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How to Cook Steak on the Grill With a Crisp Black Crust

by Christopher Godwin

Getting that perfectly crispy black crust on the outside of a steak -- a la your favorite steakhouse -- isn’t as simple as tossing a piece of meat on the grill. To start, choose a relatively thick cut of meat with good marbling throughout, such as a New York strip or porterhouse. Ideally, it should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick so you can blast it with heat but still find tender meat when you cut it open. You can use either gas or a charcoal grill, but you must get it very hot before you start cooking.

Take the steak out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to cook it and allow it to come to room temperature on the counter.

Preheat a covered grill to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, or for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

Mix your crust seasonings on a clean plate while the grill warms up. Use any combination of dried seasonings plus salt and pepper, or just salt and pepper.

Combine the butter and oil in a small sauté pan or heatproof measuring cup. Heat the mixture on the stove or in the microwave until the butter melts. Stir the ingredients to combine them.

Pour the butter mixture onto a clean plate and place the steak on top. Turn the steak to coat both sides and the edges.

Place the steak on the plate with the crust seasonings. Turn the steak over to coat both sides and the edges with the crust mixture. Repeat this process until the crust seasonings cover every area of the steak.

Put the steak on the hottest part of the grill. Close the lid on the grill and allow the steak to cook for five minutes without touching it.

Flip the steak over, close the lid to seal in the heat and leave it for an additional five to six minutes.

Remove the steak from the grill after 10 to 12 minutes of total cooking time for a black crust and rare meat. Cook the steak for an additional two to three minutes per side with the top open for medium rare.

Allow the steak to rest on a clean plate for five minutes before serving it.

Items you will need

  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dried seasonings, optional, to taste
  • Unsalted butter, approximately 1 tablespoon per steak
  • Canola or corn oil, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon per steak
  • Small sauté pan or heatproof measuring cup
  • Three clean plates


  • Bring the steak to a chef-recommended 115 to 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 125 to 130 degrees for medium rare before you pull it off the grill. The temperature will increase another 5 to 10 degrees while the steak rests.
  • Use tongs to handle the steak while you cook it; piercing the steak with a fork releases the juices, leaving you with a dry lump of meat.
  • If your grill doesn't have a temperature gauge, you can use your hand to to test the temperature. At 550 degrees, you shouldn't be able to hold your hand 4 inches above the grill surface for more than a count of two or three. If you can count to four, allow the grill to preheat for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Use seasonings such as paprika, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder, and dried herbs such as rosemary and oregano to create a flavorful crust for your steak.


  • You get better results for steaks cooked to medium or beyond with lower heat for a longer time.
  • If you substitute the oil, chose a refined oil with a high smoke point.
  • The USDA food-safety guidelines recommend cooking all steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, so if you have any concerns about the safety of your meat, follow this guideline.


About the Author

Christopher Godwin is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. He spent his formative years as a chef and bartender crafting signature dishes and cocktails as the head of an upscale catering firm. He has since ventured into sharing original creations and expertise with the public. Godwin has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in publications like "Spork Magazine," "Cold Mountain Review" and "From Abalone To Zest."

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images