and the large ones can take a couple days. While we enjoy a good impromptu grill-fest, planning ahead will ensure you get the best results possible.

SPEED THAW

steak center icons-SPEED THAW OK, we get it. Sometimes you just need to eat now and your steak is still frozen solid. Keep your steaks in their package, place in a pot or large bowl and place in the sink. Run a stream of cool water over the steak and fill the container. Some folks like to keep the water running to facilitate thawing, but we’ve had good results without wasting our precious H2O.

Once your steak is fully thawed, remove it from the packaging, pat dry with a paper towel, loosely cover and allow to sit at room temperature for up to an hour. While not critical, this is a great way to let your beef warm slightly and improve the end results.

OIL

steak center icons-OIL A neutral vegetable oil is highly recommended for any steak preparation in a skillet. Canola is a common and popular choice. We frequently use grape seed oil in our kitchen because it has a light clean flavor and a high smoke point of about 420 degrees.

SALT & PEPPER

steak center icons-SEASONING A well-seasoned steak is a delicious steak. Kosher salt is our standby for salt, although we like having a nice flakey finishing salt on hand to shower on our steak before serving. There are many schools of thought on when to salt. Our go-to method is to apply liberally right before placing in the skillet or on the grill.

There’s only one kind of pepper in our book and that’s fresh-ground. The fine, dried variety is not as flavorful. You can add pepper when you salt your steaks. Perfectionists wait to when their steak has been removed from the grill or skillet to avoid any chance of imparting a burnt flavor to the meat.

THERMOMETER

steak center icons-THERMOMETER A good quality instant-read thermometer is a must for cooking a perfect steak. There are numerous options available, but we use and recommend the high quality and accurate thermometers from Thermoworks. The Thermapen (about $100) is the top pick by top chefs and particular home cooks, but we’ve had great results with the Thermopop which runs about $30.

STEAK TEMPERATURE GUIDE

Here are the magic numbers you’ll need to determine when your steak is cooked to the degree of doneness you most prefer. The internal temp is when the steak should be removed from the heat. The steak will continue to cook so the temperature will rise during the rest period.

PreferenceDescriptionInternal Temp
RareRed center, very cool110°F
Medium RareRed, warm center120°F
MediumPink throughout130°F
Medium-wellPink center140°F
WellNo pinkNot recommended

(One) Review

Rating 5

I had steaks to cook tonight and wasn’t sure how long or what temperature to cook them at on the grill. I found your website and followed your instructions. My hubby and I agree that the T-bones I cooked tonight were the very best I have ever made in our 3 years together. THANK YOU SO MUCH. We live in Chicago and I have great snow boots and a really warm jacket. Even in the snow, I will be cooking our steaks on the grill.
I love your website.

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Cooking Methods

    Steak House Method

    The classic way to prepare a steak. Works best for steaks 1.5” and thicker.

  1. Season

    Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add a light coat of vegetable oil to the skillet. Season steaks with salt and pepper.

  2. Sear

    Place steaks in hot skillet and sear for 4 minutes, turning once. If a steak sticks to the skillet, it’s not ready to turn. Wait until it releases on its own.

  3. Warm to room temp

    Cook

    Place skillet in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes depending on desired doneness. Turn once half way through the cooking time. Remove from oven when preferred internal temperature is reached. See chart for a suggested temperatures.

  4. Rest

    Remove steaks from a skillet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. The steaks will continue to cook and the temperature will rise about 5 degrees.

    Searing

    A fast and easy way to cook steaks 1.25” or thinner.

  1. Season

    Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat until hot. Add a light coat of vegetable oil to the skillet. Season top side of steaks with salt and pepper.

  2. Sear

    Place steaks, seasoned side down, in skillet and sear 4 to 5 minutes until nicely browned. Season the top side of the steak with salt and pepper. If the steak sticks to the skillet, it’s not ready to turn. Wait until it releases on its own.

  3. Flip

    Turn steaks over and allow to cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. After 2 to 3 minutes, use a thermometer to test the thickest part of the steak. When the temperature reaches the desired level, remove from the skillet. Remove steaks from a skillet and serve.

    Reverse Sear

    This method is the darling of many “how to cook a steak” tutorials. The Reverse Sear cooks a steak at low temp, then adds a nice crust as the finishing step. This is a good technique for thicker steaks.

  1. Season

    Heat oven to 275 degrees. Season steak with salt and pepper. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a metal rack in the middle. The idea is to elevate the steak from the pan.

  2. Warm to room temp

    Cook

    Place the pan, grill and steak in the oven. Bake until the steak reaches the temperature that matches your preference. See the chart for exact temperatures. For medium rare, cook until 120 degrees. This can take up to 60 minutes, but begin checking the internal temperature at 30 minutes.

  3. Rest

    Remove steak from the oven, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. Sear

    Add a light coating of vegetable oil to a heavy skillet and heat over high heat until hot. Sear steak on each side for 60 to 90 seconds to form a beautiful crust. Serve.

    Sous Vide

    Cook consistently perfect steak using a precision sous vide cooker or immersion circulator.

  1. Heat Water

    Place your immersion circulator in a container with water and set the temperature. See the chart to determine the best temperature to achieve the results you desire.

  2. Season

    Use a generous amount of salt and pepper on both sides of the steak.

