We all love a thick, juicy steak off the grill. But sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.
Sometimes, you can’t help but distract yourself by entertaining the kids, helping the spouse around the house, playing with the dog in the yard, or chatting with the neighbor over the fence.
Whatever the case that brought you here may be, it’s not uncommon to end up with an undercooked steak from time to time—especially if you don’t use a meat thermometer to judge doneness.
But fear not, fellow grillers, because we at Barbehow have a few tricks up our sleeve to share with you and save that undercooked steak of yours from being a total loss. If that’s what you came here to find out, buckle up and read on.
How to Fix Undercooked Steak
Now, I know you love a good steak on any day. But an undercooked steak is nothing to like. It’s neither juicy nor tender. It feels weird in the mouth. Since it isn’t fully cooked, it may contain harmful bacteria and pose a danger to your health.
So how do you fix it?
Method #1: On the Grill
If your grill’s still hot, set one or two of the burners to medium, cut the steak into thirds, and put it back on the grate. Grill it with the lid on for 1–2 minutes on each side. This will dry the steak out somewhat, but at least it will cook it through!
What you’re doing by cutting the steak is facilitating even cooking. Without this, there’s a good chance you may end up in the same situation you started with — a steak that’s seared outside but raw on the inside.
You don’t have heat dials on a charcoal grill. But you have a rake, and you can rake the coals over to one side, leaving the other coal-free. The coal-free side gives you a medium-heat cooking zone when you grill with the lid closed.
Method #2: On the Stovetop
What if the grill has already cooled off, and you don’t want to fire it up to fix a few undercooked steaks?
Get a cast iron skillet or grill pan and preheat it over medium heat on the stove. You can also use a Dutch oven if that’s what you’ve got. Put enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan; it’ll help transfer heat to the steak and cook it evenly.
Once again, cut the steak into halves or thirds, then cook the steak bits to doneness in the hot pan. Make sure the oil is hot enough, though. You want the meat to hiss and smoke when you put it in, or you’re not doing it right.
Method #3: In the Oven
If you want to fix your steak, but you also want to talk to the folks at the table instead of leaning over the stove, then oven cooking is the right way to do this.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (ca. 180°C) for 10–15 minutes. Lay the steak on a baking sheet with a wire rack and bake for 5 to 8 minutes depending on how undercooked the meat is.
The wire rack lifts the steak from the bottom and promotes air flow for even cooking. This means you don’t need to cut it up. See, what I love about this method is how hands-off (and foolproof) it is. No way to mess it up.
How to Never Undercook Steak
Now that we’ve gone over the fixes for undercooked steak, let’s talk about the things that you can do to never undercook your steak ever again.
Preheat your gas grill or wait for the coals to ashen over:
First off, if you’re grilling on gas, preheat your grill for 15 minutes with the burners set to high and the lid closed. Only then do you want to lift the lid, lower the heat to medium-high, and begin cooking.
If you’re using charcoal, light the coals in a chimney starter. Wait 20–25 minutes until they’ve ashened over. This means they’re fully lit, glowing hot, and emit heat high enough to cook with.
Bring the steaks to room temperature:
I can’t stress enough how important this is, folks. You absolutely have to bring your steaks to room temperature before slapping them on the grill—there’s no going around it. Otherwise, they’ll be too cold on the inside and won’t cook as evenly as they should.
You can do this by removing the steaks from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling, and letting them rest on the countertop in the shade. If it’s too hot outside, rest them in the kitchen so bacteria don’t overgrow on the meat’s surface.
Get better at heat control:
If you’re systematically overcooking your steaks, you probably have heat control problems. Heat control is all about using the right amount of heat to give the steaks a good sear without burning them on the outside before they cook fully through on the inside.
Don’t cook thick-cut steaks over high heat. The heat needs time to get to the center of the meat. Use medium-high heat on a gas grill. If you’re using a charcoal kettle, rake the coals so they’re spread evenly, in a thin layer.
If the steak’s really thick—I’m talking 1½ inches or more—give it an initial sear with direct heat and the lid open, then finish cooking it with indirect heat and the lid closed.
Use a meat thermometer:
Don’t rely on the “finger test”: Some folks like to use the “finger test” to determine if a steak is done, but this can be unreliable. Instead, use a meat thermometer to ensure that the steak is cooked to the right internal temperature.
According to the good folks at the USDA, all cuts of beef should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (ca. 63°C) to be safe to eat.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to fix an undercooked steak. Whether you accidentally kept it on the grill a little too less or just didn’t realize it wasn’t cooked to your liking, these methods should help you turn that undercooked steak into a true masterpiece.