Medium vs Medium Rare

Medium vs Medium Rare: A How-To Guide for Perfect Grilling

Do you like your steak cooked medium-rare or medium? If you’ve ever eaten a steak, chances are that you have strong opinions on how it should be cooked. But do you really know the difference between “medium” and “medium-rare,” or why each of them yields such incredibly different results? Today’s blog post will discuss Medium vs Medium Rare: A How-To Guide for Perfect Grilling, from what they achieve flavor-wise to how long each requires in order for your steak to reach its full potential. We’ll explore the science behind these cooking techniques so that by the end of this post, you can confidently decide which is best for your own taste preferences!

What Cooking Does To Your Steak

  • Rare:
  • The interior is still cold and crimson.
  • It has a luscious, extremely sensitive texture.
  • It has a strong beef flavor with a hint of metallic aftertaste.
  • There’s a slight scorch on the outside.
  • Medium Rare:
  • The interior is warm, rosy, and tinged with red.
  • The texture is still juicy and delicate.
  • It tastes thick and meaty, with a stronger hint of sear.
  • The outside takes on a more intense char.
  • Medium:
  • The interior is somewhat warm and pink with less red.
  • Though not quite as soft, the texture is still delicious.
  • The flavor has just the right amount of sear and beefiness.
  • A medium sea forms on the outside.
  • Medium Well:
  • The interior is mostly gray with a faint hint of pink.
  • The texture is less tender and starts to dry out.
  • The flavor has a reduced beefiness and more charred notes.
  • The exterior develops a significant sear.
  • Well Done:
  • The interior is fully gray, dry, and often overcooked.
  • The texture becomes tough and less juicy.
  • The flavor loses much of its natural beefiness and may taste dry or charred.
  • The exterior is heavily seared or even charred.

Steak Doneness Levels

One of the most important decisions you make when ordering a steak is how you want it cooked. From rare to well-done, each doneness level affects the taste and texture of the meat. 

Blue Rare Steak (115° F)

A perfectly cooked steak is one of life’s simple pleasures. And for those who prefer their meat on the rarer side, a blue rare steak is the ultimate indulgence. Cooked to a temperature of just 115°F, this steak is seared on the outside and tender on the inside, with a slightly cool, raw center. It takes a skilled chef to achieve this delicate balance, but when done correctly, the result is a melt-in-your-mouth experience that’s truly unforgettable. If you’re feeling adventurous and willing to try something new, order a blue rare steak and savor the bold, beefy flavor that comes with it.

Rare Steak Temp (120° F)

For meat lovers, the perfect steak is a true delicacy. And for those who prefer their steak cooked rare, it’s all about finding the ideal temperature to bring out the meat’s natural flavors and textures. At a temperature of 120° F, a rare steak is cooked enough to be safe to eat, yet still has that juicy and tender element that makes it so savory. The slightly pink interior of a rare steak is a feast for the eyes and a treat for the taste buds, providing a mouthwatering experience that is hard to match with any other dish. 

Medium Rare Steak Temp (130° F)

For many meat lovers, the perfect steak is cooked medium rare. This means that the internal temperature of the steak should reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Achieving the perfect medium rare steak is an art form and requires precise cooking techniques. When cooked to the correct temperature, a medium rare steak has a warm and pink center, while the outer layer is succulent and flavorsome. Overcooking a steak will result in a dry and tough texture, while undercooking can be risky. 

Medium Steak Temp (140° F)

Nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak, and the medium temperature is a popular choice for meat lovers everywhere. Clocking in at 140°F, a medium steak boasts a warm pink center that is juicy and tender, making it the perfect option for those who enjoy a balance of flavor and texture. Not to mention, a medium steak is versatile enough to pair with a variety of different sides and sauces, making it easy to customize to your liking.

Medium Well Steak Temp (150° F)

There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cooked steak – juicy, flavorful, and cooked just right. And for many steak lovers, the sweet spot is a medium-well steak, with an internal temperature of 150°F. This temperature allows for the steak to be cooked through, while still retaining some of its moisture and tenderness. Achieving the perfect medium-well steak can be a challenge, though. It requires careful attention to the cooking time and temperature, as well as an understanding of the cut of meat you’re working with. But for those who are willing to put in the effort, the result is a mouthwatering steak that’s sure to satisfy any carnivorous craving. 

