Barefoot Contessa: How Ina Garten Grills ‘Perfect Steak Every Time’

Spring is officially here and for many that signals the start of grilling season. Oftentimes, firing up the grill can mean an under or overcooked steak. To get “perfect steak every time,” look to Ina Garten. The best-selling cookbook author and Food Network star swears by a “pure genius” grilling method.

Ina Garten typically uses a charcoal grill on ‘Barefoot Contessa’

Ina Garten appears on Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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When she’s not in her “barn” filming Barefoot Contessa, Garten can be found in her expansive garden or on the patio. In the nearly 20 years her cooking show’s been on the air, the 73-year-old’s headed for the grill on multiple occasions. 

On her official Barefoot Contessa website, Garten once shared specifics on the type of grill she recommends. Keeping to her cooking and entertaining philosophy that’s all about classics, Garten uses a charcoal grill. What exactly does she use? “A 22.5” Weber grill,” she told a fan when they asked about grill recommendations. 

Ina Garten got her grilling method from a New York City butcher shop

Garten shared exactly how she cooks a steak in her 2014 cookbook, Make It Ahead. She also listed the details on her Barefoot Contessa website. As part of her recipe for Grilled New York Strip Steaks, Garten revealed she learned the grilling method she uses from “master” Mark Lobel. Lobel co-owns Lobel’s of New York, a fifth-generation butcher shop located on Madison Avenue. 

“The real secret is in his grilling method,” Garten said. “Perfect steak every time!”

Here’s how it works using a charcoal grill (directions for a gas grill, later). Fill only half the grill with hot coals. Cook the steaks on the hot area of the grill for two minutes on each side. Then move the steaks to the grill’s cold zone and put the lid on, making sure any vents are open. Cook the steaks for 8 – 10 depending on preference. 

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Garten suggests using a meat thermometer to check when they’re done. For a rare steak, the magic number is 115 degrees. For medium-rare, 125 degrees, and medium, 125 degrees. Once the steaks are off the grill, they get covered with aluminum foil for 15 minutes to rest. After the time is up it’s crucial to remove the foil or else the steaks will keep cooking. Then they’re ready to eat. 

What about a gas grill? The directions are similar. Again, cook the steaks for two minutes on each side. Turn off a few burners before placing the steaks on the cold side of the grill to cook for another 10 – 12 minutes. 

Ina Garten’s recipe for Grilled New York Strip Steaks

The longtime Barefoot Contessa host seasons steaks with a rub courtesy of Lobel. After combining salt, black pepper, brown sugar, coffee, garlic, chipotle powder, and red pepper flakes together, the steaks are coated in the rub before sitting in the fridge for two hours. Then they head to the grill. 

Ingredients for the Barefoot Contessa’s Grilled New York Strip Steaks: 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee (regular or decaf)
  • 1 teaspoon (dried) granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 (1 1/2-inch-thick) New York strip steaks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil

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