Chewy, tough or otherwise not tender enough? Here are the five most common reasons you might be experiencing some issues with your steak.

There are many reasons why your steaks can be tough, but the most common reason is that you didn’t cook it long enough. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why your steak might be tough. Read more in detail here: why is my ribeye steak tough.

It’s possible that some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, I may get a commission. In addition, I receive money on qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate. —

You expect a piece of steak to be soft and delicate when you bite into it. You can almost taste the meaty fluids and the delicious flavor.

However, your first bite is dry, and you can’t seem to swallow it. Why is it that steak may be rough and chewy at times?

When the meat is of low quality and not fresh, the cut is not appropriate for the cooking process, the steak is too skinny, or the steak has been undercooked or overdone, the steak becomes rough and chewy. If steaks are not rested after cooking and cut against the grain, they will be tough.

When you cut into a steak, you can tell if it’ll have that mouth-watering succulence or whether you’ll be chewing the whole time. You can end up with a dry, stringy mouthful even if it slices readily enough.

What causes a steak to be so overcooked?

Why is my steak chewy and tough?

Your steak might be tough and chewy for a variety of reasons. These factors include anything from the meat’s quality to how it was kept, prepared, and cooked.

1 – The Meat Is of Poor Quality

The first cause for a rough and chewy steak is that it was made with low-quality beef. A poor-quality steak will never come out flawlessly, no matter how thoroughly you cook it.

The quality of your steak is influenced by a number of factors.

What’s the Story Behind the Steak?

Meat quality begins with the animal itself, and is determined by the breed, the animal’s lifestyle, and the manner in which it was slain.

Breeds of Steak to Avoid

Japanese Wagyu cattle provide the finest, most tender steaks, although Brahman, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Charolais, Simmental, and Angus cattle all produce excellent steaks.

Raising and Feeding Methodologies

The meat’s quality is influenced by the animal’s quality of life. Grass-fed beef is unquestionably the finest, whereas corn-fed beef has more marbled flesh and fat distributed throughout the muscles.

Animal’s Age

The animal’s age is also significant. Older cattle will have had greater physical activity, resulting in more dense muscle fiber and a harder texture in the meat. Younger animals’ meat will be softer and less chewy, with more fat and marbling.

Conditions of Slaughter

The manner in which an animal is killed may have an impact on the meat’s quality. After death, the glycogen (sugar) that provides energy to the muscles of a healthy and rested animal that has not been stressed by the slaughter process turns to lactic acid. The meat becomes soft and of excellent quality as a result of this chemical treatment.

When an animal is agitated before slaughter, the glycogen in its muscles is depleted, resulting in less lactic acid in the meat, lowering its quality.

Was the Steak Ribeye Ribeye Ribeye Ribeye Ribeye Rib

The way meat is handled in a butchery or grocery shop may enhance or degrade its quality.

The majority of beef is either dry-aged for seven to twenty-eight days or wet-aged for four to ten days.

The natural meat enzymes break down the harder tissue during dry age, resulting in more taste and softness. In contrast to the brilliant red hue of fresh meat, aged beef has a hard texture and a black tone.

What is the Steak’s Grade?

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the United States grades beef as follows:

  • The best grade steak is prime beef. This meat is characterized by considerable marbling and originates from young, well-fed animals. You’ll be eating excellent meat in a restaurant or hotel. You won’t find prime beef at a store, but you may be able to buy it at a butcher.
  • Choice beef is still high-quality meat, but at a lower cost. The majority of home chefs will choose choice beef, which is flavorful and tender but lacks marbling.
  • Select beef is a third-grade cut of beef that is leaner and less costly. It’s not the finest steak option.

2 – The Steak Cut Isn’t the Best

Different cuts of steak originate from different areas of the animal’s body and contain differing quantities of muscle, bone, and fat. The tenderness of your steak will be influenced by these factors.

The quantity of connective tissue in a steak has a substantial impact on chewiness (ligaments, tendons, and membranes). Your steak will be harder, chewier, and stringier if there is more connective tissue between the muscles.

Another factor to consider is the density of the muscle fibers. A portion of meat from a more active animal will be harder and contain more muscle fiber. That’s why meat from an animal’s leg, shoulders, and upper back is best marinated and slow-cooked to tenderize it.

Tenderloin and filet mignon steaks are taken from the animal’s belly, thigh, rump, and flanks, and are more soft and tasty. Ribeye (Delmonico steak), sirloin, T-bone, porterhouse, strip, and tri-tip steak are some of the other juicy and excellent cuts.

3 – The Steak Is Overcooked

Whichever cut of steak you pick, one common component will be the amount of fat in the steak; this will determine whether or not your steak will be tough.

Steaks are rated in the United States based on how much marbling they contain. Butchers refer to visible fat between the muscles as marbling. You should be able to detect specks and strips of white fat if you look at a raw steak.

Other meat-loving countries, such as South Africa, like the fat on the exterior of the steak to keep it leaner.

In any case, the fat is necessary for softness because it melts into the meat as it cooks, softening it and imparting rich flavor. After cooking, the fat gives the meat that appetizing golden brown hue.

Because there isn’t much fat to make a lean steak moist, it must be prepared and grilled with care. A leaner steak should always be cooked at a lower temperature and for a shorter period of time.

4 – The Steak Is Out-of-Date

Freshness in steak does not always imply how recently the animal was killed; some of the tastiest steaks have been aged for a long time. Freshness relates to how well a steak has been preserved and frozen, as well as how long it has been frozen.

