Let’s take some time today to talk about an important aspect of grilling up a perfect steak, and that’s keeping it warm while it’s resting.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking as you read this. “Sammy, ain’t that just common sense?” But let me tell you, I’ve had steaks go cold on me while they were resting, and it was a real disappointment. A cold steak just doesn’t cut it and can ruin an otherwise great cookout.
So, in this post, I’m going to share with you some of my tried-and-true methods for keeping your steak warm while it’s resting. Whether you’re a seasoned griller or a novice, these tips will help ensure that your steak is always served at its juicy, mouthwatering best.
How to Keep Steak Warm While It’s Resting
First off, let’s go over the importance of resting your steak. When you take a steak off the grill or out of the pan, it’s important to give it a little bit of time to rest. Normally, that time is 3 to 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak, ensuring that every bite is juicy and flavorful.
The thicker the cut, the longer the resting time required. But here’s the problem: If you let your steak sit out too long, it will start to cool down—and that juicy, mouthwatering flavor will be lost. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place for keeping your steak warm during the resting period.
So, what can you do?
Tent It With Foil
One of the simplest methods is to tent your steak with aluminum foil. Just place your steak on a plate, and then loosely cover it with a piece of foil. This will help trap in the heat, keeping your steak warm while it rests.
The keyword here is loosely. If you wrap it tight, the foil will trap moisture in, and your steak will lose its crust and turn soggy.
Put It in the Slow Cooker or Warming Tray
Another option is to use a warming tray or a slow cooker set on the “warm” setting. This option’s a little too much for a Sunday grill up, but it may be just the method you need when you’re cooking for a crowd. Place your steak on the tray or in the slow cooker, and it will stay warm until you’re ready to serve it.
Of course, for this to work, you’ve got to preheat the tray or cooker before placing the steak inside it. You also have to make sure it doesn’t get too hot, or it will dry out and lose its tenderness.
Slide It In the Preheated Oven
The last and final method for keeping your steak warm while it’s resting is sliding it in a preheated oven.
But before you go and stick that steak straight into a 400°F (200°C) oven, hear me out. Exposing cooked steak to high heat’s a surefire way to dry it out and even burn it. Instead, you want to preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 200-225°F (90-100°C).
Then, once the oven is hot enough, you can put your steak in there until it’s time to serve it. This is a great option if you’re cooking a thicker cut of steak, as it will allow the meat to stay nice and hot for as long as you need it.
Just don’t keep it there too long. Steak that’s dried out is steak that’s left over.
How Not to Keep Steak Warm
Now, a word of caution or two about a few methods for keeping steak warm that I’ve come across on the Internet.
It may seem like a good idea to use a hot water bath to keep your steak warm while it’s resting, but this method actually has a few drawbacks that make it less than ideal.
The first issue is that using a hot water bath can trap moisture in the steak, resulting in a soggy piece of meat. When you cook a steak, the surface of the meat will naturally form a crust as it sears on the grill or in the pan. This crust comes out crispy and rich in flavor, giving the steak its characteristic mouthfeel and taste.
If you wrap the steak in a ziplock bag and place it in a hot water bath, the residual heat will turn to steam, breaking down that crust and leaving the steak with a poor mouthfeel.
Not exactly the mouthwatering meat you were hoping for!
Can You Skip the Resting Time?
Say you’re short on time, or you want to avoid dealing with the fuss and hassle of resting your steak. Can’t you just skip it?
Hey, I understand that some folks might be in a hurry and want to get that steak on the table as fast as possible. But trust me when I tell you that taking a few minutes to let the steak rest is worth it. It’ll ensure that every bite is as juicy and as flavorful as it can be.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you’re grilling up a very thin steak, like a skirt steak or a hanger steak, it might not need several minutes of resting time. In this case, you might be able to get away with skipping the resting time, although I still recommend giving it 1-2 minutes so the juices redistribute.
The Bottom Line
Keeping your steak warm while it’s resting is a non-negotiable if you want to grill up the perfect steak.
By using methods such as tenting with foil, using a warming tray or a slow cooker, or placing it in a preheated oven, you can ensure that your steak stays juicy and flavorful until it’s time to serve. Be sure to avoid methods such as using a hot water bath, which trap moisture in and leave the steak soggy.