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How to Tell if a Steak is Undercooked? (Here’s What To Know)

Think of the last time that you enjoyed a truly amazing steak. Was it perfectly seared and seasoned? Deliciously tender and cooked to perfection? Steak can be one of the tastiest meals around, but it all depends on how well the steak is prepared. 

Some of the easiest ways to tell if your steak is undercooked are to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature or to slightly cut into the steak to check the color of the meat. In the case that your steak is undercooked, you can get it to the perfect temperature with a cast iron pan, a little oil, and some additional cook time on the stovetop or in the oven. 

In this article, we’ll go over about the best ways to gauge your steak’s temperature and teach you how to fix an undercooked steak!

Inserting Temperature Probe

To check the internal temperature of the steak, you can use a meat thermometer, also known as a temperature probe. To insert the temperature probe, you will want to check the thickest part of the meat first, since this will be the least-cooked area. 

You will also want to make sure that the end of the thermometer stops in the middle of the meat cut; don’t push all the way through to the bottom of the meat. Doing so will lead to a less accurate temperature reading. Aim to place the end of the temperature probe right into the center of the thickest part of the steak. 

If you would like to, you can also reinsert the probe in different areas of the steak to check for temperatures across the meat. This can release juice, which can dry out your steak. So be mindful of this when you are using a temperature probe. 

Checking the Internal Temperature

When it comes to checking the internal temperature of your steak, it is essential to know what temperature you like. A rare steak is considered “cooked” when it reaches 120℉, but for a well-done steak, you’ll want to leave it on the grill until it reaches 160℉.

For medium-rare, the ideal internal temperature is 130℉. For medium, it is 140℉, and for medium-well it is 150℉. Once you know your perfect temperature, you can easily determine if your steak is cooked well enough for you or not. 

On the other hand, some people are more worried about overcooking their steak. These folks can use the same method of checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. This is the most accurate and efficient way to get a perfectly cooked steak.

Slightly Cutting into the Steak

Another method to check your steak is to slightly cut into it to check the color. Cutting into the steak can affect the flavor, texture, and juiciness of a steak, however, so keep this in mind if you decide to use this method.

When you cut into your steak, you’ll want to check the thickest section of the steak. Rare is generally considered a lot of pink or all pink, whereas well-done will have no pink left at all. 

If you decide to use this method to check your steak, you should have a good idea of what you want your steak to look like. For example, if you know you are looking for a medium-well steak, you’ll need to know how much pink tends to still be present in a steak that is cooked to 150℉.

This method does release a lot of juice from your steak, which can dry it out. To avoid this, you can let your steak rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. 

What to do When You Have an Undercooked Steak

If your steak is undercooked both internally and externally, you can fix it up by cooking it for another 3-4 minutes in a cast iron pan on your stovetop. On the other hand, if your steak is undercooked internally but has a good sear, you can save the day by cooking the meat for another 3-4 minutes in a hot cast iron pan in your oven at about 500℉. 

While plenty of people prefer a steak temperature than falls under 145℉, this is the temperature that the USDA has officially declared as safe for eating beef. If your steak is not as cooked as you would like, you can fix the issue while still preserving the quality of the steak. 

First, determine the steak’s internal temperature, ideally with a meat thermometer. This will give you a clear idea of just how undercooked your steak is. Next, decide if your steak needs more searing (blackening on the outside), more internal cooking, or both. 

If your steak isn’t cooked as well as you want on the outside and on the inside, heat up some oil in a cast iron pan on your stovetop. Cook your steak for another 1-2 minutes on each side before checking the internal temperature again. Once your steak reaches your ideal internal temperature, pull it from the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.

If your steak has a good sear but needs more cooking internally, you can fix this issue by cooking your steak in your oven. Heat your oven up to 500℉ with a cast iron pan inside the oven. Then, once it’s at temp, add a little oil to the pan along with your steak. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side before checking the internal temperature. 

Once the meat has reached the temperature that you want, pull it from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Final Thoughts 

An undercooked steak can be easily remedied with a few essential steps. A meat thermometer is a great tool for determining the temperature of your meat. You can also cut into your steak to check how well done it is, but this method releases the juice and can dry out your steak.

In the case that you need to cook your steak a little longer, you can do so on the stovetop or in the oven to still achieve a perfectly done steak. We wish you good luck on your next steak-eating adventure and hope that these tips help you prepare a great-tasting meal!