Medium vs Medium Rare: What’s the Difference?


There is nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious steak cooked to perfection. However, many people are often confused about the difference between medium and medium-rare. This often leads to people ordering their steak either too rare or too well done. The steak cooking process is simple, but it’s all about temperature.

You can grill your steak, fry it in a pan or bake it in the oven. Here is a guide to help you understand the difference between these two terms to confidently order your steak.

Types Of Steak Doneness

Regarding steak doneness, different types of steak can be cooked in different ways. The following is a guide to the different types of steak doneness:

Blue Rare

This is also known as “bloody” or “very rare.” The steak is seared on the outside and very red in the center. It is almost raw and very tender. This is not a popular choice because it can be difficult to chew and may not be cooked enough to be safe for consumption.


A rare steak is cooked for a very short time, just long enough to cook the outside of the steak. This results in a slightly pink center with very little juice and a soft texture. You should only cook a rare steak if it is of excellent quality and has been properly tenderized.

Medium Rare

A medium-rare steak is cooked for a slightly more extended period than a rare steak, allowing the inside to cook a little more. This allows the fat to melt instead of staying in the steak muscles. The result is a tender and juicy piece of meat that tastes great with various sauces.

When ordering a steak, medium rare is often considered the best option as it balances juiciness and flavor.


It is cooked for a slightly longer period than the medium-rare, but not as long as well done. You might prefer medium over medium rare because of the balance between the juiciness and tenderness of the meat. However, it does take a little more of the flavor away.

Medium Well

Medium well is cooked a bit longer than medium, and as a result, it becomes drier. The texture is firmer, and there is less moisture in the center. This is a good choice if you like your steak on the well-done side but still want some juicy flavor.

Well Done

Well-done steak is cooked all the way through, with no pink or red in the center. It is firm and dry but well-seasoned and flavorful. You should ensure your steak is properly cooked if you order it this way, as there is no room for error.

How to Measure the Internal Temperature?

To get the best and most accurate steak doneness, you will need to learn a few basics about measuring your steak’s internal temperature.

There are several ways to do this:

  • An instant-read thermometer is one of the most popular tools for measuring steak doneness. Simply insert it into the center of your steak and check the temperature. If the temperature is:
TemperatureSteak Doneness
120 to 125 degrees FahrenheitRare
130 to 135 degrees FahrenheitMedium-rare
140 to 145 degrees FahrenheitMedium
150 to 155 degrees FahrenheitMedium-well
160 degrees Fahrenheit and aboveWell-done
  • A digital meat thermometer is an easy and accurate way to measure your steak’s internal temperature. Place the probe into the center or thickest part of your steak while cooking and wait for the reading to stabilize.
  • Another way to measure your steak’s internal temperature is to use the touch method. Press into your steak with a finger and feel for resistance. If it feels soft and springy, then your steak is rare. If it feels firm and springy, then it is medium-rare. And if it feels hard and completely firm, then it is well done.

Medium or Medium Rare – Which Is Better?

Sometimes you may wonder which is better between medium and medium-rare. The choice of your desired meat often depends upon the occasion and what you want because both have advantages that make it suitable for different situations.

If you want a more tender and juicy steak, medium rare is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want a slightly less tender but more flavorful steak, the medium is the way to go.

Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference and what you want. Both options have unique benefits, so decide accordingly depending on the occasion and your needs or preferences.

How To Prepare a Medium Steak?

A medium steak is cooked for a longer period, resulting in a more well-cooked steak with a lightly browned exterior. The center of the steak is still slightly pink but with a more substantial amount of juice and a firmer texture.

You should follow different steps when preparing a medium steak, such as ensuring it is at room temperature before cooking and searing it in a hot pan for a short time.

The steps include:

  • Allow the steak to come to room temperature: If you cook a too cold steak, it will not cook evenly. Allowing the meat to come to room temperature will help it cook more evenly.
  • Season the steak: Season the steak with salt, pepper, and other desired seasonings. Seasoning the steak at this point will help it to absorb the flavor.
  • Heat a large pan to high heat: Heat a large pan or griddle over high heat and add some cooking oil.
  • Sear the steak: Add it to the hot pan and sear it for 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Reduce the heat and cook to desired doneness: After the steak has been seared on both sides, reduce the heat and continue to cook until your desired level of doneness is reached. A medium steak should be cooked until the center registers 150-155 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer.
  • Allow the steak to rest: After cooking, remove it from the heat and rest for a few minutes before slicing. This will help keep all the juices inside the steak, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy steak.

How to Prepare Medium-Rare Steak?

The preparation of medium-rare steak is simple and does not require any special cooking skills. All you need is a good quality steak and the proper cooking tools.

To grill a medium-rare steak, you will first need to choose the right cut of meat. Tender cuts of meat, like New York Strip or ribeye steaks, are best for this grilling method. Avoid tougher cuts of meat, like chuck steak or round steak, as they will not be as tender when cooked to a medium-rare temperature.

You will also need the proper grilling tools for this task. While you can certainly cook your steak on a grill or frying pan, you will need to invest in a meat thermometer to ensure that the steak is cooked to the desired temperature.

Meat Safety Guidelines

The safety of steak is an important consideration when choosing how to grill it. Meat can carry harmful bacteria, so following good food safety guidelines when preparing your steak is important.

