How to grill a steak medium rare or medium? The desired degree of doneness for your perfect steak is a question of taste and experience. But no matter whether you like it rare, medium or well-done – Otto has a couple of tricks for you that make grilling the perfect steak easy with or without a thermometer. A meat thermometer is always more accurate but not all of us have one.

Core temperature without a thermometer

In the event that you don’t have a thermometer, you can use Otto’s simple hand trick, described in detail below, to determine the steak core temperature:

Grilling the perfect steak: core temperatures for degree of doneness

In order to reach your desired degree of doneness, or cooking temperature, we always recommend using a meat thermometer. That way you are sure to cook the steak just as you like it.

When using a meat thermometer, you should make sure that you remove your steak from the grill when the core temperature is a few degrees below the desired temperature because the steak will keep cooking while it rests after grilling.

Cooking level

Core temperature in ˚C | ˚F


45-52˚C | 113-126˚F

Medium Rare

53-56˚C | 127-133˚F


57-59˚C | 134-138˚F

Well done

60-63˚C | 140-145˚F

 How to grill your desired degree of doneness with the Otto Grill

  1. Grill your steak at full temperature on both sides to your  desired degree of doneness from the chart above on Meat-O-Meter Level 1. Remember to undercook it, as it will continue cooking while it rests.
  2. Reduce the temperature and put the grill grate to the lowest level using the lever.
  3. Let your steak rest in the lower part of the grill at the lowest temperature until it has reached your desired degree of doneness.
  4. Take the grill grate out of the Otto Grill and insert the meat thermometer into the meat from the side.
  5. Put the grill grate back into the grill along with the meat and thermometer. Make sure that the meat thermometer does not touch fat or bones since this might give you a different temperature than the actual meat temp. This is a more important rule for certain types of cuts with more fat or bones, so know your steak cuts with this chart.
    Tip: When you are grilling a particularly thick cut, you can cover the steak with a bit of aluminum foil while resting it so that it does not burn.
  6. Rest the steak until the core temperature is a few degrees below your desired level of doneness.
  7. Take it out of the grill and let it rest for another couple of minutes. This makes sure that the tasty juices are distributed evenly throughout the steak and guarantees that your steak will lose less liquid, especially when you cut into it. Otto has you covered with his guide on grilling the perfect steak.

Degree of doneness without a thermometer: Ball of thumb test

A meat thermometer? Do I really need one? In case you don’t have a meat thermometer, this simple hand trick will help you reach the right level almost exactly if not perfectly. It is not as accurate as using a meat thermometer but it can help as an orientation and you won’t need anything but your hand for it.

Grilling the perfect steak: degrees of doneness

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Rare core temperature

Place the tips of your thumb and trigger finger lightly against each other without pressure. Use your other hand to pinch the ball of the hand below your thumb. When your steak feels similarly soft, it is rare.

Grilling steak rare

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Medium Rare – pink meat

Place the tips of your thumb and middle finger slightly against each other. Use your other hand to press the muscle below your thumb. When your steak feels similarly elastic, it is medium rare.

Grilling steak medium rare

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Medium — slightly pink

Place the tips of your thumb and ring finger softly against each other. The ball of the thumb now feels a bit stiffer and requires more pressure to push. When your steak feels like this, it’s cooked to medium.

Grilling steak medium

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Well-Done — cooked through, not overdone

Place the tips of your thumb and your pinky softly against each other. Use your other hand to press the ball of your thumb. The muscle feels quite hard now. This is how your steak will feel when it is cooked well-done.

Grilling steak well done

Now you are ready to grill the perfect steak. Need more tips on how to salt steak properly?