Steak Temperature Guide

If you love steak, you need this Steak Temperature Guide so you can get the perfect crust and pink color in the center, just how you like it, every single time. Print it out to hang on your fridge, or bookmark this post to reference every time you cook a steak. 

Two steaks on a grill after flipping

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Steak Temperature Guide 

Steak lovers, if you want to learn how to cook steak, you’ve got to cook it to perfection. 

We’ve all seen the Gordon Ramsay meme with him yelling, “IT’S RAHR!” (AKA raw), in his British accent to some inexperienced cook.

We do not want to be that cook. 

No matter whether you’re searing on the stovetop, grilling or broiling in the oven, cooking steak to the right internal temperature ensures the best texture and flavor. 

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    Now, the “right” temperature means something different to everyone, because every steak lover knows exactly how they like their steak. But nailing that doneness every time for every person is a whole other story. 

    Let’s get into the why and how to make a perfectly cooked steak at home.

    Why you need these tips:

    It’s easy to make steaks on the grill for a crowd, and it’s utterly delicious to make for a cozy date night at home or a fancy-feeling steak dinner just because.

    If you like steak, you need to know how to cook it right. So if you’re a home cook who want to know the proper temperature to cook your steaks like a pro every time, this guide was written for you.

    After all…

    • Cooking steak can feel intimidating, especially when you purchase a nice cut of meat. You feel the pressure to do it right because you don’t want to mess it up.
    • People who really like steak prefer it at their preferred doneness. You need to know how to cook them all if you want to serve steak to steak lovers. After all, an overdone steak is a sad steak.
    • Food safety is important! Beef tartare is great, but it’s not steak, so cooking steak to the right temperature for the desired doneness is key.

    Also, I’ll show you how to use a meat thermometer, the best tool any carnivore needs in their kitchen. 

    Steak side dish recipes to try: Homemade Mashed Potatoes | Hasselback Sweet Potatoes | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

    Grab some more side ideas from our Best Side Dishes to Serve with Steak!

    Steaks seasoned with a steak seasoning blend on a wire rack

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Steak — get your favorite cut, be it a classic ribeye or a filet mignon. Keep in mind that smaller and/or thinner steaks will reduce the cook time, while larger, thicker cuts will take longer. You may use bone-in or boneless steaks.
    • Kosher salt — salt is key for removing moisture from the steak. This helps the outer part of the steak cook faster and get that perfect sear, as well as add flavor.

    Optional ingredients: 

    • Black pepper — pepper is a great seasoning if you don’t want to add any other flavors. It complements steak so nicely. 
    • Marinade — optional, but soaking your steak a steak marinade made the night before you cook it helps your steak find so much juicy flavor. You can find my favorite marinade on my grilled skirt steak recipe.
    • Seasoning — also optional. Some people don’t like seasoning on their steak, but I love it. This homemade steak seasoning has a permanent place on my spice rack. 
    • Butter or compound butter — totally optional, too, but I LOVE to make a flavorful garlic butter or herb butter for steak to finish any meal. Butter on steak is excellent and elevates the dish even more, especially when it melts into a garlicky butter sauce.

    Methods for cooking steak

    There are a number of ways to cook steak. Your cooking method will determine the amount of time your steak cooks.

    Every one of them varies slightly, and every appliance is different. So please, don’t write off a method if it isn’t great the first time — modify the cooking times and brush up on your steak cooking tips and try again another time.

    HOWEVER, the perfect steak temperatures apply no matter how you cook your steaks or the type of steak you’re cooking.

    Here are some ways to make ’em:

    • Grilled steak: my favorite time of year is summer, when I can pull out the grill and make grilled steak with a delicious marinade. It’s flavorful, juicy and so so simple. 
    • Stovetop steak: the rest of the year, cast iron steak is a just-like-the-steakhouse experience. The natural seasoning of the cast iron (or your favorite pan or skillet, if you don’t have cast iron) adds delicious flavor into the sear. 
    • In the oven: you can make broiled steak under the hot broiler that’s built into your oven. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet or a grill, this is a great method to make a fancy steak at home.

    Steak temperature chart

    Here are the different temperatures you need to know for cooking steak with any method.

    • Rare (cool red center): 125°F (51°C) 
    • Medium rare (warm red center): 135°F (57°C)
    • Medium (warm pink center): 145°F (62°C) 
    • Medium well (light pink center): 150°F (65°C) 
    • Well done (cooked entirely through): 160°F (71°C) 

    Get the steak temperature chart printout!

    Download this guide here and print it out to hang in your kitchen. Click below to get the guide, plus my 7 top secrets to steak:

      Close up of thinly sliced skirt steak on a white plate

      How long to cook steak

      This is dependent on how big and thick your steaks are. Smaller and thinner cuts will take less time to cook. It also depends on the temperature of your grill, stove or oven. High heat is recommended, about 450°F (230°C) to 500°F (260°C). 

      Please remember that these times are just a guideline, and you should always use a meat thermometer to verify and keep an eye on your meat as it cooks.

      Also, keep in mind that steaks continue to cook after you remove them from the heat source, so plan to pull them from the heat when they are 5°-10°F from your perfect steak temperature.

      As a rule of thumb for a steak about 1-inch thick: 

      • Rare: cook for 2 minutes on each side.
      • Medium-rare: cook for 3-4 mins each side.
      • Medium: cook for 4-6 mins each side. 
      • Medium well: cook for 6-8 minutes on each side.
      • Well-done: cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, then lower the heat and continue to cook for another 4-6 minutes. 

