What makes grilled ribeye steaks so delicious is how the tender, well-marbled cut, absorbs the flavors from a range of seasonings and takes in the heat and smoke from the grill.
Grilling ribeyes seasoned with rosemary, garlic, and a touch of lemon juice is a perfect way to serve perfectly grilled juicy steaks.
The classic combination of Medeterrian flavors in this recipe elevates the beef’s natural flavors by adding rosemary’s distinctive aroma and character along with a touch of citrus from the lemon juice to brighten everything up.
Learning how to season and grill ribeyes is simple. To help out, we’ve put together some background on why ribeyes are such a popular cut, a few different ways to season them, and everything you need to grill them to perfection.
In this piece
What is a Ribeye Steak
A ribeye, or rib eye as it is sometimes written, comes from the rib section of a cow, usually between ribs six and twelve.
What makes this cut so desirable is that it comes from a part of the upper rib cage that isn’t used very much, producing a tender, flavorful cut with lots of marbling. Most butchers and grocery stores carry boneless ribeyes in a range of thicknesses depending on the store. Some butchers and specialty stores carry bone-in ribeyes, which are larger cuts designed to serve multiple people.
The advantage of bone-in steaks is that the bone helps develop deeper flavors and keeps the meat from drying out, something that is very hard to do with a cut as juicy as a ribeye. The disadvantage of bone-in is the additional cost of a specialty cut and a longer cook time.
When picking out a ribeye steak, look for ones with a bright red color, fresh beef smell, and generous marbling. To learn more about picking the right steak, read how the USDA grades beef.
Ribeyes are somewhat of an outlier among cuts of beef; typically, the more tender a cut is, the less flavorful it is. Ribeyes buck this trend by being among the most flavorful and tender cuts of beef. This combination of flavor and tenderness is one of the reasons why ribeyes are such a popular cut and why when they’re sliced thin one of the best choices for steak sandwiches.
How to Grill a Ribeye
The two most popular ways to cook ribeyes are on the grill or roasting them in the oven. What we like about using the grill is how the fire caramelizes the outside and infuses a slightly smokey flavor into the beef.
Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, learning how to grill ribeyes is relatively easy as long as you keep a couple of things in mind.
The first is to watch for flare-ups; the marbling is one of the things that make this cut so flavorful; it can also lead to pretty spectacular flames if a grilled ribeye steak is left unattended for too long.
The second is don’t try and cook the whole thing in two minutes over direct heat. The best ribeyes are thick, around an inch to an inch and a half thick, and respond well to medium to medium-high heat.
We recommend grilling just about every cut of steak over medium to medium-high heat to make sure it cooks evenly through rather than using super high heat that can leave a steak charred on the outside and cold on the inside.
Also, there’s no reason to go through the bother of searing a steak over a super hot grill and then reducing the heat. As long as the grill has been preheated long enough for it to come up to temperature, it will do a fine job of searing the steak, keeping all the juices inside, and will still leave nice-looking grill marks like you get in a fancy steakhouse.
Tips for Grilling with Charcoal
One of the best ways to enhance a steak’s flavor is to grill it using a hardwood lump charcoal, such as mesquite or hickory. It’s the next best thing to cooking steaks over a wood fire which you can learn how to do in our piece on cooking steaks over a campfire.
The charcoal in the grill should be set up, so there are two heat zones. This can be done by piling the majority of the charcoal on one side of the grill. Once the coals are ready, the grill should have a hot zone where the meat can be cooked and a low heat zone where it can be moved if it’s flaring up or cooking too quickly.
A tip is to add a couple of sprigs of rosemary to the charcoal right before starting to grill. The smoke from the rosemary sprigs will bring out the flavors in the rub and make the whole area around the grill smell amazing.
Tips for Grilling with Gas
Setting up a two-zone system is easy to do with a gas grill. When cooking steaks on a standard four-burner grill, turn the two middle burners on medium to medium-high and leave the two outside burners off or on low. This allows the meat to be moved between direct and indirect heat as needed.
A simple way to learn where the hot and cool zones are on a grill is to use the White Bread Test.
A couple of other tips that work no matter what type of grill you’re using:
- Take the steaks out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature while remaining covered. This usually takes 30 to 40 minutes.
- Get a good pair of long-handled tongs to handle the meat and avoid burning yourself.
- Let the grill come up to temperature and clean off the grill grates before starting to grill anything.
- Use the steak’s internal temperature, and a good instant read meat thermometer to determine doneness.
Once the meat is on the grill, the cover should be closed to help make sure it cooks all the way through.
After they’ve been grilled, leftover ribeyes will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. The best way to reheat them is on a medium grill for 5 minutes or so per side. The goal with reheating is to bring them up to temperature, not to cook them a second time.
This recipe also works using a cast iron skillet and oven. Just sear the steak for a couple of minutes per side in a hot pan before roasting it in a 400℉ (204℃) oven, which usually takes around 12 to 15 minutes.
