If you are a regular steak consumer, like me, then you have probably asked yourself what is the best doneness level when it comes to steak cooking.

Even though each one has its own preferences, there is actually a recommended doneness level that chiefs and meat experts recommend to cook your meat at, so it reaches the maximum flavor and really enjoy its full potential.
Here is a quick all-around guide for you to better understand how long you should cook your steak next time.
Steak Doneness Infographic

Steak Doneness Chart and Temperature Tables
Infographic by FuriousGrill.Com

Quick Differences Between Doneness Levels

When it comes to doneness levels, the internal cooking temperature is the main factor that tells you the real doneness point. On the United States, there are about six different doneness levels for a steak: Blue-Rare, Rare, Medium-Rare, Medium, Medium-Well and Well-Done.

The different level has its own advantages and disadvantages which are really impacted by the steak type and location.

The Blue-Rare and Rare levels are the entry point and are each reached 115°F for the Blue-Rare and about 125-130°F for the Rare level. Both these levels have a very red center, almost raw, with a pinkish color all around.

The Medium-Rare and Medium level are reached at 130-140°F for the first one and 140-150°F for the second one. Both these levels have a warm pink center with kind-of brownish around the center. These levels are also the best point to cook a steak, based on several recommendations from chefs around the world. The meat reaches its maximum flavor and juiciness around these temperatures, making it very delicious and tender.

The Medium-Well and Well-Done are the two last levels, each being reached at 150-160° for the medium well and 160-210°F for the well done. Most of the chefs consider these levels overcooking and wasting your meat because it loses almost all its juicy, making it dry.

Medium or Medium-Rare?

As I mention in the upper paragraphs, the medium or medium-rare are the two best levels to cook a steak. If you are planning to cook a steak soon, then you may want to cook it at one of these temperature points. This is the best point where the meat reaches its maximum juiciness and flavor.

One of the main reasons why these levels are so good for your meat is because the longer you expose the meat to heat, the tougher and drier it gets. That’s why most well-done steaks often taste like leather and are very hard to chew, especially if you decide store in the refrigerator and reheat it later.


You can easily spot a medium steak by using an instant read thermometer and if you see the interior being mostly pink with just a little red center and the thermometer reading 130-140°F.

If you are going for a medium-rare steak, you may notice that the meat can be sometimes, a little bit cool in the middle, which doesn’t feel very good for a few people. This mostly happens to rare steaks but can also happen with medium ones too.

How to Cook the Best Medium-Rare Steak?

So, you already learned that the internal temperature is the main factor that determines the doneness of your steak. But, how can you reach the exact recommended 130-140°F internal temperature?

You can get an instant-read thermometer. They are very easy to use and only cost a couple of dollars. Just have in mind to always remove the meat from the heat 5° below the recommended temperature. The meat will continue to cook for a few minutes even after you remove it from the heat and doing so will ensure that you reach the recommended temperature.

The thermometer is the best way to cook the perfect medium-rare steak. If you don’t plan on buying an instant-read thermometer, then you can try alternative ways to spot the doneness, using your fingers, hand or even your face.

The hand doneness test is the most used one and you can try it by comparing the steak firmness with the base of your hand. Palm your hand and touch your middle finger with the tip of your thumb. Now feel the base of your thumb with your other hand and you can feel how firm it is. That’s how a medium-rare steak should feel like.

Final Thoughts

Identifying the perfect doneness level for your steak may take some practice, especially if you are a beginner and don’t grill often.

But, once you get used to it, you will easily identify and cook a perfect steak, very flavorful with plenty of juices, making it very tender and enjoyable to eat.

I hope this article helped you brush up your steak doneness knowledge and make you feel more confident to cook your next steak at the perfect doneness level.

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