Well Done Steak Temp (160° F)

A well done steak temp of 160°F is a hotly debated topic among steak lovers. Some argue that cooking a steak to this high temperature destroys the flavor and tenderness, while others swear by the perfectly cooked, no pink and completely safe meat. The truth is, it all comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a steak that is well-done and thoroughly cooked, then 160°F is the temperature for you. However, if you’re looking for a juicy, tender and flavorful steak, you may want to opt for a lower temperature and a medium rare to medium doneness. Ultimately, it’s all about what satisfies your taste buds. 

What is different between: Medium vs Medium Rare


Characteristic Medium Rare Steak Medium Steak
Internal Temperature 130°F to 135°F (54°C to 57°C) 140°F to 145°F (60°C to 63°C)
Doneness Pink, slightly reddish, warm Pink with less redness, moderately warm
Texture Very tender, juicy Tender and juicy, slightly less so than medium rare
Flavor Rich, intense beefy flavor, with a slight sear taste on the exterior Balanced flavor with a mix of beefiness and sear notes
Exterior Light to medium sear Medium sear


What is better between Medium vs Medium Rare

The choice between medium-rare and medium-rare steak is personal preference based on taste. It comes down to personal preference; neither is fundamentally superior than the other. Here’s a broad guideline to assist in your decision:

Steak, Medium Rare:

  • Benefits: Juicier and softer.
  • Thick, robust flavor of beef.
  • A little bit of coolness in the core.
  • Perfect For: Those who prefer a highly soft, juicy texture with a stronger beef flavor.
  • more marbling and fat content cuts, since this lets the fats dissolve and impart flavor.

Steak in the middle:

  • Benefits: A tad stiffer in texture.
  • a well-rounded taste profile featuring hints of sear and beefiness.
  • Warm all throughout.
  • Ideal For: Those who prefer a more balanced flavor and a steak that’s still tender but with a bit more resistance.
  • Cuts with moderate marbling and fat content.

Ultimately, the “better” choice comes down to your personal taste and how you like your steak cooked. Some people prefer the tenderness and intense beefy flavor of medium rare, while others prefer the slightly firmer texture and balanced flavor of medium. It’s all about what satisfies your palate.

Is medium-rare better than medium?

The age-old debate of medium-rare versus medium persists. While some prefer a more well-done piece of meat, a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak offers a balance of tenderness and juiciness that can be hard to beat. With a warm pink center and slight sear on the outside, a medium-rare steak is cooked just enough to allow the natural flavors and juices of the meat to shine through. Of course, the ideal doneness of a steak ultimately depends on personal preference, but those who opt for medium-rare are likely to enjoy a more succulent and flavorful dining experience.

Does medium-rare have more flavor?

When compared to steaks grilled to higher levels of doneness, medium rare steaks are frequently thought to have a more robust and beefy flavor. This is due to a few factors:

Juiciness: When cooked to an internal temperature of approximately 130°F to 135°F (54°C to 57°C), medium-rare steaks retain a lot of their juice. The natural beef flavor is carried and enhanced by the moisture in the meat.

Reduced Cooking Time: Compared to higher doneness levels, medium rare steaks need less time to cook on the grill or in the pan. Reduced cooking time results in reduced heat-induced taste loss.

Maillard Reaction: The Maillard reaction, responsible for the browned and flavorful crust on a well-seared steak, occurs effectively at medium rare temperatures. This reaction contributes to the steak’s robust flavor.

Preserved Juices: The shorter cooking time associated with medium rare steaks allows the juices and natural fats within the meat to be preserved. These juices enhance the overall flavor.

However, it’s important to note that the perceived level of flavor is highly subjective. Some people prefer the balanced flavor profile of steaks cooked to medium or medium well, which offer a mix of beefiness and sear notes without the intense red meat flavor of medium rare. Ultimately, the choice of doneness level depends on individual taste preferences.

Is medium-rare still cooked?

You may have noticed that ordering it medium-rare isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. With chefs increasingly concerned about health and safety regulations, some have become wary of serving steak cooked to less than medium to avoid any potential food safety hazards. But fear not, steak lovers – there are still many establishments that proudly serve up medium-rare steaks, boasting the perfect balance of tenderness and juiciness. 

