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Steak Temperature Chart: Temps & Times for the Perfect Steak

steak temperature chart

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Is there anything more disappointing than buying a nice cut of steak and cooking it, only to discover that it’s rubbery and dry? If you eat steak, then you know that a tender, juicy bite is the ideal. Monitoring the meat’s temperature and having a general idea of how long it should be cooked is the best way to ensure that your steak is cooked to the perfect level of doneness each and every time.

Steak doneness ranges from rare to well done. Most chefs will say that medium rare – or cooked to 130 – 134℉ for about 10 minutes – is the ideal steak. However, a lot depends on personal preference – which is why our steak temperature and time charts will come in handy.

At Budget Branders, we know that everyone has their opinions when it comes to things like steak. If you run a restaurant, we can’t help you when it comes to cooking steak – but we can get you reasonably priced promotional products. Reach out to our branding team today to learn more about our line of custom plastic cups, custom napkins, custom paper bags, custom coffee sleeves, and more.

Why Does Temperature Matter for the Perfect Steak?

To understand why the temperature of a steak matters so much, it’s first important to learn about the science behind it. Meat is made of muscle fibers, with varying amounts of fat content. Applying heat to these fibers of protein changes their shape in a process known as denaturing. When we cook meat, we change its structure and composition to change its flavor and texture.

When you apply heat to a steak, the protein fibers begin to tighten, coiling up and becoming more tightly packed. As these fibers tighten, they expel water. The higher the temperature that a steak is cooked to, the tighter these coils are wound – and the more water is lost. For this reason, steak that is cooked to a higher temperature tends to be less juicy and oftentimes tougher.

Of course, the cut of a steak matters, too. More lightly used muscles of a cow – such as those found in the loin or along the backbone – have less connective tissue and will result in a more tender steak. Cuts from areas of the body where the muscles have to work harder – such as the leg – tend to be tougher. These cuts usually benefit from a different cooking process, such as roasting or braising.

Other factors, such as fat content and the type of diet that the cows ate (grain-fed versus grass-fed) can also play a role in how your steak tastes. A steak that is well-marbled with fats will have a higher level of oleic acid, a tasty fatty acid. Similarly, grain-fed cows tend to have more oleic acid in their muscle tissue – which can result in a tastier steak. Grass-fed cows tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids, which can produce a fishy or gamey flavor.

However, the biggest factor in how your steak tastes is how it is cooked. The heat of a pan or grill will break the meat’s fatty acids into smaller, more volatile molecules that can become airborne. This produces the beefy aroma of a steak, which is a big part of its flavor.

As the steak cooks and browns, a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction occurs. During this process, the amino acids and sugars in the meat react to the heat, producing a number of chemical changes. This results in molecules that produce a more nutty flavor – up until the point of charring, at which point the steak will have a bitter, burnt flavor.

For cooks, the challenge is to achieve the ideal temperature and the perfect level of brownness simultaneously. There are plenty of techniques to achieve this goal, such as using a sous vide and then finishing off the steak in a searingly hot pan. Understanding steak temperatures will help you find a method that works to get the perfect steak for your tastes.

Steak Temperature Chart

When you order or cook a steak, there are typically 5 different levels of doneness that you can choose from: rare, medium rare, medium well, and well done. The perfect steak temperature is a matter of personal preference, with some people wanting a barely cooked steak (known as a black and blue steak) and others asking for no pink (well done) in their steak.

