Even if you have a well-seasoned meat cooked to perfection, you cannot just eat it right away.
Every meat including Steaks needs to rest after cooking to complete the process and result in a great steak.
Whether you are cooking chicken, lamb, beef, pork, or fish, it needs rest after cooking so the juices activate and redistribute.
While it can get tempting to dig right into the steak that is out of the grill or smoker, it is important to know that to get the best results one has to wait.
Letting the steak rest is part of the cooking process as it will continue to cook even when it is out of the heat source, making steaks tender.
This post will examine the when, why, and how of resting steaks. That way, the barbecues in the backyard will be filled with perfectly-cooked steaks and cuts of meat.
Why Do We Rest Meat?
The main reason meat rests after cooking is to reintroduce and redistribute the constricted juices inside the meat during the cooking process.
Several things happen when cooking meat. First, the muscle fibers constrict when heated so they eventually push the juice of the meat away from the heat source.
As the muscles push juices away from heat source, the juice gets constricted in the middle of the meat.
That is why freshly cooked steaks ooze juice from the middle along with blood releasing the flavors of the meat.
By allowing the meat to rest, the muscle fibers begin to relax once again and the juices return to the muscle fibers.
That is why a well-rested steak has evenly distributed moisture that makes them juicy in every bite. It is also easy to rest steak or meat so the more reason to do it.
How To Rest Steak
It is most likely that the steak has rested before serving it. Most of the time, I cook in large quantities so the steaks usually rest enough before I even get to serve them.
- Remove the steak from the grill, smoker, or heat source.
- Place the steak on a cutting board or straight onto a serving plate.
- Place aluminum foil over the meat but do not completely seal it.
- After the right resting time, remove the aluminum foil.
- Cut and serve the steak.
Knowing what type of finish you want on the steak is important. For medium-rare doneness, there is a proper timing to achieve that.
Also note that while resting the steak, the meat will continue to cook. Known as carry-over cooking, the steak might get up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher while resting.
That means that if the goal is to cook the steak medium-rare, it is best to remove the steak from the heat source before it hits the preferred internal temperature.
How Long To Let Steak Rest after cooking
When resting steak once done cooking, the most common rule of thumb is to let the meat rest for 5 minutes per inch.
That means the thicker the steak, the longer it needs to rest.
Perhaps the most accurate way to do it is to put a meat probe in the middle of the meat. However, the problem is that the juices can come out of the puncture.
That is why most cooks use the rule of thumb wherein the steak rests depending on how thick it is. For example, most rib-eye steaks are 1 to 1.5 inches thick so they need to rest for 5 to 7 minutes.
Other tricks can that you can learn when it comes to the resting time of the steak are-
- Let the steak rest for 5 minutes for each inch of thickness.
- Rest the steak for 1 minute per 100 grams or 10 minutes per pound.
- Rest the steak for half the time it took to cook if it is thin.
- Rest the steak for the same time it took to cook if it is thick.
These are not the most accurate tricks but come close to the desired result. I recommended to test the internal temperature once the resting period is over.
The meat probe will give a more accurate result on the steak’s doneness. So after letting the steak rest, getting the internal temperature will let you know what doneness the steak is in.
How long to let steak rest before cooking
Steaks should be resting outside the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes before cooking, allowing the steak to come to room temperature and cook evenly later on.
Defrost the frozen steak in the fridge overnight, and this will safely thaw the meat and be ready for cooking after it has rested and come up to room temperature.
Let the steak rest before cooking or after it has been in the fridge as cold or freezing-cold steak will not cook evenly.
The steak’s interior will remain cold while the outer parts will likely burn before the heat penetrates the middle of the steak.
Do Steak Keep Cooking While Resting?
Yes, steaks and other cuts of meat will continue cooking while they are resting, and that is because they still have heat inside them that continues to try to get out of the steak itself.
This is called carry-over cooking where the meat or steak continues to cook even after you remove from the heat source.
Most steaks can continue cooking by up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the thickness of the steak, and thin steaks would usually cook for 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit more.
That goes with other types of meat, such as hamburgers, chicken breasts, wings, and pork chops.
For bigger or thicker cuts of meat, they usually get up to 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit higher while resting. That is a big difference so removing them early from the heat source is helpful.
Such large cuts are briskets, roasts, and whole chickens or turkeys. They cook for a long time and rest for a long time as well, however, they are prone to over-resting.
Can Steak Rest Too Long?
Yes, steak can rest too long wherein it results in dried or overcooked steak, and this usually happens when the steak rests with a tight cover or when sealed in aluminum foil.
Steaks do not need to be rested for too long as they can cook easily. Too much resting time will overcook the steak and let all the juices out, making the steak dry.
Timing the resting time is always important as too much rest time will let juices out along with some delicious flavors.
It is better to rest for too little than rest the steak for too long. Steak that rests for a shorter time is still better than overcooked steak.
What Temperature Should The Steak Be After Resting?
Depending on the desired doneness, there are different temperatures for steak after resting. For safety, the USDA recommends allowing the steak up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit or medium doneness.
Here is the list of doneness and the temperature that they should be at after resting:
Rare Doneness – 125 degrees Fahrenheit
Medium Rare Doneness – 135 degrees Fahrenheit
Medium Doneness – 145 degrees Fahrenheit
Medium Well Doneness – 150 degrees Fahrenheit
Well Done – 160 degrees Fahrenheit
Is resting meat necessary?
Yes, resting meat after cooking is necessary for it to cook further and for the juices to redistribute properly.
If cooked steak or meat is cut immediately after cooking, the juices will quickly run out of the meat. Allowing the meat to rest will give the juices time to return to the muscle fibers.
Once the juices redistribute to the muscle fibers of the cooked meat, less juice will be lost when you cut the steak.
However, some studies show that the juices lost are not A LOT and there have been studies on it but most of the time, I let my meat rest as it doesn’t take long and always gives better results.
This results in a perfectly cooked steak with juiciness in every bite and tenderness all over the steak that everybody will enjoy!