Today, we want to focus on just one of the many things you can cook on an open fire: steak. Beef isn't always my first choice for a cookout, but there is something undeniably satisfying about a grilled steak, whether it's marinated or seasoned with salt and pepper alone.
From a basic grilled steak done right and Thai-style steak salads to a spicy skirt steak sandwich, keep reading for 20 of our favorite grilled-steak recipes. End up cooking too much meat? Don't worry—our roundup of recipes using leftover grilled meats offers some delicious ways to put yesterday's steak to use.
If you learn only one grilled-steak recipe, this should be it. The key takeaways: Start with a thick slab of beef, salt it and let it sit at least 40 minutes (and up to a couple days), season heavily, cook it most of the way through on the cooler side of the grill, and finish it right over the flame. Don't forget to let the meat rest for at least five minutes before cutting into it.
Calling a carne asada recipe "the best" is a bold move, considering that there are so many takes on the dish, but we think this recipe makes a pretty good argument for its superiority. We make our carne asada with a marinade of orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, cilantro, cumin seed, coriander seed, and brown sugar—which might sound like a lot, but by balancing out all the flavors, we make sure the beef still shines.
The problem with cutting steaks that are thick enough to grill properly is that each one often ends up too big for one person. Rather than cut your steaks thinner, we recommend simply buying a thick steak and cutting it crosswise. Here, we grill strip steak using our basic two-zone-fire technique, and serve it with an herbed yogurt sauce and a simple tomato-and-cucumber salad.
This dish of cumin-, coriander-, chili powder–, and oregano-rubbed skirt steak tacos can be made entirely on the stovetop, but you can't beat that extra hit of smoke you'll get from using a charcoal grill. We top each steak taco with charred corn (one of my favorite summer ingredients), spicy-sweet sriracha sauce, and a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt.
Speaking of Tex-Mex, if you're grilling for a crowd this summer, it's hard to go wrong with fajitas—in this case, grilled skirt steak marinated with soy sauce, lime juice, canola oil, brown sugar, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and garlic. Skirt steak is a thin cut, so you'll need to get the grill as hot as you can in order to char the outside before the meat overcooks. Serve with homemade guacamole and pico de gallo.
These fajitas pair mole-marinated skirt steak with an earthy ancho-raisin sauce. While it's a rewarding endeavor, making mole poblano from scratch takes an entire day and a couple dozen ingredients, so no one will blame you for using a canned version here. We love skirt steak for fajitas, as its loose texture soaks up marinades wonderfully, but flap, flank, or hanger steak would also work here.
This recipe combines corn with peaches—another of my favorite grilling-season ingredients—to make a summery salsa for pairing with grilled skirt steak. The meat is flavored with a simple spice rub made with cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Like the steak taco recipe above, this one can also be made entirely indoors if you don't feel like firing up the grill.
Skirt steak is a great choice for grilling, but don't sleep on hanger steak—it has a similarly loose texture and a super-beefy flavor, with a mineral note that will please eaters who prefer their beef a little more assertive. Here, we marinate it with peppercorns, garlic cloves, parsley, and shallot before cooking it on a hot grill. Hanger steak gets inedibly rubbery past the medium stage, so be sure not to overcook it.
The garlic and herbs in the last recipe might have gotten you thinking of mojo, and the citrusy, cilantro-scented Cuban sauce is in fact a great steak marinade. After removing the meat from the mojo, we reduce the marinade into a sauce on the stovetop, so nothing goes to waste.
For this recipe, we turn to a French-inspired marinade made with spicy Dijon mustard, tart Champagne vinegar, and aromatic rosemary. The mustard and vinegar are both acidic enough to tenderize the steak nicely. Need a side dish to round out your steak dinner? Try serving this with a kale salad made with oven-dried grapes, walnuts, and creamy, salty-sweet blue cheese.
Despite the name, Santa Maria–style barbecue is really just...grilling. No low-and-slow cooking here. For the most authentic flavor, season the tri-tip with a garlicky rub and serve it with a tomato- and celery-based salsa. Tri-tip has a tapered shape that makes it hard to cook evenly, so if you like your steak medium-rare, be sure to invite over some friends who prefer theirs medium or well-done.
In the US, we typically think of salads as being made with greens, but in Thailand, a salad can be so much more than that. This northeastern Thailand–inspired salad pairs sliced grilled steak with onions and tomatoes, then tosses it all in a fiery dressing made with pounded garlic and chilies, lime juice, and fish sauce. Making the dressing with a mortar and pestle might seem like too much work, but it is the absolute best way to get as much flavor from the aromatics as possible.
Another Thai-style steak salad, this time flavored with a mixture of palm sugar (or brown sugar, if that's all you have); dried Thai chili flakes; fish sauce; garlic; and lime juice. We use the mix as both a marinade and a sauce for maximum flavor. Aside from the meat, the salad incorporates mung bean sprouts, shallots, and tons of fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, basil, and chives.
These kebabs give you a steakhouse on a stick by flavoring beef sirloin tips with a robust marinade of Worcestershire, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, and garlic, then skewering it with mushrooms and onions. We like sirloin for kebabs for the way the cut balances flavor, tenderness, and value.
Flank steak takes well to the grill, but the lean cut is arguably a little light on flavor. One way to fix that is to roll it up with bolder ingredients. We have several stuffed flank steak recipes to choose from, but my favorite uses roasted Poblano or Hatch chilies and pepper Jack cheese. Butcher's twine and skewers help the rolls stay intact as they cook—start them on a hot fire, so that any cheese that drips out chars into a tasty crust.
If you're going to make a sandwich out of grilled steak, why not grill the rest of the ingredients while you're at it? Here, we use the fire not just to cook the beef, but to char the sweet onions and toast the baguette. Raw cilantro adds a little freshness, and a spicy elotes-inspired Cotija mayo adds a creamy kick.
This comforting sandwich pairs grilled steak with creamy avocado (mashed with cilantro, lime juice and zest, scallions, and garlic) and hot sauce–spiked crema. The steak is seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper before it's charred on a hot grill—it should take only about eight minutes total to cook the meat.
If you're not from New England, you might not be familiar with the steak bomb, so allow me to introduce you to this gut-busting cheesesteak/hero sandwich mash-up. As much as we like the steak itself, our favorite part of the steak bomb is actually the salami you slide into the roll. To highlight that flavor, we bake salami right into the buns and make salami-cheese crisps to put inside it.
Short ribs most often show up braised on American menus, but ask anyone from Argentina or Korea, and they'll tell you that this cut belongs on the grill. Because of their high fat content, short ribs are fairly forgiving to cook, but you should aim for medium-rare—that will get the fat hot enough to start melting, but not so hot that it melts out of the meat and into the fire.
To take your grilled short ribs in an Argentinean direction, serve them with chimichurri, a bright sauce made with parsley, garlic, and olive oil. For this recipe, you want "flanken-style" short ribs, which are cut across the bone so that each piece contains about four or five bone segments.
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