Here's How Long Your Steak Should Rest

The rich smell of garlic butter simmering against cast iron and the light brown crust of a juicy prime rib shimmering with its own juices. A filet mignon wrapped in between the folds of thick-cut bacon that is so tender that a part of you almost wants to tear it apart with your fingers. It's tempting to dig in to a steak that's fresh off the pan or the grill. In this case, however, patience really is a virtue. 

When you cook a steak or any piece of meat, the juices begin to spread out, moving towards the center of the steak where it's a bit cooler. The Spruce Eats compares it to a water balloon. The cooked steak is full of cells filled with those delicious drippings and juices, like water in a balloon. When you add pressure, such as the intense heat of your grill, those cells move toward the middle of the meat. As you remove the pressure, those cells begin to spread back into their original positions throughout the steak. By letting your steak sit, you allow those juices to settle back throughout the steak, rather then have them all collected in one spot and leaving the rest of the steak dry.

How long to rest my steak?

As you let the steak get all juicy and tender again, how long do you have to wait? After all, what good is a juicy steak if it's cold? The answer itself can change, depending on who you talk to.

A useful guideline, suggests The Spruce Eats, is to let it rest for the same amount of time you spent cooking it. If you cooked it for 15 minutes, you should let it rest for 15 minutes. Another guideline suggests letting the steak rest five minutes for every inch of meat. The Webstaurant Store blog offers a more varied set of regulations for how long to rest your meat — anywhere from 5-20 minutes, based on thickness and weight.  

Whichever rules you follow, the time itself is no longer than 15-20 minutes at most, which should be plenty of time to go about preparing side dishes or attending to other concerns with dinner. Just be sure to keep an eye on it so you don't wind up serving lukewarm filet mignon with now-jellied sauce on it.

The next time you're cooking steaks for a party, for a nice dinner, or just for yourself, maybe take a little time and wait — the longer you wait, the juicier and more flavorful your meat will be.