What’s the secret to a juicy steak? Resting. It’s one of the most overlooked, must-do steps in cooking a great steak. Ironically, it’s also the easiest step that requires no work on the chef’s part. All meat needs to rest. Let’s talk about why and how long should steak rest.
Have you ever cut into a steak and had juices fill your plate? If yes, you know first-hand why it’s important to rest steak.
Letting steak rest is the biggest secret to having a juicy steak. All meat needs to rest.
Why does steak need to rest?
Meat is a muscle and it has two main parts – protein and water.
When meat is raw, it’s about 70-75% water. If you’ve ever cut into raw meat before, you know that you barely lose any liquid.
When steak is cooked, the muscle fibers contract because of the increased temperature. Then, the water is squeezed out of the fibers and the liquid moves towards the center of the steak.
If you cut meat before it rests, the juice goes directly on your plate because the juices haven’t had a chance to be reabsorbed by the meat yet.
However, if you give the steak a chance to rest a little after moving it from the heat, the fibers relax and widen. This lets the juice and moisture to redistribute throughout the meat. As a side note, the process of fibers widening and then relaxing also explains why you can judge if a steak is done by touching it with your finger or with tongs — the firmer the meat, the more done it is.
How long should steak rest?
There are lots of guidelines and studies about how long should steak rest. The three most common guidelines we’re aware of are to let the meat rest for…
- 5-minutes for every inch of thickness
- for as long as you cooked the meat
- 10-minutes for each pound of meat
At our house, we let all steaks rest 5-7 minutes. That means once we take the steak off the grill, we transfer it to a cutting board and we let it sit at room temperature. That’s it. We don’t touch it or poke it or slice it. We let it sit.
This resting time is critical for steak. Juice redistributes throughout the steak during the resting time. If you skip the resting step, your steak will be tough and dry.
The secret to a juicy steak (hint: the answer is resting)
To help illustrate the difference between resting a steak versus not resting, we did our own test by grilling two identical strip steaks. We put them on the grill at the exact same time and cooked them for the exact same length of time. The only thing we did differently was cut into them at different times.
The pictures below tell the story the best.
Here are the two strip steaks we grilled.
We cut into the first steak immediately after it came off the grill.
Ugh! Look at all the juice on the plate. This is what happens when you don’t rest steak. This steak will now taste dry because we didn’t allow the steak to rest and give time for the juice to redistribute throughout the steak.
Here’s the second steak. For this steak, we waited 5 minutes before cutting into it. As you can see, there’s still a little juice on the plate, but not as much as when we cut into the steak immediately from the grill. This steak will be juicy. Yum!
Does resting a steak make it go cold?
No. Meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take it off the grill or stove. This is known as carryover cooking.
The internal temperature of the meat will always rise a little during the resting period. That’s why you should always remove your beef from the oven or grill prior to reaching its target doneness temperature. Otherwise, it will be overcooked.
When to remove steak from grill?
Insert an instant-read-thermometer into the side of the steaks. Take them off the grill at 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium-rare, and 135 for medium. Here’s our personal favorite instant-read-thermometer. We use it EVERY day.
Favorite kitchen tools when making steak:
More tips & tricks for cooking beef:
- Dry rub or marinade for steak? Know what’s best
- Perfect Dry Rub for Roast
- Pepper Steak Stir Fry
- How to cook ground beef & easy recipes
- An Essential Guide to Beef ebook
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