Learn to grill your strip steaks to perfection with this easy step-by-step photo tutorial. You are just a few minutes away from being the "grill master." This never-fail method will serve you well for many years.
Strip steaks, AKA Kansas City or New York strip steaks, are one of the most popular steaks, and your grill is the perfect way to prepare them.
This post had been "requested" by many readers. I have a great post on Pan Seared Oven Roasted Strip Steak. But nothing beats the grill. It is like grilling a porterhouse or t-bone since the main portion of those cuts is a strip steak.
Always a solid five.
The strip steak is a cut from the short loin from a cow located behind the rib area with the tenderloin. They come from the longissimus muscle that does very little work but a fair amount of fat that makes it tender.
The strip steak is the bigger side of t-bone and porterhouse steaks. The only difference between the t-bone and porterhouse is the amount of beef tenderloin included in the cut.
You can buy the whole strip loin and cut your own steaks. Also, you can occasionally find the "bone-in," which is basically t-bone without any tenderloin section.
You may run into something called "first cut," which may sound great, but it is not. It is closer to the ribeye and only worth about half the cost of the prized "center cut."
Quality does matter. The simple answer is to buy USDA Choice. Look for a nicely trimmed, well-marbled piece. USDA Prime is way expensive but great if you want to pay the price.
USDA Select is a big step down usually and not what you want. The grade of beef is critical to your outcome.
Now let's talk thickness. The "experts" want 1 ½ inch, but that is a pound and a half of a cow. I like one inch thick, but this works up to 1 ½ inch thick.
I generally use a 1-inch thick steak, but ¾ inches will work and can be excellent but be sure to watch the internal temperature closely, or you will overcook. You have been warned.
If you want to grill a strip steak 1 ½ inch thick or more, you will need a different technique.
To your taste with salt and pepper is suggested, but we like garlic, so my 7:2:2 seasoning is perfect here.
Salt's timing: Salt will pull the water out of meat, but in 45 to 60 minutes, the salt and water will reabsorb, and that is good. So salt at the start of the rest to room temperature or just before hitting the grill but not between.
Oil the meat?: not needed from my point of view, but some experts want a nice coat of oil on the meat and not the grill grates. I can't tell the difference—your choice.
Steak sauce: you are not seriously considering this.
Any grill should work; you just need to get it very hot. Either gas or charcoal is fine. It just needs to be very hot.
Usually, it takes about 9-10 minutes over high heat. For me, done is about 140°-145° internal temperature, still with a little pink but firm. Under 140° is heading into the rarer territory, and over 150° is medium-well to well done.
You will see in the chart the USDA recommendations, which are high, in my opinion. The column labeled "Temperature range" are the numbers to use.
YOUR TIME WILL VARY and NEVER COOK BY TIME ALONE. There you have it. I apologize for "yelling," but I can not emphasize those points enough.
Like most cooking, there are many variables.
- The size and thickness of the meat
- The exact temperature of the meat
- The grill temperature at the start of cooking
- How much heat your grill loses during flips
- Your desired final internal temperature
This is why you must have an instant-read meat thermometer to do this well.
If possible, rest the steaks at room temperature for about 1 hour, allowing the steaks to come to room temperature.
Trim the beef of extra fat to prevent "flare-ups" that will burn your steak.
It is best to apply salt and pepper at the start of the resting period. Just before starting to grill is OK if you skip the rest, or you forgot. Use coarse salt and pepper. I used my 7:2:2, which is kosher salt: pepper: garlic.
Preheat your grill to as hot as it will go. Clean and oil well. Do not just olive oil here due to the low smoke point.
Place on the grill over direct heat. Closed lid. Grill for five minutes on the first side. If you want crossed grill marks, you should rotate the meat 90 degrees after the first 2 ½ minutes. Flip at 5 minutes.
Grill for approximately three additional minutes for rare, about 4 minutes for medium-rare, and 5 minutes for medium. Your time will vary with the thickness of the steaks and the grill. Never cook by time only—always cook to a target internal temperature.
Your temperature will rise a few degrees during the post-cooking rest so cook to 3-4 degrees less. Lightly tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Do you want more recipes from 101 Cooking for Two? Sign up for the newsletter and get all posts delivered straight to your inbox!
Originally Published February 8, 2016. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.