There’s definitely a science to grilling the perfect steak. Beyond tempering and seasoning the meat, the No. 1 thing to ensure you have a great steak is to make sure it’s cooked to your preferred level of doneness. For the uninitiated, that level of doneness or “temperature” is the thing you see on steakhouse menus: rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well done. Regardless of the cut of steak or the method of cooking steaks, the temperatures that are associated with each level of doneness remain consistent.
You may think that you can judge a steak’s level of doneness by feel, but there’s really only one way to tell for sure: by using an instant-read meat thermometer to take the internal temperature of the meat. Insert your thermometer through the side of the steak with the tip in the center of the thickest part of the meat. Make sure the thermometer is not touching bone or fat as that will affect the final reading. For the best cooked steak, remove it from the heat when it’s 5 degrees below your desired level of doneness; the steak will continue to cook as it rests.
Note that the CDC recommends a conservative minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks cooked at home, so anything below that is at your own risk.
Extra-rare or bleu steak temperature
A bleu steak or extra-rare steak will have a lightly seared outside and raw, cold, very red interior. You only have to bring it to a maximum internal temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, or 46 degrees Celsius.
Rare steak temperature
A rare steak will have a cool bright red center and a light brown char on all sides. Rare steaks will measure out to have a temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, or 49 to 51 degrees Celsius.
Medium-rare steak temperature
Medium-rare steaks are seen as the best way to cook most cuts, and it’s the level of doneness you’ll find at steakhouses. Medium-rare steaks are warmed all the way through with a mostly pink center and a hint of red in the very middle. The outside of the steak will be a nice shade of brown with grill marks. To achieve this, cook the steak until it has an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit, or 55 to 57 degrees Celsius.
Medium steak temperature
A medium steak is a crowd-pleaser and is pink all the way through the middle with a dark brown outside and a firm feel. Steaks grilled to a medium degree of doneness have an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, or 60 to 63 degrees Celsius.
Medium-well steak temperature
Medium-well steaks will have a slightly pink center but mostly brown interior and a dark brown exterior. For a medium-well steak, cook your meat until the thermometer reads 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, or 65 to 69 degrees Celsius.
Well-done steak temperature
Well-done steaks are the most popular steak preference among Americans, with 24% preferring their meat cooked all the way through until its brown. A well-done steak will have an internal temperature of 160 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, or 71 degrees Celsius. However you prefer your steak or any other grilled meat, just make sure you don’t make these rookie mistakes while grilling.