Memorial Day is right around the corner, and for many, this holiday also marks the beginning of the grilling season. As steak is one of the most popular items to grill I thought it would be helpful to review research conducted by former SDSU Meat Scientist Duane Wulf entitled “Great steaks from your Gas Grill”. Researchers at SDSU tested various grilling parameters to determine their effects on tenderness, juiciness and flavor of seven different beef cuts. The following cuts were tested: ribeye, tenderloin, sirloin, flat iron, round tip center, boneless short rib and ranch cut. Results of this data shed light on many commonly held myths about grilling.

Grilling Myths vs. Facts

Myth: Steaks should only be flipped once during grilling.
Fact: Research found that steaks that were flipped every two to three minutes were juicier than steaks flipped only once

Myth: Steaks should be grilled on high heat for best enjoyment.
Fact: Research found that there was no difference in tenderness, juiciness or flavor between high and medium heat.

Myth: Grilling should be done with the lid closed.
Fact: No difference was detected between steaks grilled with the lid open or closed. However grilling time is significantly increased with the lid open.

Myth: It’s OK to throw frozen steaks on the grill.
Fact: Research found that steaks were more tender and flavorful if thawed completely before grilling.

Myth: Steaks should not be seasoned before grilling because it will draw out moisture.
Fact: Salt can be added before or after grilling with similar results. If using pepper or herbs, some of the flavors will be burned off during grilling, so greater amounts of these seasonings should be used if applied before grilling.

Step-by Step Instructions

Results of this research led to the development of step-by-step grilling instructions that should result in a more enjoyable grilling experience this grilling season.

  • Thaw steak completely before grilling
  • Start grill, set controls to medium, and close lid
  • Allow grill to warm for 5-10 minutes with lid closed
  • Before grilling, pat the steak’s surface with paper towels to remove surface water
  • Seasoning can be done before or after grilling (some spices such as peppers and herbs may burn off during grilling)
  • Grill steak on medium heat with lid closed, turning every 2-3 minutes until desired internal temperature is reached.
  • Let steak stand for 5-15 minutes before serving to redistribute juices.

Doneness Guide

Finally researchers developed a guide for choosing a steak based on preferred degree of doneness


Medium Rare (145° F)

Cut
Grilling Time (1” steak)*
Tenderloin
15 to 18 min.
Ribeye
17 to 20 min.
Round Tip Center
16 to 22 min.
Top Sirloin
16 to 19 min.
Ranch Cut
17 to 20 min.
Flat Iron
16 to 19 min.
Boneless Short Rib
15 to 19 min.
*Grilling times are approximate – a meat thermometer should always be used to determine product temperature.
 

Medium (160°F)

Cut
Grilling Time (1” steak)*
Tenderloin
20 to 23 min.
Ribeye
23 to 26 min.
Round Tip Center
24 to 29 min.
Top Sirloin
23 to 26 min.
Ranch Cut
24 to 28 min.
Flat Iron
23 to 27 min.
*Grilling times are approximate – a meat thermometer should always be used to determine product temperature.
 

 Medium Well (175° F)

Cut
Grilling Time (1” steak)*
Tenderloin
24 to 28 min.
Ranch Cut
29 to 33 min.
Flat Iron
29 to 34 min.
*Grilling times are approximate – a meat thermometer should always be used to determine product temperature.