Blue Steak: Definition, Safety, and How to Cook

In this guide, I’ll explain what blue steak is, why it’s safe to eat, and how to cook it properly. Blue steak is a bit of a controversial topic among steak lovers. Only a small number of people prefer their steak cooked to blue doneness. For most, it’s just too chewy and almost cold inside. 

What Is a Blue Steak?

A blue steak (blue rare, extra rare steak) is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 110-120°F (43-49°C). It is lightly seared on the outside but mostly raw inside. The blue steak gets its name from the initial bluish or purple color it shows when first sliced open, which is due to the oxygenation of myoglobin, a protein in the meat. When the steak hits the air, it turns red because the meat’s myoglobin reacts with oxygen. 

A blue steak is a raw steak that’s just briefly seared on high heat to kill any bacteria on the surface, reducing the risk of food poisoning. This leaves the barely warm inside of the steak, almost raw, with a deeply red color and a lightly seared outside. Blue steak is tender, juicy, and has a deep, beefy flavor. But keep in mind that the flavor depends on the type of steak you use. Avoid fatty steak cuts, as they’ll have lots of unmelted fat, which isn’t very pleasant. Stick to lean and tender cuts for the best experience with a blue steak.

Is Blue Steak Safe To Eat?

Blue steak is safe to eat as long as you cook it the right way. Before eating it, sear every part of the steak’s surface, including the edges, to kill all the bacteria. Also, be sure to sterilize the tongs you use during cooking.

A study on preparing raw steaks found that E. coli bacteria were present not because the steak was rare but because of the serving tongs. Using the same tongs for both raw and cooked meat can transfer bacteria to the cooked meat, so it’s crucial to sterilize tongs. E. coli bacteria are found on the outside of the steak, not the inside. When you cook the entire surface of the steak, you kill the bacteria and reduce the risk of food poisoning (source: HealthLink BC).

Important Tips to Keep in Mind Regarding the Blue Steak:

  • To avoid food poisoning, sear and brown the entire outer surface of the steak.
  • To avoid cross-contamination, sterilize your tongs after placing the steak in the pan and flipping it.

How to Cook Blue Steak

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to cooking a blue steak in a pan. This is the basic version, but you can add herbs, garlic, and butter for extra flavor.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Filet mignon (1.5-2.5 inches thick, ideally around 2 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer
all ingredients for blue steak

Step 1: Prepare the Steak

First, remove the steak from the refrigerator and dry it thoroughly with a paper towel. Once it’s dry, it’s time to salt it. The timing of salting depends on when you plan to cook the steak.

  • Option 1: Season the steak generously on all sides with salt. Then, let it rest on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes for cuts up to 1.5 inches thick and 60 minutes for thicker cuts. After that, you’re ready for the next step.
  • Option 2 (for a richer, saltier taste): Season the steak on all sides with salt and place it on a wire rack in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. When you’re ready to cook, take the steak out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for cuts around 1 inch thick, 45 minutes for cuts up to 1.5 inches thick, and 60 minutes for thicker cuts.
filet mignon seasoned with kosher salt
Steak 6 hours after salting

Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet

Place the cast-iron skillet on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and let it heat up for another minute. Your skillet should now be around 400-500°F(204-260°C). Meanwhile, season the steak with finely ground pepper on all sides.

Steak seasoned with ground black pepper
Cast iron skillet heated to 451.9°F

Step 3: Place the Steak in the Skillet

Start by placing the steak in the skillet and carefully sear each side. Just roll it gently using tongs or hand, ensuring every part touches the pan, which helps kill any potential bacteria. Then, press it down gently to make good contact with the pan.

Flip the steak every 30 seconds until its internal temperature reaches about 90°F (32°C). To keep things clean and safe, sterilize your tongs after each flip.

Step 4: Let the Blue-Rare Steak Rest

Don’t cut into the steak immediately after removing it from the pan. Let it rest for 6-7 minutes. This resting period lets the meat relax and reach the perfect target internal temperature due to carryover cooking.

I removed a 2.25-inch-thick filet mignon from the pan when it hit an internal temperature of 90°F. After resting for a few minutes, the temperature climbed to 115°F—an increase of 25°F. This shows how carryover cooking works, especially with thick steaks cooked at high temperatures with direct heat.

Below is the graph on the 2.25-inch-thick steak internal temperature increase due to carryover cooking, the final temperatures achieved, and the duration of the temperature increase after removal from the pan.

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How to Cook Blue Steak

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  • Author: Adam Wojtow
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Rest Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Description

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to cooking a blue steak in a pan. This is the basic version, but you can add herbs, garlic, and butter for extra flavor.


Ingredients

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Filet mignon (1.5-2.5 inches thick, ideally around 2 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Steak: Remove the steak from the refrigerator and pat it dry with a paper towel. Then generously salt it using one of the following methods:
    Option 1: Season all sides with salt and let it rest on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes (for cuts up to 1.5 inches) or 60 minutes (for thicker cuts).
    Option 2: Season with salt and refrigerate on a wire rack for 4-24 hours for a richer taste. Before cooking, let the steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (for 1-inch cuts), 45 minutes (for up to 1.5-inch cuts), or 60 minutes (for thicker cuts).
  2. Preheat the Pan: Preheat a cast-iron skillet on high heat for 2-3 minutes; add avocado oil and heat for another minute. The skillet should reach 400-500°F (204-260°C). Meanwhile, season the steak with finely ground pepper on all sides.
  3. Cook the Steak: Place the steak in the skillet and carefully sear each side. Roll it gently using tongs, ensuring every part touches the pan, which helps kill any potential bacteria. Then, press it down gently to make good contact with the pan. Flip every 30 seconds until the internal temperature reaches 90°F (32°C), sterilizing the tongs after each flip. Then, remove the steak from the pan and let it rest.
  4. Step 4: Rest the Blue-Rare Steak: After removing the steak from the pan, let it rest for 6-7 minutes to allow the meat to relax and reach the target internal temperature.

Blue Steak FAQs

What is the difference between rare and blue steak?

The main difference between rare and blue steak is how long they’re cooked and their internal temperatures. A blue steak is seared quickly on the outside, so it’s still completely red and barely warm in the middle, with an internal temperature not going over 120ºF (49°C). A rare steak, on the other hand, is cooked a bit longer. It’s warm throughout, with a mostly red center and some pink around the edges.

According to the steak temperature chart, a blue rare steak is cooked to a doneness with a temperature range of 110-120ºF (43°-49°C), while the internal temperature of a rare steak ranges from 120 to 130ºF (49°-54°C).

steak doneness chart

What are the best cuts for blue steak?

The best cuts for blue steak are lean and tender, ideally at least 1 inch thick. Avoid cuts that are tough, highly-marbled, and chewy. Here are some great options to try:

  • Tenderloin steak
  • Sirloin steak
  • Lean strip steak
  • Lean picanha steak

Feel free to explore other lean cuts of steak as well.

Over 2 inches thick filet mignon

Which cuts shouldn’t be cooked to blue doneness?

When cooking blue steak, it’s best to avoid cuts with a lot of fat, such as ribeye, strip, flat iron, chuck eye, flap, skirt, or denver steak. The short cooking time doesn’t let the fat melt, which can make these cuts taste unpleasant. Leaner and tender cuts are a much better choice for blue steak.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over five years and knows a lot about them, including the different types of steak cuts, how long to cook them, and the best ways to cook any steak.

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