The Complete Guide to Choosing and Cooking the Perfect Steak for Beginners

The Complete Guide to Choosing and Cooking the Perfect Steak for Beginners

But first, let's talk about steak — a large, magnificent cut of meat. Most of us only eat steak when our parents took us out to an old-school steakhouse supper, and while we loved every minute of it, the menu was always intimidating to some of us. What was the difference between a ribeye and a New York steak? What made filet mignon so pricey?

Buying a steak at the market is arguably the most difficult part of cooking steak at home, so whether you cook steak at home or save it for a special night out, knowing your high-end steak cuts is essential. Here are the four most common; we'll go over how to prepare them, where they come from, and what they taste like. Are you ready to get started on your steak primer? Let's get started!

What Exactly Is a Steak?

Steak is "a piece of meat sliced from the fleshy section of a beef carcass," according to the definition. While there are pork chops that cook like steaks and even vegetables that can be chopped into "steaks," this post will focus only on beef steak.


Beef steaks are cut across the muscle fiber of a large chunk of beef and may or may not contain a bone. The majority of steaks are sourced from three great places on a cow.

Steak comes from which part of the cow?

The short loin, tenderloin, and ribs are the four steaks that come from the same general area around the top of the steer: the short loin, tenderloin, and ribs. These muscles aren't often exercised and have a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down by cooking for a long time.

As a result, these steaks are considerably more tender than other cuts of beef, and all that's required to sear and brown the outside of these meats while the inside may be eaten as rare as you desire is quick cooking and extreme heat. They also have a lot of marbling, which makes them tasty to cook with.

What's the Deal With These Expensive Steaks?

These premium cuts account for a small percentage of the total weight of the steer, which contributes to their high costs.

Because they're so expensive, it's well worth learning how each one differs so you can choose the one you like most! Do you want a large beefy flavor, or do you prefer the tenderest cut? Here's what you need to know about each cut so you can make an informed decision.

Some of Its Health Benefits

It's critical to get enough protein, and steak is a great source. When compared to processed meat, research reveals that unprocessed meats, such as steak, are a better choice.

Muscle Wasting Is Reduced

Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscular mass. Muscle loss puts elders at a higher risk of injury and reduces their independence. Animal protein consumption has been linked to greater muscle mass retention in older persons who do not exercise, according to research. 5 Steak should be kept on the menu for older folks to assist maintain muscular strength and function.

Beef provides protein and zinc, two important minerals for the immune system. A moderate piece of steak, together with cleaning your hands and eating enough of fruits and vegetables, can provide nutritional assistance for fending against colds and viruses.

Let's get started on cooking your own steak now!

Are you ready to discover how to choose the juiciest, most tender steak, whether you're dining out or grilling at home? Here's everything you need to know about each cut of beef, including how to prepare it and what it tastes like.

The first step is to choose a steak you enjoy, but you need also be aware of your degrees of doneness. Check out this lesson to discover how to cook a steak to your chosen temperature.

What Does the USDA Grade Indicate?


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) assigns a grade to beef based on two main factors: the degree of marbling (fat streaks in the meat) and the animal's projected age.

While there are actually eight classes of beef, you'll most likely only come across these three while buying a steak at the grocery.

  • USDA Prime: This cut of beef is made from young beef cattle with lots of marbling, and it's what most restaurants offer. Broiling, roasting, and grilling are all terrific options.
  • USDA Choice: This cut of beef is still of high quality, but it lacks the marbling of prime. When braised, roasted, or cooked with a small quantity of liquid in a covered skillet, these pieces of beef will be the softest.
  • USDA Select: This cut of beef is leaner, has less marbling, and is more tender than the other two higher categories. When comparing select beef to higher grades, you'll find it loses some juiciness and flavor.

Choose from a variety of popular steaks.

We'll give you a little breakdown on each of these steaks so you can have a better idea of what the tenderest cuts of beef are like and how they taste. Check out this useful detailed chart for more information on these and other cuts.


The succulent ribeye comes from the top part of the center of the rib, known as the beef rib primal cut, and is one of the most tender and juicy steaks available. So, if you've ever had a slow-roasted prime rib, you know where it comes from.

You can get this with or without bones. These steaks are already delicate due to the high degree of marbling. As a result, the steak will remain tender after any type of dry cooking.

This flavorful and juicy steak can be chargrilled, broiled, or pan-seared over high heat.

T-Bone and Porterhouse

These popular bone-in steaks are cut from the short loin's cross-section. If you look closely at each of these steaks, you'll discover a T-shaped bone that separates the filet and the New York strip steaks.

To be classified as a porterhouse, the filet (or tenderloin) section of the steak must be at least 1.25 inches wide, according to the USDA. The tenderloin portion of a T-bone will be around half-inch wide. Consider the T-bone as a smaller and thinner version of the massive porterhouse steak.

