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Should you rest steak after cooking?

Resting steak after cooking is a technique that has been debated amongst home cooks and professional chefs for years. On one side, resting allows time for carryover cooking and redistribution of juices within the meat. On the other side, some argue that resting dries out and cools down the steak. So what’s the verdict – is resting steak necessary or not? Here’s a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of resting steak to help you decide if you should make it part of your cooking routine.

What happens when you rest steak after cooking?

When you take a steak off the heat, the cooking process doesn’t immediately stop. The residual heat from the pan or grill will continue to cook the steak a bit more, even once it’s off the direct source of heat. This is known as carryover cooking. The internal temperature of the steak will rise by about 5-10°F during a rest. This helps ensure the center of your steak reaches the ideal doneness, especially if you prefer it on the rarer side.

Additionally, resting allows time for the juices inside the steak to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. As the meat cooks, the fibers constrict and the juices get pushed toward the center. If you cut into a steak immediately, those juices will spill out onto the cutting board rather than staying inside the steak. Letting it rest gives the juices time to absorb back into the meat fibers. This makes each bite juicier.

Pros of resting steak

Here are some of the main benefits and reasons why many chefs and cooking experts recommend resting steak after cooking:

  • Allows carryover cooking to finish cooking the center
  • Redistributes juices back into the meat
  • Results in a more evenly cooked interior
  • Minimizes moisture loss/juices spilling out
  • Makes the steak more tender and juicy

For most steak cuts and thicknesses, the ideal rest time is 5-10 minutes. This gives enough time for carryover cooking and for the juices to absorb without letting it sit so long that it cools down too much.

Cons of resting steak

The arguments against resting steak primarily focus on two potential drawbacks:

  • Cooling – Letting steak sit for an extended time will inevitably cause it to cool down from the ideal serving temperature.
  • Moisture loss – While a short rest helps retain moisture, a longer rest may lead to some moisture evaporating off the hot surface of the meat.

For those who like their steak piping hot and are worried about it cooling down too much, skipping the resting step may seem logical. The steak’s temperature will start dropping the moment it’s off the heat source, so for people who prioritize temperature over juiciness, not resting ensures it can be enjoyed immediately at its peak warmth.

What do the experts recommend?

The majority of professional chefs, cooking shows, and culinary resources emphasize that resting steak is an essential step after cooking. Here are some recommendations from steak experts on resting times:

Expert Recommended Rest Time
Alton Brown – Food Network TV host 5 minutes
America’s Test Kitchen – Cookbook Series 5 minutes
Kenji Lopez-Alt – Serious Eats Culinary Editor 10 minutes
Gordon Ramsay – Celebrity Chef 10 minutes

As you can see, recommended resting times range from 5-10 minutes. While a few minutes may not seem like much, it makes a significant difference in allowing carryover cooking to finish and juices to redistribute.

Does steak thickness affect resting time?

Yes, the thickness of your steak plays a role in determining the ideal rest time. Here are some general guidelines based on thickness:

  • Steaks under 1 inch thick – 3-5 minutes
  • 1-2 inch steaks – 5-7 minutes
  • 2 inch+ thick steaks – 8-10 minutes

Thicker steaks require a longer resting time because there is more surface area for juices to absorb back into and a larger range of doneness between the outer crust and very center. Allowing extra time for carryover cooking and redistribution ensures optimal doneness and juiciness. For thinner steaks, a shorter rest prevents overcooking and excessive cooling.

Should you rest other meats besides steak?

While steak is the most popular meat to rest after cooking, the technique can benefit other proteins as well. Some other meats that will improve with resting include:

  • Roasts – A large cut like a prime rib roast needs time for juices to disseminate.
  • Pork chops – Resting makes them more tender and prevents overcooking.
  • Chicken breasts – Allows juices to redistribute and meat to relax.
  • Lamb chops – Redistributes juices; 5-10 mins ideal.

The juices need time to reabsorb for all proteins. How long you rest depends on thickness. Thin boneless chops or chicken breasts need less time than a thick prime rib roast. Follow the same resting time guidelines as you would for different steak thicknesses.

Tips for resting steak perfectly

To maximize the benefits of resting steak, follow these tips:

  • Let it sit undisturbed during the resting time. Don’t poke or slice it.
  • Rest on a wooden or plastic cutting board, not a hot pan.
  • Loosely tent foil over the top to retain heat.
  • Resist cutting into it too early – patience pays off.
  • Don’t worry if juices accumulate under the steak.
  • After resting, pat steak dry with a paper towel before serving.

With these tips, you can ensure your steak makes the most of the resting period and turns out hot, juicy, and perfectly medium-rare edge to edge.

Should you rest steak after searing?

If you are cooking steak using a technique like sous vide or reverse searing where you start by cooking the steak low and slow, followed by a quick hot sear at the end, a rest is still recommended after searing. Here’s why:

  • The searing process will force some juices toward the center.
  • Allowing it to rest gives the juices time to redistribute evenly.
  • It prevents overcooking from residual heat of the pan/grill.
  • You’ll end up with a juicier interior.

For a 1-2 inch steak, a 5 minute rest post-searing is sufficient. The initial gentle cook relaxes the muscle fibers so juices stay locked in even after searing. But resting ensures all the juices absorbed properly for best flavor.

Should you rest other reverse seared meats?

Yes, the rest is just as important for other proteins cooked via sous vide, reverse sear, or similar gentle-then-hot methods. Some benefits include:

  • Pork chops – Redistributes juices forced out during sear
  • Chicken – Allows carryover cooking to finish, prevents overcooking
  • Roasts – Large cuts need time for juices to disseminate fully
  • Fish – Resting ensures moisture stays locked in delicate fish

Follow the same resting guidelines by thickness as you would for traditionally cooked meats. Resting remains a key step even for reverse seared foods.

Should you rest pan-seared steak?

Pan-searing is a quick, high-heat method of cooking steak entirely on the stovetop. You’ll get the same benefits from resting pan-seared steaks as you do grilled or broiled steak. Here are some benefits to resting pan-seared steak:

  • Carryover cooking finishes without overcooking the center
  • Hot pan forces juices inward; resting redistributes them
  • More even edge-to-edge doneness
  • Increased tenderness as fibers relax during rest
  • Less juice loss when you slice into it

For a 1-inch thick pan-seared steak, a 5 minute rest is ideal. Thicker cuts may need up to 10 minutes. Just be sure to rest on a wooden or plastic cutting board, not the hot metal pan.

Tips for best results resting pan-seared steak

To maximize the benefits of resting pan-seared steaks:

  • Use a thick pan like cast iron to get a good sear.
  • Pat steaks dry before searing to help browning.
  • Sear on high heat to build crust.
  • Let meat rest on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Loosely tent foil to retain heat.
  • Pour off any juices accumulated during rest.

With these tips, your pan-seared steaks will come out perfectly juicy and tender after taking time to rest before slicing and serving.


While a short rest may seem unnecessary, it makes a big difference in the juiciness, tenderness, and doneness of steaks and other meat proteins. Allowing time for carryover cooking and juices to redistribute truly improves the eating experience. For pan-seared, grilled, broiled or sous vide steaks, along with many other meats, resting for at least 5-10 minutes based on thickness is highly recommended for best results. Be sure to tent loosely with foil and let it sit undisturbed before slicing. With a little patience, you’ll be rewarded with tender, juicy, evenly cooked steak every time.