Types of Steak Cooking Levels You Should Know

If you spend a chunk of your paycheck on steak, you’re not alone. As one of the most popular Australian foods of all time, this delicacy has a place in many homes. But even though you might have your preferred cooking method for bone-in or boneless steak, you might not be able to get the perfect steak doneness if you don’t know the types of steak cooking levels.

You can’t become that all-around, crowd-pleasing steak star you want to be if you just slap your flank or skirt steak on a hot grill and hope for the best. Instead, you have to understand how this type of meat cooks, so you can get that tasty beefy flavor from even tough steak!

To prepare bone-in and boneless steak like a pro, here’s the ultimate steak doneness guide!

Types of Steak Cooking Levels

Rib-Eye Steaks Cooking on Flaming Grill

From the lowest to the highest cooking time, the typical steak cooking levels are bleu, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well-done. Knowing the internal temperature of meat as it cooks is very important, so you need to have a good instant-read thermometer handy.

An instant-read thermometer helps you quickly and conveniently measure the internal temperature of cooking meat. With this tool, you’ll be able to hit the best target temperature for your preferred cooking method more accurately.

While the method of preparation has a strong effect on the flavor component, the type of steak cut matters a lot as well. We’ll explain why in detail later on.

For now, here’s all you need to know about the various types of steak doneness mentioned above.

Our Pro Steak Doneness Chart

If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, here’s a simplified steak doneness chart you can always rely on.

Type of Steak Cooking Level Cooking Time Cooking Temperature Chart
Bleu or Blue Steak 60 seconds on each side 115℉ or 46°C
Rare Steak 120 seconds on each side 120℉ or 48°C
Medium Rare Steak 210 seconds on each side 135℉ or 57°C
Medium Steak 240 seconds on each side 140℉ or 60°C
Medium Well Steak 300 seconds on each side 150℉ or 65°C
Well-Done Steak Till the meat fat evaporates 160℉ or 71°C

If you’re ready to prepare some delicious steak and stimulate your taste buds, here’s more detail on how to prepare the best homemade beef dishes!

Steak Cooking Level #1 – Bleu Steak

Bleu Steak

Also known as the blue steak, cooking steak like this falls just shy of leaving the meat raw. A traditional French cuisine packed with tons of history, preparing raw meat this way can be surprisingly tough to pull off.

This method of preparation requires you to cook the cold, raw steak for only 60 seconds on each side at 115℉ or 46°C. You can also spare a few more seconds cooking the edges as well. Spending an additional minute cooking the meat will turn it into a 1-inch rare steak, so you’ve got to be precise.

And, if the meat still looks raw when you’re done, don’t worry: that’s how it’s supposed to be!

To ensure that the meat is safe for consumption when cooked this way, please ensure the steak was properly and completely sealed. This holds for steak tartare too.

Steak Cooking Level #2 – Rare Steak

rare steak

Steak cuts are prepared this way by cooking meat precisely twice as long as with blue steak. That additional minute of cooking gives the well-exercised muscle of the beef an extra level of tenderness.

And, just like with bleu steak, you should leave the edges to sizzle on the grill for a few seconds. The rule of thumb here is to shoot for a 75% red center and sear the meat till its outer layer darkens. Typically, this means the steak cuts will have a cool or lukewarm inside, and hot outside.

There are some concerns about eating rare steak. However, you can put most of those to rest if the meat was properly sealed before you cooked it, and you get an accurate temperature reading of 120℉ or 48°C from the meat’s core.

Steak Cooking Level #3 – Medium-Rare Steak

Medium-Rare Steak

This type of steak cooking method is marked by the presence of a semi-pink and semi-brown surface center.

To get this level of doneness, you have to cook the meat for precisely 210 seconds. As the medium-rare to medium range cooking window is remarkably small, if you sear the meat much longer than that, you’re certain to have a steak with medium doneness on your hands.

