There are several foods that can go onto your grill; burgers, meat or vegetable skewers, and perhaps the most common yet, steak. There are multiple steaks you can grill, and there are also those you should avoid grilling. In this article, we are going to see, which steaks are the best choice for grilling.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Before looking at all the different steaks, you can grill, let’s first look at what you need to know before grilling.
Not all steaks are the same, and when you want to buy your piece of steak, you need to take precautions to ensure you get the most suitable. It would be great if you are looking for a steak that is graded above in quality. A steak with more marbling running through it is the better choice as the end product will be tenderer.
There are several places you can find a good steak. One is the supermarkets. In most areas, beef in the supermarket is graded as either choice or select. The choice has more fat than select. Another place you can find good meat is at your local butcher. While at it, ensure to find out if they have prime-grade beef. This usually has better marbling than choice and will result in a tenderer end product.
You can also search for local farmers who sell quality beef or find online butchers. Make sure that wherever you buy your steak, it has generous marbling for a better dish.
How to Prepare the Steak
You can use two main methods to prepare a steak; reverse sear or cooking it hot and fast. You can do either of these methods using a charcoal or gas grill or a cast iron pan.
- Reverse sear – you will need to adjust the grill for a two-zone indirect burning and prepare the steak slowly on the indirect side. Once the steak is almost done, raise the grill’s temperature and sear the steak at the end. It is best done with a cut of steak that is less than 1.5″ thick.
- Hot and fast method – sear your steak quickly over direct heat. The amount of time you will take to sear the meat will depend on your steak’s thickness, but the time varies between a minute to two on both sides. If you need your steak’s temperature to be higher even after searing, place it on the indirect side and leave it until you get your preferred doneness.
The Steaks that are most suitable for grilling
Known as the “king of all steaks”, the ribeye is the perfect combination of a well-marbled steak, juiciness, and luxurious tenderness. It also gives a delicious, beefy flavor which is what you’re looking for when grilling. Because it has good marbling, the ribeye results in the most tender grilled meat.
You can get the ribeye in a boneless or bone-in version, and both are just perfect. Look for a steak with streaky marbling throughout its length for the best results. You can have the steak cut anywhere between ½ to 2″ thickness. The most suitable cooking method for ribeye steak is by searing it at a hot temperature first then finish cooking it on the cool side of the grill; you can also do the opposite and get great results.
Looking for two steaks in one? Then the T-bone is what you need. This steak is larger than any other and is deliciously tender. Cut your T-bone at least 2-inches thick. The T-bone is found further from the rump, slightly forward on the short loin. The steak has little to no tenderloin muscle. Use the reverse sear to get the greatest results from the T-bone.
Also known as a Kansas City strip, a New York strip, a top loin steak, shell steak, club steak, or a strip steak, the striploin is a very tender cut. It is well-marbled and has a delightful beefy flavor that makes it one of the best cuts worldwide.
It has more flavor than the ribeye, although it might not be as tender as it is. However, other factors, such as marbling, aging, and grading, help the cut to have that beef flavor we all love. You can also have it boneless or bone-in; the bone-in version is often called a club steak. You can cut the steak from ½-2 inch thickness and cook it by searing over direct heat and finishing on the grill (on the cool side) or vice versa.
The porterhouse comes from a cross-section of the short loin from the rump end. It has a much larger tenderloin section than the T-bone. Although they come from the same area, a porterhouse is a much higher cut. The steak combines a cross-section of the backbone and a slice of tenderloin on one side with a part of ribeye muscle on the other side.
Porterhouse steaks are hugely sought after and tend to be more expensive. You can cut a fraction of the cost by grilling it yourself at home. An excellent way to do it is cooking using the reverse sear. To get the best results – cut it thick.
The top sirloin cut comes from the sirloin primal, which runs from the lower back to the hip bone. It is a nice compromise between tenderness, cost, and flavor. Although it is not as tender as other parts, such as the short loin, it has a nice tenderness for grilling. Besides, its flavor pretty much covers up for the reduced tenderness.
You will need to be careful when grilling the top sirloin because it is tougher and drier. The best way to prepare it is by grilling it quickly. Make sure to check the internal temperature from time to time to ensure it doesn’t go past medium-rare, as this might cause it to dry out.
The meat cut comes from the tenderloin and is one of the tenderest steaks. It is expensive and rare to find since a steer produces no more than 500 grams of the filet mignon. What the filet mignon makes up for in tenderness, it loses to in flavor. The cut is not overly flavorful, which is why it is most commonly wrapped in bacon.
