Degrees of Doneness Explained – How to Cook Steak to Your Taste

A perfectly cooked steak is for sure what most people want to obtain, no matter if amateurs or pitmasters. But if you’re a real steak lover, you might be interested in the various cooking techniques and doneness levels. People are different, so tastes vary, as well. In this case, some might prefer rare steak types, while others might go for well-done steaks. But how do you determine when the meat reaches the proper temperature? Keep up with us, as we’ll provide you with all the needed information.

Basically, there are five different levels of steak doneness, and here’s how to obtain them:


Recommended cooking temperature: 120-130°F  (50-55°C)

This first type is suitable for those who aren’t keen on overcooked steaks. However, the rare level deals with nearly raw meat. If you cook it rare, Parts & Labor recommends you use a wireless meat thermometer to make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed the 130°F limit to obtain the red middle and brown exterior needed with this doneness degree. Additionally, make sure that it turns out mushy and rubbery, similar to raw meat, featuring a browned crust. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose lean steak cuts like tenderloins, as the cooking process is extremely fast so there’s no time for the fat to melt.


Recommended cooking temperature: 130-135°F  (55-57°C)

In this case, steak should have a pink center with a soft shade of red. Its center must be warm, as well. Sides should be brown, while the top and bottom should have a dark brown hue. The most recommended type of meat to be used is the ribeye as it contains the perfect amount of fat that can be melted during the cooking process. Fat is important, too, as it offers extra flavor, adding that smooth texture. Note that the temperature shouldn’t overcome the 135°F limit.


Recommended cooking temperature: 140-150°F  (60-65°C)

Meat should have a pink color, with a firm middle. The sides have to reach a brown color, while the top and bottom should be darker. You also have to cook the steak longer so that it can become drier and less soft. You can use even thicker cuts of meat as there’s enough time to make sure the fat melts properly. The recommended cooking temperature is between 140-150°F.


Recommended cooking temperature: 155-165°F  (68-74°C)

Here, there’s no light color within the steak, especially that you have to cook it for a longer period. Therefore, it’s recommended to cook at higher temperatures between 155-165°F. Nevertheless, the meat has to be pink in the middle, the outer should be brown, while the top and bottom should be seared. The steak has to be steady, and just a little bit mushy in the middle. When cooking medium-well steaks, you can use fatty cuts of meat, as they are cooked better compared to the lean meat.


Recommended cooking temperature: 170°F  (77°C)

The highest degree of doneness requires high temperatures, as well. Thus, if you want to prepare well-done steaks, you should definitely cook to a 170°F or higher temperature. You can use a wireless meat thermometer to obtain more accuracy as well. This the most difficult type of steak to cook, as meat should be perfectly dried. Make sure you cook it low and slow to avoid meat from burning. A well-done steak doesn’t mean burnt meat but browned meat. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be steady. Thus, to make sure you’ll get the desired results, it’s recommended to be patient and grill it up to 18 minutes. For the best outcomes, it’s recommended to work with thinner cuts of meat to reduce cooking time.


No matter what’s your favorite way to cook steak, it’s important to safely and properly do it. Hoping that our article was helpful, it just remains to put in practice all the tips above and enjoy your steak. Even better, you can reliably use a meat thermometer to obtain extra accuracy and delight your loved ones with delicious, accordingly cooked steaks.

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