There are a lot of techniques for grilling the perfect steak dinner. However, one tip that often gets neglected is choosing the right cooking oil. Indeed, many inexperienced chefs assume any oil will do the trick. In reality, if you select the wrong cooking oil, you could end up with a rotten smelling steak—and nobody wants that! So, before you fire up your grill, you need to read the research we've done on choosing the best oil for steak.
The three best cooking oils for grilled steak are vegetable, canola, and peanut. All three of these oils are readily available, have a neutral flavor, and won't burn at higher temps. This means you could use these oils on a super hot grill without affecting your steak's flavor.
Generally speaking, you should use an oil with a high smoke point when grilling a steak. However, there may be occasions where other products could enhance your steak's flavor. Please keep reading to find out more about choosing the right oil for a delicious grilled steak dinner.
What's The Best Oil For Grilling Steak?
The best cooking oils for grilled steak should have the three following characteristics:
- A high smoke point
- A neutral flavor
- A light color
Oils with these traits can handle the heat without giving off a nasty smell or carcinogenic compounds. This means you can sear your steak without worrying about your oil tainting its flavor.
The most affordable oils that meet these criteria are vegetable and canola oil. While peanut oil is often used for frying, it's also an excellent choice for grilling steaks.
If you don't like any of these oils for whatever reason, here are a few other options that are good choices for grilling steaks:
- Safflower oil
- Rice bran oil
- Soybean oil
- Light refined olive oil
If you want to learn more about this topic, we'd recommend reading this post: Which Oil Is Best For Searing Steak
Is It Bad To Use Olive Oil On Grilled Steak?
As you may have noticed, we didn't include extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in our list for the best cooking oils for grilled steak. The main reason for this is simple: EVOO has a relatively low smoke point between 325°F - 375°F. Therefore, there's a good chance your EVOO will turn rancid as you're grilling your cuts of steak. Plus, since EVOO isn't neutral, it will have a dramatic impact on your steak's flavor.
Generally, chefs only serve EVOO cold as a dressing for salads or a bread dip. Indeed, the whole point of using EVOO is to experience its unique flavors and take advantage of its enhanced healing properties. Both of these benefits get destroyed the minute you put EVOO on a searing hot pan.
While it's not great to use EVOO while grilling steaks, you could use it as a phenomenal garnish on a grilled steak salad. Also, please remember that EVOO isn't the same as light refined olive oil. The latter product usually has traces of lighter oils like canola, which makes it suitable for grilling.
By the way, if you have some precious EVOO at home, you should check out our previous post: The Best Container For Olive Oil
Should I Oil My Steak Before Grilling?
You don't need to rub oil on your steak before grilling it. Some chefs claim this tip will keep your steak from sticking to the pan, but there's no evidence this is the case. As long as you put enough oil on your cooking surface, you shouldn't have an issue with steak stickage.
When Should You Season Steak For Grilling?
For the best tasting steak, you should season with salt and pepper at room temperature 40 minutes before grilling. If possible, you should let your seasoned steak sit overnight in the fridge for a superb flavor. The longer you wait, the more time this salty brine can get reabsorbed into the steak's tissues.
However, if you don't have 40 minutes to spare, you should season your steak at room temperature immediately before cooking it. With this method, the outer layer of salt helps create a brown, crusty exterior while you're searing. By contrast, letting the salt sit for just a few minutes creates puddles of water that diminish the overall quality of your meat.
In case you were wondering, most chefs say Kosher salt is the best choice for seasoning steak.
Do You Grill Steak On High Or Low Heat?
For a delicious crust, you have to grill your steaks at a high temperature. Indeed, it's impossible to get a good sear on your steak if you cook them on low heat. The high temperature helps produce a fantastic contrast between your steak's brown exterior and tender interior.
Should You Marinate Steak Before Grilling?
While marinating your steak isn't necessary, it could add some unique flavors that complement certain dishes. For instance, if you're cooking an Asian-inspired dish, you may want to use a soy sauce marinade to add authentic aromatics. Some people also rave about marinating small chunks of steak for fantastic kabobs.
Before you marinate your steak, however, you should know there are tradeoffs. While marinades bump up the flavor in your steak, they will make it impossible to form a crispy brown crust. Also, marinades take a lot longer to seep into your steak versus a traditional salt rub. Even after a few hours in the fridge, your marinade will only penetrate the outer layers of your steak.
Bottom line: choosing to marinate a steak depends on your flavor preferences, what dish you're cooking, and the cut of steak you're using. While most chefs recommend a simple salt rub for all cuts of steak, marinades can work for special dishes that need a little extra flavor.
If you'd like to learn more about this topic, be sure to read this post: Should You Always Marinate Steak?
How Long Should You Marinate Steak?
Typically, you need more time to marinate a steak versus using a salt rub. While you could get away with a 40-minute marinade, you should marinate for about six hours to experience the best result. You need to give the marinate enough time to penetrate the outer layers of your steak for phenomenal flavor.
Just be careful about marinating your steak for longer than eight hours. After this point, there's a good chance high-acid ingredients like lemon juice could break down your steak's tissues and make it mushy.
What Kind Of Oil Is Best For Marinade?
The best oils for marinating steak are the same ones we recommended for grilling steak: canola, vegetable, and peanut. Since these oils are neutral, they won't influence the other ingredients you're adding to your marinade. Also, once you start cooking your marinated steaks, these oils won't give off a burnt taste.
That being said, some recipes may call for small amounts of flavored oils. Generally, these oils are added to give your steak a nuanced flavor. For instance, many Asian recipes may call for a pinch of toasted sesame oil. Some chefs have also used walnut oil in marinades to give their steaks unique nutty aromatics.
While there's more room for experimentation with marinade oils, it's best to stick with high-smoke point oils as your base.
What Oil Does Gordon Ramsay Use For Steak?
In most of Gordon Ramsay's videos, he uses olive oil when cooking a steak. However, he doesn't specify whether he's using EVOO or light refined olive oil. Also, Gordon Ramsay usually puts his oil in a screaming hot pan a few seconds before grilling a steak.
To learn more about how Gordon Ramsay likes to cook steak, be sure to watch this tutorial.
For A Glorious Grilled Steaks, Start With The Right Oil
You could use dozens of oils to grill a steak, but the most common are canola, vegetable, and peanut oil. While refined olive oil is also a good choice, most chefs don't recommend using EVOO. As long as you go with an oil that has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, you're well on your way to cooking an excellent steak dinner.