So, if you want to get two steaks for the price of one, opt for the porterhouse. If you still want to take advantage of the two-for-one deal but have a smaller appetite, the T-bone is the way to go.

Because the T-bone and porterhouse steaks are separated by a bone, you'll want to be careful when cooking them. Because the filet section is smaller and cooks faster, keep it away from the grill's heat source.

Below, we'll break down and describe each of those steaks in detail.

Filet Mignon

Filet mignon with melted compound butter, sautéed mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes on the side.

Because of its buttery, mild flavor and extreme tenderness, this steak is reputed to be both exquisite and expensive. You could cut it with a butter knife if it was cooked properly.

The filet, also known as Filet Mignon, is made from the tenderloin, notably the short loin beneath the ribs. When you look at a tenderloin in the above chart, you'll notice a long segment that tapers on one end. The filet mignon is at the narrower end of the menu.

The ideal approach to cooking a filet is to sear the outside over high heat in a cast-iron skillet, then rest it for a few minutes in the hot skillet before removing it from the heat source. This will allow it to finish cooking on low heat without overcooking (after scorching both sides).

New York Strip

This boneless beauty originates from the short loin, just beneath the ribs, and is slightly rectangular in shape, with one side smaller than the other.

New York Strips are flavorful and soft, with a good combination of lean and fatty meat. Strips aren't as soft as a ribeye or filet, but they're still wonderful. This steak can be pan-seared, broiled, or grilled over an open flame.


Although the sirloin is less pricey than the other cuts we've discussed, it is nonetheless well-known and well-liked by many. The sirloin steak is made from a primal cut of cattle loin that yields lean meat.

The top butt and bottom butt of the sirloin will be separated by a butcher. The top sirloin is tasty and inexpensive to grill, while the bottom sirloin is best for roasting.

Flat Iron 

The flat iron has become increasingly popular in recent years, and you may have noticed it on restaurant and grocery store menus.

This steak has a lot of marbling and is almost as tender as a tenderloin, but it's a lot less expensive than a filet mignon.

The Flat Iron has a flavor that is highly beefy and rich, and it is often marinated. It is best cooked quickly on high heat to bring out its meaty flavor.

So now that you have the knowledge, all you need to do is go to your neighborhood butcher and choose one of these steaks.

Here's how to prepare the best steak after you've chosen the best steak:


If you're new to preparing steak, pan-searing is without a doubt the quickest and easiest way. It's the way I learned when I initially got into the steak business.

This beginner's guide to steak will show you how to make a beautiful pan-seared steak every time using a simple 6-step process.

Step 1: Select the appropriate beef cut.

It is critical to begin with a high-quality cut of beef when making a superb steak.

Cows are massive creatures! They come in a variety of slices, each of which is best suited to specific cooking methods.

As a result, you must select a cut that is suitable for pan searing. Eye Fillet, Scotch Fillet, Porterhouse, Sirloin, T-Bone, New York Strip, and Rump are my top picks.

The marbling is something else to look for in an excellent steak. These are the fat streaks that run through the meat in a zigzag pattern. A steak will be more tender if it has more marbling.

Step 2: Bring the steak to room temperature before cooking.

Always remember to take the steak out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking it. This aids in the return of chilled meat to room temperature.

When cooking steak, many impatient or busy home cooks make this critical error. I'll admit that I used to be a very impatient and overworked home cook.

They want food to be served right away. So they pull a cold steak out of the fridge and toss it into a blistering hot skillet right away.

This must not be done! Your steak will not cook in a uniform manner. You'll be left with an outer that's tough and chewy, and an inside that's still cold and undercooked.

So here's a second proverb for you: "Those who wait to get good things." That is especially true when it comes to waiting for your steak to reach room temperature.

Allowing your steak to cool to room temperature allows it to develop a gorgeous golden crust while remaining soft in the center.

Step 3: Sprinkle salt and pepper over the steak.

Olive oil should be rubbed on all sides of the steak. This will prevent the oil from splattering all over the place when you lay it on a hot pan in the next step.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Capes aren't always worn by heroes. This is especially true when it comes to salt.

Salt, in our opinion, is one of the kitchen's unsung heroes. Salt has an odd magical ability to bring out the natural flavors of foods. In a matter of seconds, it can go from tasteless to delectable.

It's for this reason that when dessert cooks melt chocolate, they also add salt! By seasoning the chocolate with salt, they're bringing out its natural flavors.

As a result, generously seasoning your meat with salt is crucial. Not to mention its close companion pepper. Steak has a wonderful meaty flavor that is enhanced by appropriately seasoning the meat.

If you don't believe us, cook two steaks (one seasoned and the other unseasoned) side by side and compare the flavors. It's amazing how much salt can make a difference!

Step 4: Preheat the oven to high.

