Cooking times and temperatures for steak

Last week when we were discussing reverse searing steak I mentioned I would cover average cooking times and temperatures for steak. The idea was to provide the temperature readings you need to ensure your steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness.

Steak has something of a reputation as being difficult to get right. Like anything, if you know the rules and how what to do, cooking steak is not difficult at all. It does require a little more thought that cooking sausages or burgers but once you get to grips with it, steak is just as straightforward as cooking any other meat.

Cooking steak

Before you get to cooking your steak, there are a few important things to remember.

  1. Make sure the meat is at room temperature. Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Get the oven/grill/pan/griddle hot before you add the steak.
  3. Always rest after cooking.

Follow those three simple rules and you should be able to cook the perfect steak every time.

The debate about seasoning a steak before or after cooking will never have a solution so make up your own mind on that one!

Steak cooking times and temperatures

Cooking time and temperature depends a lot on the thickness of the steak and the level of doneness you’re looking for. These times and temps are frying guidelines. Adjust for other cooking methods.

Doneness Cooking time Internal
What you
should see
What you
should feel
or Blue
2 minutes 52°C Deep red
Barely warm,
feels soft
Rare 3 minutes 57°C Bright red
middle, pink toward the
Warm and
soft to touch
Medium Rare 3.5 minutes 60°C Centre is very
pink, slightly
brown toward
the exterior
Slightly hot,
yields slightly to the touch
Medium 4 minutes 63°C Light pink
centre with
brown outer
Hot throughout,
yields slightly to the touch
Medium Well 4.5 minutes 66°C Grey-brown throughout with a hint of pink in the middle Firm to touch
Well Done 5 minutes 71°C Brown or grey throughout Firm or hard to touch

Those cooking times are average for a 4cm thick cut of steak cooked over a high heat. Time is per side for frying. When checking temperature, remove the steak from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat so the end of the needle is in the middle.

You will likely find a level at which you are happy with a little experimentation. The great thing about cooking steak is that once you find that level, you can record it and every time you cook it using the time and temperature, you should get a perfect steak every time!

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