How Long to Bring Steak to Room Temperature?

Get your steak questions answered! Find out how long to bring your steak to room temperature before cooking it—and why it matters.

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It’s steak question time! Specifically, I want to answer the question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point or another: How long does it take for steak to get to room temperature?

Some of you may be reading this, thinking, “Sammy, why do I even have to wait for my steak to come to room temperature before cooking it?”

And I get it. Sometimes, you just want to get that juicy, thick-cut steak on the grill as soon as possible. But hear me out, because there are some good reasons to let your steak sit out and come to room temperature before slapping it on the grill.

Why Bring Steak to Room Temperature?

Letting your steak come to room temperature allows it to cook more evenly. And the thicker your steak is, the more essential it is to temper it.

When you put a cold steak on a hot grill, the outside will start cooking long before the inside has even had a chance to warm up. This can lead to an overcooked, burnt exterior and an undercooked, raw interior. Yuck!

By letting the steak come to room temperature first, you allow the heat to penetrate more evenly throughout the muscle fibers, resulting in a perfectly cooked piece of meat from edge to edge. But how long does this take?

Well, now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, let’s find out.

How Long Does It Take to Bring a Steak to Room Temp?

Well, it depends on the size and thickness of your steak, as well as the temperature of your room. Take the steak out of the fridge and rest it on the countertop for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking it.

Why the range?

Because, one, thicker steaks need more time to get to room temperature than their thinner counterparts, and, two, if your room is particularly cold, you will need to account for a little more time.

Just follow the 15-to-30-minute rule I shared above and use your best judgement and feel the steak with your fingers. When it’s no longer cold to the touch, it’s most probably ready to be cooked.

Don’t Let It Sit Too Long

While it’s important to bring your steaks to room temperature before grilling them, trust me when I say you should never let the steak sit out for too long.

You see, when a steak sits out at room temperature for an extended period of time, you expose it to what food safety experts call “the danger zone.” This is when the temperature of the steak rises above 40°F, which can lead to the growth of bacteria and the deterioration of the meat’s quality.

Leave the steak on the countertop for more than 2 hours, and it will become overgrown with bacteria that can sicken you (and everybody else at the table). So the difference between resting your steak properly and leaving them out for too long can be as big as serving your guests a great dinner and sending them to the emergency room.

Learn more: Can Steak Go Bad If It Sits Out?

In Summary

Letting your steak come to room temperature before cooking it is a crucial step in ensuring a piece of meat grilled to perfection. Remember to keep an eye on the clock and aim to cook your steak within 15 to 30 minutes of taking it out of the refrigerator.

And above all, never let your steak sit out for too long (more than 2 hours) and risk falling into the danger zone. With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to grilling up the perfect steak every time you fire up the grill.

By Sammy Steen

Sammy, Barbehow's editor, is a die-hard carnivore, barbecue whisperer, and self-proclaimed master of the grill.

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