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Grilling Tips: How to Tell When Steaks are Done

steak-1076665_960_7202Ask any professional chef and he or she will agree: the most important part of grilling a steak is ensuring it’s not overcooked. When cooked too long, steaks become tough and dry, making them less appealing than their juicy counterparts. This is why many steak connoisseurs prefer their meat cooked medium-rare, which has a warm red center throughout.

Unfortunately, though, knowing when a grilled steak is done isn’t always easy. You can always cut into the center with a knife to inspect the color. The problem in doing so is that it releases the juices. And if your steak isn’t cooked all the way, you’ll have to place it the cut-up meat back on the grill, further drying it out.

The OK Sign Test

One of the oldest home methods for checking to see if a grilled steak is done involves making the “OK” sign with your fingers. Go ahead and touch your index finger with your thumb. Using your other hand, press down on the area between your index finger thumb (where you made the OK sign). Take notice of how soft this part of your hand is, and compare it to your steak. If you want a rare steak, it should feel exactly like this. If you want a medium-rare steak, it should feel just bit firmer. And for a medium steak, it should feel even more firm.

The Face Test

Another method to tell when your steak is done is to compare its tenderness to that of your face. A medium-rate steak should have the tenderness of your cheeks, while a medium steak should like your chin. And a medium-well steak should like your forehead. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb, and this isn’t the most accurate method.


The most accurate way to tell when a steak is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. Yes, you’ll have to pierce the steak, which releases some of its juices. But this is by far the most accurate way to tell when your steak is done cooking. Rare steaks should be roughly 125-130 degrees; medium-rare steaks should be 135-140 degrees; medium steaks should be 145-150 degrees; medium-well steaks should be 155-160 degrees; and well-done steaks should be 165+ degrees. You really can’t go wrong with using a meat thermometer.

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