Is medium-rare just raw?

The answer is no. Medium-rare is cooked to an internal temperature of 130-135°F, giving the meat a warm, pink center with a slightly charred exterior. This is the sweet spot where the steak is perfectly cooked, allowing for the best combination of flavor and texture. 

Perfect steak doneness

For meat lovers, nothing beats a perfectly cooked steak. Achieving the perfect doneness can be a bit of a challenge, but fear not, with the right techniques and tools, anyone can master this art. One important factor to consider is the thickness of the steak; thicker cuts require longer cooking times to reach the desired doneness. Another essential aspect is temperature; using a meat thermometer can help ensure that you’re cooking your steak to the correct internal temperature. Finally, allowing the steak to rest after cooking is crucial to lock in those juices and prevent any dryness. By paying attention to these details and following the proper steps, you can confidently serve up a delicious, perfectly cooked steak every time.

Factors Affecting Doneness

Cooking a perfect meal involves several factors, one of which is achieving the right level of doneness. It is important to understand that factors like temperature, cooking time, and the type of food being cooked can all impact the final outcome. 

  • Cooking Temperature: Higher temps result in well-done meat, lower temps in rare.
  • Cooking Time: Longer time leads to well-done, shorter for rare.
  • Thickness: Thicker cuts need more time to cook evenly.
  • Type of Meat: Different cuts cook differently due to fat and connective tissue.
  • Meat Marbling: Fat content affects flavor and juiciness.
  • Cooking Method: Grilling, searing, and roasting produce varied results.
  • Resting Time: Resting allows for temperature rise and juice redistribution.
  • Meat Aging: Aging can alter texture and flavor.
  • Use of Thermometer: Essential for accurate doneness.
  • Altitude: High altitudes may require adjustments in cooking.

Visual Signs of Doneness

You can tell the difference between medium rare and medium doneness steaks by using visual cues. A medium-rare steak has a mostly pink interior that is evenly distributed from edge to edge, with a warm, somewhat crimson core. Its soft nature makes cutting it easy, and it produces copious amounts of pink juices when sliced. The outside features a sear that is light to medium brown and frequently has grill marks or a crust that has caramelized. A medium steak, on the other hand, still has pink inside, but it’s more subtle and looks warmer rather than redder. In comparison to medium rare, it has a little less juiciness in the middle and a bigger area of pale pink. Its shell features a significantly tougher texture that requires more effort to cut and the exterior boasts a medium sear with a deeper brown hue, often accompanied by noticeable grill marks or a well-caramelized crust. These visual signs provide a clear distinction between medium rare and medium steak, allowing you to select the ideal doneness to suit your preferences.

Using a Meat Thermometer for Precision

One of the keys to a perfectly cooked cut of meat is using a meat thermometer. No more guessing or cutting into your meat to see if it’s cooked through! A meat thermometer will give you the precision you need to cook everything from a Thanksgiving turkey to a weeknight pork chop. By inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, you can accurately gauge the internal temperature and ensure that it’s cooked to your desired level of doneness. With a meat thermometer, you’ll never have to worry about serving undercooked or overcooked meat again.

Cooking Techniques for Desired Doneness

If you’re a fan of cooking, you know that there are endless techniques to experiment with! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting out in the kitchen, mastering the art of cooking meat to your desired doneness is an important skill to have. It takes practice and patience, but with the right tools and a bit of know-how, you can achieve perfectly cooked meat every time! From searing to sous-vide, there’s a method for every cut of meat and preference when it comes to how you like it cooked. 

