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How long is too long to rest a steak?

When cooking a nice thick steak, it can be tempting to let it rest for a long time after taking it off the heat. Many chefs and grill masters recommend letting steak rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. However, there is actually a point where letting a steak rest for too long can negatively impact the texture and temperature. So how long is too long when it comes to resting steak? Let’s take a deeper look at why you should rest steak, how long is ideal, and what happens if you rest it for too long.

Why Should You Rest Steak After Cooking?

First, it’s important to understand why letting steak rest after cooking is recommended in the first place. Here are some of the main benefits of resting steak:

  • Allows juices to redistribute – When steak is cooked, the high heat pushes juices and moisture to the center. Resting gives time for these juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat.
  • Makes slicing easier – Resting allows the proteins in the meat to relax and reabsorb some of the moisture, making the steak firmer and easier to slice.
  • Maximizes juiciness – Giving the steak time to rest reduces the amount of juices lost when slicing the meat.
  • Elevates flavor – As the steak rests, the temperature becomes more even throughout, allowing the flavorful juices to permeate the meat.

So in summary, resting results in a steak that is more tender, flavorful, and juicy. Many chefs recommend resting thick steaks for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes after cooking. But is there a point where resting longer starts to have negative effects?

The Ideal Resting Time for Steak

The optimum resting time for steak depends on a few factors:

  • Thickness – In general, thicker steaks need a longer resting time than thinner cuts. A good rule of thumb is to rest steak 5 minutes per inch of thickness.
  • Cooking method – Steaks cooked by slow, gentle methods like sous vide require less resting time than grilled or pan seared steaks.
  • Serving temperature – If you want your steak served warm instead of hot, you can get away with a slightly longer resting time.

Taking these factors into account, here are some general guidelines for ideal resting times:

Steak Thickness Ideal Resting Time
1/2 inch 3-5 minutes
1 inch 5-7 minutes
1 1/2 inches 8-10 minutes
2 inches or thicker 10-15 minutes

For most steaks under 2 inches thick, sticking within 5-10 minutes of resting time is ideal. Going above 10 minutes may start to negatively impact texture and temperature.

What Happens if You Rest Steak Too Long?

While the meat continues to relax and reabsorb juices during the resting period, eventually the benefits tapper off. Once enough time has passed, resting longer can actually start to have detrimental effects on steak:

  • Cooling temperature – Resting longer will cause the steak to keep cooling down, going from hot to warm to cool.
  • Texture changes – As the steak cools, the juices are reabsorbed, which can make the texture soft and mushy.
  • Less juicy – Despite the reabsorption of moisture, resting too long can squeeze out key juices, making the steak less succulent.
  • Duller flavor – The optimal flavor of a rested steak occurs within that 10 minute window. After that, the flavor balance starts to decline.

Additionally, rested meat has the potential for bacterial growth if left out too long. To avoid this health hazard, steaks should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours after cooking.

Signs You’ve Rested Steak Too Long

Here are some telltale signs that your steak has rested for too long:

  • The meat feels cool or cold in the center
  • The texture is soft, mushy, or mealy
  • Pressing the meat leaves indentations
  • The steak lacks juiciness and moisture
  • The flavor is dull versus bright and bold

If your steak displays any of these characteristics, you can assume resting went on for too long. For best results, start slicing into that steak within 10 minutes after cooking.


So how long is too long when resting steak? The magic time frame is generally within 5-10 minutes after cooking. This allows enough time for juices to redistribute evenly while maintaining texture, juiciness, and flavor. Exceeding 10 minutes of resting can cause the steak to cool down too much, lose moisture, and develop a mushy texture. While it’s important to be patient and let your steak rest, don’t wait so long that it over-relaxes and declines in quality. For most steaks up to 2 inches thick, stay within that 10 minute sweet spot for optimum doneness.