Can You Eat Raw Steak?

Eating raw beef steak gets mixed reactions from people. Some love it, while others worry about its safety. But here’s the deal: If you’re careful and follow some safety guidelines, you can enjoy that steak raw. In this guide, I’ll explain in detail why eating raw beef steak isn’t as scary as you might think, and I will share some tips to keep things safe.

Is Raw Steak Safe to Eat?

Yes, raw steak is safe to eat, but there are some things to know first. Bacteria, those little culprits we worry about, tend to hang out naturally only on the surface of a steak, not inside it.

So, if you want to eat raw beef steak, you just need to give it a good sear. Ensure every side is nicely seared, getting the surface temperature to at least 160°F. This step removes those surface bacteria, leaving the inside of the steak good to go until you slice it up. That’s why enjoying a medium, rare, or even blue rare steak is no big deal.

That said, sometimes steaks go through this process called mechanical tenderization. This can push bacteria from the surface into the steak. If your steak’s been tenderized this way, you must cook it all through to a safe 160°F. And when it comes to ground meat, always cook it well. It’s got a lot more surface area, which means more places for bacteria to hide.

Why Do People Eat Raw or Partially Cooked Steak?

People choose to eat raw or partially cooked steak mainly because of its texture and flavor. For example, a medium-rare steak is more tender, juicy, and packed with flavor compared to a well-done one. To dive deeper into this, let’s talk about what happens to meat when it’s cooked.

When you cook meat, it goes through a series of chemical reactions. These changes affect its color, size, and moisture levels and can even break down its fats. This means the meat can turn out tough or tender, primarily based on how long and at what temperature you cook it. Especially with steak, it becomes tougher if you cook it for too long. That’s why many chefs don’t recommend cooking a steak to well done, where it hits an internal temperature of 160°F. This often makes the steak dry and less flavorful than a medium-rare steak.

pan-seared strip steak; medium-rare doneness
Sliced medium-rare strip steak

While eating raw meat might seem unusual in the U.S., it’s common in other parts of the world. Take Europe, for instance, where dishes like steak tartare or beef carpaccio are favorites. But a word of caution: raw meat comes with health risks because of potential contaminants. So, if you’re going for completely raw meat, make sure it’s from places known to handle it carefully to reduce any risks of getting sick.

Potential Dangers of Eating Raw Steak?

Despite our best efforts, the raw beef steak may still contain contaminants that pose a significant risk of food poisoning. Harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter, can commonly be found on the surface of raw meat. Proper cooking is essential to eliminate these bacteria. Thus, one that is partially cooked, like a Pittsburgh-style steak with a raw interior, is considered somewhat safer when it comes to intact steaks.

For intact steaks, bacteria are typically present only on the outer surface. Therefore, a quick sear at a very high temperature is enough to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.

Who Shouldn’t Eat Raw Steak?

According to what I’ve read in medical publications, it’s probably best for some folks to steer clear of completely raw beef. This includes the elderly, young kids, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and anyone with digestive or immune troubles.

How To Safely Enjoy Raw or Partially Cooked Steak At Home?

Eating raw steak can be a treat, but knowing how to handle it right is key. Here are some friendly pointers to make sure everything goes smoothly:

  1. Know where your steak’s coming from: You wouldn’t buy a used car without checking its history, so why risk it with steak? Skip the supermarket and head straight to a trustworthy local butcher. Give them a heads-up that you’re planning to eat it raw. They’ll probably take extra care to get you the best cut.
  2. Storing is key: After buying that prime piece, don’t just toss it in the fridge willy-nilly. Keep it below 40°F in the fridge. Pop it in the freezer if you’re not thinking about consuming it soon. And hey, if you want to have it raw, don’t let it sit for too long.
  3. Be gentle with that steak: Treat it like a delicate piece of art if you’re handling raw steak. Avoid poking it; you want to keep everything inside just as it is. Using needles or anything similar might introduce nasty stuff from the surface deep into the steak. And a quick heads-up: that knife or cutting board from last night’s dinner? It might still have some bacteria, so keep things clean.
  4. Give it a quick sear: If you’re not going completely raw, get that pan sizzling and give your steak a good sear on all sides. It’s not just for those delicious crispy edges – it helps kill off any nasties on the surface.

Remember, while all these tips are handy, the last two are super important. Follow them, and you’re setting yourself up for a great steak experience without the side of worry.

FAQs

Does completely raw steak taste good?

That’s kind of a personal thing. Some folks love its unique flavor and texture, while others might find it too cold or chewy. It also comes down to the cut of the steak. Curious about giving it a try? Maybe kick things off with a blue steak or a Pittsburgh-style steak.

Is that red stuff in raw steak blood?

No, it’s not blood. What you’re seeing is mostly water mixed with a protein called myoglobin. This protein makes the meat red, especially when it hits the air. And if you’re wondering why sometimes meat turns brown? It’s because of how the meat reacts with oxygen and heat. If you’re curious to dive deeper, check out my article, “What’s That Red Juice in Steak?

raw strip steak with red juice on plate
Raw strip steak with red juice on plate

How to Spot a Bad Raw Steak?

Like with any other food, there are telltale signs when your raw steak might be off. Knowing what to look out for can help avoid any nasty food-related surprises. First up, give it a good sniff. Fresh beef shouldn’t be too intense. But it’s probably not good news if your steak smells a bit sweet or just plain rotten. Then, have a look at the color. A fresh piece of beef is generally reddish on the outside and might have a grayish tinge inside. It might be time to toss it if it’s looking gray on the outside.

There’s more to it, but keeping an eye (and nose) on these two things will give you a good start. Need more tips? Dive into my article: How to Tell if a Steak is Bad.

Explore Other Guides:

Photo of author

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 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.