How Long To Let Steak Rest

Resting steaks

Cooking beef is an art. Whether you intend to smoke a brisket, cook a porterhouse for 2-3 persons, or sear a ranch steak for one, letting your meat rest is extremely important before diving into your scrumptious cut of beef.

Nevertheless, with food safety concerns such as time-temperature zone where bacteria multiply rapidly, how long can safely you let your steaks rest before it becomes dangerous.

Why Do You Let Meat Rest?

Letting steak rest is as important as cooking the steak. Letting the meat rest is essential because the juices need time to be pulled back into the meat and evenly distributed.

For example, if you slice into a steak immediately after you pull it off the grill, the juices will escape the steak. There will literally be a pool of juices on the plate or cutting board you carved the steak on. In the end, you yield a dry, tough, and chewy steak, and no one likes a tough eye of round steak.

Steaks lose their moisture right away if they are cut because of what occurs during the cooking process. The muscle fibers are drastically affected when the steak is placed into the skillet or on the grill.

As soon as the muscle fibers come into contact with the heat, they will contract. This contraction drives the juices within the muscles away from the heat and to the center of the steak. Because the moisture pools in the steak’s center will rush out of the meat as soon as it is cut.

Therefore, your steak will not be aesthetically pleasing as a pool of bloody liquid will surround it. Furthermore, your steak will be dry and relatively flavorless.

On the other hand, the compressed muscle fibers will relax when you allow your steaks to rest. As a result, the accumulation of moisture in the center of the steak will gradually be released and redistributed into the outer perimeters of the meat. By the time the steak is ready to be carved, you will end up with a moist and flavorful steak.

Muscle Fibers Of Steak

As we all learned in biology class, tissues consist of parcels of cells called muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are attached to each other via connective tissue.

In particular, muscle fibers are bundled together into groupings consisting of myofibrils. Myofibrils consist of proteins such as actin, myosin, and other proteins referred to as myofibrillar proteins. However, myosin and actin play an important role in the constriction and relation of the steak’s muscle fibers.

Muscle fibers are encompassed by collagen fibers as well as a flexible connective tissue referred to as silver skin, which forms a barrier between different muscle groups. Like the membrane found on the underside of ribs, this silver skin is also thin and opaque in color.

In addition to this, collagen is the most plentiful protein found in mammal species. This is what gives us support and strength.

As previously mentioned, when the collagen fibers come into contact with heat, they contract, and moisture loss occurs. As the steak reaches a specific temperature, the collagen will break down, resulting in a tender steak.

What Does Steak Juiciness Mean?

Steak muscles are comprised of 60-70% water, 2-22% of fat, and 10-20% of protein. Most of this water resides between the tissues that make up muscle fibers.

Juiciness refers to the amount of moisture the steak release when you eat it. Essentially, the more moisture a steak contains, the juicer it will be.

As the steak cooks, the temperature increases. Once a temperature of 105°F, the structure of meats proteins is altered.

Much like the cochlea, the proteins are like a spiral. The spiral separates as the protein bonds break down when the steak is cooked.

So how does juiciness relate to the muscle fibers of steak? Because heat causes muscle fibers to shrink as moisture is lost, the atoms coagulate. The process of proteins separating and coagulating is referred to as the denaturing process.

Once the steak reaches a temperature of 120°F, myosin coagulates, and connective tissues break down as the steak rises to 135°F-140°F, the muscle fibers contract.

Temperatures less than 140°F cause the steak to tenderize rather than contract, resulting in less moisture. For this reason, most experts recommend not cooking steaks past medium or medium-rare.

In contrast, temperatures above 140°F specifically, within the 150°F-160°F range, increase the contraction rate resulting in a drier steak. At temperatures above 160°F, the collagen in the steak will dissolve quickly.

If you want to know how to sear steak properly, check out our in-depth guide.

How Much Does The Steak’s Temperature Rise While Resting?

It’s only natural to wonder about food safety concerns when it comes to resting meat. After all, most steak enthusiasts recommend removing the steak a few degrees before it reaches the desired temperature. This is especially concerning if you are eating a rare blue steak.

Due to a process known as carry-over cooking, the temperature of the steak will continue to rise 3-4 degrees after it is removed from the heat source. Therefore, your steak will be safe to eat. Nevertheless, if you are worried about the meat being unsafe, you can always take the temperature before you carve it into slices.

Remember that the final temperature of the steak will determine whether or not it is safe to consume. Factor the resting period into the cooking process to get the perfect steak.

Do You Cover Meat When Resting?

Just like wrapping brisket is important, wrapping your meat while it is resting is important. If you rest your steak without covering it, it will likely end up cold before the resting period is over.

Should You Rest Your Steak In Foil?

Yes, you should wrap your steak in foil while it is resting. Foil is the only suitable material to keep your steak warm.