A Quick Time and Temperature Guide for Grilling Steaks
One of the most frequent questions people ask is how long it takes to grill steaks. What we’ve found through years of delicious testing is that 8 to 10 minutes per side on medium heat is the right amount of time to grill a ribeye or similar cut to a beautiful medium-rare.
We’re usually cooking steaks that are 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick and weigh around a pound. Thinner steaks and hotter grills will cook faster, just as thicker cuts and lower temperatures will take longer.
An advantage to using medium heat when grilling steaks is it provides a larger window of time to get the steak to turn out just right compared to scorching hot grills.
There are a couple of ways to tell when a steak is finished cooking. The first is to press your finger into the meat; it should feel slightly firm with a bit of bounce for a medium-rare steak. The second is to use a meat thermometer. We recommend and use this instant-read digital thermometer.
To get an accurate temperature reading with a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the steak from the side so the tip is in the middle of the steak.
It’s important to take the steak off the grill when it’s a few degrees under your preferred level of doneness to give it some time to come up to temperature while it rests. A general rule of thumb to account for carryover cooking is to take a steak off the grill when its internal temp is 3 to 5 degrees under your preferred final temperature and to let the meat rest for at least 3 to 5 minutes on a cooling rack under tented aluminum foil.
Here’s a quick guide for how done a steak is based on internal temperature. The guide is based on the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat after it has rested.
|Very Rare||Very red, bloody, and cold||Below 130℉ | 54℃|
|Rare||Cold red center & soft to the touch||130℉ to 139℉ | 54℃ to 59℃|
|Medium Rare||Warm red center, firmer with a bit of spring||140℉ to 145℉ | 60℃ to 63℃|
|Medium||Pink all the way through & firm to the touch||146℉ to 160℉ | 63℃ to 71℃|
|Well Done||Gray and brown all the way through, very firm||161℉ to 170℉ | 72℃ to 76℃|
|Way Over Done||Dark and crusty inside and out||171℉ plus | 77℃ plus|
As an FYI – The USDA recommends that a steak reach a minimum internal temperature of 145℉ (63℃) before it’s removed from the heat and to let it rest for at least 2 minutes.
Seasoning Grilled Ribeyes
There are many ways to season ribeyes, and while a lot of recipes recommend only using kosher salt and black pepper, we think that’s missing an opportunity to elevate a versatile cut in ways that can bring the flavors in a meal together.
If you’re going to spend the money for a nice ribeye, it’s worth taking the time to use flavors and side dishes that work together to create a memorable meal.
The ingredients in this ribeye steak recipe were inspired by the classic Italian dish Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, which is traditionally made with a porterhouse. We like to use ribeyes for this dish for how they absorb the Mediterranean flavors and the ease of carving them at the table. The way the fresh rosemary, garlic, and lemon juice work together is magical, elevating the steak’s flavors and creating a perfect dish to share with friends.
The marbling helps the beef absorb flavors from a wide range of herbs and spices. To help the spices adhere to the meat and to build more complex flavors, we often combine them with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
If you’re serving the ribeyes with Grilled Mushrooms, use a simple rub that includes smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper with a touch of Worcestershire to bring out the natural umami in the mushrooms and beef.
We don’t recommend using a heavy marinade on ribeyes or other premium cuts. Marinades, especially the bottled grocery store ones, tend to be full of binders that can overwhelm the meat and give it a gummy texture.
What to Serve with Steaks from the Grill
The addition of rosemary and lemon juice opens up all sorts of options when you’re serving this recipe for dinner. The Tuscan flavors give the steak just enough Italian to make it a lovely companion to an excellent Herb Risotto that is particularly delicious paired with some Grilled Asparagus.
It’s also easy to double or triple this recipe for summer dinner parties; we usually serve one steak for every two people. A few of our favorite side dishes for larger groups are Cheesy Polenta, along with Grilled Sweet Potatoes or freshly roasted Corn on the Cob.
An easy way to create a visually stunning presentation is to slice the steak on the bias, fanning the slices out on a platter.
Serving the juicy steak sliced thin gives it an elegant appearance and helps it go further because people only take as much as they want to eat, which means you can eat it more often. And, let’s be honest, as delicious as it is, no one needs to eat a whole pound of steak for dinner.
One of our favorite tips that helps bring the ribeye’s flavors to life is to sprinkle a little salt over the slices along with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice right before serving.
In case you’re wondering, this grilled steak recipe is also delicious with New York Strip, T-bones, and porterhouses.
- 1 lb ribeye steak
- 2 tsp rosemary, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 lemon, sliced in quarters
- In a small bowl, combine the minced rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp of salt, and pepper.2 tsp rosemary, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
- Rub the steak with the seasoning mixture, making sure to coat the entire thing.1 lb ribeye steak
- Preheat the grill before adding the steak. Grill the steak on medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes per side, depending on thickness. For steaks thinner than 3/4 of an inch reduce the cooking time by a couple of minutes per side.
- Take the steak off when it's firm to the touch but still has some springiness. Let the steak rest for 3 to 5 minutes under tented foil when it comes off the grill.
- Slice the steak on the bias, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice and sprinkle the rest of the salt over the top right before serving.1/2 lemon, 1 tsp salt