How to Grill Frozen Steak

Frozen steak on grill

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We’ve all been there.

It’s an unexpectedly sunny day, and your grill is staring at you, demanding you get out there and cook up some red meat.

Unfortunately, the only steaks you have are safely wrapped up in the back of the freezer and you don’t have time to defrost them.

Well, what if I told you that you could take those frozen steaks, slap them straight on the grill and still end up with a perfect medium-rare in about 40 minutes?

Read on to learn how to grill frozen steak, and why some people prefer cooking steak this way.

Can you really grill a frozen steak?

Short answer: yes!

You’ll need to modify your cooking technique, and it will take longer, but it is entirely possible to cook a steak from frozen and still have it be juicy and tender with a perfect crisp crust.

Surprisingly, cooking steak from frozen might actually give you better results.

The extremely low temperature of frozen meat keeps the interior of the steak from heating up when the outside is being seared. 

This prevents the dreaded gray band of overcooked meat developing around the edges of your steak and makes it more likely that you’ll get corner-to-corner pink perfection. 

Will it dry the meat out?

The first concern I had when I looked into cooking frozen steaks was that the longer cooking time would dry out the meat. 

However, the team over at Cooks Illustrated conducted a test and found that there was no real difference in moisture loss between steaks cooked when thawed and steaks cooked from frozen.

“Given the longer cooking time, it couldn’t possibly turn out as juicy as a thawed steak, right? In fact, we found that thick-cut steaks we grilled straight from the freezer were just as juicy as steaks we grilled after thawing, despite needing more than double the time on the grill.” 

Andrea Geary – cooksillustrated.com

Each lost around 17% of their moisture when cooked.

Frozen steak grilling tips

While cooking steak from frozen is entirely possible, you’ll get better results using specific cuts and techniques. Here are our tips for getting the best from your frozen steak:

Use indirect heat

The best way to cook a frozen steak is by using the two-zone cooking technique.

Basically, you’ll need to set up your grill so that you have a hot side and a cool side. 

If you’re using a gas grill, just boost one of your burners up to high and leave the other on low. If you are using charcoal, you’ll need to bank the coals up on one side of your grill to bring the temperature up.   

When you’re cooking your frozen steak, you’ll be using the hot side to get a good sear on the surface before moving it over to the cool side and letting indirect heat bring the interior up to temperature.

Use thick steaks

Cooking from frozen takes longer than cooking a thawed out piece of meat.

If you use a thin steak the interior is going to overcook by the time the surface temperature comes up to the 350°F you need for a good Maillard reaction inducing sear.

If you’re going to cook from frozen, we recommend you use steaks that are a minimum of around 1 inch thick. Your best choices are going to be Ribeye, Porterhouse, or New York Strip.

Track temp with a meat thermometer

The best way to cook any steak is by temperature.

There is just 10°F of difference between medium-rare and medium, so you’ll need to keep a meat thermometer handy to give you an accurate reading at a moment’s notice.

Remember to pull your steak off the grill when it is about 5-10°F below your desired temperature. This will prevent it from overcooking because of thermal overshoot.

Sear then season

Usually, we’d suggest you season your steaks either 24 hours before you plan to cook them, or just before they hit the pan. 

Seasoning frozen steak isn’t going to achieve much, however, so you’ll need to sear the surface first, then apply your seasoning before you move the steak over to cook the interior using indirect heat.

Step by step guide to grilling frozen steak

1) Bring your grill up to temperature

Using the two-zone cooking method mentioned earlier, bring your grill up to heat. You’ll need to leave about 10 to 15 minutes for a charcoal grill to hit the right temperature and about 5 minutes for a gas grill.

2) Sear your frozen steaks

When you’re up to temperature, it’s time to get grilling! 

Take your frozen steaks and slap them down on the grill for around 5 to 7 minutes on each side in order to get a good sear. Check the internal temperature while you are going this, you don’t want it to rise above 90°F.

3) Season you steak

Once you’ve seared the surface of the steak, you want to season both sides with salt and pepper. Kosher salt is the best choice for seasoning steak as it adheres better and dissolves faster than table salt.

4) Cook the interior using indirect heat

Having seasoned your steak, move it over to the cool side of your two-zone fire and let the indirect heat bring the interior up to temperature. 

This is where a quality instant-read thermometer is vital, as good temperature control is vital to getting the exact level of doneness you want. 

Use our doneness temperature guide below and remember to pull your steaks from the heat when they are about 5°F below your desired temp.

DonenessBlue RareRareMedium RareMediumMedium WellWell Done
Temperature 115°F120°F130°F140°F150°F160°F

5) Eat!

And there you have it, from frozen disappointment to perfect steak in less than an hour. Enjoy!

From frozen to fantastic

Cooking steak from frozen might have seemed like madness, but as you can see, it’s actually very simple and can give you better results than cooking thawed meat.

So next time you need to throw a surprise BBQ, the fact that all your good beef is in the freezer isn’t going to be a problem at all!

Have you ever tried cooking steak from frozen before? Do you have any pro-tips for cooking a frozen steak that we’ve missed? If you do, please let us know in the comments below.

Joe Clements

Joe Clements

As the son of a vegeterian, I grew up dreaming about meat. Now as the founder and editor in chief of Smoked Barbecue Source I get to grill, barbecue and write about meat for a living! I'm sharing everything I learn along the way on my journey from amateur to pitmaster.

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