The cut’s size can significantly impact the final result when grilling or pan-frying a steak. Whether you prefer your steak medium-rare, well-done, or somewhere in between, choosing the right size will help you achieve the perfect balance of juicy, tender meat and a well-cooked interior. And this ultimate guide will help you the most. To know what size of steak you should choose, keep on reading.
What is the Ideal Steak Size for Grilling or Searing? Quick Answer.
Generally, a steak that is 1.5 to 2 inches thick is ideal for most cooking methods and provides enough surface area for a good sear while also allowing for even cooking throughout.
First and foremost, it’s essential to consider the thickness of the steak. Thicker cuts, such as ribeye and rib steaks, can benefit from a longer cooking time to develop a rich, caramelized crust, while thinner cuts, like tenderloin and flank steak, are best cooked quickly to maintain their tender texture.
Another factor to consider is the weight of the steak. While weight does not directly impact cooking time, it can affect the portion size and the overall balance of your meal.
A steak that is 8 ounces or less is typically considered a single serving, while a steak that is 12 ounces or more may be better suited for sharing or as the centerpiece of a larger meal.
The length of the steak can also be a factor, although it’s less significant than thickness or weight. If you’re cooking a steak that is too long to fit in your pan or on your grill, you may need to cut it in half or cook it in 2 separate batches, increasing the cooking time. To avoid this, look for manageable steaks that will fit comfortably in your cooking vessel.
That said, neither a steak’s length nor weight affects its cooking time as much as its thickness. This article will mainly deal with steak thickness to help you achieve a well-textured, perfectly cooked steak.
How Thick Should a Wagyu Steak be?
The thickness of a Wagyu steak is a matter of personal preference, but typically they are cut to be around 3/4-1 inch and can also be as much as 2 inches.
If you prefer your steak to be rare or medium-rare, a thinner cut may be more appropriate as it will cook more quickly and have less risk of overcooking. A thicker cut may be preferable for a well-done steak as it will take longer to cook and provide a more evenly cooked interior.
Ultimately, the best thickness for your Wagyu steak will depend on your preference and the cooking method you plan to use. It is always best to choose the wagyu steak thickness according to the recipe.
Complete Steak Sizes Chart for Regular and Wagyu Beef Steaks
Here’s a chart with the ideal thickness for 17 types of steaks, ranked based on deliciousness and availability.
|Steak Cut||Ideal Steak Thickness (inches)|
|A5 Wagyu Steak||¾|
|Wagyu A5 Strip Steak||¾ to 1|
|Wagyu Chuck Eye Steak||1|
|Ribeye||1-1.5 (thicker preferred)|
|Tenderloin (Filet Mignon)||1.25-2 (thicker preferred)|
|Strip||1.5-2 (based on whether you prefer a thin, seared outside and rare to the medium interior or a thick, medium-well to well-done steak)|
|Hanger||About 1 or so (thinner preferred)|
|Porterhouse/T-Bone||1.5-2.5 (thicker preferred)|
|Flank||1-1.5 (thinner preferred)|
|Skirt||0.5-1 (it’s usually thinly sliced, which is preferable)|
|Short Ribs (Boneless)||1-1.5 (thinner preferred)|
|Sirloin||1.5-2 (the thicker, the better)|
|London Broil||2 (thicker preferred)|
|Tomahawk||2-3 (thicker preferred)|
|Flap||1-2 (1.5 preferred)|
|Rump||1.8-2 (thicker preferred)|
|Denver||0.5-1 (thinner preferred)|
|Culotte or Picanah||0.5-1 (thinner preferred)|
|Wagyu Beef Steak||½ to ¾ inches thick|
Let’s discuss them in detail.
Ribeye is a fatty, flavorful cut of beef from the rib section. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often considered one of the tastiest cuts of beef. A thickness of 1-1.5 inches is ideal for ribeye, as the marbling in the meat will melt and baste the steak during cooking, producing a juicy, tender steak. Thicker cuts are preferred as they allow for more marbling and a more satisfying eating experience.
Tenderloin (Filet Mignon)
Tenderloin, also known as filet mignon, is a tender cut of beef from the center of the loin. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often considered the most tender cut of beef.
