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Beef Grilling with Dr. Ryan Cox

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AARP Minnesota partnered with the Minnesota Beef Council and Dr. Ryan Cox for a virtual beef grilling lesson all about beef. Dr. Ryan Cox, Associate Professor of Meat Science from the University of Minnesota walked us through the basics of a beef cut, how to prep the cut for grilling and the best grilling techniques to use.

Beef Basics

Dr. Ryan Cox explained that the middle meat of the cow is what is called ‘steak’. The higher the meat is on the cow, the more tender it is. This is because the lower meat on the cow is closer to muscles that work harder and cause the meat to become tougher. You may also hear cuts of meat referred to as ‘chuck’, meaning it is from the front of the cow or ‘loin’, meaning it is from the back of the cow.

When shopping for cuts of meat, you will see they are labeled with quality grades. Cuts of meat are examined and graded by the amount of marbling of fats vs muscle there is on the meat itself. Quality grades also determine the price of meat.


When storing your beef, follow the 40°- 140° rule. Keep your beef stored in a temperature below 40° to keep as fresh as possible and cook your beef to an internal temperature of at least 140° to kill any present bacteria. When you are ready to cook your beef, the safest way to thaw your beef is by placing in the refrigerator. Do not thaw under warm water or by placing it on the counter.

If you like to marinade your beef for more flavor, try either marinating the night before cooking or marinating 15 minutes before cooking. Pat dry before grilling. Both techniques will allow for the marinade to work to the best of its ability.

The Perfect Grill

Grilling beef can be done many ways but following these tips will help you cook your beef cuts to perfection. Start by cleaning your grill with a wire brush and wet paper towel to have the freshest cleaning surface possible. Once you use your tongs to place the raw beef on the grill, make sure to place the end of the tongs in the hot grill to kill off any bacteria.

Tougher cuts of beef cook best with low temperature and for a longer period. Steaks cook best at high temperature and quickly. If you are using a gas grill, the temperature should be between 400°- 450°. For the best sear, keep moisture minimal to avoid drying out the beef.

When your beef is done, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Stick the thermometer in the side of the beef cut to ensure the most accurate temperature reading. It’s important to remember that beef increases temperature by 5° as it comes off the grill.

Dr. Ryan Cox advises to not sauce beef while on the grill, it’s wasteful and alters the taste of the sauce - salt and pepper are always the perfect go-to seasoning anyways. Let beef rest 5-15 minutes before enjoying.

Degree of Doneness
140° Rare
150° Medium Rare
160° Medium
170° Medium Well
180° Well Done

Grilling this summer is a must so keeping these tips in your back pocket can be very helpful. Be sure to check out Minnesota Beef Council for more information. Visit our AARP MN Events Page for more fun opportunities coming up and watch the recording below if you missed our beef grilling virtual lesson!

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