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Secrets for Tender Steak

Updated on October 7, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green enjoys discovering innovative cooking tricks and shares these with others.

Barbecued and Sizzled to Perfection

Tender steaks cooked on a grill.
Tender steaks cooked on a grill. | Source

Secrets for Tender Steak

How do you cook tender steak? Why is it that some steak almost falls off the bone, whereas other meat is tough and stringy and could be a close twin to old shoe leather?

Many people pick up what looks to be a good steak but when they come home and cook it, they are disappointed with the final results.

A juicy, melt-in-your-mouth steak, starts with your meat selection. If you buy the wrong cut, your steak may be bitter, tough or dry. Many home chefs wonder why their steaks are less than stellar. Even cuts traditionally thought to be a good choice for steak can prove disappointing.

If you want to master the art of grilling tender steaks, read on for tips about how to choose and prepare tender steak. A little know-how can make a world of difference as to how your steak turns out.

Steaks Cooking on Grill

Your steak can be as tender as the cut, but other factors also contribute to how tender your steak will be as it cooks up.
Your steak can be as tender as the cut, but other factors also contribute to how tender your steak will be as it cooks up. | Source

Grade, Choice and Thickness

Cooking up tender steak starts first of all with:

  1. Grade of Meat--The grade of meat you buy. "Prime" is more tender than "Choice." If your steak is a lower grade of meat, all the tricks in the world won't make it something it is not.
  2. Choice of Cut--Your choice of cut plays a huge role in how tender your steak will ultimately turn out to be. Will it be blade steak, rib-eye, sirloin, strip, tenderloin, or T-bone? (See information below on a good cut to choose for tender steak.)
  3. Steak Thickness--How thick your steak is makes a difference because thin steaks tend to cook too fast and dry out. Aim for 3/4'-11/2" thickness, which will help when cooking because thicker-cut meat stays juicier.

Thick Steaks Cook Up Better

A seasoned steak ready for grilling.
A seasoned steak ready for grilling. | Source

Which Cut?

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A Word About Marbeling

  • Steaks that are not marbled tend to dry out and can be very chewy, stringly, and tough.
  • Marbling helps steaks to stay juicy.

Marbeling can contribute to how tender a steak is.
Marbeling can contribute to how tender a steak is. | Source

Before You Grill

Marinating Your Steask

You can enhance the flavor of and tenderize your meat further by marinating your meat either for the specified time on the package (usually around 15-20 minutes) or--if you want meat that almost falls from the bone-- by marinading your steak overnight.


Did You Know?

How long meat has been aged also contributes to tenderness. If you are buying from a meat shop, you may be able to find out how long the meat has been aged.

Mmm ... Barbecued Steak

Photo: Thick-Cut Steak Cooks up Tender
Photo: Thick-Cut Steak Cooks up Tender | Source

Why Blade Steak?

Blade steak is my number one choice for tender steak. It is also inexpensive compared to other choice cuts.

Best Choice for Tender Steak

Surprisingly, one of the best choices, if you want very tender steak is blade steak. This is often thought to be a cheap cut of meat, inferior to sirloin but it makes for delicious steaks. Why?

Blade steaks are well-marbled, which translates into juicy, with meat dropping from the bone, tender with a capital T. The down side is that blade steaks do contain fat; however, you can trim the visible fat off prior to cooking. In truth, you really can't have one without the other. As long as you aren't eating steak each night of the week, this shouldn't be a problem. We all do well to watch how much fat we consume.

Blade steak is so tender that you can cook it as is, or if you like the flavor of marinaded steak, you can also buy your favorite marinade and marinade the meat to tenderize it further.

Once it is ready, you can cook your blade steak, either using a broiling pan and your oven's grilling function or cooking your steak out on the barbecue.

Tip

Barbecue sauce tastes best when it's cooked in and not just spread over the top of the meat.

Barbecuing Your Steak

If you like the taste of barbecued steak, Kraft Regular barbecue sauce is a popular favorite--or, if you want to make your own barbecue sauce, see my recipe for Best Barbecue Sauce. This is a good all-round recipe that can be used for chicken, turkey, beef and pork. It's fail-proof and makes up quickly.

Spread barbecue sauce over steak with a brush or a spoon. Brush one side of meat and when you turn it over, brush the other side. Some cooks opt to do this halfway through cooking time.

Neat Trick When Broiling in Oven

If you set your oven to broil, you do not have to turn the dial up all the way or to 500 degrees, as is commonly thought. The overhead element will still come on if you set your oven at a lower temperature and leave the door cracked open for grilling. I would suggest trying your steaks at around 350 degrees.

The lower temperature does a much better job of broiling your steaks, allowing them to cook in the middle without becoming over-browned.

Tender and Juicy and Not Tough and Dry as Old Shoe Leather

Carefully chosen and cooked the right way, steak is tender, juicy, and delicious.
Carefully chosen and cooked the right way, steak is tender, juicy, and delicious. | Source

Choosing the right type of meat, marinating it and adding barbecue sauce is a formula for delicious, tender and juicy steak. Enjoy!

Do You Enjoy Grilling Steak at Home?

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© 2013 Athlyn Green

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    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for the detailed overview of this topic! Lots of great advice. I'm ready to do some cooking now. :)

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      I live in Limousin, famous for it's Limousin beef cattle. I also run a B&B and would be delighted to serve Limousin beef here - only I can't cook it! My steak is never as good as the local restaurants, but I'm going to try again after reading your article.