What separates a gorgeous steak house steak and a so-so backyard one? Simple: a killer crust. A salty, crispy, expertly charred one gives steak its intensely savory appeal. With the cost of beef at a 30-year high, now's not the time to just slap a steak over fire and call it dinner. Here's how to up your grill game and raise the stakes.
Start with the Perfect Cut
Go big with bone-in steaks at least 1½ inches thick. They'll develop a crust before the inside overcooks. We love skinny (½-inch-thick) cuts too; just be sure to grill them faster over higher heat. Season any steak liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to elevate flavor and add crunch.
Build a two-zone fire with charcoal so you can start the meat over the hot zone and move it to the cooler zone to avoid flare-ups. Grilling with gas? Build a two-zone fire by cranking all the burners up to high. Close the lid to preheat the grates. Then turn the heat down on one side, and get grilling.
Angle, Rotate, and Flip for a Superior Crust
Perfect grill marks are for fast-food burgers. What you're after is a perfect crust. Arrange steaks at a 90° angle across the grill grate to create more surface area, and listen for the sizzle. Don't hear it? Your grill's not hot enough—you want at least 500° at the grate's surface. After two minutes, rotate the steak 90° and cook two more minutes. Flip the steak and repeat, rotating and flipping often to develop the crust. Stop once you reach the desired internal temperature. A digital instant-read thermometer works best for this.
Transfer the steaks to a platter. Season with more kosher salt for extra flavor and texture, and let them rest 5 minutes for maximum juiciness. Slice against the grain with a sharp knife.
Because of its surface area and even heat, a cast-iron skillet creates the ultimate sear and crust. Preheat a large skillet on the grill for 10 minutes. Swirl in 1 Tbsp. canola oil; then add steak.