Some people might suggest you wrap your steak in parchment paper if you do not have foil. However, this is not a great idea.

Parchment paper is placed on cookie sheets to prevent foods from sticking to the pan while they are baking in the oven. If you wrap your steak in parchment paper, it will ruin your steak’s crust. Parchment paper cannot be arranged so that the steak is partially covered. Therefore, it will create pools of moisture that ruin the exterior of the steak.

On the other hand, foil can be manipulated, so it partially covers the steak and keeps it warm without ruining the steak’s crust.

Can My Steak Go Cold While It’s Resting?

It is only natural to assume your steak will go cold if it is sitting outr\ on your countertop. However, it will not go cold. Whether it is a Denver steak or a top-round steak, a steak that is allowed for a minimum of 5-10 minutes will not go cold. Furthermore, large roasts, like bottom round roasts or prime rib, can sit 20-30 minutes and still retain a significant amount of meat.

Can Steak Rest Too Long?

Just like steak can be cooked too long, steak can rest too long. In addition to this, if you wrap your steak too tightly, it will overcook and result in a dry steak.

This is because wrapping the steak tightly will trap heat within the container. As previously mentioned, the steak will continue cooking during the resting period. In conjunction with the steak being wrapped too tightly, this will cause the steak to cook even more and lose more moisture, resulting in a drier steak.

Ultimately it is best to rest the steak for a shorter time than a longer time.

How To Rest Steak

Like trimming a brisket, resting steak is super easy; simply follow these instructions. Once your steak reaches your desired temperature, remove it from the skillet or grill and place it onto a cutting board.

Alternatively, you can also place your steak onto a warm plate or platter. Tent the steak with aluminum foil. Tenting the steak simply means partially covering the steak so it does not steam and it remains warm.

Remember, if you wrap the steak too tightly, it will sweat and lose the moisture you are trying to prevent from escaping. Instead, remove the foil from the steak after it has rested, then carve it into slices. Serve your steak and dig in.

How Long To Let Steak Rest

Whether you broil your steak, sear it in a seasoned cast-iron skillet, or reverse sear it, it is very important that you allow the steak to rest. This rule also extends to other meats such as turkey, lamb, pork shoulder or pork butt, and chicken.

Not everyone has the time to allow the steak to rest. Sometimes we forget to take the steak out of the freezer and are left scrambling 20 minutes before your dinner guests are set to arrive. If you want to know how to cook a frozen steak, check out our in-depth guide.

If you do not have time to allow your meat to rest, let it rest for at least 5-7 minutes. However, if your steak is at least a few inches in thickness, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Most experts recommend factoring in 5 minutes of resting time per every inch of the steak’s thickness.

When it comes to larger cuts that weigh more than 1 pound, it is best to rest it for 10 minutes for each pound. On the other hand, if your steak is in grams, rest it for 1 minute for every 100 grams. Ultimately you should rest your steak for half of the time it took to sear or grill it, or the same amount of time it was cooked for if your steak is very thick.

Essential the theory behind resting steak is allowing the center to cool down to temperatures between 130°F-120°F. The exterior of the steak should be between 140°F-125°F.

Monitoring the temperature of the steaks is an essential part of the cooking process. However, not all thermometers are created equal.

If you use a probe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the steaks with a probe thermometer, the juices you worked so hard to keep will escape through the hole the probe creates.

For this reason, most people follow the recommended cooking times rather than using a probe thermometer. However, you can still use an infrared food thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Tips For Cooking Steak

Even though it has already been established, do not let your steak rest in the open air. Even though it will still retain its moisture, it will be cold, and no one enjoys eating a cold steak, so cover it.

In addition to this, do not oversalt your steak. Yes, it is beneficial to salt the steak in advance before cooking it. However, salt pulls moisture out of the steak. Add too much salt, and your steak will be dry and salty.

Always thaw your steak overnight in the refrigerator or in cool water. Do not thaw your steak in hot water. Some people believe this makes the steak juicier. However, it makes the steak much harder to cook as it will absorb the water and heat up quickly.

Do not store your leftover steak in the fridge uncovered. Placing the steak in the refrigerator uncovered is a common practice used to speed up the cooking process. However, this can dry out your steak.

Place your steak into an airtight container or a resealable bag before storing it in the fridge.

If you’re interested in learning how to reheat steak properly without it drying out, check out our guide.

Final Thoughts

Whether you cooked it yourself or from your favorite steakhouse, all steak lovers have tasted at least one steak that was so succulent and flavorful that they try to recreate it themselves. It does not matter if there a special seasoning was used or whether it was a sirloin or porterhouse steak; resting the steak is a universal practice.

It is essential that you let your steaks rest for 5-10 minutes after it has been cooked. I know it’s hard, but it’s essential if you want the juiciest steak.

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