A 1.25-2 inches thickness is ideal for tenderloin, as it allows for even cooking and maximum tenderness. Thicker cuts are preferred, allowing for a more satisfying eating experience.
Strip steak, also known as New York strip, is a lean cut of beef from the short loin. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is a versatile cut you can cook to varying degrees of doneness.
A thickness of 1.5-2 inches is ideal for strip steak, as it balances a crispy exterior and juicy interior. Depending on personal preference, some may prefer a thinner cut for a rare to medium interior, while others may prefer a thicker cut for a medium-well to well-done steak.
Hanger steak, also known as the “butcher’s steak,” is a flavorful cut of beef from the diaphragm. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often considered a less well-known cut of meat. A thinner cut of about 1 inch or so is preferred for hanger steak, as it allows for a quicker cook time and maximum tenderness.
Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks are cuts of beef from the short loin that include a portion of the tenderloin and strip steak. They’re best grilled or pan-fried and are often considered a special occasion cut of beef.
A 1.5-2.5 inches thickness is ideal for Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks, as it balances the tenderloin and strip steak portions. Thicker cuts are preferred, allowing for a more satisfying eating experience.
Flank steak is a lean, flavorful cut of beef from the underbelly. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often sliced thinly against the grain for maximum tenderness. A thinner cut of 1-1.5 inches is preferred for flank steak, as it allows for quick cooking and maximum tenderness.
This steak is a flavorful cut of beef from the diaphragm. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often used for fajitas or stir-fries. Skirt steak is usually sliced thinly, which is preferable as it allows for a quick cook time and maximum tenderness. A thickness of 0.5-1 inch is ideal for skirt steak.
Flat iron steak, also known as top blade steak, is a flavorful, tender cut of beef from the chuck. It’s best grilled or pan-fried and is often considered a less well-known beef cut. A thickness of 1-1.5 inches is ideal for flat iron steak, as it allows for even cooking and maximum tenderness.
Short Ribs (Boneless)
Short ribs are typically cut from the rib or plate section of the cow and are known for their rich, meaty flavor and tender texture. The ideal thickness for boneless short ribs is 1-1.5 inches. This ensures proper cooking by allowing the meat to stay tender and juicy and ensures its full flavor comes through.
Sirloin is a cut of steak that comes from the hindquarter of the cow, near the hip. It’s a relatively lean meat cut known for its good flavor and moderate tenderness. The ideal thickness for sirloin is 1.5-2 inches.
London broil is a beef dish that typically comes from the top round or sirloin. It’s typically marinated, grilled, or broiled and is known for its bold flavor and tender texture.
The ideal thickness for a London broil steak is 2 inches. This thickness allows the steak to be cooked to your desired doneness and the marinade’s flavors to be fully absorbed into the meat.
steaks are bone-in ribeye steaks with a long bone resembling a tomahawk axe, left attached. They’re prized for their meaty flavor and tender texture. The ideal thickness for a tomahawk steak is 2-3 inches. This thickness allows the flavors of the meat and bone to come through fully.
The flat iron steak is tender beef cut of meat achieved from the shoulder blade of the cow. It’s also known for its marbling, and therefore, it’s also suitable to be cooked thick.
The ideal thickness for a flap steak is 1-2 inches, with 1.5 inches being the preferred thickness. This allows for a short cook time.
The tri-tip steak is a leaner but tender beef cut from the cow’s bottom sirloin section. This steak is to be cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness for the best taste and tenderness. The ideal thickness for a tri-tip steak is 1 inch.
The rump steak is a versatile lean and tender cut of beef that comes from the upper hindquarter of the cow that can be cooked in various ways, such as grilling, broiling or sautéing, but you have to keep it thicker, unlike other steaks. The ideal thickness for a rump steak is 1.8-2 inches.
If you’re looking for a delicious and underrated cut of beef to try, get Denver steak, also known as the under-blade steak. It’s a lean and tender cut that boasts a rich, beefy flavor that’s perfect for grilling, broiling, or searing.
The ideal thickness for a Denver steak is 0.5-1 inch. This allows for a quick cook time.
Coulotte or Picanah
The Coulotte steak (Picanha) is a cut of beef that comes from the top sirloin section of the cow. This triangular-shaped cut is perfect for grilling or roasting.
