Everybody's tastes are different, but for many steak aficionados, a perfect medium-rare is the gold standard of grilling. The steak is done enough to maximize its beefy flavor, but at medium-rare it remains tender, pink and juicy. Depending on the thickness of your steak, you can get there by quick grilling over high heat or by a more leisurely cooking process that requires both higher and lower temperatures.
Quick for Thin Steaks
Traditional grilling technique works well for the thin steaks you'll find at your local supermarket. Steaks of the typical 3/4-inch thickness grill well at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and for steaks 1/2-inch or thinner you'll need the highest temperature your grill can manage.
Quick for Thin Steaks: Step 1
Cook the steak until it's well-seared on the first side, by which time it will be visibly cooked almost to the middle.
Quick for Thin Steaks: Step 2
Flip the steak and cook it for just 30 seconds -- for the thinnest steaks -- to 60 seconds, then serve immediately.
Fast and Slow for Thick Steaks
The traditional technique is less effective with steaks of 1 to 2 inches in thickness, as it overcooks the surface before the middle reaches medium-rare. Instead, set up your gas or charcoal grill with all the heat on one side.
Fast and Slow for Thick Steaks: Step 1
Start your thick steaks on the unheated side with the lid down, so they cook gently as hot air circulates inside the grill.
Fast and Slow for Thick Steaks: Step 2
When your steaks get to an internal temperature of about 120 F, leave the lid up and transfer them to the hot side of the grill.
Fast and Slow for Thick Steaks: Step 3
Sear them quickly on each side, then transfer them to a cutting board for 5 minutes of rest. Their internal temperature should reach 130 F, or medium-rare. For reliable results, invest in a good instant-read thermometer and use it every time to check for doneness.