Steak Doneness by Temperature

When cooking steak, everyone will have their own preference for how they like their steak done so it’s important to know at what temperature a steak reaches each level of doneness. Below we list the temperature and what you can expect when you cut into your steak.

Degrees of doneness from rare to well done

Rare – 120°F

At this temperature, the steak will have a cool/warm red center. This is good for lean cuts like filet mignon or top sirloin where there aren’t large chunks of fat that need to break down.

Medium Rare – 130°F

Red center, warmer than a medium rare steak and the fat will render, giving the steak a rich, delicious flavor. Widely recognized as the best way to cook a steak.

Medium – 140°F

Center will be a more muted red. At this temperature, the fat and moisture will start to cook off of the steak. This results in a slightly drier and less tender steak.

Medium-Well – 150°F

Center will be browning as more moisture and fat cooks out of the steak, becoming drier and less tender.

Well Done – 160°F

At this temperature there is no red or pink left in the steak. Much of the fat and moisture has been cooked out of the steak. You’ll probably want some steak sauce or ketchup on hand if this is how a person likes their steak done. But unless asked, it’s best to avoid cooking to this temp.

Always Cook to Temp

When cooking a steak you should always use a thermometer. The amount of fat, initial temperature of your steak, and the temperature of your cooking area will all affect how long it takes to cook. Using a thermometer is the only way to cook steak right consistently.

Rest Your Steak

Resting your steak is when you pull it off the heat and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. This lets the juices redistribute, allowing it to equalize its internal temperature so each bite is juicy and delicious.

While your steak is resting, the internal temperature can still rise by as much as 5 degrees. This is especially true if it is covered in foil or if steaks are stacked on top of one another. Take your steak off the grill a few degrees early and then allow it to rest for the best results. So if you’re aiming for a medium rare steak, pull it off around 125 degrees for the best result.

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