It’s because it responds well to high-heat cooking methods that allow it to develop a nice sear on the outside while staying tender and juicy inside. The ideal thickness for a culotte steak is 0.5-1 inch. This allows for a quick cook time.
Q: What is the optimal thickness for a steak?
The optimal thickness of a steak can range from 1 to 1.5 inches. However, there’s a consensus among connoisseurs on 1.5 as a sweet spot.
The precise thickness will depend on the cut of the steak, cooking method, and personal preference. Generally speaking, thicker steaks tend to have a more tender texture but require a longer cooking time to reach the desired doneness. Thinner steaks have a more intense flavor but require precise cooking control to ensure tenderness.
Q: What factors play a role in determining the optimal thickness for a steak?
Several factors, including the type of cut, cooking method, and personal preference, determine a steak’s optimal thickness. For instance, cuts of steak with a high degree of marbling, such as ribeye or sirloin, may benefit from a thicker cut, as they can handle a longer cooking time.
Conversely, cuts with less marbling, such as filet mignon or hanger steak, can be sliced thinner to maintain tenderness. The desired level of doneness and cooking method also contribute to determining the optimal thickness, with thicker cuts better suited for low and slow cooking methods like braising or stewing.
Q: Is a thicker steak always considered higher quality than a thinner one?
Not necessarily. The optimal thickness of a steak depends on personal preference and the desired outcome. While thicker steaks may have a more substantial bite and a more tender texture when cooked correctly, they also have a considerable margin of error in terms of doneness.
Thinner steaks cook faster, providing precise control over the final texture and flavor, but may have a more intense flavor. Ultimately, the best thickness for a steak depends on the individual’s taste and the type of steak being cooked.
Q: What is the difference between a 1-inch and 1.5-inch steak in terms of cooking and taste?
A: A 1-inch steak will cook faster and have a more intense flavor, whereas a 1.5-inch steak will take longer to cook and have a more tender texture. The thicker steak will also have a significant margin of error in terms of doneness, as it’ll take longer to reach the desired temperature. The thinner steak will cook more quickly, allowing precise control over the final texture and flavor.
Q: How does the thickness of a steak impact the cooking time?
A: The thickness of a steak has a direct effect on the cooking time. Thicker steaks take longer to cook because they have a greater mass that needs to be heated to the desired temperature. This can result in a more substantial bite and a more tender texture but also requires a longer cooking time and a larger margin of error in terms of doneness.
Thinner steaks cook more quickly because they have a smaller mass, so less time is needed to reach the desired temperature. This results in a faster cooking time and a more intense flavor but also requires precise control over the cooking time to ensure a tender and juicy final product.
Q: Can I reduce the thickness of a steak after purchasing it?
Yes, you can alter the steak thickness after purchase by cutting it to the desired thickness. However, it’s recommended to have a professional butcher perform this task to achieve a clean and even cut. Utilizing a professional butcher can also provide access to their expertise in selecting the optimal thickness for your desired cooking method and outcome.
Q: Can you grill a 3 inches thick steak?
Technically, you can grill a 3-inch thick steak, but it’s important to note that it may require a different cooking method than a thinner steak. The heat from the grill may not penetrate the center of the steak quickly enough to cook it to your desired level of doneness without burning the outside.
To grill a 3-inch thick steak, it’s recommended to use a two-zone grilling method. Start by searing the steak over high heat for 2-3 minutes per side to create a crust. Then, move the steak to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat and continue cooking until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
Use a meat thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature, especially as it’s a thick cut of meat. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should be 130-135°F, and for medium, it should be 135-145°F.
Remember that a 3-inch thick steak will take longer to cook than a thinner steak, so it’s essential to be patient and give it enough time to cook through without burning the outside. Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and create a more flavorful and tender steak.
As a general rule, a steak that’s 1 inch to 1.5 inches thick is a good thickness for grilling and searing. Yet, thicker steaks of 2-3 inches, such as a bone-in ribeye or a porterhouse, can also be pan-seared, but they may require finishing in the oven or 2-zone cooking (reverse sear) on a grill to ensure that they cook evenly throughout.
This method is called the “reverse sear” and involves baking the steak in the oven until it reaches the desired temperature, then finishing it with a quick sear in a hot pan.
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