Test Kitchen Tips
9 Secrets to the Best Steak You’ll Ever Cook, According to Professionals
Want to learn how to cook the best steak you've ever had? After chatting with the executive chef team at Longhorn Steakhouse, we think we know what it takes!
Not too long ago, we met up with the finalists of LongHorn Steakhouse’s Steak Master Series. Before the chefs went head-to-head in an epic grill-off, they shared a few secrets to cooking the best steak you’ve ever eaten. They’re trained to cook nine different cuts of steak, so we couldn’t wait to hear their tricks!
Shutterstock / Lisovskaya Natalia
Choose Your Steak Wisely
It all starts with choosing the right steak for the job. A thick steak will take forever to reach a well-done temperature, and it’s almost impossible to hit a perfect medium-rare with a thin steak. When in doubt, ask your butcher for 1- to 1.5-inch thick steaks; they’re easy to cook to any temperature.
If you do end up with a super thick steak, don’t worry: we also know the secrets to grilling thick steak.
Shutterstock / Anton Chernov
Whether you’re keeping things simple with salt and pepper or whipping up one of these 17 dry rub grill recipes, make sure you season aggressively. Some of that seasoning will stick to the grill and you don’t want your steak to taste under-seasoned.
Shutterstock / photographyfirm
Use Good-Quality Meat
Want to know why that meal at the steakhouse tastes so good? They’re probably using high-quality beef that’s fresh—never frozen. You can taste the difference in the end, so ask your butcher to cut you a fresh steak (and try one of these steaks you didn’t know you could ask for).
Shutterstock / Pasko Maksim
Start with a Clean Grill
You spent all that time and money to prepare your steaks, don’t ruin them on a dirty grill! Built-up crud on your grill grates can cause off-flavors, not to mention that it can make your steak stick to the grill. Save yourself the headache and clean the grill before every barbecue.
Shutterstock / Joshua Resnick
Don’t Fear the Heat
If you want a perfectly cooked steak with beautiful grill marks, crank your grill up to high heat. Grill temperatures of 450°F to 600°F will ensure that your steak gets a good, hard sear without sticking. Learn all about building the perfect heat zone in your charcoal grill.
Shutterstock / moreimages
Oil is Your Friend
Your steak might not stick to the grill if it’s hot and clean, but the seasoning can! Always oil the grill with a neutral oil (like canola oil) before starting to make sure the maximum amount of seasoning stays on your steak. Oiling the grill in a back-to-front motion will keep your hands out of harm’s way in case of flare-ups.
Shutterstock / dotshock
Keep a Spray Bottle of Water Nearby
Flare-ups happen whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill. The fat from the steak drips onto the heating element, causing a tall flame to burst through the grates. Zone in on hot spots and prevent your meat from charring by keeping a spray bottle of water on the side of the grill.
Shutterstock / Alexander Raths
Flip Your Steaks to a New Location
As your steak cooks, the grill grates underneath it becomes cooler than the open spaces on the grill. Try flipping your steaks to a new location instead of just flipping it over to ensure your steak always has contact with the hottest part of the grill. If you’re looking for perfect, diamond-shaped grill marks, rotate your steak 90-degrees on each turn.
Shutterstock / Milan Ilic Photographer
The competition’s winner, Michelle “Meesh” Cerveny, says her secret to success is having fun! Your own mind is more likely to drag you down than anything else, so don’t let the stress of working the grill affect you. Stay positive and have an upbeat attitude, and it’ll shine through in the food.