How to Cook a Juicy Tender Boneless Strip Steak

A properly cooked strip steak has a crispy exterior contrasting with a tender, juicy center. Dry heat is necessary for the flavorful crust; a short cooking time is necessary to keep the center moist. Getting the heat right can be a challenge. Boneless strip steaks are naturally tender, cut from the tender short loin, and are well-suited for the intense heat of a charcoal grill. They can be used in the same way as a T-bone or porterhouse steak.

A juicy New York strip steak sits on a wooden cutting board, as a fork holds up a slice. (Image: JPphoto1992/iStock/Getty Images)

Choosing the Right Steak

Start with the best quality steak you can find. Prime- or choice-grade, dry-aged beef is the most tender. Look for a steak with a fine texture and many thin flecks of marbling throughout the steak. As the steak cooks, the fat veins melts away, bathing the meat in moisture and flavor. Avoid large veins of fat in the meat and trim the exterior fat to a thin rim.

Basic Cooking Methods

Let the steak come to room temperature; 30 to 40 minutes on the countertop will do it. Brush the exterior with olive oil or a mixture of butter and oil. Season it with salt and pepper or a dry rub. Once the steak is on the heat, leave it alone, browning the first side before turning it. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to determine when the meat is done. The steak is rare at an internal temperature of 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit; medium-rare is 130 to 140 F, medium is 140 to 150 F, and well-done is 160 to 170 F, according to Omaha Steaks. The steak needs to rest for at least 3 minutes before serving; the internal temperature continues to rise during the resting period, so take the meat off the heat about 5 to 10 F before the desired temperature is reached. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking steak to an internal temperature of 145 F for safety reasons, but for the most tender steak, lower temperatures are more effective.

Grilling Strip Steak

Grilling strip steak requires a hot grill, hot enough to quickly sear the outside to a crusty exterior without drying out the interior. Charcoal grills easily attain the required temperatures. Preheat a gas grill on high, then reduce the heat to medium-high as soon as the steak is seared. If you have an infrared burner, use it to sear the steaks quickly, then finish them on the grill. Grill boneless strip steaks for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium doneness.

Broiling Strip Steak

Broilers deliver intense heat, so you need to watch the steak carefully under the broiler. Preheat the broiler and broiler pan. Broil boneless strip steaks for 4 to 8 minutes per side on the top rack of the preheated broiler. The meat should be 4 to 6 inches from the burner. The actual cooking time depends on the heat of the broiler, the distance from the heat and the thickness of the steak.

Pan-Frying Strip Steak

For pan-frying, use a heavy skillet that holds the heat well. Preheat the skillet until it is hot enough to make a drop of water dance across the surface. Add a thin layer of olive oil and give it a minute to preheat. Sear the steak quickly over high heat, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to medium to finish cooking.

Marinating Before Cooking

A top-quality steak cooked to rare or medium-rare should be tender without marinating. For longer cooking times or lesser-quality meat, you can marinate the steak to improve tenderness and add moisture. Marinades typically include acidic ingredients like wine, vinegar or citrus juices to tenderize the meat, oil to add moisture and seasonings for extra flavor. Cover the steaks in marinade and refrigerate for a maximum of 2 to 4 hours. Longer marinating times can change the texture of the meat. At the end of the marinating time, remove the steaks from the liquid and pat dry with a paper towel.

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