Grilling burgers on Memorial Day is a time-honored tradition, and for good reason. But there are those among us who consider any outdoor fire wasted if it's not going to result in a steak. What's more celebratory, after all, than a big slab of beautifully charred, tender beef? This collection of 13 recipes includes some of our favorite treatments for steak (stuffed tenderloin, smoked porterhouse, skirt steak fajitas...), plus other tasty cuts like beef ribs and short ribs. And, for a ground beef option that's still a little unpredictable, give our bacon-wrapped meatballs (a.k.a. MOINK balls) a try.
Perfect Grilled Steaks
Yes, we've got all the steak-grilling advice you can handle, but really, the most important things to remember are these: Buy thick steaks, salt them well in advance, reverse-sear them on a two-zone grill, and use a thermometer to check for doneness. Our all-around favorite cut for grilling is ribeye—the cap is one of the juiciest and most flavorful parts of any steak.
Slow-Smoked Porterhouse Steaks
Smoking is usually reserved for slow-cooking cuts, like pork shoulder or beef brisket, but it is possible to infuse a porterhouse steak with all that smoky flavor while keeping it in the tender, medium-rare stage. To do it, cook thick steaks over very low heat for a couple of hours, then sear 'em over a roaring-hot blaze.
Grilled Mojo-Marinated Skirt Steak
Skirt steak is a useful cut to familiarize yourself with: It's inexpensive, and, if you cut it right and grill it over high heat, it'll turn exceptionally rich and tender. The loose structure of skirt steak makes it particularly well suited to marinades, such as this bright, citrusy mixture based on Cuban mojo. Reduce the leftover marinade on the stovetop to make a quick sauce for the finished steak.
Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas
For classic Tex-Mex fajitas, not much can beat skirt steak, especially when it's first soaked in a marinade of lime juice, brown sugar, chili powder, and soy sauce. The latter, while far from traditional, helps tenderize the meat and add savoriness. For that signature fajita accompaniment, sizzled peppers and onions, we use a cast iron skillet placed right on the grill.
The Best Carne Asada
There are all sorts of ways to make carne asada, but the best versions are buttery and moist, with a well-developed charred flavor from the grill. To flavor it, we make a balanced marinade of orange and lime juice, soy sauce, and a mix of dried chilies and canned chipotles in adobo. The meat should soak in it for at least three hours before you throw it on a blazing-hot grill and char it until it just starts to crisp.
Lomo al Trapo (Colombian-Style Cloth-Wrapped Grilled Beef Tenderloin)
If you really want to impress the heck out of your guests this Memorial Day (and also, incidentally, get delicious grilled beef with very little work), try this out-of-the-box preparation. This Colombian dish is made by simply wrapping beef tenderloin in salt and a kitchen towel and throwing the whole bundle directly onto hot coals. The towel will burn to a crisp, but your meat will wind up pink and juicy inside, with a flavorful crust. Use a thermometer to check for doneness, and pull the meat when it's still way under the final temperature you're looking for—we recommend 95°F for rare—since it will warm up quite a bit while it rests.
Argentinean-Style Grilled Short Ribs With Chimichurri
Short ribs are most commonly braised in the US, but Argentines and Koreans have perfected the art of grilling this super-fatty cut. It's best cooked on a grill that's hot (but not too hot) until medium-rare—any rarer than that, and the fat won't render properly. Here, we emphasize the Argentinean-ness of the preparation by serving the ribs with the fresh, parsley-based sauce chimichurri.
Grilled Stuffed Flank Steak With Scallions, Ginger, and Teriyaki Glaze
To make a simple flank steak more party-worthy, consider wrapping it up with flavor-packed ingredients before grilling it. Though we've got several variations to choose from, we love this Japanese-inspired version, which calls for stuffing the steak with scallions, ginger, and a teriyaki glaze—it's a bit like a supersized negimaki. Check out our muffuletta-inspired steak pinwheels and pinwheels with roasted chilies and pepper Jack, too.
Grilled Spinach- and Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin
Tenderloin's mild flavor naturally acts as a canvas for other ingredients, making it another cut that's appropriate for stuffing. Here, we butterfly a five-pound tenderloin, then fill it with butter-browned mushrooms, shallots, and spinach. Tie the whole thing up and reverse-sear it, bringing it to 120°F over low heat before browning it.
Grilled Strip Steak With Creamy Yogurt Sauce and Tomato-Cucumber Salad
A New York strip steak that's cut thick enough to grill properly can easily weigh over a pound—slice it in half and you've got two manageable pieces. As with other thick steaks, we cook strip using the reverse-sear technique. It's balanced here with a crunchy cucumber and tomato salad and a cooling yogurt sauce.
Grilled Jalapeño-Marinated Steak Sandwiches With Charred Onions and Cotija Mayo
A steak is delightful all on its own, of course, but there's just something about the portable, casual nature of a sandwich that I find perfect for a cookout. Made with jalapeño- and lime-marinated grilled hanger steak, served on crusty toasted baguettes with charred onions, fresh cilantro, and an elotes-inspired Cotija mayonnaise, this sandwich represents the best of what backyard eating can be.
Colombian-Style Barbecued Beef Ribs
If your butcher sells prime rib roast, they've got to have the bones somewhere—hopefully with about half an inch of meat still attached. Beef ribs are a bargain, and, after a few hours on a low grill, they become smoky and tender, with a nice, crusty bark on the outside. Serve them like they do in Colombia: with a side of ají and plenty of cold beer.
A MOINK ball is nothing more than a beef meatball wrapped in bacon (moo, oink—get it?), and it's a great appetizer to set out alongside the first few beers of a cookout. Ours are seasoned with a barbecue rub, grilled, and served with barbecue sauce for extra flavor. We grill them more quickly than some recipes call for, but throwing some hickory on the coals will infuse the meatballs with all the smoke they need.