Try doing a quick Google search on the proper way to grill steak over fire. You’ll instantly be met with a page full of results, none of which are really helpful. At the end of it all, you’re left with no answers and a bad case of option paralysis. We don’t want that. 

To save you some trouble, we took it upon ourselves to give you the ultimate guide to grilling steak over fire. What this isn’t is the end-all, be-all resource because there are practices that are preferred by some but not by others. What it is, however, is an effective enough guide that’s worth trying. 

And to guarantee the credibility of the information you’ll find on here, we’ve collected the input of seasoned experts. So keep this article bookmarked and feel free to open it when the need arises.  

Things to Remember When Grilling Steak Over Fire

Every home cook will make mistakes during the first few times they try to grill steak over fire. Either the heat is unbalanced, or the meat isn’t properly seasoned. The most common mistake happens in the desired doneness, and more often than not, people go overboard. 

Constant unaddressed mistakes lead to incorrect habits. That ends today. 

When Picking Meat

Any seasoned chef (no pun intended) or home griller will tell you that the meat is the star of the show. Regardless of the exceptional methods you use, the taste of subpar beef will surface no matter what. 

South African writer and chef Casey Bumpsteed advises the use of free-range meat, for starters. As she explains, you’d want meat from an animal that’s gone through the least amount of stress throughout its lifespan. 

“Try getting hold of meat that is free-range if you can. A sign to look out for in good quality meat is a firm texture that appears dry on the surface. A steak shouldn’t be soft or mushy. If you see ripples of fat (called marbling) running through your meat, this will yield a ton of flavor and succulence.” 

Marbling, as Bumpsteed mentioned, is what you want to see in a cut of meat. The more white spots of fat you find running through the surface, the better. Executive chef Ryan Prentiss spoke about a particular type of meat that offers the perfect marbling for grilling steak. 

“Grain-fed or grain-finished beef will have more marbling than grass-fed beef.”

When it comes to thickness, most chefs will recommend steak cuts that are between an inch to an inch and a half thick. It’s deemed as the right amount of thickness that could work well under high temperatures, which you’ll need if you’re grilling steak over fire. 

When Seasoning The Steak

The stuff that great steak seasoning is made of. Screenshot from  YouTube and Guga Foods

Seasoning is another aspect of cooking steak that people usually get wrong. First off, a general rule of thumb is to be generous with your salt and pepper. As explained by Chicago-based chef Christian Ragano: 

“Always overseason your steaks a bit. When you think it’s enough, always add a little more. A lot of salt and pepper falls off during the cooking process and doesn’t always penetrate the meat.”

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That then begs another important question: when should you season the steak? For Ryan Prentiss, thicker slabs of meat are better off seasoned with finishing salts upon slicing. But on most occasions, he recommends doing so within the 40-minute window before throwing it in the grill. This allows full absorption. 

When Grilling Steak Over Fire

Now, let’s get to the meat of the matter (pun slightly intended). This is the part where things could either be magical or disastrous. 

Step number one, according to chefs, is to make sure that the steak is dry before it hits the fire. The drier the meat, the more chances for it to develop that beautiful crust on the surface. So before you start the grilling, pat it down dry with a paper towel. 

The next thing to look out for is heat distribution. When cooking over fire, make sure your wood or charcoal are evenly spread out through the grill. Chef Prentiss recommends allowing 20 to 30 minutes for the heat to build up before starting the cooking process. 

“A hot cooking surface is extremely important to caramelize the outside of the steak and secure the flavor,” says Dinesh Jayawardena, an executive chef at Radisson Hotel Group Americas. “This method will give you a crispy-on-the-outside, yet moist-and-tender-on-the-inside steak.”

When cooking steak over fire, some chefs would likewise advise having a “cool zone” in your grill. It’s basically a spot that’s not exposed to direct heat and a spot where to place the meat for indirect cooking before taking it out and letting it rest. 

Now, if your first introduction to cooking steak was from Gordon Ramsay, you likely learned about his hand method to identify doneness. That could work if you’re a seasoned griller, but if you’re just starting out, that may not be a good gauge to go with. 

Do yourself a favor and buy a meat thermometer. At least until you’ve become adept at the eyeball method, this device will give you a more accurate number. Remember that for medium rare, you want it to be at 135°F, tops. 

When Serving The Steak

This section isn’t about the serving, per se, but that essential step to do right before. And this is a step that a lot of people either forget to do or purposely skip altogether. 

Allowing the steak to rest after cooking is a crucial step in the entire process. That’s because the meat continues to cook even after you’ve taken it off the flame. Chef Prentiss explained the importance of resting the steak after cooking. 

“Cooking the steak to 10 degrees below your desired temp and then resting it allows for the collagen in the meat to thicken the juices as it cools slightly. This creates a way juicier steak than just cooking straight to temp.”

Go Out And Cook a Juicy Steak 

Now that you know the proper methods as advised by experts, go ahead and get cooking. Grills work well, but fire pits are likewise a useful medium to cook steak. Some use a grill plate, while others go old school and cook directly on the heat. 

Whichever method you use, make sure to exercise caution. Now go ahead and enjoy a fine cut of excellently-cooked meat over fire. You deserve it. 

**  To learn more about how to grill the perfect steak, click here