This steak comes from the beef chuck primal; the shoulder clod close to the steer’s shoulder. It is the second tenderest cut, beaten only by the filet mignon. The steak is well-marbled and is cut lengthwise instead of crosswise. This method of cutting prevents it from cutting the thick gristle seam.
You can cut the flat iron from between ¾- 1 ¼ inches in thickness. Then, you can cook it on a hot grill until it reaches medium-rare or your desired doneness.
Coming from the cow’s belly or the beef flank primal cut, the flank steak is tough and flavorful. It has bundles of muscle fibers that give it a thick, grainy texture. To get tenderness, slice the meat against the grain.
Since this steak is more on the thick and grainy side, use tenderizers or mix your own marinade to help make it tenderer and more flavorful. The flank steak is good to be cooked by grilling quickly over high heat and not past medium-rare doneness.
It comes from the beef plate primal cut of the cow, especially the inside of the abdominal cavity and the chest. The steak is incredibly flavorful but has a slightly chewy texture. The texture is because it is thickly grained and is bound with a tough connective tissue.
As with the flank steak, slice this steak against the grain to get the optimal results. Cook it by searing it quickly and directly over high heat. A skirt steak is a tougher cut of beef and has a chewy texture, and the easiest way to make it more palatable is to use a tenderizer before grilling. You can also cover it with a marinade or spice rub, in moderation, to complement its beefy flavor.
The cut is found between the rib and the loin, supporting the diaphragm. It is an overly thick meat and has good marbling.
Prepare this steak by grilling it quickly over direct heat.
The Hanger steak is more utilized than some of the other slices and can, therefore, benefit from extra manipulation before grilling. You can use a tenderizer and some marinade and let it rest before grilling. Slice it against the grain to get the best results.
Some steaks are so well-marbled and tender that they don’t need complicated seasoning, while others can benefit from a bit of marinade. Others don’t even fit in the grilling category. So which ones are fit for what category? Let’s find out.
Steaks that are good for Grilling after Simple Seasoning
Some of the most popular steaks fall under this category. They have a combination of well-marbling and tender muscles that makes them perfect as is and don’t require a lot of seasoning. They also don’t need a lot of time on the grill to get the most flavor.
The best steaks for this are:
- New York strip steak
- Top sirloin
These steaks only need seasoning with simple salt and pepper, and they’re ready for the grill.
Porterhouse and T-bone cuts give you both the strip and the filet for great results.
Related: BBQ Rubs You Can Buy Online
Steaks that need Marinades or Tenderizers before Grilling
Top-cut steaks boast for not needing extra seasoning to bring out their taste. However, there is a new contender in town, the butcher’s cuts. These cuts have risen in popularity thanks to expert chefs and the correct seasoning ingredients.
These cuts usually come from muscles that do more work than the above top-cut steak. Because of this, these cuts are tough and can benefit from tenderizers or marinades to make them better. They include:
- Skirt steaks
- Flat iron
- Hanger steak
- Flank steak
These cuts might not generally be bursting with flavor or as tender as the top cuts. Using marinades and tenderizers not only makes these cuts tenderer but also infuses them with extra flavor. Find your favorite dry rub or go-to tenderizer and give the steak some time to absorb it.
Let the steak rest for a while before grilling it so that the flavor thoroughly infuses itself into the meat. Also, slice the steak across the grain to get the tenderest bites.
Related: Learn How to Dry Brine
Steaks that Aren’t Suitable for Grilling
Grilling is an exciting process, which results in some of the yummiest steaks you could ever eat. However, there are some cuts of beef that are extra-tough and don’t belong on the grill. The tougher cuts benefit more from low-and-slow cooking methods. A slow cooker or a Dutch oven is the most reliable way to cook these cuts.
Some of the toughest and chewiest cuts of steak that aren’t suitable for grilling include:
- Chuck roast
- Short ribs
- Rump roast
Grilling is an excellent way of preparing different cuts of meat and even vegetables. Don’t get into a rut by grilling the same steak all the time. Switch it up a little and experiment with other kinds of steaks other than the porterhouse and the rib eye.
Head to your local supermarket or trusted butcher’s stores and get a new slice of meat. Make sure you get only good-quality cuts for the most exceptional experience. Remember to look for the marbling to help you know how tender the cut can be. Ask your butcher to slice your steak into appropriate sizes for even cooking.
Go out of your comfort zone and grill different types of steaks; you never know what you might end up liking.