  3. Package & Seal

    Use a vacuum sealer to seal the steak in a bag. You can also use a self-sealing plastic bag by placing the bag in a container of water, being careful to keep the lip above the water line. The water pressure will displace the air as the steak drops deeper into the water. Seal the bag when all or most of the air has been pushed out of the bag.

  4. Warm to room temp

    Cook

    Place the sealed bag into the water. We recommend cooking your steak a minimum of one hour and no longer than two hours.

  5. Heat Skillet

    Add a light coat of vegetable oil to a heavy skillet. Place on a burner set to medium high heat.

  6. Sear

    Remove the steak from the sealed bag. Pat the steak dry and place in the hot pan. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes per side to create a brown, crisp crust. Steaks cooked sous vide do not require resting so you can serve immediately.

    PreferenceTemperatureTime
    Rare125 to 129°F60 to 120 min
    Medium-Rare130 to 135°F60 to 120 min
    Medium135 to 145°F60 to 180 min
    Medium-Well145 to 155°F60 to 180 min
    WellNot Recommended

    Direct Grilling - Gas Grill

    A great way to cook steaks 1.5” or thinner in the great outdoors.

  1. Season

    Turn on grill to medium heat. Season grill with a light coat of vegetable oil. Season steaks with salt and pepper or your favorite rub.

  2. Sear

    Place steak on hot grill, close lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Lift steak off the grill, turn 45 degrees and place back on the grill. Allow to cook for 2 more minutes.

  3. Flip

    Turn steak over and cook for 2 minutes. Lift steak off the grill, turn 45 degrees and place back on the grill. Allow to cook for 2 more minutes. For medium rare, the total cook time is 8 minutes. Check the temperature of the thickest part of the steak to determine when it is done to your preference. See chart for temperature guidelines.

  4. Rest

    Remove steaks from a skillet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 5 minutes. The steaks will continue to cook and the temperature will rise about 5 degrees. Serve.

    Indirect Grilling - Gas Grill

    Use your gas grill like an oven to cook thick, large steaks.

  1. Season

    Turn on grill to medium heat and allow to come to temperature. Season grill with a light coat of vegetable oil to the skillet. Season steaks with salt and pepper.

  2. Sear

    Place steak on hot grill, close lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Lift steak off the grill, turn 45 degrees and place back on the grill. Allow to cook for 2 more minutes.

  3. Flip

    Turn steak over and cook for 2 minutes. Lift steak off the grill, turn 45 degrees and place back on the grill. Allow to cook for 2 more minutes. Check the temperature of the thickest part of the steak.

  4. Warm to room temp

    Cook

    Turn off half of the burners on the grill and place the steaks on the side so they are not directly above flame. Close the lid and allow to cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Turn once halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the grill when preferred internal temperature is reached. See chart for suggested temperatures.

  5. Rest

    Remove steaks from a skillet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. The steaks will continue to cook and the temperature will rise about 5 degrees. Serve.

    Indirect Grilling - Charcoal Grill

    Utilize the high heat generated by a charcoal grill to cook steaks 1.5” thick or less.

  1. Season

    Spread coals under half the surface area of your grill and leave the other side empty. Spread cooking oil lightly over the grill. Ignite the coals and keep the grill lid closed. Season steak liberally with salt and pepper or your favorite rub.

  2. Sear

    Place the steaks directly over the coals and cook for about 4 minutes, cooking two minutes per side. For the best grill marks, rotate the steak 90 degrees after the first minute on each side.

  3. Warm to room temp

    Cook

    Move your steaks to the “cool” side of the grill that does not have coals directly under it. Cover the grill and let them cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Remove from grill when preferred internal temperature is reached. See chart for suggested temperatures.

  4. Rest

    Cover steaks loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes, where they will continue to cook, raising internal temperature another 5 degrees. Serve.

    Reverse Sear - Charcoal Grill

    Your charcoal grill is an excellent tool to prepare a steak with a beautifully charred crust and an even, pink warm center.

  1. Season

    Heat one section of your grill while leaving an area that is not directly heated by flame. Keep the grill lid closed to create an oven-like atmosphere that reaches 350 degrees. Season steaks with salt and pepper or your favorite rub.

  2. Roast

    Place your steaks on the “cool” side of the grill, away from the direct flame. Close the lid and cook until within 5 degrees of your desired doneness, 10 to 20 minutes. See chart for suggested temperatures.

  3. Sear

    Remove Steaks and turn up the heat on the grill to high heat. Return the steaks to the “hot” side of the grill, with flame directly underneath. Cook for three minutes, flipping the steak over after one and a half minutes.

  4. Rest

    Remove the steak from the grill and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Let stand for 10 minutes. The steaks will continue to cook and the temperature will rise about 5 degrees. Serve.

    Traeger Grill

    Your wood pellet grill is not just for smoking, it’s also great for cooking a steak.

  1. Season

    Liberally apply salt and pepper or your favorite rub to the steak. Traeger recommends pouring the seasoning onto the palm of your hand and massaging it into the meat.

  2. Smoke

    Fire up the grill, set to Smoke and allow steak to take on the flavor for 25 to 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat

    After your steak has smoked, remove it from the grill. Turn control to High and let grill preheat for 10 to 15 minutes so it is running at the highest possible temperature.

  4. Grill

    Return steak to the hot grill and cook until it reaches the desired doneness. Use a thermometer to determine the exact time to remove from the grill. See the temperature chart for specific details. Finish with a pat of butter. Serve.