A perfectly cooked steak isn't perfect until it has great grill marks. You expect to see grill marks when you order a steak at a steakhouse, but getting grill marks on your steaks at home can be more of a challenge. But don't just skip the grill marks, we will give you all the tricks you need to craft perfect diamond grill marks on your next steak using equipment you already have on hand.
Tools You Need to Get Grill Marks
The good news is that you don't need to run out to the store and buy a bunch of fancy equipment to get perfect grill marks on your steak. Your grill is the perfect tool.
Not using a grill to cook your steaks? That's okay, you'll simply need to be a little more creative. You can use a barbecue grill grate on a griddle to get grill marks, or you can use a heavy-duty cast iron pan that has cast grill marks to get the perfect grill marks.
Another way to get grill marks when you are using a flat-top griddle or a cast iron pan is to use a burger press with grill marks.
The Reverse Sear for Thick Cuts
The best way to create grill lines on your steak is to take advantage of the reverse sear method. To reverse sear a steak with grill marks, you'll first cook your steak at medium-high heat until it reaches the desired doneness.
It is a good idea to slightly undercook your steaks before searing them, this way they don't end up overdone.
We usually will cook our thick-cut steaks to an internal temperature of 117 degrees. After searing, we end up with a perfect medium rare steak that has the perfect sear marks.
Learning how to get grill marks on steak is not challenging, but you'll want to follow the steps below to get perfect results.
Preheat, Clean, and Lightly Oil the Grill
The first step of the process is to get your grill ready. If you are planning to cook your steaks on the grill, preheat it to a medium-high temperature and make sure the grill grates are spotless. This is important because food will stick to a dirty grill and won't give you good marks.
Use a high-smoke cooking oil to lightly oil the grill grates – good choices for oil include avocado oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil. Avoid most unrefined oils like coconut oil and fats like lard and butter.
Gently place the steaks on the grill grates and cook until they reach the desired internal temp, then pull them from the grill. Next, increase the heat of the grill to high and let it completely heat up.
The grill is now ready for making grill marks on your steaks.
How to Get Grill Marks
There are lots of tricks out there for getting great grill marks on steak, but our favorite way is also one of the easiest. We use clarified butter to create perfect grill marks.
Not only does this work for steaks, but it will also work for chicken, fish, and veggies to get great marks on any grilled food.
Clarified butter is available at many grocery stores. You can also use ghee, a type of clarified butter popular in Indian cooking. Look for it in the ethnic aisle. Can't find clarified butter or ghee in your store? Making your own is simple.
The Secret Sauce: How to Make Clarified Butter at Home
You'll start with a medium size saucepan or a small stockpot. Lighter-colored pots work best so that you can easily see when the clarified butter is ready. Cut butter into small cubes and place them in the pot.
Turn on the burner as low as possible and leave the pot uncovered. The butter will need to melt very slowly and it will need to be completely undisturbed during the process. That means no stirring, no shaking the pot, nothing.
After about 20 minutes, you will see the fats and liquid separating from the butter (which will be a bright yellow color). Using a spoon, carefully transfer the clarified butter to a clean and dry bowl. The fats and solids that remain can be discarded.
You can store clarified butter in an airtight container. It does not require refrigeration and will remain fresh for up to six months or longer.
Using Clarified Butter on Steaks
Gently brush the clarified butter directly on one side of the steaks. Place the steaks carefully on the very hot grill and lightly press down with a spatula. You will immediately hear the searing sizzle that lets you know the clarified butter is doing its job.
After about one minute, pick the steak up and rotate it 45 degrees, then carefully place the steaks back on the grill on the same side. This is what gives you those desirable diamond grill marks.
Brush the other side of the steaks with clarified butter before flipping them. After about one minute, you will repeat the process of rotating the steak again by 45 degrees.
Finish cooking the steaks and remove them when they are at the desired degree of doneness. Don't forget to rest steaks for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
What are Grill Marks, Anyway?
Grill marks might look like burnt lines, but they are not. When meat is heated, a chemical reaction happens that transforms the color of amino acids in the meat to a dark brown color. The process is known as the Maillard reaction and it is the same process that results in crunchy bark when smoking pork.
The process works best in the presence of carbohydrates. That is one of the reasons you'll often find sugar in dry rub recipes and marinades, and why our Hollywood blend is such a great match for brisket. Garlic powder is another way to add carbs to the steak without making it sweet. The Maillard reaction is responsible for making grilled vegetables taste better, too.
Grill marks make your steaks look fancy, especially when you rotate them to create a delicate diamond pattern. Not only does this give your steaks that classic steakhouse look, but it also enhances the flavor of your steaks. Luckily, it doesn't take a bunch of fancy equipment to get perfect grill marks. All you need is a very hot grill, some clarified butter, and a couple of thick steaks.