Serving Suggestions


Serving Suggestions Medium Rare Steak Medium Steak
Steakhouse Classic ✔ Baked potato Baked potato
✔ Grilled vegetables Sautéed vegetables
✔ Red wine reduction sauce Mushroom gravy
Salads ✔ Mixed greens Mixed greens
✔ Cherry tomatoes Roasted root vegetables
✔ Red onion Blue cheese crumbles
✔ Balsamic vinaigrette Tangy vinaigrette
Tacos ✔ Soft tacos Soft tacos
✔ Salsa Guacamole
✔ Guacamole Shredded cheese
Sandwiches ✔ Steak sandwich Steak sandwich
✔ Crusty bread Crusty bread
✔ Horseradish mayo Swiss cheese
✔ Caramelized onions Caramelized onions
✔ Arugula Dijon mustard
Asian Stir-Fry ✔ Stir-fry with bell peppers, Stir-fry with bell peppers,
broccoli, and soy sauce broccoli, and soy sauce
✔ Served over steamed rice Served over steamed rice or noodles
Roasted Vegetables ✔ Roasted root vegetables
✔ Mixed with fresh herbs and olive oil
Mashed Potatoes ✔ Creamy mashed potatoes
✔ Mushroom gravy


Is Rare Steak Safe?

The thought of consuming meat that still appears to be bloody can be unsettling, and some worry about the safety of consuming undercooked beef. However, it’s important to note that rare steak can be safe to eat as long as it reaches a temperature of 145°F, which is the recommended internal temperature for beef according to the USDA. This temperature kills any potential harmful bacteria or pathogens that may be present in the meat. 

Determining Temperature for steak 

Determining the correct temperature for steak largely depends on your preferred level of doneness. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145°F for steak, with at least three minutes of rest time after cooking for safe consumption. However, for specific levels of doneness, you may want to aim for the following internal temperatures: 

  • Rare: 120-130°F (cool red center)
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F (warm red center)
  • Medium: 135-145°F (hot pink center)
  • Medium Well: 145-155°F (slightly pink center)
  • Well Done: 155-165°F (little or no pink)

Remember, these temperatures are meant to be hit before you let the steak rest. During rest, the residual heat will continue to cook the steak, raising the internal temperature by about another 5°F. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure accurate temperature readings and a perfectly cooked steak.

Get Grilling for steak


  • Steak of your choice (ribeye, sirloin, filet mignon, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (or your preferred steak seasoning)
  • Optional marinade or rub
  • Equipment:
  • Grill (gas or charcoal)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Tongs
  • Grill brush


Before grilling a wonderful steak, let it come to room temperature outside of the refrigerator for half an hour. Grilling should be done at 450–500°F (230–260°C). To keep the steak from sticking, generously season it and brush it with olive oil. For medium-rare, grill for 4–5 minutes on each side (adjust for desired doneness), turning once with tongs. In order to get grill marks, rotate. To check the doneness, use a meat thermometer. To maintain juiciness, let the steak sit for five to ten minutes after grilling. Serve hot, slicing against the grain. Think about grilling vegetables as an accompaniment.

Conclusion: Medium vs Medium Rare

In conclusion, there is much to consider when choosing between medium and medium-rare as far as steak doneness. If properly cooked according to temperature and with the use of a meat thermometer, every steak eater can have their desired doneness. From rare to well-done, the spectrum of cooking steaks allows for customization that makes each meal special. There is no one definitive answer as to which is better—medium or medium-rare—because it depends on the individual tastes. What matters most is that you understand the different variations, so you can make the best decision when it comes to cooking your next steak. No matter which way you end up going, it will be fun and delicious! So go ahead and get grilling!

FAQs: Medium vs Medium Rare

Which one is juicier, medium or medium rare?

  • Medium rare steaks are generally juicier because they are cooked to a lower internal temperature, which helps retain more moisture within the meat.

Is medium steak considered safe to eat?

  • Yes, medium steak is safe to eat as long as it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C), which is the recommended safe temperature for beef by the USDA.

What are the visual signs of medium steak?

  • A medium steak has a predominantly pink interior with some pinkness transitioning to pale pink or light beige towards the edges. The center is warmer in color compared to medium rare.

Can I use the same cooking time for different cuts of steak?

  • Cooking times may vary based on the thickness and cut of the steak. Adjust cooking times accordingly for different cuts to achieve the desired doneness.

How can I check the doneness without a thermometer?

  • You can use the “finger test” to estimate doneness. Press the meat with your finger; firmer meat indicates a more well-done steak, while springy meat is closer to medium rare.

Can I order steak as medium-medium rare?

  • When dining out, it’s best to specify your preferred doneness (medium or medium rare). Chefs generally aim to achieve consistent results for each level of doneness based on their standard cooking times.


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