What's the Difference Between Rare, Medium, and Well-Done Steak?

Updated on August 25, 2017

What Are the Levels of Steak Doneness?

  • Well done: Grayish-brown with no sign of pink. It's usually slightly charred on the outside. Cooking a good steak to this level of doneness is a challenge. It has to be done slowly on low heat, or else you end up with shoe leather.
  • Medium well: Mostly gray-brown throughout, but with a hint of pale pink inside. Good for someone who wants an ever-so-slightly juicy steak, but detests any sign of "blood" in their meat.
  • Medium: A more pronounced band of pink in the middle of the steak. However, there should still be slightly more gray-brown than pink coloration.
  • Medium rare: Warm and has a mostly pink-to-red center. Firm on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside.
  • Rare: Cool or warm red center. It's nearly like raw meat, but obviously cooked on the outside.
  • Very rare or blue: Red, cool, and practically raw. It's barely cooked for the true carnivores amongst us.
  • Raw: I think this one is self-explanatory. Die-hard carnivores can go for this.

Isn't Eating Undercooked Meat Dangerous?

When it comes to things like chicken, pork, and ground beef, yes, definitely! But the risk for steak is different. If a cut of steak is going to have any bacteria, it's just about always going to be on the outside. Steak doesn't contain the parasites that plague chickens and pigs. However, the outside should be cooked and handled with clean instruments.

Ground beef, on the other hand, is going to have bacteria spread throughout. You are more likely to get E. Coli by eating undercooked ground beef. Go for a well-done hamburger.

Our biggest worry with chicken meat is salmonella. It's very common for chickens to carry salmonella, which permeates its flesh. The only way to kill the salmonella is to thoroughly cook the chicken meat.

Undercooked pork is potentially even worse than undercooked chicken. There's a risk of developing trichinosis as a result of eating undercooked pork... if the pig was infected the larvae of a trichina worm.

But I Don't Want My Steak to Bleed!

People who love rare steak usually fend off this objection with, "It's not blood, it's MEAT JUICE!" (Or they just grin carnivorously and say that the "blood" is the best part.)

The squeamish people scoff and throw up a wall of skepticism. "Yeah, right. So what exactly IS meat juice, anyway?"

That "meat juice" is mostly water, fat and myoglobin. Did you know the real reason raw meat looks so red is because of myoglobin protein in the muscles? Contrary to popular belief, it's not because of the hemoglobin found in blood.

A quality steak that's been properly drained and cleaned should contain hardly any blood at all, even when it's served rare.

To Be More Specific...

How would you like your steak?

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Questions & Answers

    How Cooked Do You Like Your Steak?

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      • profile image

        Marilyn Willett 6 weeks ago

        I like my steaks rare and cool inside, cooked quickly on the outside only.

      • Rachel L Alba profile image

        Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

        I like my steaks between medium and medium rear. It's hard to get it that way, even in a restaurant. Thanks for all the information, great hub.

      • kaseyrivenburgh profile image

        kaseyrivenburgh 4 years ago

        I love steaks of any toppings

      • garagerob profile image

        garagerob 4 years ago

        I love steaks so much and I like mine to be medium rare.. Great lens!

      • profile image

        ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

        I like blue cheese crust on top of my steak!

      • profile image

        LadyDuck 4 years ago

        I do not like to see blood coming out of my steak, but I do not want a burnt hard steak. Medium to medium rare is the way I love my steak.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I love streaks

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        I love streaks

      • petertraoassi2 profile image

        petertraoassi2 5 years ago

        I like to make mine medium at home and well in a restaurant!

      • Jogalog profile image

        Jogalog 5 years ago

        I'mso so hungry now!

      • CynergySoftware profile image

        CynergySoftware 5 years ago

        I say burn the steak. Don't want to see any red!

      • captainj88 profile image

        Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

        Heinz 57, some sliced jalapenos and a well-done slab of beef sounds really good right now.

      • kavalonthatsme profile image

        kavalonthatsme 5 years ago

        Now I am hungry, great lens.

      • victoriahaneveer profile image

        victoriahaneveer 5 years ago

        Nice lens. My steak is always medium-rare. Having it overdone and tough doesn't work for me. Neither does having it cold and looking like a good veterinarian could resurrect it.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Great lens!

      • spids1 profile image

        spids1 5 years ago

        Great lens very well written.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        thanks for sharing

      • Carashops profile image

        Cara 5 years ago

        All the family love a medium steak.

      • profile image

        games_rush 5 years ago

        Hmm...I love steak...:)

      • profile image

        games_rush 5 years ago

        Hmm...I love steak...:)

      • profile image

        kgdunst 5 years ago

        I miss Danny Crane after reading this lens.. oh

      • profile image

        clerk1993 5 years ago

        steak is my favorite. well i would say medium is the best the steak.

