Medium Vs Medium Rare: 2 Doneness Levels For Cooking Meat Explained

Published Categorized as Meat, Guide

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Eating a steak sounds like a simple task, yet when asked how you would like it cooked, it can become a tad overwhelming. While there are many ways to have a steak cooked, medium-rare and medium-cooked steaks are by far the most popular. So is there much difference between medium rare steaks and medium cooked steaks?

Medium Vs Medium Rare

Table of Contents

Why Are Steaks Cooked Differently?

You probably already know that steaks can be cooked in a lot of different ways such as a well-done steak, a medium-well steak, a rare steak, and a medium rare steak. All of these are great choices and while there is no perfectly cooked steak that everyone will enjoy, medium-cooked steaks seem to be the most popular when introduced to people who do not eat steak often.

A medium-cooked steak is a perfect midpoint for anyone who is new to this. This is because a medium-cooked steak has seared and grilled edges that have a char flavor, while also having a nicely flavored pink middle that is still moist. While the pink area is not as large as it is in a medium-rare steak, this is still enough for you to taste it. After trying a medium steak, people can either try their next steak a little less cooked or a little more cooked.

Steaks cooked medium-rare have a lot of flavors which is why people love them. Alongside the flavors, medium-rare steaks are also still very moist and juicy, which is a huge bonus. Well-done steak tends to be rather dry as all of the juice has been cooked and evaporated as the internal temperature for a well-done steak is a lot higher than that of a lesser-cooked steak.

Steaks are cooked differently based on how people like their steak. If you are wanting a slightly juicy steak but without the blood-tinted juice, a medium-well steak is probably for you. Based on how charred you want the outside to be, how juicy you want the steak to be, and how much pink you want inside your steak are all factors that affect what steak you are more likely to want.

Medium-Rare Steak Vs Medium Steak

While all options are great, these two are the most popular choices at any restaurant or BBQ. This comes as no surprise as both choices are amazing and deserve all the adoration they get. However, you might be wondering if there is such a difference between the two. If there was a comparison between well-done steak and rare steak, then you could argue that the difference is huge.

Surprisingly enough, the difference between a medium-rare steak and a medium steak is a lot larger than you would think. Both steaks have their pros and cons, reasons why to choose them and why not to. While it is all down to personal preference, let’s see which one is better and why.

Medium-Rare Steak

The most iconic steak doneness level is medium-rare. Just by this fact alone you know there must be a reason as to why it is so popular. Medium-rare steaks are seared on the outside and gently cooked until there is a pink band that takes up most of the inside.

If you cut open a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak, you will see a reddish pink inside that will cover the majority of the steak. There will be a hint of a gray-brown color at the top and bottom where the steak has been seared yet aside from this, it should all be pink.

When you have meat cooked at a certain temperature, the fat and juices inside tend to evaporate and leave the meat. This can cause it to be dry when eaten. As a medium-rare steak is cooked at a lower internal temperature, the juices remain and leave you with a moist and delicious steak.

To cook a steak medium-rare, you need to make sure it is seared on the outside but not cooked so hot or for so long that it dries up and overcooks. To do this, you will want to allow your steak to come to room temperature so that it can be evenly cooked.

When handling raw meat, ensure that you clean your hands and any worksurfaces to keep sanitary. Once your steak is at room temperature, place a knob of butter in a cast-iron skillet or a frying pan and turn the heat up to high. High heat is essential for searing the steak at the start.

Once the butter has melted, place your steak down gently in the center of the pan. You will know if you have the heat high enough as you should hear an audible sizzle when it comes into contact with the pan. Continue to ensure that you sear every edge of the steak before allowing it to lay flat and cook.

When the steak is cooked, let it cook on each side for 3 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees. The steak will continue to cook after being removed from the pan due to the residual heat, so it is best to remove the steak as soon as possible to avoid leaving it a little too long.

Medium Steak

A medium steak is exactly like a medium-rare steak but it has more char on the outside and a lot of the pink is gone from the inside. There is still a noticeable amount of pink meat inside the steak, but the gray-brown meat is significantly larger.

To cook a medium steak you are going to want to follow all of the steps for a medium-rare steak in terms of searing and preparing, yet you will want to cook it for longer. Cooking a medium steak does not take too long, 5 minutes on one side and 7 minutes on the other will leave you with a brilliantly done medium steak. The internal temperature should reach around 140-145 degrees.

Medium steaks are still very juicy and moist, yet the edges are more cooked and will have a meatier flavor as well as a nice tint of char. The outside will have a discernible crust that should continue through the steak for a little bit. The inside of a medium steak should be around 60% gray-brown meat with the other 40% being reddish-pink meat.

