Mastering Steak Temperatures


Cooking the perfect steak is an art form that requires precision and knowledge of steak temperatures. Whether you prefer your steak rare, medium, or well-done, understanding the correct temperature for each level of doneness is crucial. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about steak temperatures, helping you achieve steakhouse-quality results at home.

What are Steak Temperatures?

Steak temperatures refer to the internal temperature of the steak, which determines its doneness. Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature ensures your steak is cooked to your desired level. The doneness of a steak ranges from rare to well-done, with varying temperatures in between.

The Importance of Steak Temperatures

Understanding steak temperatures is essential for several reasons:

  1. Safety: Ensuring the steak reaches a safe internal temperature to eliminate harmful bacteria.
  2. Flavor: Different temperatures enhance the steak’s natural flavors and juiciness.
  3. Texture: The texture of the steak varies significantly with temperature, from tender and juicy to firm and chewy.

Steak Temperature Guide

1. Rare Steak

  • Internal Temperature: 120°F to 130°F (49°C to 54°C)
  • Characteristics: Cool, red center with a soft texture.
  • Cooking Time: Sear on high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Ideal For: Those who enjoy a very tender and juicy steak with a minimal char.

2. Medium-Rare Steak

  • Internal Temperature: 130°F to 135°F (54°C to 57°C)
  • Characteristics: Warm, red center with a slightly firmer texture.
  • Cooking Time: Sear on high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Ideal For: The most popular doneness, balancing tenderness, and flavor.

3. Medium Steak

  • Internal Temperature: 135°F to 145°F (57°C to 63°C)
  • Characteristics: Warm, pink center with a firm, yet tender texture.
  • Cooking Time: Sear on high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Ideal For: Those who prefer a bit more resistance when biting into the steak.

4. Medium-Well Steak

  • Internal Temperature: 145°F to 155°F (63°C to 68°C)
  • Characteristics: Slightly pink center with a firm texture.
  • Cooking Time: Sear on high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side.
  • Ideal For: Those who prefer less pink and a firmer steak.

5. Well-Done Steak

  • Internal Temperature: 155°F and above (68°C and above)
  • Characteristics: Brown throughout with a firm, chewy texture.
  • Cooking Time: Sear on high heat for about 6-7 minutes per side.
  • Ideal For: Those who prefer no pink and a very firm steak.

How to Measure Steak Temperature

Using a Meat Thermometer

  1. Insert the Thermometer: Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, avoiding bone and fat.
  2. Check the Reading: Wait for a few seconds until the temperature reading stabilizes.
  3. Compare with Temperature Guide: Use the steak temperature guide above to determine the doneness of your steak.

The Touch Test

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use the touch test:

  1. Rare: Soft and squishy, similar to the feel of the fleshy part of your hand below the thumb when relaxed.
  2. Medium-Rare: Slightly firmer, like the feel of the same area when you touch your thumb and index finger together.
  3. Medium: Firm but still with some give, like when you touch your thumb and middle finger together.
  4. Medium-Well: Firmer still, like when you touch your thumb and ring finger together.
  5. Well-Done: Very firm, like when you touch your thumb and pinky finger together.

Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak

  1. Choose the Right Cut: Different cuts of steak have varying levels of tenderness and flavor. Ribeye, filet mignon, and New York strip are popular choices for their marbling and taste.
  2. Season Well: Generously season your steak with salt and pepper before cooking to enhance the natural flavors.
  3. Let it Rest: After cooking, let the steak rest for about 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy steak.
  4. Use High Heat: Searing the steak on high heat creates a delicious crust while keeping the inside tender.
  5. Finish in the Oven: For thicker cuts, start by searing on the stovetop and then finish in a preheated oven to reach the desired temperature.


Mastering steak temperatures is key to cooking the perfect steak every time. Whether you prefer a rare, medium, or well-done steak, knowing the correct internal temperature and cooking techniques will help you achieve the desired doneness with confidence. Use a meat thermometer for precise measurements and follow our tips for a steakhouse-quality steak at home.

By understanding and applying the knowledge of steak temperatures, you can elevate your cooking skills and enjoy perfectly cooked steaks. Share this guide with fellow steak enthusiasts and bookmark it for your next steak night. Happy grilling!

By focusing on these essential aspects, you’ll ensure your steak is cooked to perfection, satisfying both your taste buds and your guests’. If you found this guide helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family who love a good steak!

Happy Cooking!

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