      What the steak temperatures mean:

      The perfect level of doneness is all a matter of personal preference. Some people like their steaks rare while others like them to be well done.

      And many people’s preference falls somewhere in the middle, from medium-rare to medium doneness to medium-well.

      But what do they mean? 

      • Raw: raw steak is uncooked steak meat, and it can be unsafe to eat, per the USDA. Raw and undercooked meat can contain harmful bacteria. Ideally, steaks should be cooked, not only to kill any bacteria and foodborne illness, but also to add flavor and a quick sear on the outside. 
      • Black-and-blue: if someone orders their steak this way, they are referring to an ultra rare steak. It is briefly cooked to a temperature of 110°F (43°C). 
      • Rare: rare means the steak has a cool, red center with just a little browning at the edges. (My friend who likes her steaks rare jokingly says they are “still mooing.”) It is cooked to 125°F (51°C). 
      • Medium rare: a little beyond rare, but not quite medium, a medium rare steak has a warm red center. It is cooked to 135°F (57°C).
      • Medium: medium is the name for the internal steak temperature recommended by the FDA for safe food handling, 145°F (62°C). It has a warm pink center and is a good middle-of-the-road option if you don’t know how someone likes their steaks cooked. 
      • Medium-well: this type is cooked until just not quite all the way done. It is cooked to 150°F (65°C) and has a light-colored pink center. 
      • Well-done steak: the upper end of the scale is well-done. This means a steak is cooked entirely through, to 160°F (71°C). Anything beyond this temperature is overcooked, and will likely be dry and chewy. 
      An instant read meat thermometer reads the temp on a ribeye on a white plate
      A digital thermometer takes a steak’s temperature

      Types of meat thermometers

      When you’re cooking steaks, you need to know the desired temperature you’re aiming for so you cook them correctly. (Personally, I like a medium-rare steak best, but you do you!)

      To do this, the most accurate way is to use an instant-read thermometer* (affiliate link).

      These pocket-sized meat thermometers are designed to read the internal temperature of meat within a few seconds. They’re a great way to ensure you’re cooking your steak to perfection every single time.

      There are also probe thermometers, bluetooth meat thermometers and infrared meat thermometers. (These make great gifts for steak lovers, just saying.) 

      How to use a meat thermometer

      To take the steak’s temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer, stick the thermometer’s tip into the center of the steak, careful not to push through to the other side of the steak, and hold it still until you get an accurate temperature reading. (Many thermometers will make a noise or blink when they’ve arrived at the final temperature.)

      Your steak will continue cooking after you remove it from the heat source, so do not cook it until your ideal temperature. Instead, remove it from the heat when it’s within 5-10 degrees of the final temperature you’d like. This residual heat inside the steak will continue the carryover cooking and get your steak to your ideal temp.

      A ribeye, in a cast iron skillet, after flipping

      How to reheat steak

      If you have leftovers, store the steak in an airtight storage container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Try to leave it whole if you can!

      To eat leftover steak, remove it from the fridge 30-45 minutes beforehand. Let it come to room temperature and serve it like that instead of reheating it because the steak can overcook. It’s great on a steak salad.

      If you want to reheat the steak, add it to a hot skillet without any additional butter and warm through.

      Close up of three slices of cast iron ribeye on a white plate with other sides

      Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

      • It’s polite to ask your guests how they like their steak and what their preferred steak cooking temperature is. Don’t assume they like theirs how you like yours! If someone doesn’t know, aim for medium. You can always throw it back on the grill for a few minutes to cook it more. 
      • Steak will continue cooking after they are out of the hot skillet/hot grill/oven, so remove it when it’s within 5-10 degrees of the temperature you’d like.
      • Let technology help you. Use a thermometer to confirm your steak’s doneness!
      • If people at your party prefer different temps of steaks, you’ll need to work backwards with time so that all the steaks finish at the same time. For example, start the well-done steaks first, then the mediums, then the rares. 
      close up of orange steak salad

      Frequently Asked Questions

      How long do you cook steak to medium?

      A medium steak should be cooked until it has an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). It is best to use a meat thermometer to confirm this. If you don’t have one, you can cut a slit in the thickest part of the steak. Medium steaks will have a warm pink center.

      How do you tell if a steak is cooked? 

      An instant-read meat thermometer is ideal for verifying the internal temperature of a cooked steak. If you don’t have one, you can cut a slit in the center of the steak to see the color and let that inform you of how cooked through your steak is.

      A rare steak will have a cool red center and will have an internal temperature of 125°F (51°C); medium rare has a warm red center at 135°F (57°C); medium has a warm pink center at 145°F (62°C); medium well  has a light pink center at 150°F (65°C); well done is cooked entirely through with no pink remaining at 160°F (71°C). 

      Quick tips and tricks to making the most flavorful steak:

      • Salt your steaks before you cook them. Salt helps to pull out moisture, and you need the moisture to evaporate to get that perfect sear on the outside of the meat.
      • Let your steaks come to room temperature before you cook them. A cold steak won’t cook evenly. Set them out 20-30 minutes before cooking them. 
      • Your steak will continue cooking after you remove it from the heat source, so pull it when it’s within 5-10 degrees of the temperature you’d like. Use an instant read thermometer to get the best results. Let the steaks rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

      How do YOU feel about cooking steak at home now? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

      A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

      About the Author:

      Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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