Medium Vs Medium Rare: 2 Doneness Levels For Cooking Meat Explained

Other Steak Doneness Levels

While we have covered the most popular steak doneness levels, there are still many others to see. They are all great if you like how they are cooked. While one may be too cooked for you, the doneness level right before it might just be perfect. Knowing your preferred steak doneness level is insanely helpful when you go to restaurants or a BBQ as you can have it cooked to the perfect level every single time.

The other steak doneness levels and their respective ideal internal temperatures are;

  • Blue-rare – 115 degrees
  • Rare – 120-125 degrees
  • Medium-Rare – 130-135 degrees
  • Medium – 140-145 degrees
  • Medium-Well – 150-155 degrees
  • Well-done – 160-165 degrees

As previously mentioned, all steak will continue cooking due to residual heat. This is known as carryover cooking. To counter this, all temperatures of the steak have been lowered by 5 degrees as that is the ideal temperature to account for residual heat and a longer cooking time. A well-done steak should be heated to 170 degrees exactly, yet carryover cooking will take place so it is best to heat it to around 165 degrees instead.

How To Check The Internal Temperature Of Steak

Checking the internal temperature of a steak is the best and most accurate way to ensure that they are cooked to perfection. The best way to check this is with a meat thermometer as they can read the internal temperature of meat incredibly accurately.

A meat thermometer is a good kitchen gadget to have as you can insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat and get an instant read on what temperature it is. Another alternative to this is to get an instant-read laser thermometer. These work with a simple point-and-shoot mechanic as they display the temperature of whatever they are pointed at. While it may be difficult to read the inside temperature, you could always cut a slice from the thickest part of the steak and then use your thermometer.

Medium Vs Medium Rare

Why Sear Steak?

It is heavily stressed by a lot of chefs and cooks that you should always sear your steak. While you may think this is to do with flavor, appearance, or texture, it is actually all to do with hygiene. As a lot of raw meat cannot be eaten due to the bacteria that can grow on it, steak is a slight exception. Steak is red meat that can be eaten raw without the risk of illness. The only way bacteria can harm you is if it is on the exterior of the raw steak. Therefore, to remove this bacteria and make the steak safe to eat, the outer edges must be seared.

A blue-rare steak is completely edible despite the inside being essentially raw and this is because the exterior has been seared, killing all bacteria.

Medium Vs Medium Rare

Why Should You Let Steak Rest After Cooking It?

A huge tip that a lot of steak pros will give you is to let your steak rest after it has been cooked. This can vary from a 10-minute rest to a whole half an hour. The reasoning behind this is that when cooked, the muscle fibers in steak contract and move. This pushes all of the moisture from the center to the outer layers of the steak.

This is a huge part of why steak sizzles, it is these juices coming into contact with the hot pan. When cooked, the muscle fibers will eventually start to normalize and allow the moisture back into the rest of the steak. This happens somewhat slowly but does eventually happen. If you leave your steak after cooking it, the moisture will eventually be consistent everywhere. However, if you immediately decide to eat the steak, it can seem moist around the edges but the center may be dry.

Which is better? Medium Or Medium-Rare

To answer this question truthfully, there would have to be a lot of set conditions and rules to determine what makes a steak good and what makes one better than the other. As said, it is a personal preference so the answer you get will heavily depend on who you ask.

There is no decisive answer, and there does not have to be. Both steaks are amazing and delicious, try both of them and figure out which one you prefer.

FAQs On Steak

Is medium-rare better than medium?

Depending on who you ask, you will get mixed answers. If you prefer the pink meat and flavors of a medium-rare steak then that choice is better for you. However, if you like the pink meat but find it a bit overwhelming, medium is the choice for you.

What tastes better medium-rare or medium-well?

Medium-rare is a lot more flavorsome than medium-well as a lot of the juices are still in the steak. The blood-tinted liquid that you can see is filled with flavor and there is more of it in a medium-rare steak.

Why medium-rare is the best?

Medium-rare is considered the best by a lot of people as it has a perfect balance of the pink meat and the gray-brown meat. The inside is juicy yet meaty and the outer edge is perfectly chared. Medium-rare gives you the best of both worlds when cooked properly.

Is a ribeye better medium or medium-rare?

While it is a personal choice, a ribeye is arguably better when cooked medium-rare. The ribeye is a famously delicious cut of steak and has a lot of intricate flavors, when cooked too much the flavors seem to evaporate, therefore the medium-rare doneness level is a better choice.