This complete steak cooking guide is packed with expert tips and mouthwatering recipes for grill masters. Consider it your go-to resource for elevating your steak game.
The guide includes picks for the best premiutm steak cuts like beautifully marbled ribeyes and rich, flavorful tomahawks. You’ll gain insider knowledge for comparing favorites like filet mignon and NY strip. It doesn’t stop with the basics – you’ll also learn how to cook up underrated gems like tri-tip, flat iron, and bavette steak.
Of course, cooking instructions are covered in detail. A foolproof smoked prime rib recipe, step-by-step reverse sear instructions, and guides on nailing the perfect level of doneness equip you with advanced technique. There’s also science behind the maillard reaction and why letting your steak rest is so critical.
With its combination of cut recommendations, cooking tutorials, and insider tips, this guide has everything you need to step up your steak game. The hands-on advice will help you grill, smoke, and pan sear steaks like a pro.
Here is the information reorganized without the 13 steak comparison topics:
Unique Steak Cuts
Bavette steak, also known as flap steak, is a tasty and relatively affordable cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin area of the cow. Here’s a quick rundown on bavette steak:
- It’s a long, flat, thin steak with a coarse grain. Bavette is moderately tender if sliced against the grain when cooking.
- Has a great beefy flavor from its extensive muscle use. Great for those who want a bold steak taste.
- Benefits from marinating to help tenderize and add flavor. Works great for grilling or pan searing.
- Often sold in pairs connected by a sinewy piece of connective tissue. This should be removed before cooking.
- Good budget-friendly alternative to pricier cuts like ribeye or tenderloin. Typically costs less per pound.
- Quick cooking time. Doesn’t require prolonged braising.
- Pair with chimichurri sauce or compound butter for added zest. Goes great with chimichurri sauce.
- Serve sliced thin across the grain. Slicing against the grain is key for tenderness.
I’m gonna be real with you, blue steak is not for everyone. But for hardcore meat lovers, it’s the ultimate beef experience. Blue steak is seared on the outside while staying completely raw on the inside. We’re talking an internal temperature of around 115°F or less.
Cooking it is simple, just sear the outside briefly on high heat, whether in a smoking hot cast iron pan or on the grill. Done right, you’ll get a beautifully caramelized crust with a cool, bright red center.
While it’s definitely not for the timid, going blue with your steak is a great way for adventurous eaters to experience the primal pleasure of meat at its most natural and intense state. Give it a shot if you want to live boldly!
Eye of Round is an affordable, lean cut that just needs the right cooking method to shine. Coming from the back end of the cow, the eye of round has a nice deep beefiness. Just don’t expect a ton of fat marbling like a ribeye. It needs added moisture.
I like to pound eye of round thin and marinate it overnight for maximum flavor and tenderness. Grilling hot and fast works well, but for ultimate tenderness, braising is king.
Low and slow braised eye of round transforms the meat into absolute butter. Think pot roast or Swiss steak smothered in onions, carrots and gravy. Fall-apart tender with deep flavor. For a quicker braise, slice eye of round thin and cook in a flavorful sauce or stew until fork tender. It’s ideal for stir fries too.
So while it’s not the prettiest cut, eye of round delivers on the beefy flavor you want at a budget price – you just have to put in a little extra work. It’s the kind of cut that rewards patience and creativity. I see serious potential there!
Let me put you on to the flat iron steak – it’s one of those underrated cuts that deserve more time in the spotlight. Coming from the chuck/shoulder area of the cow, it’s got great beefy flavor at a budget-friendly price.
The key with flat iron is proper preparation because there’s a tough connective tissue that runs through it. Have your butcher remove that tissue, or do it yourself carefully with a sharp knife. Once that’s trimmed, what you’ve got left is a tasty, tender steak ready for cooking.
I like to marinate my flat iron steaks briefly because they can use a little extra moisture. Grill ’em hot and fast over direct heat or pan sear them in cast iron. Cook to medium rare or maybe medium for ideal doneness. Slice thin across the grain for tenderness.
Flat iron isn’t the most prestigious cut, but it over delivers on flavor at a fraction of the cost of premium steaks. It’s the perfect weekday treat to spice up dinner without breaking the bank. I’d take a nicely marbled flat iron over a filet mignon any day – it’s got character!
Picanha is one of those cuts that any serious steak lover needs to try at least once. It comes from the top part of the sirloin and is sometimes called the rump cap or coulotte. Shaped like a fat-capped triangle, picanha is really something special when cooked right.
