How to cook perfect steak on the BBQ

Living Well | Peter Nugent | Posted on 13 May 2021

Raise the steaks at your next barbecue with a chef's guide to mastering the grill.

Manning the grill is a rite of passage when it comes to backyard barbecues. But being the tong master is no easy feat. From perfectly sizzled sausages to succulent barbecued beef, the pressure of the hot plate has been the undoing on many wannabe BBQ kings. So don't get caught out when the heat is on. We asked the chefs at RACV's Cape Schanck Resort how to cook the perfect steak on the barbecue. 

Josh Pelham recommends ribeye, porterhouse or rump.

How to cook perfect steak on the barbecue

Buy the best-quality meat you can afford

The key ingredient to a sizzling steak is, well, the ingredient. Look for a well-marbled steak with a nice rich, red colour. RACV's chefs recommend ribeye, porterhouse or rump for cooking on the barbecue.

Bring it to room temperature before cooking

When barbecuing, it is important to take the meat out early and allow it to come up to room temperature. This allows the meat to reach a consistent temperature, which will allow for more even cooking throughout. 

Create an even cooking surface

RACV's chefs recommends tying off the beef with a piece of butcher’s string to give it a clean, even surface. (You can always ask your butcher to do this for you.) Then it’s ready for seasoning. 

Don't be shy about seasoning

When it comes to seasoning, RACV's chefs recommend you don't hold backl. Apply it before, during and after cooking. Seasoning is such an important part of cooking meat, particularly when working with larger pieces of meat. Don’t be afraid to use your hands, rub some olive oil in then season liberally with salt.

Oil the steak not the grill plate

When using oil on anything about to be cooked on a barbecue, Josh advises to do it on a tray or plate away from the flames to reduce the risk of burning yourself.  

Make sure your barbecue is hot 

Turn on your barbecue at least 15 minutes before you plan to start cooking, so it’s at the right temperature to sear and seal your steaks. There should be a loud sizzle when you put the meat on the grill.

Adding oil to a steak
Adding salt to a steak
Adding vegetables to the BBQ

Don’t be afraid to use your hands to rub some olive oil in then season liberally with salt.

Rotate your steaks for the perfect criss-cross

After a few minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut, rotate the steak a quarter turn to give it those beautiful criss-cross grill marks, then flip the steak over, repeating the process on the other side.

Use a thermometer to make sure meat is cooked perfectly

Forget guesswork. To ensure your steak is cooked to perfection, it's best to use a meat thermometer. Push the probe into the centre of the meat, close to the bone if it has one. A rare steak will be 40 to 45 degrees. You’re looking for about 50 to 55 degrees for medium-rare, 60 to 65 degrees is medium to well done, and 70 degrees-plus will mean your steak is well done.

The rest is easy

The last step is simple but should not be under-rest-imated. A lot of people think that as soon as you take the steak off the grill, you eat it. The secret is to let the steak rest for at least 15 minutes and that’s going to help retain all those lovely natural juices. Letting the steak rest allows the juices to settle so it shouldn't bleed when you cut it.

Have the right tools

    String, tongs and a meat thermometer are key when it comes to mastering the art of the perfect steak. Tying the steak with string creates a flat surface and ensures the meat cooks evenly, and a meat thermometer is essential to make sure steak is cooked perfectly.