Even amateur pitmasters know that you should wait a while before cutting into a piece of grilled or roasted meat. The larger the cut, the longer the resting period. In this tutorial, we’ll discuss how long to let steak rest for premium results.
How Long To Let Steak Rest
Steak needs to rest for a minimum of 5 minutes in order to let the meat’s natural juices redistribute. For best results, let smaller steaks rest for 7 to 8 minutes. Larger cuts, such as porterhouse and thick-cut ribeye, may need to rest for up to 20 minutes.
Why Do You Need To Let Steak Rest?
A steak consists of muscle fibers that constrict as the meat is heated. This process causes the juices to shrink away from the heat source and gather in the center of the steak.
If you were to cut into the steak immediately after taking it off the heat, those juices would run out onto the work surface. That means the steak itself would be dry and tough when you took your first bite—hardly the result you’re looking for after all that work.
When steak is allowed to rest, those constricted muscle fibers can relax, relieving the pressure on the juices. This permits the moisture to flow back to the edges of the steak, making the results flavorful and juicy.
Will The Steak Cool Off As It Rests?
If you let it rest for too long, it might. However, meat continues to cook for several minutes after you remove it from the heat source. That means you don’t have to worry about serving cold steak if you follow the proper timelines.
How Long To Rest Steak
For smaller steaks, 7 to 8 minutes should be sufficient. When you’re preparing larger cuts like thickly cut ribeye or porterhouse, a resting period of 15 to 20 minutes is preferable.
After taking the meat off the grill, set it on a plate with sides high enough to catch any juices. Tent the steaks loosely with foil. Take care not to seal them in too tightly, or the meat will steam as it rests.
When you’re ready to serve, carve the steak into slices, if desired. Serve with your chosen accompaniments. Flank steak is typically sliced before serving, but small cuts like filet mignon should be served intact.
How Long To Let Steak Rest Per Pound
Are there any per-pound guidelines you should follow when resting steak? Since many cuts weigh in at under 1 pound apiece, it’s not always necessary. A short resting period should give the juices all the time they need to redistribute.
That said, there are certain timetables you can adhere to if you aren’t sure how long to rest the meat. Some chefs like to allow 5 minutes per inch of thickness, which would translate to a 10-minute resting time for a filet mignon cut 2 inches thick.
10 minutes per pound is another useful rule of thumb. A large porterhouse steak can weigh up to 30 ounces, which means it should rest for roughly 20 minutes before serving.
Another guideline involves the length of the cooking process itself. Thinner cuts of steak can rest for about half the amount of time they took to cook, while thick cuts may need to rest for just as long as it took to grill them.
What Temperature Should The Steak Be After Resting?
As a general rule, you’ll want to rest steak until the center is 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The edges can be a bit warmer—125 to 140 degrees.
The trouble is, inserting a probe thermometer into the steak can cause the juices to run out, especially if you stick it in there too early. That’s why the majority of chefs prefer to base the resting period on time rather than temperature.
From Rare To Well Done: A Guide To Serving Temperatures
While we’re on the subject of serving temperatures, let’s talk about the difference between a steak that’s served rare, versus one that’s been cooked until it’s well done.
Most steaks should be cooked to medium-rare or medium. Tenderloin steaks are at their best when served rare, as the lean meat has a buttery texture that dries out easily. Medium-rare is preferable for the majority of premium steak cuts.
In our opinion, it’s a travesty to cook steaks to well-done. The meat will be dry and difficult to chew, and the flavor will be lacking. If you think you prefer well done meat, try cooking a steak to medium the next time you grill. Chances are, you’ll appreciate the difference.
The following temperatures and descriptions are representative:
The steak will have a cool red center and be exceptionally soft and tender.
Steaks cooked to this temp have a lightly charred brown exterior and a warm red center. This is the ideal temperature for steaks that have a good amount of marbling, as the fat will have a chance to render and “baste” the meat as it rests.
Medium steaks are characterized by a firm yet springy texture and a hot pink center.
These steaks will be firm and brown throughout, with just a hint of pink. The increased temperature will result in a noticeable loss of moisture.
Well Done (160F+)
A well done steak will have a brownish-gray center, with a tough, dry texture.
Is Steak The Only Meat That Needs To Rest?
Not at all. In fact, you should let most grilled meat rest after cooking to give the juices time to redistribute.
Grilled fish is the exception to this rule. Unless you’re certain that the fish is slightly underdone, there’s no reason to let it rest before you serve it. It’s fine to let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes while you plate up the rest of the meal, but it won’t hurt anything if you cut into it right away.
How To Store Leftover Steak
Let the steak cool to room temperature before you wrap it. If the meat is allowed to steam in the wrapper, it can affect the texture. This is particularly important if you’re planning to freeze the leftovers.
That said, don’t leave it at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, either—or longer than 1 hour if the temperature is hotter than 90 degrees. Meat that’s been left out for long periods of time may be playing host to dangerous bacteria.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator, toward the rear. The bottom shelf is the best place to keep them. Also, ensure that the fridge temp is set below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reheat or freeze leftover steak within 3 to 4 days. It might keep for a day or two longer, depending on the conditions. If you notice a slimy texture, a sweet or sour odor, or any moldy patches, discard the leftovers at once.
The Bottom Line
You should rest all steaks for at least 7 to 8 minutes before you serve them. If you’re short on time, you can plate up small steaks after 5 minutes, but don’t neglect the resting period entirely. It’s an essential part of the cooking process.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!