Steak Temperatures

The Ultimate Guide to Steak Temperatures: From Rare to Well-Done

Steak is a beloved dish enjoyed by many, and achieving the perfect level of doneness is key to unlocking its full flavor and tenderness. From a cool, red center in a rare steak to a well-done, firm texture, each level of doneness offers a unique dining experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore different steak temperatures, their characteristics, and how to achieve them to satisfy your culinary preferences.

What are the Ideal Steak Temperatures?

The final flavor and texture of your steak are greatly influenced by the steak temperatures at which it is cooked. 

Let's take a closer look at each doneness level:

Doneness

Internal Temperature Range (°F)

Characteristics

Rare

120-125°F

Cool red center, soft, slight resistance

Medium-Rare

130-135°F

Warm, steak-red center, tender, juicy

Medium

140-145°F

Hot center (red to pink), some resistance

Medium-Well

150-155°F

Hint of pink in the center, less juicy

Well-Done

160-165°F and above

Firm, no juice, entirely brown or gray

How to Determine Steak Temperatures

A meat thermometer is an essential tool in the kitchen, providing food safety, accuracy, and consistency when cooking meat, including steak. It helps you achieve the desired level of doneness, ensuring both the safety and quality of the cooked meat.

Benefits of Meat Thermometer

The meat thermometer plays a crucial role in cooking meat, including steak. Here are some key roles and benefits of using a meat thermometer:

  • Ensuring Food Safety: The primary role of a meat thermometer is to ensure that the meat is cooked to a safe internal temperature, minimizing the risk of foodborne illnesses. By accurately measuring the internal temperature of the meat, you can determine if it has reached the recommended minimum temperature to kill harmful bacteria or pathogens.
  • Achieving Desired Doneness: Different individuals have different preferences for the level of doneness in their steak. A meat thermometer allows you to cook the steak to the desired level of doneness by providing an accurate measurement of its internal temperature. This ensures that you achieve the perfect balance of tenderness, juiciness, and flavor according to your preference.
  • Consistency and Precision: Using a meat thermometer provides consistency and precision in cooking. It helps you avoid undercooking or overcooking the meat, as the thermometer provides an accurate reading of the internal temperature. This consistency allows you to reproduce the desired results consistently, ensuring a better dining experience for your customers.
  • Avoiding Guesswork: Relying solely on visual cues, such as the color of the meat, can be unreliable and lead to inconsistent results. A meat thermometer eliminates the guesswork by providing an objective measurement of the internal temperature, taking the guesswork out of determining doneness.
  • Preventing Dry or Overcooked Meat: Overcooking meat can result in dry, tough, and less flavorful meat. By using a meat thermometer, you can remove the meat from the heat source when it reaches the desired doneness, preventing it from becoming overcooked and preserving its moisture and tenderness.

How To Use Meat Thermometer 

The best method to tell when a steak is done is to take its internal temperature; a grilling or instant-read thermometer works best for this. Place the thermometer probe in the thickest area, far from any fat, bone, or gristle, to check the proper temperature. It's crucial to remember that the meat will continue to cook for a further five degrees after it is taken off the grill due to residual heat. Therefore, remove the steak from the heat at approximately 155 F, give or take, if you're aiming for a final internal temperature of 160 F.

How to Cook Steak 

How to Cook Rare Steak

Rare steak is for the true carnivore who wants something nearly raw but gets it cooked as little as possible. 

Warm in the middle, slightly charred on the outside, browned around the edges, and bright red in the center is what defines a rare steak. Similar to raw meat, the meat should feel soft to the touch but have a browned surface. 

For a 1-inch steak, place the steak on​ a hot grill for 5 minutes. Then, turn and continue grilling for another 3 minutes. Continue cooking to an internal temperature of 120 to 130 F (49 to 55 C).

Rare Steak

How to Cook Medium-Rare Steak

Medium-rare steak is the recommended level of doneness for a good steak. 

A medium-rare steak should be slightly pink in the center with a hint of red, and it should be warm throughout. The top and bottom should have caramelized to a dark brown color with nice grill marks, and the sides should be nicely browned. The firm outside surface of this steak should give slightly in the middle, but it will quickly spring back. 

For a 1-inch steak, place the steak on a hot grill for 5 minutes. Then, turn and continue grilling for another 4 minutes to an internal temperature of 130 to 135 F (55 to 57 C).

Medium-Rare Steak

How to Cook Medium Steak

Medium steak is ideal when grilling for a large group of people. 

A medium-cooked steak should have more browned meat than pink throughout, with a thick band of light pink color running through the center. The sides should be a rich brown color and the top and bottom charred darkly (but not black). Although it feels firm to the touch, this steak will have some give in the middle. 

For a 1-inch steak, place the steak on a hot grill for 6 minutes. Then, turn and continue grilling for another 4 minutes until an internal temperature of 140 to 150 F (60 to 66 C) is reached.

Medium Steak

How to Cook Medium-Well Steak

Medium-well steak is for those who don't want a lot of pink in their meat. A medium-well steak should have just a hint of pink in the very middle of the steak with a dark brown surface and good charring on the top and bottom. The steak will be very stiff but still have a little squish in the center. 

For a 1-inch steak, place the steak on a hot grill for 7 minutes. Then turn and continue grilling for another 5 minutes. Cook to an internal temperature of 155 to 165 F (68 to 74 C).

Medium-Well Steak

How to Cook Steak Well-Done

Well-done steak should not be burnt on the outside. While there is not the faintest hint of pink in the middle, it should be browned through, not burnt through. This steak will feel solid when touched.

For a 1-inch steak, grill over medium heat for between 10 and 12 minutes per side. It should reach an internal temperature of 170 F (77 C) or higher.

Well-done Steak

Conclusion

Understanding steak temperatures and their characteristics is crucial for achieving the desired level of doneness. Whether you prefer the tenderness and juiciness of a rare or medium-rare steak or the firm texture of a well-done steak, following proper cooking techniques and utilizing a meat thermometer will help you achieve consistent, delicious results. Experiment with different levels of doneness to find your personal favorite and elevate your steak-cooking skills to impress friends, family, or customers with perfectly cooked steaks every time.

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