To achieve your preferred doneness, your steak will need to reach the following temperatures:

  • Rare: A rare steak is very red in the center, which may also be cool to the touch. It often has a chewier texture and a more noticeable taste of iron. A rare steak should be cooked to 120 – 129℉ (49 – 54 degrees Celsius).
  • Medium rare: A medium rare steak has a warm red center, and is often considered the perfect temperature for both juiciness and temperature. This steak should be cooked to 130 – 134℉ (55 – 57 ℃).
  • Medium: The center of a medium steak will be very warm and is typically pink instead of red. At this temperature, the steak is usually a bit tougher and drier. A medium steak is cooked to 135 – 144℉ (58 – 62℃).
  • Medium well: A medium well steak will be slightly pink in the center and will have lost most of its juiciness. It may also appear smaller in size because the protein fibers have shrunk more. A medium well steak is cooked to 145 – 154℉ (63 – 67℃).
  • Well done: A well-done steak has no pink in the center. It will have very little tenderness and juiciness, and far less flavor compared to a steak that has been cooked to a lower temperature. A well-done steak is cooked to 155 – 164℉ (68 – 73℃).

You may have heard that kitchen staff will scoff if you order a quality steak medium well or well done. This is often true, as many chefs and cooks consider the meat to be ruined if it is cooked to this level of doneness. That being said, everyone has their preferences – and should get their steak cooked how they like it.

It is important to note that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that steak and other raw meat be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145℉ – which would be medium well. This recommendation has a goal of reducing foodborne illnesses. You should keep this in mind when cooking or ordering steak if you are worried about the potential for getting sick from undercooked meat. You can also take steps to reduce cross-contamination if you have concerns about cooking steak safely.

How Long Should I Cook My Steak?

Achieving the perfect steak temperature – even with the use of a meat thermometer – can be tricky. The exact amount of time that you will need to cook your steak to achieve your desired level of doneness will depend on the cooking method that you use, the thickness of the steak, and whether your steak has a bone. For example, you might cook a steak in a sous vide for a few hours – but just 5 – 10 minutes on the grill.

These steak cooking time charts can give you a rough estimate of how long to cook your steak. Based on trial and error, you can adjust the cooking times based on your preferred cut of steak, cooking method, and equipment to your own tastes. Note that for a bone-in steak, you will want to add another 2 – 3 minutes to the cooking time.

Temperature Chart For Steak Cooked on a Grill

Preparation Level Internal Temperature Cook Time 1-inch Boneless Cook Time 1.5-Inch Boneless
Rare 120 – 129℉ 5 – 10 minutes 7 – 13 minutes
Medium Rare 130 – 134℉ 7 – 12 minutes 9 – 15 minutes
Medium 135 – 144℉ 8 – 13 minutes 10 – 16 minutes
Medium-Well 145 – 154℉ 10 – 15 minutes 12 – 18 minutes
Well-Done 155 – 164℉ 12 – 17 minutes 14 – 20 minutes

Temperature Chart For Steak Cooked on the Stove or in an Oven

Preparation Level Internal Temperature Cook Time 1-inch Boneless Cook Time 1.5-Inch Boneless
Rare 120 – 129℉ 6 – 11 minutes 12 – 14 minutes
Medium Rare 130 – 134℉ 8 – 13 minutes 14 – 16 minutes
Medium 135 – 144℉ 9 – 14 minutes 15 – 17 minutes
Medium-Well 145 – 154℉ 11 – 16 minutes 17 – 19 minutes
Well-Done 155 – 164℉ 13 – 19 minutes 19 – 21 minutes

When cooking a steak on the stove or the grill, it’s a good idea to sear the steak briefly on each side, and then move them to indirect heat. Turn once during the cooking process, and then use a meat thermometer to check temperature and doneness.

Get the Promotional Products You Need for Less with Budget Branders

Cooking steaks perfectly is an art form. If you run a restaurant, your cooks will need to master this skill in order to reduce food waste and keep customers happy. Using steak time and temperature charts can be an easy way to reduce mistakes.

Budget Branders supplies restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, and cafes across the United States with custom-printed promotional products. We offer the highest quality disposable products, including custom sandwich bags, custom plastic cups, custom ripple cups, custom plastic stadium cups, custom coffee cups, custom coffee sleeves, custom soup bowls, custom ice cream bowls, and more. All of our products are priced affordably and are sold in smaller quantities for independently owned and operated restaurants.

If you’re considering using branded disposable products in your restaurant, we are happy to help. To learn more or to request a quote, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.


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