      • KhairuZiya profile image

        KhairuZiya 5 years ago

        nice share, thank's

      • IncomeFromHomeT profile image

        IncomeFromHomeT 5 years ago

        Something you haven't talked about here is the difference in how the cows are raised. I live in Pennsylvania and often buy from the butcher who just purchased from the farmer. The cows are pasture raised. And the meat is tasty and good! Not that long ago I was in a hurry and picked up a steak at the local supermarket. It was bland and tasteless, and most likely raised in a factory/feedlot farm. I won't do that again! Especially since the local meat is roughly comparable in price!

      • KanesCanines profile image

        KanesCanines 5 years ago

        Great lens!

      • profile image

        clayva 5 years ago

        Love the Tshirts!

      • profile image

        garyhennesrealtors 5 years ago

        good lens.

      • DecoratingEvents profile image

        DecoratingEvents 5 years ago

        Thanks for an easy to understand explanation. More people need to read this so they can order what they really want!

      • profile image

        RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

        Love a good steak - Thanks for sharing your expertise!

      • OCDiscusFish profile image

        OCDiscusFish 5 years ago

        i love steak, please check us out new to squidoo. The healthy Energy drink!!

      • profile image

        CristianStan 5 years ago

        I like my steak done medium well. No blood and no charred meat. Just perfect, the way it should be. I think that everyone should have their steak this way.

      • alex89 lm profile image

        alex89 lm 5 years ago

        For steak I like medium-rare, but I do love a good carpaccio or steak tartar, which are both as raw as you get! Depending on the country I order different things to get my medium rare. In France its medium rare, in England its rare, and here in Montreal it's whatever the chef thinks is best for the cut!

      • spids1 profile image

        spids1 5 years ago

        Medium for me thanks.

      • profile image

        MichaelRagan 5 years ago

        great lense. you should check out minehttp://www.squidoo.com/workshop/steaks2?notice=add...

      • profile image

        Edwinrocks 5 years ago


      • CCTVwebmaster profile image

        CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

        Wow, your lens made me really hungry! Must have steak tonight I think!

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        Hungry now, yeesh.

      • sunny saib profile image

        sunny saib 5 years ago

        tasty lenses make me hungry!!

      • casquid profile image

        casquid 5 years ago

        Another great lens. Many thanks for all the great insight!

      • profile image

        bill-beaman2 5 years ago

        just salt and pepper is all I need.

      • Rumisglass profile image

        Rumisglass 5 years ago

        All spice all the way!

      • MarilynThompson profile image

        Marilyn Thompson 5 years ago from Washington State

        Chicago Blue for me - Grill-seared outside and rare in the middle.

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        just salt and pepper will do!

      • SheilaMilne profile image

        SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

        I like rare to medium. In France this is pretty red in the centre but in the UK it comes barely pink.

      • queenofduvetcover profile image

        queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

        Awesome lens. I always wondered if eating rare steak was bad for you. Great info! I like mine well done. =)

      • joanhall profile image

        Joan Hall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

        My husband and I were eating in a restaurant once and after he bit into his steak he said, "Now I see why they don't like for people to order anything well done here. It's because they don't know how to cook it well done without burning it."

      • digitaltree profile image

        digitaltree 6 years ago

        Nice Lens, i have try well done steak that is juicy. It all depends on the skillful chef who makes it, a bad one can give you well done steak that's not juicy.

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Nice lens. Can't wait to show the significant other that it's really not blood on my plate!

      • tyrosine profile image

        tyrosine 6 years ago

        medium rare is the best for me! :) never fail!

      • profile image

        aquarian_insight 6 years ago

        Excellent and yummy lens - now I want a steak dinner!

      • Gabriel360 profile image

        Gabriel360 6 years ago

        Hahahaha! Great and FUNNY Lens!

      • Gabriel360 profile image

        Gabriel360 6 years ago

        Hahahaha! Great and FUNNY Lens!

      • profile image

        AnimalHouse 6 years ago

        Wonderful lens! I learned a lot and thanks for the information!

      • GOT LM profile image

        GOT LM 6 years ago

        Nice work.

      • JoyfulReviewer profile image

        JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

        Nicely informative lens.

      • profile image

        BradKamer 6 years ago

        I am a big fan of Montreal seasoning on my steak.

      • profile image

        phpdeveloperindia 6 years ago

        Cream Sauce

      • profile image

        phpdeveloperindia 6 years ago

        Cream Souce

      • newbizmau profile image

        Maurice Glaude 6 years ago from Mobile, AL

        Normally I like it Medium Rare blackened, but if I want to get fancy and pull out my chef skills I like my steak prepared to a demi-gloss.

