Steak Temperatures

Want to know the secret to the perfect steak? It’s all about cooking it to the temperature that suits your taste. Here’s a quick guide to what those steak temperatures look like depending on the desired doneness level:

  • Blue Rare: 110-120°F (43-49°C)
  • Rare: 120-130°F (49-54°C)
  • Medium Rare: 130-140°F (54-60°C)
  • Medium: 140-150°F (60-66°C)
  • Medium Well: 150-160°F (66-71°C)
  • Well-Done: Over 160°F (71°C)

Remember that the steak keeps cooking a bit after you take it off the heat, thanks to carryover cooking. This means the steak’s internal temperature can still rise by about 5-25°F (2.8-13.9°C), and it depends on several things, like how thick the steak is and how hot you cooked it. So, to avoid overcooking, remove the steak from the heat earlier than you’d think.

For example, if you want a medium-rare steak (around 135°F/57°C), take the 1.5-inch thick pan-seared steak off the heat when it’s about 20°F (11°C) lower than that and let it sit for 6-7 minutes. If you’re looking for more info regarding this topic, check out the FAQ section of this article.

Now, let’s break down each steak’s doneness level individually.

Blue Rare Steak: 110 to 120°F (43-49°C)

Blue rare steak (extra rare steak) is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 110-120°F (43-49°C). Blue rare steak is a particularly raw steak that is completely red, almost purple, and relatively cool inside with a tender and juicy texture.

A blue rare steak is an option only for steak purists who love their meat almost straight from the butcher. Definitely, it’s not a choice for everyone, and more importantly, it’s not a choice for every cut. Lean cuts are the way to go for this level of doneness. Filet mignon? That’s a winner, mostly because it’s so incredibly tender.

Rare Steak: 120 to 130°F (49-54°C)

Rare steak is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 120-130°F (49-54°C). Rare steak is deeply red inside, still slightly cool to the tongue, but very juicy and tender.

Most people who don’t often eat steak tend to shy away from rare steak because it seems too raw for their taste. But, if you’re into lean cuts, like the filet mignon, aiming for rare is the way to go.

Medium Rare Steak: 130 to 140°F (54-60°C)

Medium rare steak is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 130-140°F (54-60°C). Medium-rare steak is lightly red to dark pink inside, warm to the touch, and exceptionally juicy and tender. In fact, medium rare is the most popular steak doneness. It’s my preferred doneness for most cuts of steak, especially the fattier ones.

The greatest advantage of cooking a steak to medium-rare is that at temperatures between 130-140°F (54-60°C), the fat begins to melt more noticeably. This process makes the steak juicier, less chewy, and more flavorful.

Medium Steak: 140 to 150°F (60-66°C)

Medium steak is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 140-150°F (60-66°C). Medium steak is entirely pink and hot inside, still tender, but starts to lose a bit of juice.

For folks who aren’t big fans of seeing a lot of red in their steak, medium doneness is usually the go-to. It’s also good for steaks with lots of marbling, like skirt steak. Why? Around 140 to 150°F (60-66°C), the fat starts to melt a bit more, making the steak even tastier because it lets all those flavors from the fat get into the meat.

Medium Well Steak: 150 to 160°F (66-71°C)

Medium well steak is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of 150-160°F (66-71°C). Medium well steak is slightly pink inside, hot throughout the entire steak, and firm due to a significant loss of juices.

I am not a fan of medium-well doneness. For me, it just doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to what makes a steak great: its tenderness, juicy goodness, and rich flavor. But that’s just my opinion. Taste is super personal. If you love your medium-well steak, that’s cool. What’s most important is that you enjoy what you’re eating.

Well-Done Steak: Over 160°F (71°C)

A well-done steak is a steak cooked to an internal temperature of over 160°F (71°C). Well-done steak is all gray inside and not juicy at all. It’s thoroughly hot but has a firm and dry texture.

What is the Best Doneness for Steak?

Please remember that taste preferences vary from person to person, but generally, medium-rare doneness is considered the best level for cooking steak. Why medium-rare doneness is so popular? It’s because it hits the sweet spot where you get the best of everything – the steak is juicy, tender, and flavorful. Another significant advantage of cooking steak to medium-rare is that, at temperatures between 130-140°F (54-60°C), the fat begins to melt noticeably. This melting enhances the steak’s flavor, making it even more enjoyable.

Steak Temperature Chart

Steak DonenessInternal Temp. (°F)Internal Temp. (°C)
Blue Rare110-120°F43-49°C
Medium Rare130-140°F54-60°C
Medium Well150-160°F66-71°C
Well-DoneOver 160°FOver 71°C
steak doneness chart

How to Measure Steak Internal Temperature Accurately?

Whether you prefer rare, medium, or well-done steak, using a meat thermometer to measure the steak’s internal temperature accurately is essential for consistently achieving your desired level of doneness. For precise readings, insert the thermometer’s tip into the thickest part of the steak, avoiding bones and fatty areas. Removing the steak from the heat source at the right moment, based on the temperature reading, is crucial to prevent overcooking.

Remember that the time needed to reach the ideal temperature can vary significantly, depending on the steak’s cut, thickness, and cooking method. Therefore, using a meat thermometer is far more reliable than relying on the generic cooking times found in some online recipes.

What is the Ideal Temperature to Remove Steak from the Heat Source?

The ideal temperature to remove steak from the heat source varies based on several factors, including the type of heat source, steak thickness, cooking temperature, cooking duration, and the desired level of doneness.

To avoid overcooking pan-seared steak due to carryover cooking, please remove it from the heat when it’s 20-25°F (11-14°C) below your desired temperature. This guideline applies to steak 1.5-2 inches thick, cooked quickly at high heat. For thinner steak, less than 1.25 inches thick, just remove it around 15-20°F (8-11°C) before it hits your desired temperature. The same rules apply to grilled steak cooked directly over the heat.

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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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