Cooking Tips
Yes, You Can (and Should) Grill Frozen Steaks
It's the ultimate in grilling convenience.
04-26-2021
Mari Levine

Want to do your future self a favor? Freeze some thick-cut steaks. Then follow these tips to skip the defrosting step and cook them straight from frozen.

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 here.)

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 had cooked his steaks 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.

freeze steaks
grilling steaks
slicing steaks

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

  • Choose the right type of steak. The best options are 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 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.
  • 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.

    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.

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