Garlic Grilled Steaks Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 15 min.
These perfectly grilled steaks are finished with a robust garlic mixture that releases an incredible aroma. Whether you're cooking with charcoal or gas, we'll show you how long to grill steak and provide some helpful tips along the way.

Updated: Jun. 22, 2024

Learning how to grill a steak is a valuable life skill—right up there with knowing how to swim or fix a leaky faucet. But as a bonus, this skill happens to be a real crowd-pleaser! There’s nothing better than biting into perfectly grilled steak with a flame-kissed crust. It may seem like a skill you’d need to spend a lifetime mastering, but I’ve taught many people the basics of grilling steak and watched them succeed on their first try.

Grilling steak is really all about time and temperature. Once you can identify which steaks can be cooked with direct vs. indirect heat (and which ones need an overnight marinade), you’ll be well on your way to becoming a self-certified grill master. The only tools you need are your gas or charcoal grill and an instant-read meat thermometer to measure doneness.

How to Grill Steak

When people ask me how to grill a perfect steak, I always tell them that it depends on the type of steak. Where the steak is cut from (and how thick it is) determines the best grilling technique. Let’s take a look at the three major categories of grilling steaks:

  • Quick-cooking steaks: Steaks like beef tenderloin (aka filet mignon), ribeye, New York strip, flat iron, top sirloin, and Denver steak are naturally flavorful and tender. They don’t require marinating or other advance preparation (although they can be seasoned with rubs or seasoning blends for added flavor). If they’re less than 1-1/2 inches thick, these steaks should be cooked on a grill preheated for direct heat.
  • Marinated steaks: Like quick-cooking steaks, skirt, flank, chuck eye, tri-tip and hanger steaks can be grilled over direct heat. However, these steaks benefit from being marinated for at least four hours (or as long as overnight). Steak marinades work by tenderizing the meat’s tough muscle fibers.
  • Thick-cut steaks: T-bones, porterhouses, tomahawks and other thick-cut steaks (2 inches or thicker) cannot be grilled over direct heat. The exterior will burn before the steak reaches its target internal temperature. Instead, these steaks need a reverse-sear technique, where the meat is cooked over indirect heat until it’s 10° to 15°F below the desired temperature. (See the chart below for more info on steak temperatures.) Then, the steak is finished on the direct heat side of the grill to give it the same gorgeous sear as a quick-cooking steak.

Steak Doneness Temperature Chart

Personally, I always aim for a medium-rare steak. That way, the steak has cooked long enough to be tender and stays juicy enough that it doesn’t need to be served with sauce. Everyone’s preferences are different, though, so feel free to grill your steak to a different temperature.

A thermometer is the best way to know when steak is finished cooking. I like to pull the steaks from the grill when they’re 10° below the desired temperature. Because of a phenomenon known as carryover cooking, the temperature will continue to rise as the steak rests. Using a timer is the next best option if you don’t have a thermometer. How long to cook steak depends on several factors, so check the steak for doneness at the low end of the suggested timing.

Steak Doneness Temperature Cook Time Description
Rare 130° 3 to 4 minutes per side cool red center
Medium-rare 135° 4 to 5 minutes per side warm red center
Medium 140° 5 to 6 minutes per side warm pink center
Medium-well 145° 6 to 8 minutes per side very warm slightly pink center
Well-done 150° 8 to 10 minutes per side hot mostly brown center

*This table suggests cooking times for 1- to 1-1/2-inch thick boneless steaks cooked over direct, medium-high heat.

Grilled Steak Ingredients

  • Steak: I recommend ribeye or strip steaks for anyone new to grilling steak. These steaks have a lot of marbling (or intramuscular fat) that keeps them juicy as they cook. They’re more forgiving than leaner steaks like top sirloin.
  • Steak seasoning: Instead of using a spice rub, we season the steaks with a robust garlic mixture made with garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. A good pounding with a mortar and pestle makes the raw garlic significantly less aggressive. It crushes the garlic instead of cutting it, releasing its powerful aromatics and sweetening its flavor.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the steak seasoning

With a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic cloves with salt and pepper. Stir in the oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a rolling pin or a meat mallet to crush the garlic into a paste, then mix it with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. You could use another method to mince garlic, but it tastes sweeter when crushed.

Step 2: Grill the steaks

Grill the steaks, covered, over medium heat for five to seven minutes on each side or until the meat reaches the desired doneness. For medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; for medium, 140°; and for medium-well, 145°. Brush the steaks generously with the garlic mixture during the last four minutes of cooking.

Editor’s Tip: For best results, let the steaks sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour before throwing them on the grill. Taking the chill off the steak encourages even cooking. Additionally, the steaks will get a better sear if they have a very dry surface. Blot the steaks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Grilled Steak Variations

How to Store Grilled Steak

Store leftover grilled steak in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat leftover steak in the microwave, in the oven or in a covered skillet with a bit of beef broth to keep the meat moist.

Grilled Steak Tips

How should you serve grilled steak?

After resting the steak, you can serve it whole or sliced. I often prefer to slice the steak against the grain before serving it to ensure the meat has the juiciest, most tender bite. If you want to serve the steak with a sauce, stay classic with steak sauce or go bold with a fresh chimichurri sauce.

Should you grill bone-in or boneless steaks?

Both taste great, but bone-in and boneless steaks cook differently. Boneless meat cooks more quickly, and it’s easier to check the level of doneness. Bone-in steaks turn out slightly juicier because the bone insulates the meat, helping the steak retain moisture. However, the meat next to the bone is slower to cook, and you need to be careful when probing these steaks with a thermometer to ensure an accurate reading.

What is the best steak for grilling?

Beef tenderloin, ribeye, New York strip, porterhouse and T-bone steaks will all taste great on the grill. Beef tenderloin is naturally tender but usually the most expensive. It’s also very lean, so it can dry out more quickly on the grill than fat-rich, marbled cuts like ribeye, New York strip, porterhouse or T-bone.

If you’re looking for inexpensive steaks, look for cuts from the short loin, like top sirloin or tri-tip (aka Santa Maria roast). These cuts have less marbling but boast a beefier flavor. Cuts from the plate (like flank or skirt steak) are also fantastic for grilling. Remember that these steaks have more tough muscle fibers, so you’ll want to marinate them for 4 to 24 hours.

What are the worst steaks for grilling?

Avoid grilling tough cuts that come from the round, chuck or brisket. When cooked over direct heat at high temperatures, these steaks become tough and chewy. It’s much better to cook these cuts using low-and-slow braising or smoking temperatures. The one exception is the chuck eye steak, which is almost as tender as a ribeye.

Grilled Steak

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 boneless beef strip steaks or ribeye steaks (1 inch thick and 8 ounces each)

Directions

  1. With a mortar and pestle, crush garlic cloves with salt and pepper. Stir in oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Grill steaks, covered, over medium heat 5-7 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°). Brush generously with garlic mixture during the last 4 minutes of cooking.

Nutrition Facts

1 steak: 373 calories, 17g fat (5g saturated fat), 100mg cholesterol, 1013mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 48g protein.

Take steak to new flavor heights by basting your choice of cuts with an amazing garlicky blend that requires only a few minutes to fix. It will be a mouthwatering change of taste at your next outdoor gathering. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen