Ultimate Steak Temperature Guide: Achieve Perfect Doneness

by Matt

minute/s reading time

Struggling to cook your steak just right? Whether you're aiming for medium rare or another level of doneness, getting the perfect steak can be tricky. Don't worry, we've got you covered! In this guide, we'll walk you through the temperatures and tips you need to nail your ideal steak every time. Let's turn your next meal into a masterpiece!

a Succulent, Grilled Tomahawk Steak with Seared Edges and Visible Grill Marks, Served Alongside Crispy Potato Wedges in a Cast Iron Skillet, Garnished with Rosemary Sprigs on a Rustic Wooden Board with a Knife and Seasoning Nearby.

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How to Use a Meat Thermometer for Steak Like a Pro Chef

When it comes to nailing that perfect medium rare steak temp, a meat thermometer is your best friend. Here's a simple, easy-to-follow guide showing you how to use a meat thermometer for your steak.

Step 1: Get a Meat Thermometer

If you don't have one yet, get yourself a meat thermometer. It's a tool that both pros and newbies love. It makes sure your meat is cooked just right every single time.

Step 2: Insert the Thermometer

Now comes the tricky bit. Stick the thermometer into the side of the steak, right in the middle. Just be careful it doesn't touch any bone or fat. You want it to measure the temperature in the thickest part of the steak.

Step 3: Measure the Temperature

Keep your steak on the heat until it's just right—remember, the temperature continues to rise as it cooks, so timing is key.

To ensure perfect doneness, go for a temperature about 5°F lower than your desired final temperature, as it will continue to increase even after removal from the heat source.

Step 4: Remove and Rest

When you hit the temperature you want, take the steak off the heat. Just like us chilling after a busy day, your steak needs to rest, too. Let it sit for a bit. This lets the temperature go up a tad more while keeping all those tasty juices locked in.

It might take a few tries to master, but with a thermometer handy, you'll nail that perfect medium rare steak every time. Now, treat yourself to the well-deserved reward of your efforts – a steak cooked precisely to your liking.

Perfect Temperature for Steak Doneness

When it comes to grilling up that flawless steak, knowing your steak temperatures is important. Here's a quick guide to help you cook your steaks spot-on, every single time. I have created a cheat sheet for meat temperatures. Download Now.

Rare Steak Temperature

Rare steak, cooked to around 120-130°F inside, is all about that warm, red center. It's got this rich, full flavor and stays super juicy because it's cooked at a lower temperature. A lot of steak lovers are big fans of this style.

Medium Rare Steak Temperature

For sure, you've probably heard that 'medium rare' is the ultimate goal in steak cooking. Clocking in at around 135°F inside, a medium rare steak gives you this perfect mix of tenderness and flavor. It's got that crispy sear on the outside, and inside, it's all juicy, pink, and just the right amount of warmth.

Medium Steak Temperature

When you're cooking a steak to medium, you're shooting for about 140-145°F in the middle. That way, you get this nice, slightly pink center that keeps the steak tender and juicy.

Medium Well Steak Temperature

At around 150-155°F inside, a medium well steak gives you less pink in the middle. It's still got some juiciness, but it's starting to lean towards being a bit dry.

Well Done Steak Temperature

Well done steak? Sure thing. It's cooked until it reaches around 160-165°F inside. But here's the thing: be careful not to overdo it, because cooking it too much might end up giving you a tough and chewy piece of meat.

So, now you know your steak temperatures, and trust me, it makes a difference. With this knowledge in your back pocket, you're all set for your next BBQ adventure. Get that grill going and enjoy!

Rare Steaks: Rare Perfection

Now, let's switch gears from medium-rare to 'Rare' steak. It's a top pick for folks who like their meat denser and bolder. At this doneness level, the steak keeps its deep red, juicy center intact. Here's the lowdown:


For that ideal rare steak, you're looking at hitting an internal temperature of roughly 120-125°F. But here's the trick: take the steak off the heat when it hits about 115°F. That way, it'll keep cooking off the heat and reach that perfect 'Rare' temperature you want.

Color and Texture

The rare steak is known for its deep red center, giving it a unique texture that's similar but not quite like a Blue steak. While the outer edges might have a hint of pink, the inside is incredibly juicy and maintains that deep, vibrant red color.

Preparing It Right

Be sure to keep an eye on the core temperature of your steak while cooking. That's where a reliable thermometer comes in handy, like the industry-standard pen thermometer. You'll find these babies in home kitchens and fancy steakhouses alike because they're fast and super accurate.

Remember, the texture of your steak is an important indicator of how well it's cooked. When you press on a rare steak with your finger, it should feel really soft, hardly resisting at all. And always give it a short break after cooking for the tastiest results.

Rare steak does have its charm, especially for those with an adventurous palate. It might not suit everyone's taste, but if you're into juicy, robust, and satisfyingly dense steak, rare might just hit the spot for you.

Now that you've got a rare down pat, are you up for exploring other doneness levels? How about tackling 'Medium Rare' next?

Lose-up of a Juicy, Medium-rare Steak Sliced and Served on a Dark Slate Board, Garnished with Fresh Herbs.

Medium Rare Steaks: The Art of Balance

Getting the perfect medium rare steak isn't just luck - it's a skill. It's about getting the temp just right, syncing your cooking methods, and understanding what medium rare steak should look, feel, and taste like. So, here's how you can achieve a savory steak that's pink on the outside, red on the inside, and cooked to perfection.

The Perfect Temperature

To achieve that perfect medium rare steak, you need precision. The temperature sweet spot is about 130-135°F. But here's a little trick: take the steak off the heat when it hits around 125°F, then let it finish cooking off the grill. That way, you'll get it just right.

The Cooking Time

Timing is essential. For medium rare steak, we're looking at around 5-7 minutes for each side. And, remember to carefully manage the heat, keeping it consistent, so that the steak cooks evenly.

The Resting Period

Once you've finished cooking the steak, don’t slice right into it. Give it a little time to rest. This gives the internal temperature a chance to settle at that ideal 130-135°F mark and locks in all those delicious juices.

Experience the Flavor

Remember, cooking a steak well done can make it dry and tough. So, for the best experience, try a medium rare steak at least once. It's juicy and flavorful, a favorite among steak fans.

Medium Steaks: Mastering the Middle

Now, let's talk about cooking a medium steak. It's not as popular as medium-rare, but some folks prefer it with a bit more doneness. Here's all you need to know to cook your perfect medium steak.


A medium steak usually reaches around 140-145°F inside. My tip: pull it off the heat when it hits 140°F. That way, it'll reach the perfect temperature while resting, thanks to the residual heat from cooking.

Cooking Time

To get those temperatures, cook each side of the steak for about 7-8 minutes. Just keep in mind that these times are based on a typical cut of steak. The thickness and how your stove cooks can affect it, so keep an eye on it. 

Appearance and Texture

When it comes to color, a medium steak is still juicy and tender, but it won't be red in the middle. You'll see a warm pinkish hue instead. Using your eyes and a reliable meat thermometer is a smart way to keep tabs on how cooked your steak is.

Resting Time

Just like with any steak, give your medium steak a little break after you take it off the heat, about 3-5 minutes should do. This helps the inside color and juiciness even out nicely.

Medium Well Steaks: The Best of Both Worlds

Now, let's move on from medium steaks and explore the nuances of making a medium well steak. You're looking to hit a temperature range of 150-155°F here. At this doneness level, you'll notice a slight pinkish color in the center of the steak, while the outer edges may have little to no color.

Here's a straightforward way to prepare a medium-well steak:

Time Your Cooking

To get that ideal medium-well balance, shoot for around 8-9 minutes per side. This gives your steak plenty of time to cook inside while keeping it tender.

Remove on Time

Don't let it go too far! Once your steak hits 145°F, it's ready to come off the pan. Waiting longer might push it into "well-done" territory, which can make it less juicy.

Rest Your Steak

Taking a breather after cooking is key for your steak, no matter your preference. Those few minutes let the internal temperature even out, giving you a consistent medium-well texture.