These include:

  1. Undercooked Steak – It is always safer to cook your steak to at least medium doneness since it kills harmful bacteria. However, if you prefer a rare steak, it is important to use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches the proper internal temperature.
  2. Thawing Meat – Always thaw your meat in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Bacteria can proliferate on meat that is thawed at a warm temperature. It would be best if you also avoided cross-contamination by thoroughly washing your hands and any tools or cutting boards after handling raw meat.
  3. Washing Your Steak – Washing your steak before cooking is unnecessary and can increase the risk of cross-contamination. Any bacteria present on the surface of the steak will be killed when you cook it.
  4. Marinating Your Steak – You can marinate your steak before cooking, but it is important always to use a separate bowl and utensils when preparing the marinade. This will help prevent any bacteria present in the raw meat from contaminating the marinade.
  5. Refrigerating Leftovers – Any leftover steak should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Steak left out at room temperature for too long can be unsafe to eat.
  6. Grilling Temperature – When grilling your steak, it is important to keep the grill at a high temperature to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. This can be achieved by preheating the grill for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
  7. Use a Meat Thermometer – The best way to ensure that your steak is cooked properly is to use a meat thermometer. Steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat.

What’s The Best Way to Season a Steak?

When cooking a steak, there’s no better way than a grill. But that doesn’t mean you have to head outdoors whenever you want to cook a juicy cut of beef. Plenty of ways to season and prepare your steaks for grilling, even in the confines of your kitchen.

Let’s look at some of the most popular methods and how they differ.

Perhaps the oldest method of cooking steaks is to pan-fry them in a cast-iron skillet, preferably over an open flame. To do this, you begin by heating your skillet until it’s hot enough that water droplets flicked into it will dance and sizzle almost immediately. Then you rub a generous amount of salt or steak seasoning onto each side of your steaks before placing them into the heating skillet.

When the meat is sufficiently browned, it’s time to flip it over and repeat the process with the other side. After cooking both sides, place your steaks in a preheated oven until they reach the desired level of doneness.

Barbecuing or grilling steaks is another classic way to cook them. Season your steaks with a dry rub or marinade, then grill over direct heat until they’re browned on the outside but still pink in the middle. You can also brush on barbecue sauce during the last few minutes of cooking for extra flavor.

Another option is to broil your steaks in an oven under a preheated broiler until they’re browned outside but still pink in the middle. This method works best with thinner cuts of steak, and some people find that this method adds a nice char to the outside of the steak.

So, what’s the best way to season a steak? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Try out different methods and see which one you like best! Experiment with other seasonings and sauces to find a flavor combination you love.

And remember, the most important thing is to cook your steak to the desired level of doneness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should You Let a Steak Rest?

It is generally agreed that allowing a steak to rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking and up to 30 minutes allows the juices to settle and gives you a tastier slice of steak. It is essential that the steak is covered with aluminum foil, or it will lose all its moisture and dry out.

Cover your steak and place it on a clean plate or wire rack in a warm spot for 5-30 minutes.

What’s The Difference Between Medium and Medium Rare?

The difference between medium and medium-rare doneness is only a matter of 1-2 minutes. The key to grilling a perfect steak is using a meat thermometer. A medium-rare steak should be grilled to an internal temperature of 145°F, whereas a medium steak should be grilled to an internal temperature of 160°F.

How Long to Let Meat Rest After Smoking?

You should let your meat rest for at least 30 minutes after smoking it. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make the meat more tender. If you are in a hurry, you can let it rest for 10-15 minutes, but the longer you let it rest, the better it will be.

How Long Should Meat Rest After Grilling?

The time it takes for your meat to rest after grilling depends on the thickness of the cut. A good rule of thumb is to allow the meat to rest for about half the cooking time. So, if you grilled your steak for 8 minutes, it should rest for 4 minutes before cutting into it.

How To Keep Meat Moist While Grilling?

Choose the way you want to keep your meat moist while grilling. Those are, first and foremost, marinating or basting.

Marinating is a popular technique for keeping the meat moist while grilling as it adds flavor to the meat while soaking in all those wonderful juices. If you want to give your meat that extra flavor and tenderness, go for marinating.

Basting is a unique solution to keep your meat moist while grilling too. You could use a baster or coat the meat with oil before cooking it over the grill.

How To Keep Steak from Drying Out on Grill?

Grilling is an easy way to enjoy a mouthwatering steak. However, it would be best if you were careful to prevent your steak from drying out on the grill. The best way to do this is by preheating your grill for at least 15 minutes before cooking.

Additionally, it would be best always to use a meat thermometer to check your steak’s internal temperature and remove it from the grill when it reaches the desired doneness. Finally, letting your steak rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it will help keep the juices inside.

With these tips, you should be able to enjoy a perfectly cooked steak every time!

How To Make Steak Tender on The Grill?

When it comes to grilling steak, there is a lot of debate over the best way to cook it. Some people swear by grilling steak on high heat to get a nice char, while others say grilling it on medium-high heat is the way to go. And then some say that the only way to get a perfectly cooked steak is to cook it on low heat for a longer period.


There is no clear winner between medium and medium-rare regarding steak. It all depends on your personal preference. The medium is the way to go if you like your steak cooked through. Medium-rare is your best bet if you prefer a little pink in your steak.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.