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Mis-Steaks: 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Cooking a Steak

There’s more to cooking a steak than shoving it in a pan. For the perfect taste and texture, make sure that you’re avoiding some of these common mistakes when preparing a steak and learn how to cook steak to perfection.

High-angle shot of a medium-rare steak, sliced, with fresh rosemary sprig on top. Image credit: Depositphotos.

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Some people like their steak rare and some people prefer their steak well done. Although most steak enthusiasts recommend serving it on the pinker side, there’s no right way to cook a steak. What matters is knowing how to cook steak to the right level of doneness.

Just how do you know if a steak is cooked enough to your liking? Most people get it wrong, and it is certainly one of the trickier parts of cooking a steak. There are a few different methods you can use to know when your steak is cooked just right, such as timing it, using a meat thermometer, or using the finger test. This guide offers a few tips on how to get the right level of doneness.

Cooking It Cold

Many of us make the mistake of cooking a steak straight from the refrigerator, but in fact, it’s better to take it out for 10 minutes first and let it warm up a little. Putting a cold steak in a hot pan can cause it to release its juices straight away and may cause it to cook unevenly.

When the steak has had time to warm up, it’s more likely to cook evenly and keep its juices sealed within. Make sure that the pan is suitably warmed up too before you add your steak, as this, too, can cause juices to escape.

Not Tenderizing Tough Cuts

Tougher cuts of meat such as sirloin and brisket can benefit from being tenderized using a tenderizing mallet. As the term suggests, this makes the meat more tender by breaking up meat fibers. With thick cuts of steak, it can also help them to cook more evenly. Consider buying yourself a tenderizing mallet to use whenever you have a tough cut of steak. 

Fork holding a piece of medium-rare steak in the air. Image credit: Depositphotos.

Too Much Turning

This one is up for debate — there are many steak chefs who flip their steak every 30 seconds to speed up the process and encourage more even cooking, and there are those who claim you should only ever flip a steak once as to seal in the juices.

Generally, however, if you’re preparing a steak on the rarer side and you want it to stay juicy, you’re better off limiting how many times you flip it. Too much flipping can encourage a steak to become overcooked and will definitely result in more juices being lost. 

Skipping Seasoning

You can and should season a steak. The likes of salt and ground pepper can enhance the natural flavors of a steak. If you currently don’t add any seasoning to your steak (which is the case with many of us), it could be time to start trying some seasoning.

This guide to the best homemade steak seasoning is worth a read for a truly tasty steak. You can also try sauces and butter seasoning, too, for extra taste, such as this chile butter steak recipe

Medium-rare steak, sliced, with fresh rosemary sprig on top. Image credit: Depositphotos.

No Time To Rest

Serving a steak straight from the pan is another mistake that many of us make. It’s actually better to let a steak rest for a few minutes before cutting, as this allows the juices that have been released during cooking to reabsorb and redistribute throughout the meat.

How long you should let it rest depends on the thickness of the steak — a thinner steak only needs five minutes to rest, while a thicker cut may benefit from 10 minutes of rest (you can keep it warm by putting it in the oven at a low heat).

More Beef Recipes You’ll Love

If you’re a fan of steak and other cuts of beef, don’t miss this Crispy Chili Beef or Beef Bulgogi Bowl.


Pinterest pin for how to cook steak perfectly every time. Image shows a medium-rare steak sliced with a sprig of rosemary on top.
By on February 7th, 2023


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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