You may be eating the greatest steak on the planet. However, if you don't know how to cook it properly, it will either be raw or dry. If you're aiming for a great steak, you don't want to end up with either of these results.

It's like a warrior wielding the world's best-handcrafted sword. He'll get his arse whooped if he doesn't know how to use it!

So, if you want a great steak, here's what you should do. Heat your heaviest pan to a smoking temperature over high heat. This is done to achieve a nice brown crust on the meat.

Because the heat will be dispersed more evenly, a hefty pan or a cast-iron skillet is ideal. When it comes to steak, the more evenly distributed the heat, the better the sear.

Once the steak is in the pan, leave it alone for 90 seconds before flipping it (1.5 minutes). It's tempting to experiment with the steak but don't.

Keep the number of times you flip the coin to a bare minimum. To get that gorgeous crust, the meat needs to be in contact with the pan for a lengthy time.

P.S. If the steak has fat on one side, turn it to the other side so that the fat renders off in the pan as well.

Step 5: Recognize when it's finished.

If you've ever ordered steak at a restaurant, the server will inquire, "And how would you want your steak done sir/ma’am?"

They're talking about how well you want your steak to be grilled. The majority of people, like us, prefer medium-rare, with a little pink in the middle. However, it is all up to you.

When it comes to determining when your steak is done, there are two methods.


The most accurate approach to assess doneness is to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. Do this about halfway through your cooking time to get an idea of how much longer you have left to cook.

For a 300g steak, here's an approximate guide to cooking times:

  • Rare: 125 degrees F / 52 degrees C – 5-6 minutes
  • Medium Rare: 6-7 minutes at 130 degrees F/55 degrees 
  • Medium: 7-8 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit / 60 degrees Celsius
  • Well Done: 8-10 minutes

The Finger Test

Despite the fact that a thermometer is the most precise way, I prefer to employ the Finger Test Method. When you poke the steak with a thermometer, all of the delicious steak juices come out. The Finger Test Method is a simple feel test for determining the doneness of your steak. Relax your hand by opening it up. Then press the fleshy portion of your palm below your thumb with your index finger.

Raw meat has suppleness to it.

You can try this before you cook your steak.

Simply link your thumb with different fingers to check how thoroughly your steak has been cooked. When you do this, you'll notice that the fleshy region beneath your thumb becomes firmer.

The harder the meat, the more well done it is.

If you want your steak medium-rare, for example, connect your middle finger and thumb and feel the stiffness of the fleshy area. Then poke your steak with your index finger. The steak should be medium rare if the degree of firmness is similar.

To be clear, this strategy will take some time to master. However, after a few repetitions, you'll have a good idea of how firm you prefer your steak.

Transfer the steak to a platter and coat it with butter once it's cooked to your preference. The steak will have a wonderful scent as a result of this.

Step 6: Set the steak aside to rest.

This is definitely the most difficult step.

Talk about being tempted.

However, you must control yourself to wait. Allow 5 minutes for the meat to rest.

This will keep the steak's juices inside, resulting in a juicy, tender piece of meat. All those wonderful steak juices will come out if you cut into the steak soon away, and all your hard work will be ruined.

Good things come to those who wait.

It's time to slice up the steak and eat it when it's rested.

Always remember to cut against the grain while slicing meat. This results in shorter meat fibers, giving your steak a more sensitive bite. Look for lengthy striations running the length of the steak and cut into them rather than parallel to them.

In most cases, the grain will travel horizontally. If you're still unsure where the grain is running, cut vertically as a rule of thumb.

Congratulations! You're ready to dive in now that your steak has been grilled to perfection and cut.

We hope you found this post helpful and that it inspires you to prepare the ideal steak.


Steak is something special that you cannot have everywhere. People love steak because of the way it makes them feel when they put it in their mouths. When crushed between an upper and a lower molar, steak delivers flavor, tenderness, and juiciness in a combination equaled by no other meat. The note struck is deep and resonant.

If I were to give you reasons why should you learn how to cook steak, here are the things you’ll enjoy about it:

  • Fat - As the saying goes, fat equals flavor, and a well-marbled steak has enough of it. It's difficult not to like beef's rich texture and robust flavor.
  • The Aroma - We eat with both our noses and eyes before our mouths, and when a beautiful steak is placed in front of us, it smells fantastic. We gather up all of that aroma as we eat, generating a multi-layered sensory experience.
  • The Texture - It's practically impossible to explain the texture of a nicely grilled steak in your mouth. The suppleness, the juiciness, the subtle chew... Everything comes together to create a mouthful unlike any other.
  • Umami - Beef is a tasty meat. That's all there is to it. The presence of glutamates, which our brain interprets as the "meaty" flavor associated with umami, is one of the reasons. We appreciate the flavor of beef because our brains have been hard-wired to do so for thousands of years.

Enjoy your steak!

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