The best way to keep steak warm after grilling

After paying so much attention to grilling your steak to that perfect temperature, the last thing you want is to eat a cold steak while waiting for your sides to cook.

Discovering the best way to keep steak warm is a trial and error process and what works for us may not work for you but we think we’ve found the best of the best.

The issue with keeping a steak warm is steaks aren’t big chunks of meat. When cooked to set internal temperatures depending on how you like your steak, these temperatures aren’t very high, to begin with. Keeping a steak at a ‘rare’ temperature for 20 minutes is next to impossible without cooking it further or drying the steak out.

Different steak serving temperatures

Depending on how you enjoy eating your steak there are different serving temperatures. Certain cuts taste and respond better to certain temperatures for example a fillet steak is best-served medium-rare.

  • Rare: 120 degrees Fahrenheit(49 degrees Celsius)
  • Medium-rare: 130 degrees Fahrenheit(54 degrees Celsius)
  • Medium: 140 degrees Fahrenheit(60 degrees Celsius)
  • Medium-well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit(65 degrees Celsius)
  • Well done: 160+ degrees Fahrenheit(71 degrees Celsius)

The importance of resting a steak

Once your happy you’ve grilled the steak to your desired temperature it requires resting. Resting is another cooking process just like the grilling itself. A well rested steak will be soft and juicy when eaten.

If you’ve seen the juices all over the plate when a steak is cut, this is because it hasn’t been given sufficient time to rest before serving. It can also be tough and not eaten at it’s best.

To rest a steak correctly it should be placed on a surface like a chopping board that doesn’t allow the steak to carry on cooking. During the resting process, the internal temperature of the steak will rise a few degrees even when removed from the heat.

The resting process should take around 5 – 7 minutes, if you have a larger steak this could be as much as 10 + minutes. If you were to check the steak with a digital thermometer to determine whether your steak is well-rested, it should have cooled to 120 – 125 degrees Fahrenheit(49 – 52 degrees Celsius) but poking holes in your steak isn’t a good idea, and go by time only.

The Science

When a steak is grilled over high heat, the protein fibres within the meat uncoil and coil. When the fibres coil they become firm releasing moisture stored in the cell walls.

Once the steak reaches perfect resting temperature these protein fibres relax and some of the moisture will be reabsorbed.

How to keep steak warm?

A few different methods that work in keeping the steak warm are below but note that some require you to fully rest the steak before and some don’t.

Low temperature oven

Turn the oven onto its lowest setting, and place a tray in the bottom of the oven for 5 minutes to warm the tray. Once you’ve cooked the steak and you are satisfied it has reached the correct internal temperature, the steak will require resting. Once fully rested place the steak on the tray at the bottom of the oven.

10 minutes in the oven is about the maximum you can warm for before you risk spoiling your steak. You should be aware that when even with the oven at the lowest temperature the steak will continue to cook and dry out if left for longer periods.

Plate cover

Use a plate cover as soon as the steak is cooked do not remove the lid until you are ready to serve to keep as much of the heat in as possible. Alternatively, you can place another plate on top depending on the thickness of the steak.

A little tip when using a plate cover is warm the steak plate in the bottom of the oven before placing the steak onto it.

This will keep the steak warm for a short period of around 10 minutes including the resting time.

Remove the early and wrap

Removing the steak a degree of 2 below your choice temperature although not recommended for temperatures below rare. Once removed immediately wrap the steak tightly in foil. There is no need to immediately rest the steak. The heat and juices from the steak in the foil parcel will continue to cook the steak even when removed from a heat source.

The only downside to this method is you have no control over how high the temperature in the steak will carry on cooking. It will stay hot for the longest period of any of the methods but if removed at a medium temperature it could end up being closer to well done.

The best way to keep steak warm the best method

By far the best way to keep a steak warm after resting is to warm a plate in the bottom of the oven or a quick blast in the microwave works well. Place the steak on the warm plate and a make foil tent to cover the steak.

Covered in this way the steak does not dry out or cool down too quickly. Depending on the starting temperature before covering you can keep the steak warm for a good 10 minutes.

Final thoughts

Keeping the steak warmer for longer than 15 minutes including resting time is very difficult without spoiling a great piece of meat. One thing to remember is a good steak served correctly is not served hot. I would suggest you try a few of these methods to see what works best for you and your taste preferences. I think you will find the foil tent being the best way to keep a steak warm.