The Secret To Grilling Thick Steaks Evenly

If you're a novice at backyard barbecuing, you'll probably want to start out with something easy like hot dogs since they tend to be fairly uniform in size and shape and you'll also be out just a few bucks if you mess up. If you're feeling ambitious and want to try grilling a thick, juicy cut of beef, however, the steaks (see what we did there?) are considerably higher. If your meat is under an inch thick, you can get away with grilling it directly over the heat source, but once you start inching up higher, we have two words for you: reverse sear.

When you're grilling, you'll want to cook the steak over indirect heat, which would be the cooler part of the grill (if you're using coals, pile them lower on one side). Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature, keeping an eye out for when the meat is about 10 degrees shy of your desired level of doneness. For a medium-rare steak, this would be 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so as soon as it hits 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll need to move the steak over to the grill's hot zone. Once it's there, cook it on each side for a minute or so until it's nicely browned all over. This technique will give you a good crust on your meat while allowing the interior to stay pink. If you cook a thick steak exclusively over high heat, you'll wind up raw inside, burnt outside, or both.

Your thick steak may be better cooked a different way

The thing about grilling a steak — or any other cut of meat — outdoors is that the real flavor advantage of barbecuing comes from the wood smoke produced by charcoal. If you have a gas or propane grill, you're not going to get this, so unless you're willing to go out and buy a second grill and a bag of coals, you might be better off saving that thick steak for cooking indoors. The very best way to cook a thick steak, if you don't have a charcoal grill, involves using both the oven and stove.

Chefs including Guy Fieri, J. Kenji López-Alt, and Andrew Zimmern feel that the reverse sear is the best way to cook a steak. How you do this is to bake it in the oven at a low temperature (around 275 degrees Fahrenheit) until it's 10, or at most 15, degrees away from the desired final temperature — a process that may take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on how thick the steak is and how you want it cooked. At this point, take the steak out of the oven and plop it in a preheated pan on the stove (the hotter the better), and brown it on both sides. Once it's done, you can dig in right away — the final sear locks in those juices, so you won't even need to let the meat rest.