Why Your Steak’s Rubbery

If your steak keeps coming out rubbery, you’re making one (or more) of these three grilling mistakes. Read all about ’em.

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Artur Verkhovetskiy /Depositphotos

Howdy, howdy, grillers! Let’s talk about a problem that’s plagued everyone at one time or another, and that problem is steak that turns out all tough and rubbery instead of nice and tender.

Now, I know you all love a good, juicy steak just as much as I do. I mean, heck, who doesn’t? There’s nothing quite like the taste of a juicy, smoky piece of meat cooked to perfection over a lit burner or glowing coals.

But if you’re not careful and you make the mistakes we’re about to discuss, that steak of yours can come out as tough to chew as old-shoe leather. Let’s waste no more time on chit chat and get right to the meat of it…

Why does steak come out rubbery?

The Cut’s Too Lean

There are countless cuts of beef, and their names vary with where you live, writes culinary writer Dim Nikov in Cooking Methods & Techniques, but they all fall in one of two categories: lean cuts and marbled cuts. If you want your steak to turn out all juicy and tender, you’ve got to make sure you’re using the right kind.

Flank, ribeye, sirloin, strip, t-bone, tenderloin, tri-tip, and porterhouse have great marbling. That marbling melts in the heat of grilling, adding succulence to the meat. These cuts don’t come cheap, but they’re worth every extra dollar if juiciness is what you’re after—and it is.

Brisket, chuck, eye of round, flank, and round roast, on the other hand, are tough cuts. They have little-to-no marbling, and are rich in collagen instead. That collagen is tough, and it can only be broken down by the low and slow heat of braising, stewing, or smoking. To put it simply, they have no place on the grill.

You’re Cooking It Too Long

Another reason your steak keeps turning out rubbery could be that you’re cooking it for too long. I know you want to make sure it’s cooked all the way through as you should, but if you leave it on the grill for too long, it will dry out and get tough.

First off, preheat your gas grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes before you start cooking, or wait 20 to 30 minutes for the coals in your charcoal kettle to ashen over so you get a high, even heat.

And arm yourself with a meat thermometer. Pay attention to the internal temperature of the meat when you suspect it’s right about done. You know it is when it’s near 145°F (63°C), the safe temperature the good folks at the USDA recommend cooking your beef to.

Any more cooking than that, and the steak will overcook—make no doubt about it.

Don’t Forget to Rest the Meat

Finally, it could be that you’re not letting your steak rest after cooking.

This is an important step that a lot of folks forget about. When you take your steak off the grill, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more flavorful and tender.

You see, when you cook meat, the juices inside start to move around and heat up.

If you cut into it straight away, all those juices are going to come pouring out onto the plate, leaving your steak dry and rubbery. But if you let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes before cutting into it, those juices have a chance to settle in the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.

The Long And Short of It

Well, thank you for reading this far. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about why your steak might be coming out rubbery, and by now you’re clear on what you need to never have it happen to you again.

Cooking a good steak can be intimidating, especially when you’ve got a hungry crowd waiting for you at the table, but with a little bit of know-how and some practice, you’ll be making mouthwatering meals in no time.

Just follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to cooking up the perfect steak every time.

Godspeed, now, and don’t be no stranger!

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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