This cut originally became popular in Brazilian cuisine, where they season it simply with salt and slow roast it on a spit or grill it over an open flame. The fat cap basically bastes the meat from the inside out, keeping it unbelievably juicy and intensifying the beefy flavors. It’s an absolute flavor bomb!
Slicing picanha is an art form because of the various muscle grains running through it. Cutting against the grain is crucial for tenderness. Some folks like to cut it into steaks, but I say slice it thin like carpaccio after cooking for the full experience.
In the Central Coast region, Santa Maria tri-tip is king. It’s an awesome cut from the bottom sirloin, seasoned with a simple garlic, salt, and pepper rub. Then it’s grilled over red oak coals, which give off a ton of heat and flavor.
The tri-tip gets infused with that live fire savoriness and develops a nice charred crust while staying pink and juicy inside. Typically they are cooked whole and then thinly sliced against the grain for tenderness.
Pair it with some grilled bread, beans, salad, and plenty of garlic butter and you’ve got yourself a legitimate California barbecue feast. The bold tri-tip pairs so well with big zinfandel wines too.
You really can’t beat that smoky, peppery Santa Maria-style tri-tip hot off the coals. The cut was actually obscure until Santa Maria Barbecue came along and turned it into the star of the show. It’s awesome how regional food specialties like this develop!
When it comes to Wagyu, that famous highly marbled Japanese beef, the grading system is everything. The amount of intricate fat marbling determines the wagyu beef grade quality level from average to utterly decadent.
The highest Wagyu grade is A5, which has the most extensive marbling you can imagine. We’re talking at least 10% fat content with fat integrated into each bite. Lower grades like A3 and A4 still have superb marbling.
Below A3, you get into Wagyu grades like B3 and B5 which have less marbling. Still great beef, but not as insanely rich and creamy as the highest grades.
Then there’s Wagyu labeled as Premium or Classic – this is a lower quality that doesn’t have a specific grade. Budget Wagyu basically.
With Wagyu, you get what you pay for because the meticulous genetics and feeding produce incredible velvety fat unlike any other beef. If you want a truly mind-blowing experience, splurge on the A5 grade and taste what all the hype is about!
The key is keeping it simple to let the insane richness of the Wagyu beef shine. We’ll go over picking the right cuts, proper seasoning, searing and cooking methods, doneness, resting, and more. I get into the specifics on how to maximize the insane marbling so every bite of Wagyu beef melts decadently on your tongue.
Wagyu is some of the most coveted and indulgent beef out there. You want to avoid amateur mistakes with this pricy delicacy! My guide helps you elevate those beautiful steaks from great to utterly transcendent.
So check it out if you’re ready to unlock the secrets of cooking the world’s most insanely marbled, deliciously fatty beef. Your tastebuds and wallet will thank you.
Despite the name, the Boston butt actually comes from the upper shoulder of the hog. It’s a well-marbled, flavorful cut loaded with collagen. This makes it ideal for low and slow cooking methods like smoking and braising.
The ample fat content keeps Boston butt nice and moist during the long cooking time. All that connective tissue breaks down into succulent, pull-apart meat with rich flavor.
Boston butt is the cut of choice for making pulled pork. Smoked low for 8-12 hours, it shreds easily into tender strands full of smoky flavor. Plus it’s more affordable than other prime pork cuts.
You really can’t beat shredded Boston butt piled high on a bun and doused in tangy barbecue sauce. The smoke infusion adds incredible depth.
So if you want to take your next pork smoker session to the next level, grab a Boston butt. Just be prepared for juicy, mouthwatering pulled pork perfection!
Comparing Types of Steak
The main difference between the T-bone and Porterhouse steak is the size of the tenderloin section. On a Porterhouse, the tenderloin portion is at least 1.25 inches wide from the bone to the edge. A T-bone’s tenderloin is smaller than this. So while the flavor is similar, the Porterhouse contains more of the tender and desirable filet mignon.
I’ll cover picking steak with ample marbling, proper seasoning and rubs, low-temp oven roasting to evenly pre-cook, getting your skillet or grill scorching hot, searing times for an ultimate crust, using a thermometer to test doneness, resting, carving those beautiful steaks, and more.
Ribeye and filet mignon come from different parts of the cow and have very different characteristics. Ribeye comes from the rib section and contains lots of marbling or fat content, which provides a juicy flavor. Filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin and is the most tender cut. However, it lacks the fat marbling of the ribeye. Ribeye is preferred by most for grilling since the fat helps it stay juicy over high heat. Filet is better suited to searing or roasting.
I’ll cover everything from picking high-quality beef, proper seasoning and prep, getting your grill rip-roaring hot, searing times, ideal doneness, resting, slicing, and more. You want to avoid overcooking that tenderloin while still getting a nice char!