      • mihgasper profile image

        Miha Gasper 6 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

        Cream sauce:-)

      • profile image

        River_Rose 6 years ago

        I like sea salt and black pepper, that's it!

      • profile image

        duncan73 6 years ago

        very cool lens!

      • profile image

        pattywatty8 6 years ago

        this lens was great

      • profile image

        pattywatty8 6 years ago

        this lens was great

      • profile image

        esperso1136  6 years ago

        I have appreciate with getting lot of good and reliable, legislative information with your post.......

        Thanks for sharing such kind of nice and wonderful collection......

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      • pyngthyngs profile image

        pyngthyngs 6 years ago

        Have you used the trick using the muscle between your thumb and pointer finger to familiarize yourself with the feel of doneness of steak? It works quite well..

      • benny77 profile image

        benny77 6 years ago

        Fun Lens. Thanks

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        I enjoyed your lens. Happy New Year!

      • totorotube profile image

        totorotube 6 years ago

        Medium rare is the best xD

      • jadehorseshoe profile image

        jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

        Return Visitor. I like it here.

      • profile image

        luvhammers 6 years ago

        medium to well done for me!

      • ApplianceRepairsB profile image

        ApplianceRepairsB 6 years ago

        medium rare please!

      • profile image

        cleanyoucar 6 years ago

        I like mine medium rare

      • Ronlove LM profile image

        Ronlove LM 6 years ago

        Good lens, lots of information

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Thanks, great steak lens.

      • profile image

        WeekendGriller 6 years ago

        Good information.

        People who eat (suffer through) well-done steak are the same ones who drink lite beer.

      • food monkey profile image

        food monkey 6 years ago

        good information!

      • food monkey profile image

        food monkey 6 years ago

        good information!

      • christopherwell profile image

        christopherwell 6 years ago

        Steak! Especially slathered with Heinz 57 or A1.

      • TheGourmetCoffe profile image

        TheGourmetCoffe 6 years ago

        Interesting lens, lots of great links. Well done (the lens, not the steak...no pun intended, really...).

        Thank you for sharing your insights!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Go vegetarian and so NOOOOO to steak!!!

      • LTPParents profile image

        Tracy Gibb 6 years ago

        I'm so hungry right now! I almost licked my computer screen because these steaks look so good!

      • profile image

        crudeoilsystems 6 years ago

        I prefer well done, is safe for me I suppose, but this is a good lens, thanks!!

      • cheech1981 profile image

        cheech1981 6 years ago

        i did a semester of culinary school and we had to try completely raw beef...it actually wasn't that bad...we put olive oil on top...i think it is served in some italian restaurants that way. anyway it's not much different than eating sushi...i like my steaks rare and medium rare though so perhaps that's why i didn't mind it. :)

      • profile image

        omgursostupid 6 years ago

        mmmmmmmmmmmmm................tasty tasty murder ;)

      • lucy439br profile image

        lucy439br 6 years ago

        Love it!

      • profile image

        fanmail 6 years ago

        This lens is informative and entertaining at the same time.

      • sq1234 profile image

        sq1234 6 years ago

        nice one!

      • AnnsHomeDecor profile image

        AnnsHomeDecor 6 years ago

        Cool Lens. Now I want steak for dinner.

      • CruiseReady profile image

        CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

        Seasonings? A little Lea & Perrins, please.

      • profile image

        RedHotDesign 6 years ago

        Great lens! Very interesting indeed! Thanks for sharing!

      • feliciasfavs profile image

        feliciasfavs 6 years ago

        cool debate lens. I enjoyed it.

      • profile image

        NidhiRajat 6 years ago

        interesting lens ...great job done!!!

      • AvidArchie profile image

        AvidArchie 6 years ago

        I think you wrote this specifically for me! Great lens and Go Medium Rare!

      • LadyCharlie profile image

        LadyCharlie 6 years ago

        Steak is great once in a while. Nice lens!

      • IvoryPearl profile image

        IvoryPearl 6 years ago

        Due to the drought in Texas, cows are dying. Enjoy your steak while you can without having to re-mortgage your house.

      • NightSquid LM profile image

        NightSquid LM 6 years ago

        I love a good steak don't forget a pat of butter and let it rest 10 minutes or so.

      • jasminesphotogr profile image

        jasminesphotogr 6 years ago

        Very fun lens. :)

      • profile image

        Bronnze 6 years ago

        Informative and very helpful, good lens.

      • worldrevivalnet profile image

        worldrevivalnet 6 years ago

        great lens!