cooked levels of steak

Guide to Cooking Steak Doneness Levels: Rare to Well Done

Calling all aspiring grill masters and home cooks! Conquering the perfect steak can feel like a challenge, but fear not. One of the key secrets lies in understanding exactly how cooked you want your steak.  Not everyone enjoys their meat the same way.  While some crave a juicy, almost-raw centre (rare), others prefer a more cooked-through experience (well done).


Cooked Levels of Steak

There's a cooked levels of steak for everyone, ranging from rare to well done. Let's dive deeper and explore the delicious world of steak doneness, so you can serve the ideal steak to everyone.

1. Rare

rare steak

First up, we have the rare steak! This is for meat lovers who enjoy a warm, almost raw center with a deep red color. To achieve this, you must know that cooking time for rare steak is around 2 minutes per side for a 1-inch thick steak. A cast iron skillet preheated to screaming hot is ideal for searing a nice crust on the outside while keeping the inside rare. To check for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer and aim for an internal temperature of 125°F (52°C). Remember, the steak will continue to cook a bit even after you remove it from the heat, so take it off a few degrees early.  For a perfect rare steak, resist the urge to constantly flip it. Let it sear undisturbed for maximum flavour.


2. Medium Rare

medium rare steak

Stepping up from rare, we have the ever-popular medium-rare steak. This is the sweet spot for many steak lovers, offering a beautiful balance of juicy tenderness with a hint of pink in the center. To achieve medium-rare, you'll cook for slightly longer than rare, around 3-4 minutes per side with your preferred cooking method (pan, grill, or broiler). The temps for medium rare steak is 130-135°F (54-57°C). Similar to rare, remember the carryover cooking, so take the steak off the heat a few degrees before reaching your target temp. Here's a pro tip: Use your finger to gently press the center of the steak while cooking. A rare steak will feel very soft, while a medium rare will have a slight bounce back. This little trick helps you judge doneness without relying solely on a thermometer.


3. Medium

medium steak

Prefer your steak cooked through a bit more, but still juicy? Then a medium steak is your ideal match. This level offers a mostly cooked center with a thin rim of pink.  Cook for an additional minute or two per side compared to medium-rare, so aim for 4-5 minutes per side with high heat on your best pan, grill, or broiler.  The steak temperature for the medium is 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 63°C). Remember, carryover cooking applies here too, so take it off the heat a couple of degrees early.  A good tip for even cooking is to use a meat thermometer, but don't forget the finger test! A medium steak will have a firmer bounce back compared to medium-rare.


4. Medium Well

Medium well steak

Progressing towards a more done steak, we have the medium-well level. This is a great choice for those who enjoy a steak with minimal pinkness but still want some moisture. The center will be mostly cooked through, with a hint of brown throughout. To achieve medium-well, cook for an extra minute or two per side compared to medium, so aim for 5-6 minutes per side using your trusty pan, grill, or broiler with high heat. The internal temperature for medium-well is 150°F to 155°F (66°C to 68°C). Don't forget to account for carryover cooking and remove the steak from the heat a couple of degrees early. Since there's less pink to judge by here, your meat thermometer becomes even more important.


5. Well Done

well done steak

Lastly, we have the well-done steak. This level is for those who prefer their steak fully cooked through. The inside will be brown with no visible pink.  While well-done steaks can be a bit drier, you can still achieve a delicious result. Cook for an additional minute or two per side compared to medium-well, so aim for 6-7 minutes per side using high heat on your pan, grill, or broiler. The internal steak temperature for well-done is 160°F or higher (71°C and above). Be extra cautious not to overcook here, as steak can become dry if left on the heat for too long. Using a meat thermometer is essential to avoid this, and consider lowering the heat slightly towards the end of cooking to prevent burning the outside.


Now that you're armed with this knowledge, you're ready to conquer any steak. Remember, the key to achieving your desired level of doneness is using a combination of cooking time, temperature, and a reliable instant-read thermometer. Don't forget the finger test for an additional gauge. A little practice and you'll be a steak-searing pro in no time. For all your kitchen equipment needs, Decomenaje offers a wide range of top-quality pans, grills, and broilers to suit any cooking style. Visit their store or browse online to find the perfect tools to sear the ideal steak every single time.


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