Is Blue Steak Safe (And Why Do We Call it Blue in the First Place?)

Slices of blue steak with vegetables on a wooden board

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Blue steak is sometimes described as the closest you can get to a living, breathing cow. Cooked only very briefly, blue steak is served “almost” raw, with only the outer surface sealed on high heat. 

Blue steak is very popular, due to its beautifully delicate, melt-in-the-mouth texture. But is it really safe to eat? And why on earth do we call it blue anyway?

In this guide we explain why blue steak is safe, how it got its name, and how to cook the perfect blue steak at home! 

What exactly is blue steak?

A blue steak is cooked for just long enough to sear and brown the outside, while the inside remains raw.

Steak that is cooked blue is only placed on the grill for a round 1-minute, and the internal temperature of the meat rarely exceeds 115℉ .

As Gordon Ramsay once famously said:

Blue steak is called blue because when it is freshly cut, raw meat has a faint purple/blue-ish hue. This is due to oxygen-depleted residual blood within the meat.  

This blue color doesn’t last very long, though. Once meat is exposed to the air, the myoglobin begins to become oxygenated and turns to the bright red color we associate with a fresh cut. 

Therefore, unless you’re present when your steak is first sliced, you’re unlikely to see this blue-ish tint for yourself. 

Read more – Guide to Steak Doneness.

How to cook blue steak for best results

Blue steak is absolutely safe to eat, so long as you follow one simple precaution. 

The entire outer surface of your steak (including the edges) MUST be sealed before eating. 

If present, E.Coli bacteria will be hanging around on the outside of the meat, not the inside. So, by cooking the entire surface, you will ensure any bacteria are destroyed and reduce the risk of food poisoning. 

It’s also good practice to sterilize your grill tongs between placing the raw steak on the grill/pan, turning it and serving it. This will protect you against any transfer of bacteria from your tongs to your freshly cooked blue steak. 

With these precautions in mind, here’s how to cook a perfect blue steak.

What you will need:

  • 1-inch thick, high-quality steak. Fillet or sirloin are great choices. 
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt, pepper or seasoning of choice
  • Flat griddle or large frying pan
  • Grill tongs
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • A digital meat thermometer

How to do it:

  1. If your steak has been in the fridge, take it out a couple of hours before so that it reaches room temperature. (This will help the interior of the steak become warm, even though you’ll only be cooking it for a very short time.) 
  1. Pat the steak dry and season to taste. 
  1. Heat the olive oil in your pan or griddle at a high temperature until it begins to smoke. It needs to be HOT because you’re going to be cooking the steak for a very short duration. 
  1. Keeping the heat on high, carefully place the steak onto the hot oil. DO NOT touch it, press it or prod it. Let it sit and sizzle for 1-minute. Sterilize your tongs.
  1. Now flip the steak over and leave for a further minute. Again, do not touch it. Sterilize your tongs.
  1. Once a minute has passed, check that the entire outer surface of the steak has been sealed brown. If the edges are still raw, you can roll the steak on its side to seal these areas. 
  1. And serve! If cooked correctly, the interior of the steak will be less that 84℉.

Wrapping it up

Blue steak may seem a little intimidating, but with the correct method and precautions, it is easy to enjoy safely. 

The most important thing to remember is that the entire outer surface of the steak must be sealed brown before serving. This will kill any bacteria that may be present and dramatically lower the risk of food poisoning. 

We also recommend sterilizing your tongs after they have touched raw meat, to eliminate the potential for cross-contamination. 

What do you think? Are you a fan of blue steak? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

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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