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Can You Boil Steak? (And Should You)

You can definitely boil steak. Boiling helps tough cuts of meat absorb seasoning and makes them more flavorful. It is also healthier than grilling. The cooking time for boiled steak ranges from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the cut of the meat and your preferred level of doneness. 

Just keep in mind that boiling a steak with lots of marbling or fat will not produce the most ideal results. In that case, grilling is much better. However, the tougher and less fatty the meat, the better boiling becomes.

So when should you boil a steak, and what is the proper way to do so? I’ll answer these and many more questions in this article.

Steak boiling

When Should You Boil a Steak?

You should boil steak if health is a higher priority than taste and when cooking with tougher cuts of meat. In most other cases, grilling produces the tastiest results. 

Traditionally, what distinguishes a premium cut of meat is its marbling or fat content. Charring and grilling a steak breaks down these fats and gives the cooked meat its delicious aroma. This is why grilling is the preferred method for preparing steaks in most professional kitchens today.  

However, there are particular circumstances when boiling a steak makes practical sense. 

Boiling steaks is a great way to enjoy tough cuts of meat – usually, meat that has less fat and more muscle and connective fiber. 

For instance, meat from the legs is generally tougher than that from the loin. Such sinewy cuts of meat can become chewy if you grill or sear them using the traditional method of preparing a steak. This is where boiling shines.

Using the conventional method, you need to season tougher cuts of meat perfectly and know the best temperatures to get them done just right. Boiling can be more forgiving in this regard.

Boiling is also a great option from a health perspective. It requires less fat in preparation and works well with leaner cuts of meat. Compared to grilling, boiling meat also produces fewer carcinogens and effectively kills any harmful bacteria in meat.   

How to Correctly Boil a Steak?

Begin by picking the right meat. As mentioned earlier. Boiling really shines when it comes to leaner and more sinewy meat. 

Of course, you can boil any cut you like. However, boiling will not produce the best results in, say, a ribeye steak. The delicious fats in a ribeye would dissolve or harden when boiled. 

Whichever portion you pick, you will also need to get them sized right. 

Ideally, when boiling, your steak pieces need to be 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) thick. This allows the meat to cook all the way through without drying it out or making it chewy. 

A one-inch (25.4 mm) thick steak will take about an hour to cook, and two inches (50.8 mm) will take double that time. Of course, cooking times and temperatures will also depend on how you like your steak done. 

Generally, there are three doneness levels:

  • Rare
  • Medium-rare
  • Medium

The following table lists recommended cooking temperatures and times for each level of doneness:

DonenessTemperature (°F)Temperature (°C)
Rare120°F – 129°F48.8°C – 53.8°C
Medium-rare129°F – 135°F53.8°C – 57°C
Medium135°F – 144°F57°C – 62°C

Seasonings Ideas for Boiled Steaks

Of course, the meat is the star of any steak dish. When done right, the tender, juicy meat and its savory, nut-buttery taste stand out. So when choosing seasonings, go for what accentuates these original flavors; do not replace it. 

A variety of seasonings in a circle of bowls

A simple salt and pepper rub is often all you will need with a great portion of meat. However, if you are feeling daring today, here are some great seasoning ideas and aromatics that can enhance your boiled steak’s flavors:

Dried Parsley and Oregano

Fresh and dried oregano leaves have an earthy and warm smell that goes beautifully in a steak rub. While the leaves are bitter, they imbue the steak with a minty, herby aroma. Parsley has a herbal scent that makes any dish smell fresh and aromatic. 

Together, parsley and oregano create a citrusy, spicy flavor. They also have a bitter, peppery taste that helps offset a steak’s excessive meatiness, balancing all the flavors in a finished dish. 

Chopped Onions

Onions have an enzyme that can help to break down the proteins in meat and tenderize it. While some might use whole or halved onions to boil steak, we suggest you chop the onion. Note that onions can dominate the flavor of a dish, so use them judiciously.

White Pepper

If you love pepper but want to control the heat they produce, opt for white pepper. It has a similar flavor profile as black pepper but is milder. White pepper will make a steak more flavorful without overpowering the meat at the center of the dish.

Two Unconventional Ways To Boil Steak

Besides boiling your steak in a pot, you can also use specialized tools and techniques to produce even finer results. Let’s consider a few of them here.

1. Boiling Steaks Sous Vide Style

Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing your food and immersing it in boiling water to cook.  Once the steak is done, you can take it out of the bag and do a quick sear to release more flavor. 

The great advantage of cooking meat sous vide is the consistent results it produces. There’s no need to worry if your steak is overdone or underdone when using this process. Simply set the timer, tweak the temperature and let the meat cook. 

Follow these simple steps to sous vide your favorite steak piece:

  1. Season your steak and put it inside a vacuum bag 
  2. Completely seal the vacuum bag removing any air pockets
  3. Boil water in your sous vide cooker
  4. Once the water is boiling, immerse the sealed vacuum bag in the water bath
  5. Set the timer and allow the heat to cook the steak thoroughly
  6. When the steak is done, take out the vacuum bag and remove the steak from inside
  7. Use a kitchen towel to dry the steak pieces and prepare them for searing
  8. Add some oil or butter to your cast iron pan
  9. Sear the steak on all sides, and enjoy a juicy, flavorful steak. 

2. Boiling Steak in a Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker works wonders in tenderizing and seasoning meat. It can also cook meat much faster than conventional boiling.

Here’s how you can boil steak in a pressure cooker:

  1. Place the steak(s) inside the pressure cooker
  2. Add salt, pepper, and other aromatics to the mix
  3. Add a glass of water
  4. Put the pressure cooker lid on and set the cooker on medium heat
  5. Let the cooker whistle six-seven times
  6. Once the pressure has been released, remove the cover and take the meat out

Enjoy your freshly cooked steak! You don’t even need to sear or fry it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps you still have a few more questions about boiling a steak. I’ll do my best to answer them. These are some common queries.

Will Boiling Soften Steak Meat? 

Boiling softens steak meat by breaking down the collagens and proteins in it. While you can boil to your chosen doneness, remember that boiling meat for too long can break the meat down too much, making it tasteless. 

What if You Boil Your Steak Too Long? 

Overboiling your steak makes it bland and nutritionally deficient. If you cook meat too long, it dissolves all the fat and liquid from the meat. This not only makes the steak tough, chewy, and flavorless, but it also makes the meat lose its nutritional value.  

Final Bite

Boiling steak can be both tasty and healthy. Boiling tenderizes meat and works especially well with leaner, more sinewy portions. You can produce similar results more consistently using a sous vide machine and speed up the process in a pressure cooker.

For more, don’t miss The 5 Best Types of Oil for Cooking Steak.