5 Expert Tips for Grilling Juicy, Tender Steak

5 Expert Tips for Grilling Juicy, Tender Steak

Want to learn how to grill steak to perfection? Few things beat a juicy, tender steak with a light, smoky crust.

Look no further — we have a few easy cooking tips to churn out fast, drool-worthy grilled steaks.

Step 1: Choose a Beef Cut with Marbling

According to Brittany Crump, M.P.H., R.D. at Savor Nutrition, “The best cut of beef for grilled steak should be tender with lots of marbling, which are the white fat flecks found throughout the meat. Marbled fat melts while your steak grills, infusing the meat with flavor while keeping it juicy and tender.”

Seasoned raw steak on marble

If you’re watching your fat intake, Holly McKee-Clark, former culinary specialist for BODi, says, “Top sirloin makes a tasty but still lean choice cut for grilling.”

Other beef cuts with adequate marbling for grilled steak include:

  • Strip steak (e.g., New York or Kansas City strip)
  • Ribeye steak
  • Top sirloin steak
  • Filet mignon or tenderloin
  • Skirt or flank steak

Your steak piece should be approximately one to two inches thick to produce a good char without overcooking the meat inside.

The exception is flank or skirt steaks, which should be sliced thin and against the grain after cooking to break up the tougher muscle fibers.

These steaks are best served on tacos, fajitas, sandwiches, or salads.

Step 2: Prep & Season Steak

Before seasoning, blot your steaks with a paper towel to create a dry surface for the seasoning to stick.

“To help the flavors seep into the meat better, score your steaks in a crisscross pattern across both sides before adding your rub or marinade,” McKee-Clark recommends.

For flavor, you can simply season the steak with salt and pepper.

Or, pick up premade steak seasoning at the grocery store. You can also make your own by blending a mix of the following:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic or onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • Oregano
  • Parsley flakes
  • Cumin
  • Coriander

For the tougher flank or skirt steaks, we recommend using a wet marinade — usually made with oil and acid — to make the steak more tender than a dry rub.

Let your steaks marinate for at least 30 minutes to soak in the flavor.

Your basic steak marinade typically includes:

  • Oil
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • Minced garlic or onions
  • Your favorite herbs and spices

Step 3: Let Steaks Come to Room Temperature

Take your marinating steaks out of the fridge and let them sit covered, on the counter, for 20 to 30 minutes to come closer to room temperature.

Grilling a steak while it’s cold means that the steak’s interior will need to cook longer, potentially resulting in an overcooked exterior.

Step 4: Grill Steak Over Hot, Clean Grates

Steak cooking on grill

Now that you’ve prepped, it’s time to learn how to grill steak. Starting with a clean grill gives your grilled steak pretty, distinct char marks.

“Brush some oil on the grill to keep the steak from sticking to your grates. Steak is quick-cooking meat, which will require a hot, preheated grill at 450-500° F,” Crump advises.

How long should you cook steak on a grill? What about on each side?

It’s hard to give a specific cook time for steak since this depends on your steak size, thickness, and desired doneness.

  • You can start by searing your steaks on the grill for 2-3 minutes and repeat on the other side.
  • A thicker steak needs to cook longer, but it’s better to undercook it, check doneness, and keep cooking as needed.

Do you close the grill when cooking steak?

“If your steak is thicker than about ¾ of an inch, close the lid to create a convection oven. If it’s a thin flank or skirt steak, leave the grill open; otherwise, you won’t get that good sear on both sides before the steak is done,” says McKee-Clark.

To check doneness, you could cut into the steak but risk losing some juiciness.

“A meat thermometer is a grill master’s best friend,” says McKee-Clark, “Check your meat before you think it’s done and then every minute or two after that. Take your meat off the grill when it’s 5° F less than your desired cook temperature, then tent it with foil for 10 minutes. The meat will continue to cook as it rests.”

If you have a meat thermometer, use the chart below to gauge doneness and keep cooking your steak until it’s how you like it.

Steak doneness Internal temperature (degrees F)
Medium-rare 145° F
Well done 165° F

Special note for how to grill flank or skirt steak: “Beware that these cuts are thinner than regular steaks, and they’ll require less time to reach your desired doneness,” says McKee-Clark.

So keep a close eye on that grill!

Step 5: Rest Your Steak Before Cutting

Sliced grilled steak with vegetables on plate

If you cut the steak right after it’s done, the juices will drain out, leaving you with a less juicy piece of steak.

Instead, tent your steak with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes so that the juices can settle.

As noted above, this also enables the steak to finish cooking.

We recommend cutting against the grain since it breaks up the muscle into smaller pieces, making your steak less chewy — this step is a must for tougher cuts like flank steak!

For all other cuts, enjoy the steak however you’d like.

Looking for more expert nutrition information? Head over to BODNutrition.com and learn how to eat healthy with the help of our two nutrition programs, 2B Mindset and Portion Fix.