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Cooking Tips

Yes, You Can (and Should) Grill Frozen Steaks

Not only can you grill a frozen steak, you should. It's the ultimate in grilling convenience.
By Published Apr. 15, 2022

Want to do your future self a favor? Freeze some thick-cut steaks. Then follow these simple tips to skip the defrosting step and cook them straight from frozen (without thawing!).

In the test kitchen, this idea of cooking frozen steaks came from Cook’s Illustrated Editor in Chief Dan Souza, who conducted an experiment where he compared steaks cooked from frozen with steaks that were defrosted before cooking. The results? Tasters unanimously preferred the cooked-from-frozen steaks to their thawed counterparts. (Check out the full details of his experiment.)

It made sense: The superchilled interior of the frozen steak was more resistant to overcooking, so once seared on the stovetop and then finished in the oven, the meat cooked up juicy and rosy from edge to edge.

Dan figured out how to cook a frozen steak inside, but his colleague Andrea Geary wondered if she couldn’t achieve the same impressive results on the grill. If successful, grillers everywhere could have spur-of-the-moment steak whenever they wanted.

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Three of the steps for grilled-from-frozen steak perfection

Of course, Andrea succeeded in her mission. (If you know Andrea, you never doubted that she would.) And sure enough, her final technique is a game changer for convenience cooking. 

Here are the five key steps to her easy technique for cooking frozen steaks. Read more about her recipe development here, and check out the recipe for the full instructions. (Not a member? Start a free trial today.)

How to Cook Frozen Steak on the Grill

  • Choose the right type of steak: When cooking steak from frozen, it’s best to choose thick, beefy rib-eye and strip steaks. These steaks are less vulnerable to overcooking and they taste great with little embellishment—an important consideration since you’re not able to marinate the frozen meat before it hits the grill. We tried thinner steaks, such as flank and skirt, but they overcooked when grilled from frozen.
  • Freeze the meat properly: You want the frozen steaks to sit flat on the grill, so you have to freeze them flat. You also don’t want any freezer burn. The best way to achieve both is to wrap the individual steaks tightly in plastic wrap and then place them on a tray or baking sheet and freeze them until solid. Once frozen, transfer the steaks to a zipper-lock bag for another layer of protection against freezer burn.

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  • Use a two-level fire: If you’re using a gas grill, that means turning all the burners to high while the grill preheats and then leaving the primary burner on high and turning off the others. If you’re using a charcoal grill, that means distributing the lit coals evenly over half the grill.
  • Start hot then go cool: Here’s some guidance on how long to grill frozen steaks: Cook the steaks over the hotter side until they’re deeply browned all over, about 5 minutes per side. Then move them over to the cooler side of the grill, about 6 inches from the hotter side, where the interior of the steak can come up to temperature more slowly. 
  • As always, let the steaks rest before slicing: This isn’t specific to grilling frozen steaks. Letting the cooked meat rest for 5 minutes accounts for carryover cooking, during which the meat’s temperature will continue to rise even after the meat has come off the grill.