Food & Nutrition

10 Mistakes (Almost) Everyone Makes When Cooking Steak

Mistake 5: Turning the steak only once

Grilled T-bone steak. Top viewEvgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

It’s a common misconception that the best way to keep a steak tender and juicy is to flip it once. While you may get photo-worthy grill marks, your steak won’t be any more delicious. In fact, with this method, you may be drying out the steak.

What to do instead: Get into the habit of turning your steak multiple times as it cooks, especially when the heat is high. Extra flips allow the steak to cook more quickly (up to 30% faster than the one-flip method.) This is what will give you a juicier steak. You’ll also find that this method helps the meat cook evenly, without much curling along the edges.

Test Kitchen tip: It’s essential to use tongs instead of a fork to flip your meat. Here’s how you can fix other common cooking disasters.

Mistake 6: Sticking to the supermarket selection

Raw steak in an airtight packagingGeorge Dolgikh/Shutterstock

It makes sense to purchase meat with the rest of your groceries, but if you want to cook a knockout steak, go the extra mile. To cook like a pro, trust a pro to help get you started.

What to do instead: Head to a local butcher. They’ll be able to help you figure out the best cut and introduce you to lesser-known options. A butcher will also be able to answer any cooking questions you have and offer their own suggestions. These are the best cuts of meat you didn’t know you could ask for.

Mistake 7: Cutting into it too soon

Grilled beef steak with spices on cutting board. Top viewEvgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

A freshly cooked steak is almost too tempting but resist the urge to dig into it right away. Like lots of other foods, steak needs time to relax, as do the fibers within it. While the meat cooks, its fibers shrink, emitting moisture and making the steak juicy. Cutting into the meat right away will cause that hard-earned moisture to spill out onto the plate, leaving a drier, less flavorful dinner.

What to do instead: Cover the meat in foil and let it rest after cooking-five minutes for thinner cuts and up to 15 minutes for heartier pieces. The fibers will then have time to expand and reabsorb the juices. You can rest while the steak does, or use the time to throw together one of these simple side dishes.

Mistake 8: Skimping on a meat thermometer

Grilled Steak Striploin on pan and meat thermometer on black burned wooden background copy spaceLisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

No matter how expert your grilling skills, you probably can’t accurately tell when a steak’s ready simply by looking at it. Visual cues can be deceiving: The exterior may look tantalizing while the inside is still too raw. If you tend to test how it’s progressing by poking it with a fork, you’re releasing some of those flavors and juices that make the meat delicious.

What to do instead: Wielding a trusty thermometer, aim for internal temperatures of 135 degrees, 140 degrees, and 145 degrees for medium-rare, medium, and medium-well steaks, respectively. (P.S. If these temperatures are lower than you’re used to, it’s because we’re factoring in a process called “carryover cooking.” Once the steak is removed from the grill, its internal temperature will rise several degrees as it rests. Here’s our whole guide to cooking temps.)

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