Brown Sugar Grilled Steaks

Steaks on a grill
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  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

A brown sugar glaze on a grilled beef steak may sound odd, but the result is fantastic. The sugar caramelizes on these sugar-grilled steaks for an unusual taste sensation. In fact, some of your favorite restaurant steaks may be using this trick.

This method is best used with steaks that are 1-inch thick or less. Otherwise, the sugar will burn before the beef is done, and it will become bitter. A thin steak that is 3/4- to 1-inch thick is the best choice (skip the Porterhouse). You will also need to carefully set up your grill to have a cooler area to move the steaks to if they are in danger of the sugar burning.

This recipe appears in Steven Raichlen's "Beer Can Chicken" cookbook and is reprinted with his permission. He notes that the recipe can be made using either brown or white sugar (both work well), but the white sugar seems to caramelize a touch better. When using sugar, don't be stingy with the salt as it is needed to offset the sweetness.


  • 1 pound steak (4 boneless strip steaks, each about 3/4-inch thick and weighing 8 ounces)
  • Coarse salt, to taste (use plenty of kosher or sea salt)
  • Black pepper, to taste (freshly ground)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (granulated or light brown sugar)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the steaks on a large platter and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of sugar on the top of each steak and rub it into the meat with the back of a spoon. Turn the steaks over and repeat.

  3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. It's a good idea to light the fire in such a way as to have a cooler section of the grill. That way, if the sugar starts to burn over high heat, you can move the steaks to a section that is less hot.

  4. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the steaks on the hot grate at a 45-degree angle to the bars of the grate so that they all face the same way.

  5. Grill the steaks until cooked to taste, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, rotating them 90 degrees after 3 minutes to create a handsome crosshatch of grill marks. Check the underside of the steaks as they cook by lifting one edge. If the crust starts to burn, you must move the steaks to a cooler part of the grill.

  6. Transfer the grilled steaks to a platter and season again with salt and pepper. Let the steaks rest for 2 minutes before serving.

  7. Serve and enjoy!

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