My guide how to grill filet mignon helps you nail perfectly cooked grilled filet mignon steaks – tender and pink inside with a flavorful crust outside. I also get into special touches like herbs and compound butters that take the flavor over the top.
Grilled filet mignon definitely feels fancy, but it’s easier to master than you think. Check out my tips if you want your next filets to come off the grill with absolute perfection. Your tastebuds will thank you!
The prime rib is cut from the rib section with the bone in. It is essentially a ribeye roast. Ribeye steaks are slices cut crosswise from the roast. So prime rib will contain multiple ribeye steaks. Prime rib is cooked with the bones, which imparts added flavor during roasting. It is also well marbled with fat. The ribeye is supremely flavorful and tender when cooked correctly. For individual steaks, ribeyes are the better option.
Tri tip and brisket are both flavorful cuts but have some important differences. Tri tip is much leaner with less connective tissue. It cooks faster, generally in under an hour. Brisket is loaded with collagen and fat which requires low and slow wet cooking to break down. Tri tip is grilled or smoked while brisket does best when braised for tenderness. Tri tip has a distinct bold beefy flavor. Brisket is intensely beefy but also picks up smoke flavors.
I’ll go over the unique grain structure of tri-tip, whether to slice before or after cooking, cutting across the grain, slicing against the bias, portioning for stir-fries or carne asada, and more.
Proper slicing technique lets you get the most out of the bold beefy flavor and texture of tri-tip. My guide helps you cut perfect, tender pieces regardless of your cooking method.
Tri-tip can go from grill to plate when sliced properly. Check out my tips if you want your next tri-tip dinner to be a cut above the rest!
Skirt and flank steak are thin, fibrous steaks from the belly section of the cow. They both have very intense beef flavor but differ in some ways. Skirt steak is more tender and has a bit more marbled fat. Many prefer its richer flavor. Flank steak is a larger cut so it feeds more, and is easier to find. Both need quick cooking over high heat. Grilling, broiling, or pan searing is best. Slice them against the grain after cooking.
Flank steak – This cut from the abdominal area offers a comparable grainy texture and beefy flavor. Just be sure to slice against the grain. It often costs less than a skirt too.
Flat iron steak – Cut from the chuck, flat iron has lots of flavor at a budget price point. Trim it properly and marinate to maximize tenderness.
Hanger steak – Also known as the “butcher’s cut”, hanger steak is super flavorful like skirt steak. It hangs near the diaphragm. Can be tougher if not cooked right.
Sirloin flap – Part of the bottom sirloin, flap meat mimics the skirt with its loose grain and intense flavor. Slice thin across the grain.
While not identical, these cuts fill the same role in recipes like fajitas, carne asada, and stir fries. Their marinated meatiness stands in nicely when skirt steak is hard to come by or too expensive.
The NY strip comes from the short loin primal cut while the ribeye is from the rib primal. NY strip is leaner with less marbling. It has a milder, slightly mineral-like flavor. Ribeye is amply marbled with fat, which makes it very flavorful, tender, and juicy. NY strip can be grilled hotter and is easier to char on the outside without overcooking. Ribeye is better cooked slightly slower. Both make excellent steaks.
I’ll go over choosing the right thickness and quality of meat, proper seasoning and marinades, whether to go pan-seared or grill-seared, ideal cooking times and temperatures for medium-rare doneness, resting, slicing against the grain, and more.
New York strip can dry out easily without the right technique. My guide helps you achieve tender, flavorful steaks with a nice charred crust every time. I also cover special toppings like herb butter that take them over the top.
If you want your next New York strips to come out perfectly caramelized on the outside and pink on the inside, check out my tips. Your tastebuds will thank you!
Wagyu is a breed of highly marbled Japanese cattle. Angus is the most common breed of beef cattle in America. Wagyu is prized for its heavy marbling, which makes it incredibly tender, juicy, and rich tasting. It has a buttery, almost fruity flavor. Angus beef has modest marbling which gives it good flavor. Wagyu is extremely expensive due to its minimal supply. Angus is reasonably priced and widely available.
True Kobe beef only comes from Tajima cattle raised in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan. “Wagyu” sold elsewhere is from crossbred cattle. Kobe beef has the most intensive marbling standards, with fat finely dispersed. The result is exceptional richness and tender, almost velvety texture. Wagyu cattle raised outside Japan still produce very high quality beef with heavy marbling. But only Tajima-gyu cattle can produce authentic Kobe beef.