Ideally, you should also get a core temperature reading of 135℉ or 57°C on your meat thermometer. That said, you’re still in the safe zone if the pink-brown center of the meat gives a reading of 140℉ or 60°C.

When it’s finally ready, meat prepared like this is warm to the touch and maintains a tender yet firm texture. It’s arguably one of the best-tasting and juiciest steaks you can prepare.

You can make prized steaks cooked this way even tastier if you rest the meat with paper towels for approximately 3-5 minutes before digging in.

Steak Cooking Level #4 – Medium Level Steak

Medium Level Steak

Preparing medium-done meat cuts can be tricky. This is because this type of steak cooking demands a delicate balance of flavor and texture. While you certainly want a juicy steak, what you’re aiming for here is a minimum amount of flowing juices.

You’ll need to cook the meat on a hot grill for about 240 seconds till you see a pink strip run through the center, and the piece of meat has a target temperature of 140℉ or 60°C.

Cooking medium done steak means you won’t be seeing as much blood in your steak cuts. So, while it raises the level of tenderness of the meat even higher, people who prefer their steak bloody might not enjoy medium-cooked steak.

Here at Sous Vide, we’re partial to preparing medium doneness beef. These are the best-suited steaks for locking in the taste and flavor of the seasoning.

Steak Cooking Level #5 – Medium Well Steak

medium well steak

Meat cooked like this has a rare, mild flavor, and is generally dry and chewy. All of this makes it the perfect level of doneness for people who don’t want their beef tenderloin to have a pink center.

To prepare this type of amazing steak dinner, just cook the cuts of meat for 300 seconds on each side. Although you can cook the cuts for 30 to 60 seconds more, you should know it’ll get significantly tougher to chew.

Other than texture, cooking steak at this level of doneness has very little overall effect on the muscle fibers of the meat. So, even with medium-well cooked steaks, you’ll still get most of the nutrients from beef consumption.

Steak Cooking Level #6 – Well Done Steak

Well Done Steak

Last but not least is the well-done steak. This is as far as you can go with steak cooking. Fondly called “overdone” steak by some chefs, there’s no time limit for preparing this dish.

Simply sear each side of the steak continuously, until all the fat and moisture content evaporates, leaving only dry, tough sinew. Some people prefer to stop searing not long after prominent grill marks appear on both sides of the beef cut and char starts to form.

You can usually tell your well-done steak is ready when it hits an internal temperature of 160℉ or 71°C, and has a gray-brown color at the center.

However, before you consider preparing an entire boneless roast this way, remember that it makes meat rather chewy. Also, if you’re going for this level of doneness, you don’t need high-quality steaks for this dish. So, you might as well go for cheaper cuts of meat here.

Major Types of Steak Cuts to Remember

Depending on your steak doneness chart target, the type of steak you use can be very important, as different meat cuts have unique properties. Essentially, there’s a right cut of meat for each doneness level.

The most common ones to remember are:

1. Sirloin Steak

This type of meat is best prepared as a medium-rare steak, as it easily toughens when left on the grill for too long.

2. Ribeye Steaks

A 1-inch thick bone-in or boneless rib steak is best cooked for 8 minutes at the most, as this ensures it offers maximum tenderness and juiciness.

3. T-Bone Steaks

T-shaped bone beef steaks are from the loin and tenderloin region. Because of this, they tend to be more accommodating of longer cook times when compared to other meat cuts.

4. Fork-Tender Beef Steaks

Also commonly known as filet mignon, this meat cut doesn’t do too well under the blistering heat. Rather, you get a stronger meat taste from these beef steaks when they’re prepared rare.

Conclusion

Now you not only know the various types of steak cooking levels, but also which beef steak is ideal for each cooking method! All that’s left is for you to choose your preferred method of cooking, break out the meat and get cookin’.

And, if you’ll be out camping or at the beach, the best cooler for sous vide may come in handy too!

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