How Long To Leave Steak Out Before Cooking It

With there being numerous ways you could try cooking steak, the on-going debate on the best way to cook a steak will remain heated. Every steak lover has an opinion on the matter, and everyone who regularly prepares steak believes their way is the right way.

Regardless of the process you use when cooking your steak, the one step that many techniques include is leaving your steak out for a while before cooking it. 

It is this step that this article will take a closer look at, helping you know how long to leave steak out before cooking or whether it is even necessary in the first place.

What Is the Purpose for Leaving Steak Out Before Cooking?

Understanding the reason for leaving steak out before preparing it will help you determine how long to let the steak sit before cooking. The idea of leaving your steak out before cooking it is because many people believe it affects how the steak cooks.

On the surface, it seems simple. If you want your steak to have a deep-down crust without having to overcook its medium-rare center, the best approach is to trigger the Maillard reaction quickly. The Maillard reaction is a series of heat-triggered chemical reactions that are responsible for turning your steak brown.

Because high temperatures bring on the Maillard reaction, it’s understandable why people believe that having your steak at room temperature before tossing it on the grill or into the pan helps.

Does Leaving Your Steak Out Help?

Everyone desires a tender and moist steak. However, does your steak’s temperature before cooking play any role in determining how tender and moist the steak will be?

The stage that triggers the Maillard reaction mentioned earlier is called the browning stage, but your steak has to go through two other stages first. The first stage is the temperature stage, where its temperature is raised. The second stage is the evaporation stage, where the steak loses the moisture on its surface.

The stage that takes up most of the cooking is the evaporation stage. It is easier to heat water than it is to evaporate it. In fact, evaporation does not occur until your steak’s temperature reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and the browning does not happen until most of the moisture on the steak’s surface evaporates.

Though most people recommend leaving your steak out before cooking, your steak’s starting temperature does not have that much of an impact on how it will cook.

Preparing Your Steak for Cooking

Piece of ribeye steak on marble tin plate

When prepping your steak for cooking, you should not focus on having the steak at room temperature. Instead, your focus should be on how dry the outside of your steak is. One way of making sure your steak is dry is by blotting it with a few paper towels before searing it.

You could also consider salting it about 40 minutes before cooking. Leaving it for that period will give the water more than enough time to be drawn out by the salt then re-absorbed, leaving the steak’s surface much dryer.

Another prepping method you could try if you want the juiciest interior and brownest surface ever is to place your raw steak on top of a rack set in a baking sheet, then put it in your fridge and leave it uncovered for a couple of nights. Doing so will cause your steak to form a very dry skin that will brown in record time.

Should You Let Your Steak Rest After Cooking?

rest steak after cooking

Yes, you always want to let your steak rest after cooking it. This step is essential because as your steak was on the heat, its protein fibers hardened and constricted, squeezing its juices towards the steak’s cooler center.

If you were to dive into your steak immediately after removing it from the fire, the juices will pool and flow away, leaving your steak dry and tasteless. On the other hand, letting your steak rest cools it down, allowing it to redistribute the juices throughout the cut. The fibers relax and let the juices flow towards your steak’s edges.

If you have a thicker piece of steak, letting it rest for 10 to 20 minutes will do. If your steak is one and a half inches in thickness, then letting it rest for five to seven minutes will be perfect.

Photo of author

Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow, the founder of Steak Revolution, is a true steak enthusiast. His primary goal is to help others perfect their steak-cooking skills.