There are many methods that chefs use to determine the doneness of steak, most of them being based on using touch and feel. But since that takes years of experience to perfect, the most surefire technique is to use a digital instant read thermometer. There's no need to buy a high-tech, talking barbecue thermometer that beeps when your steak is done (though those are fun and useful tools). With a ten-dollar thermometer and our simple temperature chart, you'll be grilling flawless steaks in no time.
1. Flip Once and Leave It
First off, don't flip your steak more than once. It should be cooked approximately halfway to your desired doneness on the first side, flipped to the other side, and left completely alone. Flipping more than once essentially reheats the already-cooked meat, making it rubbery and chewy.
2. Take Its Temperature
After you've flipped your steak once, get your instant-read thermometer out. When you think your meat is approaching doneness, stick the thermometer into the side of the steak, pushing it as close to the middle of the steak as you can (don't worry, the puncture mark will be hardly noticeable). When your steak is 5 degrees under your desired level of doneness, take it off the grill.
If You Want ... Remove From Grill At ...
Rare (125 F): 120 F
Medium Rare (130 F): 125 F
Medium (140 F): 135 F
Medium Well (150 F): 145 F
Well (160 F): 155 F
3. Let It Rest
Once the steak is off the heat, it will continue to cook and its temperature will rise approximately 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit. Steak needs to rest at least 5 minutes before you slice it -- this lets the juices evenly redistribute throughout the meat (to put it bluntly, it prevents blood from bleeding out onto the cutting board when you slice into the steak).