The Art of Cooking Steak: Exploring Different Levels of Doneness

Do you consider yourself a steak aficionado? Are you familiar with the various types of steak cooking levels? Join us as we embark on a flavorful journey through the world of perfectly cooked steaks!

Types of Steak Cooking Levels

Mastering the Steak Cooking Process

The level of doneness greatly affects the taste and texture of your steak. Contrary to popular belief, achieving the perfect doneness is not solely determined by temperature but also by time. Different cuts and thicknesses require varying cooking times. While the USDA recommends cooking all beef to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safety, studies have shown that consuming steak cooked to lower temperatures is still safe. High heat cooking is essential to sear the exterior and lock in the juices and flavors of the steak.

Grilling or pan-searing steaks on high heat is the preferred method, with the following cooking times based on one-inch thick steaks. It’s important to let your steak rest for five minutes under foil before devouring it. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tantalizing cut of beef.

Exploring Steak Cooking Levels


The level of doneness known as “blue” is the least cooked option available. The steak is quickly seared on each side, only spending a few seconds to a minute on the heat. The interior of a blue steak remains raw, characterized by a vibrant red color. While blue steaks may be chewier and less juicy than other doneness levels, they offer a unique experience. Sear each side of your blue steak for a minute on high heat before serving.

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Rare steaks take a step beyond blue, with a lightly browned exterior and a deep red center. The inside edges of the steak should have a light brown color, gradually transitioning to a pink hue. The center of a rare steak is either cool or slightly warm. For a one-inch thick steak, cook it in a pan for three minutes on one side and two minutes on the other. Allow it to rest for five minutes before serving.

Medium Rare

Medium rare is a highly popular choice among professional chefs and steak connoisseurs. In a medium rare steak, the middle is red, while the rest of the meat exhibits various shades of pink, with a browned outer edge. Achieve medium rare by cooking your steak on high heat for four minutes on one side, followed by three minutes on the other.


A medium steak is an excellent option for those who prefer a bit more doneness while maintaining some pinkness in the center. It should exhibit slight charring on the top and bottom but not overpower the overall flavor. A medium steak has no red or cool areas, with a small to medium-sized pink and warm center. Cook a medium steak on high heat for five minutes on one side, followed by four minutes on the other.

Medium Well

Medium well-done steaks lack any trace of redness. Although a faint pink tint may persist in the center, it is minimal. The longer cooking time results in charring on both sides, while the middle portion remains slightly softer. Achieve medium well doneness by cooking each side of the steak for six minutes.


For those who prefer a steak thoroughly cooked, well-done is the perfect choice. A well-done steak is seared on the outside, boasting a consistent brown color throughout. This level of doneness provides a crispy texture to the exterior while preserving the juices within. Although well-done steaks tend to be tougher, cooking them at a lower temperature ensures flavor retention. Cook each side of your well-done steak for seven to eight minutes, or broil it for eight minutes on each side.

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The Beauty of Individual Preference

While there may be a so-called “industry standard” for steak doneness, it’s essential to remember that everyone has individual preferences. When ordering your steak, embrace your personal taste and order accordingly. At Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ, we celebrate the joy of cooking and encourage you to savor your steak just the way you like it.

For more grilling inspiration, visit our website’s recipe section to explore delightful dishes that are sure to impress your family and guests!

The Science Behind Salting Steak

Salt has played a crucial role in culinary traditions for centuries. Its use, initially for preservation purposes, has evolved to enhance tenderness and flavor in our favorite dishes. Understanding the science behind salt’s impact on steak can elevate your cooking prowess.

The Tenderizing Power of Salt

Salt’s tenderizing effect on meat stems from its ability to draw out moisture. By applying salt to the surface of a steak, the moisture is extracted and dissolves in a brine that is later reabsorbed into the meat. This process effectively breaks down the lean muscle proteins, resulting in a juicier and more tender steak.

Flavor Enhancer Extraordinaire

Beyond tenderizing, salt also enhances the overall flavor of steak. The relationship between salt and our taste buds is complementary. Saltiness is one of the five primary flavors our tongues detect, and it has the power to balance and enhance the taste of other ingredients. Salt can suppress bitterness, making it an invaluable ally in creating a well-rounded flavor profile. It also adds depth and complexity to sweet or sour dishes, ensuring a harmonious flavor experience.

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The Maillard Reaction: Unleashing Flavors

A crucial aspect of achieving the perfect steak is the Maillard Reaction—a chemical process responsible for browning and deepening flavors. It’s what creates that delightful seared crust on a steak. To activate the Maillard Reaction, high heat and dryness are essential. Salt aids in this process by drawing out moisture from the steak’s surface. While some moisture is reabsorbed, the drier exterior of the steak enhances browning and reduces the risk of overcooking.

Mastering the Art of Salting

Now that we understand the benefits of salting steak, let’s unravel the mysteries of when and how to salt. The process is simple: sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt on every side of the steak, allowing it to sit uncovered either on the counter or in the refrigerator.

Timing is a topic of debate among culinary enthusiasts. For optimal results, salt your steak a full 24 hours before cooking. This extended period allows the salt to work its magic on the meat. If time is not on your side, waiting at least 40 minutes after salting before cooking is recommended. Salting right before placing the steak in the pan can aid in creating a flavorful crust.

Whether you choose to embark on a 24-hour salting journey or prefer a shorter duration, Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ is here to help you achieve tender, succulent steaks. Visit our website to explore our selection of high-quality steaks!


With the knowledge gained from this culinary adventure, you are now equipped to cook the perfect steak for your next special occasion. Remember, true mastery lies in embracing your personal preferences and venturing into new flavors. At Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ, we celebrate the art of cooking and invite you to join us on a flavorful journey. Explore our recipes and unleash your inner grill master!