Cooking Steak – How to Test for Doneness
This element of cooking steak still seems to cause people a bit of difficulty, so we decided to offer this quick guide.
There are three ways to test if your steak is done: by touch, with a meat thermometer, and by cutting it. Pretty much universally, the best by far is the touch method, followed by the thermometer, followed by cutting.
The Touch Test
Whether you pan fry steak or cook it on the grill, this is by far the best way to tell if it is done. Unlike a meat thermometer or cutting into the steak, you’re leaving the steak whole. That means that you won’t have any delicious juices dripping out, and the steak will be that much better! The only trick is, it takes a little bit of practice before you can tell how done a steak is just by pressing on it! But it’s definitely worth learning.
- Just press lightly on the surface of the steak. Be careful not to burn yourself!
- If the steak feels soft, then it’s still rare. You can press the steak before cooking it so that you have something to compare to. A rare steak won’t be all that much firmer.
- If the steak feels firm on the outside, but it’s still yielding on the inside, then it’s medium.
- If the steak is very very firm and doesn’t yield, it’s well done.
If you’re just starting out cooking steak, you may want to press first, try to guess, and then cut to see if you were right. Just experiment until you get the hang of it.
Using a Meat Thermometer
Using a meat thermometer is a reliable way of checking if your steak is done. Unfortunately, it makes a small hole in the steak, and the juices can get out through it, so your steak won’t be quite as juicy.
Still, until you get the touch test down, a meat thermometer is great. Just stick it into the thickest part of the steak. Here are the different temperatures for steak:
- Very rare: 48°C
- Rare: 50°C
- Medium rare: 57°C – 62°C
- Medium: 62°C – 68°C
- Medium well: 76°C – 80°C
- Well done: 80°C plus
Cutting into the Steak
If you don’t feel confident about the touch test, and don’t have a meat thermometer, you can cut into the meat a bit to tell if it’s done. It’s really not the best way because you lose a lot of the juices, but it’s still better than a steak that’s not done to your liking.
The upside to this method is that if you are pan frying steak, you can always save those juices for a delicious pan sauce.
Just slice into the thickest part of the steak and see if the colour looks right for you.
Some people will tell you that it’s a crime to pan fry steak to well-done. It’s true that the more you cook a steak, the less tender it becomes. A really good cut kind of loses what makes it so great in the first place, however there is no arguing with taste. If you like cooking steak to well-done, go for it… just don’t serve it to people who like their steak rare!