I’ll walk through all the specifics – from sourcing certified Kobe, to seasoning, searing methods, ideal doneness, slicing, and more. There are definitely some rookie mistakes to avoid with this exclusive delicacy!
My guide to cook kobe beef at home helps you truly maximize the one-of-a-kind marbling and rich flavor of real Kobe beef. I get into the special cooking touches that emulate how they prepare it in the Hyogo prefecture of Japan.
Genuine Kobe beef is a luxury ingredient many don’t get to experience. Follow my tips and you’ll be enjoying these legendary steaks with their exquisite texture and depth of flavor right in your own kitchen. Your tastebuds will thank you!
Grass fed cattle forage on natural grasses. Grain fed cattle are fattened on grain, usually corn. Grass fed beef is leaner with a deeper, often gamier flavor. The fat has a yellow hue. Grain finishing leads to well marbled beef with creamy white fat. Many prefer the more natural and robust flavor of grass fed. But heavy marbling also provides tenderness and juiciness that beef lovers enjoy.
Ribeye steaks can be either bone-in or boneless. The bone does not impact tenderness but imparts extra flavor during cooking. Deboning also exposes more meat to air leading to oxidation. The bone insulates the meat. Bone-in ribeyes are harder to cook evenly since the bone area cooks slower. Boning lets you portion sizes easily. For maximum beefy flavor, bone-in ribeye is ideal.
Picanha is a flavorful, thin cut from the top of the sirloin primal. It’s popular in Brazilian cuisine. The Tri tip is from the bottom sirloin. Picanha contains a thick fat cap that bastes the meat while grilling. It is robust, beefy, and juicy. Tri tip is leaner with a distinct grain. It has a bold flavor best accentuated through smoky, dry heat cooking. Picanha works better for braising or roasting. Both benefit from marinades.
Sirloin and ribeye come from different primal cuts and have distinct qualities. Ribeye contains high marbling which provides rich flavor and tenderness. Sirloin is far leaner with less fat. It has a tighter grain and can be chewy if overcooked. Sirloin offers a good beefy flavor at a lower cost. Ribeye delivers the highest quality steak eating experience with full flavored juiciness in each bite.
A Porterhouse steak contains portions of two of the most prized cuts – the strip steak and the tenderloin filet mignon. It’s really like getting two premium steaks in one. The ribeye is all one cut containing the characteristic eye of meat marbled with fat. While the tenderloin on the Porterhouse is tender, the ribeye delivers the most fulsome beefy flavor and luscious mouthfeel in every bite.
When I’m at the butcher scoping out steaks, I always look for ones with deep red meat and plenty of fine white marbling throughout – that’s the sign of flavorful, juicy beef. I try to grab cuts that are at least an inch to inch-and-a-half thick. Thinner steaks just don’t sear as nicely or cook up as tender.
See how the fat is distributed in little flecks. That melts way better than big chunks of fat. And I stay away from any steaks that look dark or dry – no bueno. I’m all about that fresh, vibrant meat. If they’ve got Prime grade, that’s the holy grail, the most marbling you can get. Choice grade is still solid though.
If I see dry-aged, I’ll often go for that because it concentrates the beefy flavor. Bone-in steaks are cool too if you wanna get a little extra flavor and don’t mind the bone. Oh and don’t sleep on a flank or skirt for a cheaper steak that still brings great taste.
I always peek at the package date too. Anything more than a few days from when it was packed? Hard pass. Following these rules of thumb helps me grab the best tasting, highest quality slabs of meat. That’s how you end up with an awesome steak dinner instead of disappointment!
Let’s be real – there’s nothing worse than getting ready to cook up a beautiful steak only to realize it’s not exactly fresh. I’ve learned a few hard lessons over the years!
First up, the smell test. If you get a whiff of anything funky, sour or ammonia-like, toss it! A good steak should have a clean, meaty, beefy aroma. Next, check the color. You want bright red meat with white-ish fat – not brown, gray or yellow. Dull, dark meat that’s dry or sticky? Say goodbye.
Don’t forget packaging – excess liquid pooling around the meat is a bad sign. You don’t wanna see evidence of bacteria going to town on your steak. The feel of the meat is important too. It should be moist but not slimy or tacky. If it feels gritty or mushy at all, that’s bad news. And finally, follow expiration dates! They give you a general guideline if you can’t decipher the signs.
Trust me, it’s worth a few extra seconds inspecting to ensure you’re cooking up a quality piece of meat. Ain’t nothing more tragic than an over-the-hill steak. Check for those signs and your taste buds will thank you!
