What is the best thickness for steak? You could ask 15 grill masters and still not find a clear-cut answer. That’s because there are so many factors to consider. Your preferences, tastes, goals, and lifestyle factor into the solution.
Let’s learn more about this interesting issue and find the steak thickness that’s right for you.
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Steak thickness matters because it influences how quickly the meat cooks. Naturally thin cuts can be challenging to cook to perfection because the heat penetrates almost immediately throughout the entire meat layer. This quick transfer of heat makes it easier to overcook thinner steak cuts.
Even with well-marbled steak, thin cuts offer less rendered fat than there would be with a thick-cut piece. As a result, thin cuts dry out faster than their thicker, juicier counterparts.
In contrast, the right thickness of steak provides a range of taste experiences with each mouthful.
In the highly competitive barbecuing and fine dining world, it’s challenging to find experts who agree on much. Surprisingly, however, the thickness of the ideal piece of steak is one area where most chefs and meat experts can agree. Most experts will tell you that the best thickness for steak is 1.5 inches.
Why is this the magic number? At this thickness, you have the best control over the cooking process. With a 1.5-inch slab of beef, achieving your desired level of doneness is relatively simple. It’s also the ideal measurement if you prefer:
- A seared, flavorful crust
- A medium-rare inner layer with a robust flavor, perfect moisture, and a hint of chewiness
- A perfect center at 130°F
At 1.5 inches, it takes the heat from a skillet or grill longer to reach the center of the meat. As a result, the layers cook at different temperatures, resulting in a meal with several flavor and texture profiles.
Thicker is Better Than Thinner
For most home chefs, thicker cuts of steak tend to be easier to cook because these cuts are more forgiving. For example, if you leave thin steaks in the frying pan for a minute too long, they can become dry and tough. However, a thicker cut can handle a few extra minutes on the grill without losing all tenderness.
What About a Steak That Is Too Thin?
A too-thin steak doesn’t have the substance to achieve a multi-layered cooking effect. Therefore, you will have to choose between a nice crust or a medium-rare center; you cannot have both.
The low fat content in thinner steaks also makes it challenging to keep the meat moist and flavorful during cooking.
What About a Steak That Is Too Thick?
If 1.5 inches is the perfect thickness, double that must be heavenly, right? Actually, any steaks over the standard 1.5 inches wide may be problematic.
Most cooks don’t need to worry about the center being overcooked with thick steaks. We do, however, need to be careful of undercooking the center. Many amateur chefs try to compensate by cooking the meat for longer but risk burning the steak’s crust in the process.
The Ideal Steak Thickness: 1.5 Inches
Preparation, as always, is the key. Season your steak and allow it to come to room temperature before beginning. Then preheat the grill on its hottest setting. Add your steak and sear for up to two minutes.
Next, turn the steak at a 45° angle and sear for another minute. This ensures an even sear on the steak and provides rich flavoring from grill charring. At this point, flip the steak. Keep repeating this at intervals until the meat’s internal temperature reads 125°F.
Remove the steak from the heat and rest for five minutes to complete the cooking process, allowing the juices to redistribute throughout.
Again, preparation is your best friend. You want the meat at room temperature before you start to grill it, so remove it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you begin. Add the seasoning of your choice, cover the meat, and set it aside out of direct heat or sunlight.
Set the grill to the highest mark and let it warm thoroughly. Sear the steak for a minute and then turn it 45°. Cook it for another minute before flipping it.
Repeat the last two steps and set your meat aside to rest for a few minutes.
You bought a massive slice of cow, didn’t you? You’ll need a two-zone BBQ that delivers direct heat on one side but has a cool zone for slow cooking. Preheat the BBQ so that the direct heat zone is smoking hot.
Place your extra thick steaks over the direct heat and sizzle for a minute. Turn 45° and cook for a further minute. Flip and repeat the process on the other side.
Now move it to the “cool” side of the BBQ to cook slowly until done to your liking. It should reach a minimum internal temperature of 125°F for safety and will continue cooking while resting.
Have You Narrowed Down Your Best Thickness for Steak?
If you haven’t made up your mind yet, that’s fine. We have recipes for every steak cut, so try a few and see what you like best. Who knows, you might even surprise yourself.