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Rubbing oil on steaks before grilling...what's up with that?

I keep seeing all the cooks on TV and in recipes recommend that steaks be oilde before grilling. I have grilled thousands of steaks over the past 50 years and never oiled one. Particularly if one is cooking a ribeye, it is already heavily laden with fat. I use only lots of kosher salt or sea salt. What am I missing here?

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  1. Dunno ... maybe so that they won't stick?

    I've never oiled myself.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      If the grill is as hot as it should be, you need not worry about steak sticking.

      I'm with you, steakman.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I think it is the sticking factor. If you have a leaner steak you need to put just a dab of oil on it. Not much, just a touch. Also if the steak is fatty, as in a ribeye, don't you get a flare-up when you cook it? Or are you just getting it past the "moo" stage (as in pretty rare)?

      2. I don't know about TV cooks but I've done this for years. One of our favorite steaks is flank which is pretty lean. Olive oil not only keeps the steak from sticking but gives some flavor as well.

        1. In some Asian style grilling, rubbing with sesame oil (after a soy marinade) is done for flavoring.

          1. i always thought rubbing oil on the steak before cooking helped give it a crisper 'crust' and help keep the salt, pepper, and/or spices on the steak.

            4 Replies
            1. re: soypower

              Exactly. Get some better crust ont he steak before some of the intramusclar fat begins to render. Not alot is needed, just enough oil on the steak to give it a slight sheen. maybe a tsp per side.

              1. re: ESNY

                Yes I do think it makes for better crust. Oil also helps to provide a layer of even heat as it heat up on the surface. One of the reasons you rub vegetables with oil before grilling.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  I agree with Soypower, ESNY, and Scubadoo97. I never used to oil my steaks until I kept hearing it recommended on the Food Network. It works! You get a nicer crust and the inside is juicier. Also, it gives the kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper something to stick to.

                2. re: ESNY

                  I always oil my steak and let it get to room temperature before I cook it.
                  I get a beautiful carmelized crust on top and none of that cold interior nonsense..just a pink delicious center. It's a beautiful contrast in a nice piece of meat.

              2. I grilled a grassfed steak last night and brushed it with olive oil (thanks to a chowhound's advice!) It was a NY strip steak and pretty lean (grassfed being leaner than grainfed beef). It didn't stick to the grill, though I did oil the grate, but I will say that the final product was delicious!

                And I have always thought it was because of the "sticking" factor.