A frozen and defrosted steak will never be as tender as one that has not been frozen and defrosted. Unfortunately, restaurants often purchase meat in bulk and keep it frozen until required.

Purchasing frozen, vacuum-sealed meat does not imply that it will be difficult. A improperly defrosted steak, on the other hand, will be rough and chewy.

To properly thaw a steak, keep it in the refrigerator overnight to preserve the taste and texture of the meat while also preventing it from spoiling due to bacterial infection.

5 – The Steak Isn’t Cooked Correctly

Even if you start with the greatest grade, perfectly aged marbled steak, if you don’t properly prepare, cook, and rest it, you’ll end up with a damaged, tough, and chewy piece of meat.

In a cast-iron skillet, you may grill, roast, or pan-sear meat.

Was the Steak Seasoned Correctly?

You’ll need to season your meat before cooking it, even if it’s of excellent quality.

Seasoning the raw steak with salt and pepper and letting it rest in the fridge overnight is one method. Although the salt draws the liquids out of the meat, the resting procedure helps the flesh to re-absorb the moisture, keeping it juicy and tasty.

Other chefs season the steak just before it’s cooked, but not while it’s cooking. All you need for seasoning is a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt.

If necessary, season the steak with pepper after it has been cooked.

Was the steak tenderized before serving?

Tenderizing your meat will benefit it if you know you’re beginning with a less tender steak. If you skip this step, your steak will be rough and chewy.

Marinating steak overnight in the refrigerator is the finest method to tenderize it. An acid (such as lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk) is frequently used in the marinade, which aids in the breakdown of muscle fibers. Most meats benefit from marinades as well.

Commercial meat tenderizers, the majority of which include MSG and are flavor enhancers, may also be used to season your steak.

Manual tenderizing techniques include using a meat hammer or mallet, or punching small holes in the steak with a fork, both of which soften the steak but compromise texture and taste.

Before cooking, was the steak at room temperature?

Allowing the meat to come to room temperature before cooking it ensures that it cooks evenly.

If the meat is still cold on the inside, it will take longer to cook, making it more likely to be overcooked.

Was the pan or grill sufficiently hot?

Another cause of tough steak is cooking it in a skillet or on a grill that isn’t hot enough. Steak can withstand a hot pan that sears the exterior of the meat, generating that beautiful brown crust, while allowing the center to cook more slowly.

If you start cooking the meat too slowly, it will either undercook or overcook, leaving the meat tough and chewy.

Is it possible that the steak was undercooked?

A steak that has been cooked insufficiently might be tough and chewy due to a lack of heat to melt the fat and provide taste and juiciness.

Eating undercooked meat may also be hazardous due to the risk of bacterial infection, which can result in food poisoning.

Is it possible that the steak was overcooked?

The most common cause of tough and chewy steaks cooked at home is overcooking.

Although cooking steak brings out its taste and tenderness, overcooking it destroys the lipids and dries up the fluids, making it hard and leathery.

Another method to overcook a steak is to use a spatula to push it down in the pan or on the grill. Don’t use a fork to poke it. In either case, you’re squeezing the meat’s fluids out, making it drier and harsher.

Did you use a meat thermometer to check the temperature?

A meat thermometer, which measures the interior temperature of the steak and indicates whether it is done or not, is the finest method to guarantee that your steak is cooked to perfection.

This table shows how long a one-and-a-half-inch boneless steak should be cooked when grilled or pan-seared.

  Time Temperature inside the house
Rare 2 12 minutes on each side 130⁰F/54.4⁰C
Medium-rare 3 12 minutes on each side 135⁰F/57.2⁰C
Medium 4 minutes for either side 140⁰F/60⁰C
Medium-well 5 minutes for each side 145-150⁰F/65.5⁰C
Well 6 minutes for either side 155⁰F/68.3⁰C

Was the Steak Given Time to Rest?

Even though it’s tempting to eat a newly cooked steak right away, the flesh will be significantly more tender if you let it rest for at least five to ten minutes.

Remember that a steak continues to cook for a few minutes after it has been removed from the flame. Resting the meat enables the liquids created while cooking to be absorbed and redistributed, keeping it moist.

If you quickly slice into your steak, you’ll lose a lot of the liquids to the plate or cutting board, leaving the meat dry and tough.

Remove the steak from the grill or stove and set it aside on a plate or cutting board to rest. To keep the beef warm while resting, cover it with a tin foil tent.

If you’re concerned about the steak becoming cold, place it in a preheated oven set to the lowest setting or in a warming drawer.

Was the steak properly sliced?

The chewiness of a steak is influenced by how it is cut before eating. You’ll have to chew through the fibers if a steak is sliced parallel to the muscle fibers.

Steaks cut across the muscle fibers or against the grain are simpler to consume because they fall apart more readily.

Last Thoughts

Choose premium grade, well-marbled beef that has been properly matured to prevent your steak from becoming rough and chewy.

Allow the steak to come to room temperature before seasoning it and grilling it. Check the temperature of the meat to see whether it’s done, then set it aside to rest before slicing it against the grain.

The “how to fix chewy steak” is a common problem that many people have. There are 5 common reasons why your steak might be tough and chewy.

Related Tags

  • why is my medium rare steak tough
  • why is my steak rubbery
  • why is my grilled steak tough
  • how to make tough meat tender after cooked
  • is well done steak chewy