Well Done Steaks: The Ultimate Finish

Now, let's shift gears from the juicy medium well and focus on the details of grilling a 'Well Done' steak. Achieving the perfect 'Well Done' steak might seem like a challenge, but fear not, I'm here to walk you through it step by step. We'll make sure your steak isn't just cooked thoroughly, but also packed with flavor.

Target Temperature

To cook a well done steak right, you need the right temperature. Shoot for around 160°F inside. That way, it cooks all the way through without any pink left, but it doesn't get burnt or dried out.

Cooking Time

Keep in mind, cooking a 'Well Done' steak takes the longest. From what I've seen, and it will differ based on your steak's size and cut, you're looking at about 10-12 minutes per side on a medium heat grill. Take your time with it, slow and steady do the trick.

Gauging Doneness

For a 'Well Done' steak, you really need a meat thermometer. When your steak reaches that perfect 160°F inside, take it off the heat right away. Doing this makes sure your steak stays well done without getting overcooked.

Rest and Enjoy!

Just like with any steak, a 'Well Done' one needs time to rest, too. Take it off the heat when it's about 5°F below your target temperature, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

During this time, the temperature keeps going up a bit more, and the flavors spread out evenly. This gives you a steak that's fully cooked and still tasty.

Juicy, Medium-rare Sliced Steak Presented on a Dark Slate Board, Highlighting the Rich Pink Interior and Caramelized Crust, Garnished with Fresh Herbs.

Related Recipes: Class Up Your Meal

Steak can really steal the show in a bunch of different dishes. Expand your steak-cooking skills with these innovative recipes. Whether you're treating yourself to a nice dinner or throwing a backyard barbecue, these recipes will make your steaks a big hit with your guests.

Classic Cast Iron Medium-Rare Steak

Preheat your cast-iron skillet over high heat.

Season your steak with salt and pepper.

Cook each side for 4-5 minutes.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure your steak reaches that perfect 130°F medium-rare temperature.

After achieving the right temperature, remember to let the steak rest so the flavors can settle in.

Please refer to Serious Eats for a detailed recipe.

Grilled Bone-in Steak

If you're craving that chargrilled smoky flavor, you'll love this recipe.

  1. Preheat your gas or charcoal grill.
  2. Again, season your bone-in steak and place it on the preheated grill.
  3. Cook each side for 4-5 minutes, making sure the steak's internal temperature reaches that sweet spot of 130°F - 135°F for a medium-rare steak.
  4. Remove from the grill and let rest before serving.

You can find a comprehensive guide to grilling steak at Food Network!


What is the ideal steak cooking temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius?

For those looking to achieve the perfect doneness in their steak, here's a handy guide in both Fahrenheit and Celsius:

  • Rare: 120-130°F (49-54°C) — The steak will be soft to the touch with a bright red center.
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F (55-57°C) — Aim for a firmer texture with a pink center and a hint of red.
  • Medium: 135-145°F (58-63°C) — The steak has a pink and firm center with more brown towards the outside.
  • Well Done: 160°F and above (71°C and above) — Expect a firmer and browner steak throughout with little or no pink.

Why do people prefer their steak cooked medium-rare?

Medium-rare steak, cooked to 145°F, hits that sweet spot between tenderness and flavor. It's cooked enough to be deliciously tender but still has that juicy, succulent texture. Especially with top-notch meat, the flavor really shines through at this temperature.

How long should I let a steak rest after cooking it?

After cooking, let your steak rest for as long as it takes to cook. Another approach is to rest it for about 5 minutes for each inch of thickness. Some chefs suggest resting for 10 minutes per pound of meat.

What is the desired temperature for a medium-rare steak?

For a medium rare steak, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F. This keeps the meat just right in terms of moisture and texture.

What are some tips for achieving the perfect steak doneness?

  • Allow the steak to come to room temperature before cooking to ensure even cooking.
  • Use high heat for a good sear and lower heat to finish to the desired temperature.
  • Rest your steak after cooking to allow juices to redistribute, enhancing flavor and tenderness.
  • About the Author

    Matt Barrell

    Hi, Matt Barrell here. A BBQ and Smoked meat enthusiast. I love grilling and smoking meat, it is not just my hobby its my passion. My goal is to share my passion with as many other like-minded people as possible.