How to cook perfect steak on the BBQ

Living Well | Peter Nugent | Posted on 22 October 2019

Raise the steaks this summer with chef Josh Pelham’s guide to perfect barbecued beef.

There’s no doubting executive chef Josh Pelham’s skill in the kitchen. His Cape restaurant at RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort recently received its first ‘Hat’ in the 2020 Good Food Guide. But with summer fast approaching, RoyalAuto wanted to know how Josh performs when the heat is on… so we asked him how to cook the perfect barbecue steak. These are his sizzling barbecue steak secrets.


Josh Pelham recommends ribeye, porterhouse or rump.


A chef's guide to grilling perfect steak on the barbie

Buy the best-quality meat you can afford

The key ingredient to a sizzling steak is, well, the ingredient. Josh’s mission began with a trip to the local butcher, where he was looking for a well-marbled steak with a nice rich, red colour. He recommends ribeye, porterhouse or rump. “We decided on a beautiful ribeye, on the bone… a one to 1.2-kilo cut, that is going to take about 30 minutes to cook on the barbecue.” 

Bring it to room temperature before cooking

When barbecuing, Josh says it is important to take the meat out early and allow it to come up to room temperature. “That’s going to give the meat the opportunity to get the right, consistent temperature throughout and when cooking you’re going to end up with that beautiful blush-pink all the way through.” 

Create an even cooking surface

Josh 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

Josh says don’t be shy with the salt. Apply it before, during and after cooking. “Seasoning is such an important part of cooking meat. With a big piece like this, you need to season it very, very liberally. Don’t be afraid to use your hands, rub the 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.  

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

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


Make sure your barbecue is hot 

Josh says to make sure you 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.

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.

Forget guesswork. Use a thermometer to make sure meat is cooked perfectly

To ensure your steak is cooked to perfection, Josh says 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, Josh says. “A lot of people think that as soon as you take the steak off the grill, you eat it. My secret is to let the steak rest for at least 15 minutes and that’s going to help retain all those lovely natural juices.

Bon appetit.  

Josh’s top tips for the perfect barbecue steak

  • Ask your butcher which cut of meat is best for you. Make sure it has lots of marbling and is a rich red colour. Try ribeye, porterhouse or rump.
  • Give your barbecue plenty of time to pre-heat and make sure your grill is hot. Turn it on at least 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook. The steak should sizzle when it’s placed on the grill.
  • Have the right tools: string, tongs and a meat thermometer. Tying the steak with string creates a flat surface and ensures the meat cooks evenly. A meat thermometer is essential to make sure steak is cooked perfectly.
  • Let the cooked steak ‘rest’ for 15 minutes before serving. This will allow it to retain those delicious natural juices that add all the flavour. Don’t forget to season with salt before, during and after cooking.
Want to become a master of the barbecue? 

Meat your inner grill guru at The BBQ School. From the basics of barbecued meat or seafood, to American smoking and even beer and barbecue pairing classes, RACV members save 10 per cent on a range of cooking lessons and masterclasses so that future you can host the ultimate steak out.

Escape to the Mornington Peninsula at RACV Cape Schanck Resort