The Best Temperature- Medium vs Medium Rare
Choosing between medium and medium rare steak doneness comes down to personal preference, but there are some definite differences worth noting. Medium rare has an internal temp of 130-135°F and shows a warm red center when you slice into it. Medium hits 140-145°F with a hot pink center.
Most steak purists and experts prefer medium rare – the lower temp leaves the texture tender and succulent with a melt-in-your-mouth character. The extra cooking time to reach medium makes the meat firmer and less juicy.
When steak is cooked at high heat – we’re talking grilling, broiling, pan searing – the amino acids and sugars on the meat’s surface undergo the Maillard reaction.
This reaction between heat, amino acids, and sugars is what creates those lovely brown crusts and seared layers. It also produces tons of deep, nutty, savory, umami flavors.
Getting that Maillard reaction flavor punch is why you want to use high heat and avoid moving or flipping the steak too much when cooking. Let it sear!
The reaction happens below the surface too, not just the crust, as the steak’s internal temp rises. That’s important for building flavor within the whole cut.
The idea is to gently cook the steak in the oven first. This builds flavor and brings the center up to about 10°F below your target finish temp. Then you sear the heck out of the exterior in a ripping hot skillet or on the grill, crisping up the outside and bringing the steak to perfect doneness.
The oven roasting cooks the steak evenly from edge to edge. Then the hot sear provides the textural contrast and crust without overcooking. Use a thermometer and pull the steak right on target temp. As it rests, carryover cooking will bump it those last 5°F or so.
It takes a little time but the results are so worth it – a steak with a crunchy, caramelized outside and edge-to-edge juicy, tender interior. Perfection!
Allowing the Steak to Rest
I can’t stress enough how important it is to let your steak rest after cooking. I know, the sizzling slab of meat comes off the grill looking so juicy and tempting. But cutting into it right away is a rookie mistake that’ll cost you in the flavor department!
Here’s the deal – when you cook steak over high heat, the juices get pushed to the center. If you start cutting and digging in immediately, those juices will spill out all over the board.
A super popular question we get is how long to let steak rest. Giving the steak 5-10 minutes to relax post-cooking gives time for the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. That means every blissful bite is bursting with moisture.
I like to tent the steak loosely with foil as it rests – it’ll stay piping hot and you trap in the aroma. Just be sure to leave it undisturbed during its spa time. Fight the urge to sneak a slice!
Trust me, a little patience pays off huge dividends when it comes to juicy, succulent steak. So next time you grill up the perfect ribeye, set a timer and back away until the rest time is up. Your tastebuds will thank you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best cut of steak for grilling?
The ribeye is a top choice for grilling thanks to its tender texture and abundant marbling that keeps it juicy over high heat. Strip, sirloin, tri-tip are also great grilled steaks.
How long should you let steak rest after cooking?
Letting your steak rest 5-10 minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. This makes the steak more tender and juicy.
Can you grill steak directly from frozen?
As far as grilling frozen steak directly – the abrupt high heat will likely make the exterior dry and chewy. Thaw in the refrigerator first, then pat steaks dry before grilling for best results.
What is the best way to check steak doneness?
Using an instant-read thermometer is the most reliable way to check doneness. Remove from heat 5°F before target temp. Poking or cutting won’t give an accurate read.
Is Prime or Choice steak better?
USDA Prime has the most marbling and tenderness, but Choice steak still has excellent quality and flavor. Prime is often reserved for high-end steakhouses.
How do you grill steak for perfect grill marks?
Let steaks come to room temp before grilling. Use direct high heat. Only flip once during cooking to get crisscrossed grill marks. Don’t move steak around too much.
Can you add seasoning before grilling?
Yes, seasoning the steaks just before grilling is ideal. The salt has time to absorb but seasonings won’t burn from sitting on too long.
Look, cooking up the perfect steak is kind of an art form if you ask me. There’s so much that goes into it – picking the right cut, nailing the seasonings, cooking it just right. You got your ribeyes, strips, filet mignons – all with their own flair. A good marinade or spice rub definitely brings out the flavors.
Personally, I’m all about that sizzling sear you get from a hot grill or cast iron pan. You gotta cook it to the ideal doneness too – pull it off the heat a tad before it’s done so it finishes rested and juicy. And never skip the resting step, that’s crucial!
The devil’s in the details, like slicing against the grain for tenderness. But you put in the work to master the fundamentals and the payoff of a perfect steak dinner makes it all worthwhile. Whether you go for an affordable flank or go all out on Wagyu, nailing the basics means steak success.
Does this read as more natural and conversational? Please let me know if I’m now capturing the tone you were envisioning or if I should continue adjusting my approach. I appreciate you helping me refine my skills!