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What is the Right Thickness for a Steak?

Steak is always a comforting and easy go-to option for many, whether you want to make the perfect dinner at home or enjoy a nice night out at your favorite restaurant. Different people have different preferences on how they would like their beefsteak cooked. However, the real battle to achieve the perfect cooked results is how to cut the steak to the right thickness. Besides worrying about where the steak is extracted from, it is also important to think about how an individual steak is cut. This article discusses the standard thickness for perfect steaks and why too thick could be better than too thin.

Does Steak Thickness Matter?

Steak thickness is often overlooked when it comes to buying the right steak. Many people tend to focus more on the marbling levels, coloring, and USDA grading. It may come as a surprise to some when they learn how important steak thickness can be and why thinner cuts can destroy the final taste of high-quality beef.

seared tenderloin steak with asparagus
The short answer is that steak thickness matters when it comes to top-of-the-line cuts like filets and ribeye. However, you should keep in mind that not all cuts of steak are created equal and their thickness can vary.

The Standard Thickness for Steaks

It would be fair enough to say that there are three standard sizes for steaks, which are 1-inch, 1.5-inches, and 2-inches. However, the more desirable steak thickness of the three is a 1.5-inch steak. This steak is not only one of the easiest sizes to cook but also delivers delicious and meaty chunks of your steak choices. Although a 1-inch steak is a good thickness to start with, it could be something you buy for a few reasons. For instance, most steaks that are cut into roughly 1-inch cubes are delicious when used for stuff like stews and curry.

Steaks from 2 inches and beyond may pose a bit of a dilemma if you do not have an idea of how to prepare them. You cannot throw an extremely thick steak in a skillet or over the fire and expect everything to turn out okay. There are higher chances of the exterior of the steak burning before the interior is properly cooked. At 2 inches or thicker, your steak will start to look more like a roast even though most of them are cut thinner. It would be something you would want to share like a very large bone in a porterhouse or a ribeye.

With a 1.5-inch steak, you have the leeway to be more precise with doneness because the center of the beef cut is better insulated than thinner steaks. They are also easier to cook, unlike extra-thick cuts that require some specialized techniques and more skills to achieve doneness.

Why Too Thick is Better Than Too Thin

Although 1.5 inches is considered the ideal thickness for steak, there are times when you cannot just get a hold of one. If you only had the option to go 1.5 inches thicker or thinner, which one would you go for? If you need help choosing between the two, then it would be better to opt for the thicker steak. The inside of the steak should be medium-rare with a dark and crusty exterior. A thin steak tends to cook through in a hurry and thus may go past medium-rare before it forms a tasty crust. It can also lack the necessary amount of fat needed to render and give flavor to the steak while tenderizing the meat.

When it comes to thick steaks, the only risk you may encounter is burning the outside before the middle section cooks to the right temperature and doneness. You can also find it difficult to achieve medium or perfect doneness with a very thick steak. However, with some little patience and proper techniques, you can cook a thick steak beyond 1.5-inches and have it turn out delicious. Experts recommend using the reverse-sear technique and two-temperature method when cooking extra-thick steak. If you have a thin cut of steak then it would be best to cook it for short periods over extreme heat so that it sears quickly without penetrating much further than the surface.

If you are a steak lover, you can always go beyond to make the best of whatever you got. Regardless of the thickness of your steak, you can always work around it using a proper cooking method, tenderizing, seasoning, and marinating. However, if you want to aim for an ideal steak thickness then you need to work with 1.5 inches as the preferred choice and size.

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