Do you want to prepare your steak with a steakhouse-worthy quality every time? Although it may look simple, grilling a steak to the perfect doneness requires knowledge, experience, and some skill, as well as a meat thermometer.
After a lot of practice, you may be able to tell the doneness of the steak by touching and looking at it, but in the meantime, the best way to achieve the desired doneness is via a meat thermometer probe.
Here is a steak doneness guide so you can grill the steak to the exact and perfect doneness every time.
Before grilling the steak, you should let it come to room temperature, so make sure you leave it outside of the fridge on the counter for 30-45 minutes. It should reach an even temperature throughout to avoid burning it on the outside and leaving cold spots inside.
Rare 120-130F, 5 and 3 minutes per side
This is ideal doneness for filet mignon or top sirloin and other leaner steaks. It should be lightly charred on the outside and warm in the center, with bright red in the middle and brown on the sides. It is soft like raw meat but with a browned surface. It should be grilled for 5 minutes and another 3 minutes on the other side to an internal temperature of 120-130F and should be removed from the grill at a maximum of 125F.
Medium-Rare 130-135F, 5 and 4 minutes per side
Medium-rare is considered the best way to prepare a good steak by most chefs. It has a brown crust, grill marks on the dark brown top and bottom, and warm and pink color with a little red in the center, and the fat is rendered for a juicy and mouthwatering result.
The perfect medium-rare steak is prepared on a hot grill for 5 minutes, followed by 4 minutes on the other side to a temperature of the meat of 130-135F. It should be pulled off to rest when it reaches a temperature of a maximum internal temperature of 130F.
Medium 140-150F, 6 followed by 4 minutes per side
Medium-done steak has a firmer texture than medium-rare and a hot pink-colored center. It is the steak doneness which is most likely to be enjoyed by most people, so it is perfect when entertaining a large group of people.
The brown meat on the steak should be more than the pink-colored one, and the top and bottom are charred to dark brown.
Medium steak is prepared for 6 and then 4 minutes of grilling on each side until the meat reaches a maximum temperature of 145F when it needs to be pulled off and left to rest.
Medium-Well 155-165F, 7 followed by 5 minutes per side
The medium well-done steak has a firmer and mostly brown-colored texture and is drier than medium-done steak. It is a good choice for people who do not like pink meat, but it should still have a slight hint of pink in the middle, along with the charring on the top and bottom and dark brown sides.
The steak should be cooked for 7 minutes on the grill, flipped over, and cooked for another 5 minutes, or until it achieves an internal temperature of 155–165°F. When the temperature hits around 160F, it should be taken off the grill.
Well-done 160-170F+, 12 followed by 10 minutes per side
A well-done steak is firmer and drier than the other doneness levels. It is the doneness that is often disliked by chefs and consumers, but some people like their steak well done.
The fact is that preparing it well-done is more challenging than others because it requires attention to detail and low and slow grilling to prevent burning and to ensure that the middle of the steak is cooked through.
The well-done steak needs to be grilled over medium heat for 10-12 minutes per side but should not be burnt or charred to black on the outside.
The internal temperature for a well-done steak should be 160F or more, and it is recommended that you remove it from the grill when the thermometer reaches 165F degrees.
How do you know when the steak is done?
Since the different types of steaks and the different appliances can vary, and so can other conditions such as the weather and altitude, which can affect the grilling, it is advisable that you use a meat thermometer to ensure that its internal temperature has reached the doneness level you prefer.
Keep in mind that the steak will continue cooking even after it has been pulled off of the grill, so make sure you remove it from the grill when the internal temperature is about 5 degrees lower than your target temperature.
Learn how to cook steak on a griddle by following our complete guide
Resting the steak is essential
As mentioned before, the steak will continue cooking after it has been removed from the grill, so you should pull it off at a temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit before the desired temperature.
It should be left to rest for 3 to 5 minutes when it will reach the ideal temperature for the doneness you are aiming for.
By leaving it to rest properly, its juices will redistribute better, and the steak will become juicier, so do not attempt to cut into the meat for at least 3-5 minutes after taking the meat off of the grill.
Further Reading: Is Brown Steak Bad? If Raw Meat Turns Brown, Does It Mean It’s Bad