How To Grill The Perfect Steak

by John Wood

How To Grill The Perfect Steak

Now that the weather is finally getting better, I thought it would be a good idea to share some pro tips on how to grill better steaks.  The techniques here can apply to fish, pork, veggies, or pretty much anything you want to grill though. 

I recommend getting thinner steaks (1/2 inch) if you like your steak cooked well done, and thicker steaks (1-2 inch) if you like it more rare.  As always, I recommend purchasing meat from farmers at the farmer’s markets in the area.  We get our meat from Springfield Farm or Liberty Delight Farm, so if you don’t want to go directly to them you can always purchase from us.  Remember - the quantity and price required for a farmer to sell meat to a super market makes it impossible for it to be any good.

  • 2 Steaks (NY Strip, Ribeye, etc.)
  • 4Tbs Butter
  • Herbs (whole pieces of thyme, marjoram, bay, rosemary, sage, etc)
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper


  1. Set out your steaks to warm up to room temperature at least 1-2 hours before you plan on grilling.  This is called tempering your meat, and is a very important step if you want a nice juicy steak.
  2. Melt the butter, along with whatever herbs you have, in a small sauce pot.  You can also add a crushed clove of garlic or a couple slices of onions.  This is going to keep your steak juicy but also flavor it at the same time.  You can add any flavors you want to the butter, but its best to keep whatever you add in whole peices so they don’t get stuck on the steak later.
  3. Heat your grill to 300-450.  The more well done you want your steak, the lower the temperature should be.  Well done meat takes longer to cook, and you don’t want to burn the outside while the inside is cooking.
  4. Sprinkle your steak with a little sea salt, and gently rub it into the meat so it doesn’t just fall off while grilling.  
  5. Make sure your grill grates are nice and clean and very hot.  Brush one side of your steak with a very small amount butter and place it on the grill, buttered side down, at a 45 degree angle to the grill grates.  While this is cooking, carefully brush the top side of the steak with butter.  Your steak should always be shiny with a small amount of butter on it.  Brush more butter on as needed throughout the cooking and resting process.
  6. After a couple minutes, once the steak has nice grill marks, flip it over, keeping the same angle, and keep brushing with butter.
  7. After a couple more minutes, flip over again, but this time switch the angle so that the steak is going in a different direction - this will give it a nice crosshatch pattern.  Keeping basting with butter!
  8. Flip over again, after a couple minutes, keeping the same angle.  Keep basting. 
  9. Once the steak has nice marks on both sides, check to see if it is done how you like.  You can use thermometers or a touch test, but the fool proof way to check is to use a paring knife and cut a little 1cm slit in the center of the steak. Look inside and you can see exactly how it is cooked.  Remember it will keep cooking a little while resting. 
  10. If you want your steak cooked more, I usually turn it on it’s side so as not to ruin the grill marks.  This can be tricky and is not necessary, but it is how we do it in restaurants.  We often have metal pans or pots we can use to rest them on so they don’t fall over.  When I cook very thick steaks, I like to put a crosshatch pattern on all 6 sides.  Some grills have a smaller set of grates on top for continued cooking as well, and that is perfectly fine if you have one with that capability.
  11. Let the steak rest for 1/3 the cooking time.  So if it took 12 minutes to cook, let it rest at least 4 minutes.  While this may seem unimportant, this will make a huge difference in the texture of the final steak.  Keep basting during this process!
  12. Season with a little more sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper right before serving. 
About the Author
John Wood
Chef John Wood
John’s passion for humble, authentic food developed from a childhood spent moving around in Africa and Central America. As the son of diplomats, he moved a lot as a child, immersing himself in the rich cultural and culinary traditions of different nations. In his teens, John got a job as a dishwasher in a small French restaurant in DC. It was there that he fell in love with the kitchen and decided he wanted to be wanted to be a chef. John has spent the last 20 years working with the areas best chefs and restauranteurs like Bob Kinkead and Ashok Bajaj. Strict adherence to proper technique and sourcing quality ingredients are the foundation of his cooking.
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