Steak 101: Tips for Grilling the Best Steaks on a Charcoal Grill

Steak 101 on Charcoal Grill

What's the best way to grill steaks on a charcoal grill? Knowing exactly what you're looking for and what cut your cooking will help ensure you cook your steaks to perfection on a charcoal grill. From t-bone to filet mignon, here are the best tips for grilling steak over charcoal.

What To Look for in a Steak

Whether you're firing up your charcoal grill to cook a big, meaty porterhouse steak or a tender, rich filet mignon, there are three important features you want to look for in every steak: thickness, texture, and grade.

Thickness: Experts agree that a good steak should be around 1-inch thick. Too thin and your steak could dry out before it's done; too thick and it could be unevenly cooked no matter what you do. A steak's thickness allows you to play around with the time it takes to get to your preferred level of doneness. With thicker steaks, especially around the magical 1-inch mark, you'll have a greater chance of hitting that perfect medium-rare every time.

Texture: When you look for that right steak for your grilling needs, you'll want to pay close attention to the white streaks of fat running throughout the meat. That's marbling, otherwise known as the flavor lines that run throughout each and every steak. Marbling gives you that tenderness and flavor you look for in every bite. Look for steaks that have long, thin lines of fat running through them and tend not to have any big chunks of fat. As your steaks cook, that marbling will melt down and flavorize your steak.

Grade: Ever look at a package of steak and see the words "choice" or "prime"? That the USDA grade ranking for beef. That grade takes all the factors of that meat and gives it an overall ranking in terms of quality and flavor. "Prime", as in prime rib, is the highest ranking, but also the most expensive. Think steakhouse quality. Below that is "choice", which is what you may see most often in your local supermarket. Don't be afraid, though, as you'll still be able to get a great quality steak at this grade.

Choosing Your Cut

For information on what to expect in each cut of steak you'll most commonly find in your supermarket, we suggest checking out our article on choosing the right cut of meat.

Grilling Your Steak

When you're ready to grill your steak on your charcoal grill, here are the most important steps to follow.

  1. Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and let them sit for 20 minutes before placing them on your grill. This allows the steak to cook quicker and more evenly on the grill while holding in the flavor.
  2. Season your steaks with salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning, at least 15 minutes before placing them on your grill. This gives the seasoning enough time to dissolve into the meat and flavor your steaks during cooking.
  3. Set up your charcoal grill for both direct and indirect heat. You'll want to utilize both zones for cooking. If you have a Gravity Series® Grill, you can use your warming racks for indirect grilling after cooking over your SEAR grates.
  4. Cook your steaks over direct heat for 2 minutes, then give them a quarter turn and allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Flip your steaks to another section of the direct heat zone and cook for another 2 minutes. Then, give them another quarter turn and move them to the indirect heat zone.
  5. Cook over indirect heat until you've reached your desired internal temperature. Our preference is a medium rare temperature of 135°F. Remove your steaks from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices of the steak to "hold" inside the meat and give you that perfect bite.

Now that you know how to grill steak on charcoal grill, you'll have a delicious steak on your plate every time.