Top 5 Criteria For The Most Tender Steak

Don’t your crave the most tender, juicy steak?

IMG_1867Steak and potato is probably the most popular comfort food for meat-eating Americans.  My husband and I have steak at least once a week, usually on Friday’s after a long work week.  Steak and baked potatoes are an easy meal, cooked on the grill, with very little clean up required.  Perfect for a Friday evening at home.  Also, cooking steak at home is much, much more economical than dining out for steak.  Lastly, you control your steak, therefore, with practice, you can cook your steak exactly like you want it.

As I promised to my subscribers, earlier this week; Here are my top 5 criteria (no particular order) for GRILLING the most TENDER, juicy steak you will ever have.

Cuts of meat on a cow.

1. Choice of steak cut

Relative to the size of a cow, good steak cuts are proportionally small.  The top choices are the following:

Tenderloin or Filet Mignon

  • Boneless, most expensive cut off the cow
  • Located in the short loin or sirloin, under the ribs
  • A whole tenderloin starts out wide, then tapers at the tail, the filet is from the more narrow end
  • Very lean, fine-grained
  • Best if 6-8 ounces for one portion


  • Short loin behind ribs
  • Very little fat content
  • 10 ounce a good size for one portion

T-Bone or Porterhouse          

  • Expensive because it usually includes part filet and part strip
  • Cross section of the un-filleted short loin
  • Can be 16-20 ounces to feed 2 people


  • Upper rib cage area
  • Full of marbling
  • Has the best flavor but not known for being tender

2. Let your steak acclimate

I did an article a few weeks ago explaining the significance of letting your steak acclimate:

JoAnn’s Food Bites Acclimate For A Good Steak

In this article, I explain removing your steak from the refrigerator, putting it on a plate, allowing it to sit out for 30 minutes prior to cooking will help the meat retain moisture and tenderness during the cooking process. Having a dry surface on the meat ensures juices will be retained.  Therefore, never put a COLD steak on the grill, always acclimate your steak.

3. Apply Salt To Your Steak

Prior to grilling, apply salt and gently press into the cut of beef.  Salt has a high affinity for water and your steak is full of moisture, especially on the surface.  The salt will coat the meat, pulling the moisture to the surface, but the liquid will be reabsorbed during the grilling process.  Some may advise you to gently pat dry the surface of your steak, I NEVER do this.  I believe this removes some of the juiciness of the meat.

If you choose to apply a dry rub to the meat, now is the time; however, if you buy high quality beef, such as PRIME or GRASS FED, why in the world would you apply a rub to mask the awesome flavor of the beef itself.  I am a proponent of just salt and light pepper only, on a good steak.

4. Do NOT Overcook Your Steak

During the grilling process, you want to keep as much moisture inside the steak as possible; therefore, I advise the following process for grilling your steak.

  • Turn on all burners to the grill, getting the grill up to about 500º
  • Once hot, open the grill, turn down to medium-high for the burners you will be using; you can turn off any unused burners
  • Using tongs and a paper towel dipped in olive oil, lightly go back and forth on the grill grate, to get an oil coating
  • Immediately, apply your steaks, to the hot burners, getting a quick sear
  • Keep the grill lid closed as much as possible to retain heat
  • Once a sear has been applied to both sides (3-4 minutes per side), turn down burners to medium and cook to desired temperature

Searing traps all the moisture inside the steak


Absolutely the most important tool in my kitchen is my instant read thermometer by Thermapen. It is an expensive investment.  I have tried many, many thermometers and Thermapen is worth every penny!

Thermopen 1. Thermopen 2. ThermoWorks Super-Fast Thermapen (Red) Professional Thermocouple Cooking Thermometer



Rare = 120ºF – 125ºF     Medium Rare =130ºF – 135ºF     Medium = 140ºF – 145ºF

For the most tender steak, do not cook above 140º.  With each passing degree, you will lose tenderness.

5. Let Your Steak Rest

After you have grilled your steak to 135º (my ideal temp), remove from the grill, place on a platter and tent with foil.  Some may say “loosely” tent with foil, but I always curl the foil under the plate and secure it, to keep all the heat trapped.  The meat will continue cooking.  Letting the meat rest for 10 minutes will result in a tender, juicy steak.


  1. 1.  Good cut choice of meat; filet, strip, T-Bone or rib-eye
  2. 2.  Acclimate your meat
  3. 3.  Apply salt to your steak
  4. 4.  Do not overcook the steak, but make sure you have a good sear
  5. 5.  Let the meat rest after grilling


Remember, this list only applies to grilled BEEF steaks.  Every protein has different characteristics which can alter priorities for making the meat tender. As well as different types of BEEF must be treated differently to optimize tenderness.  Finally, the appropriate cooking method to accompany the cut of meat is crucial for ideal taste and tenderness.













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2 Responses to Top 5 Criteria For The Most Tender Steak

  1. Pingback: End of Summer Salad - JoAnn's Food Bites

  2. DebbIe says:

    Thanks Joann, I can’t wait to try this

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