Brown Sugar-Grilled Steaks Recipe

Steaks on a grill
Alexandru Stoica/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

It may sound odd, but the result is fantastic as the sugar caramelizes on these sugar-grilled steaks for an unusual taste sensation.

This method is best used with steaks less than 1-inch thick. Otherwise, the sugar will burn before the beef is done.

"Beer-Can Chicken" by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing)


  • 4 boneless strip steaks (each about 3/4-inch thick and weighing 8 ozs, see Author's note below)
  • Plenty of coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar (see Author's note)

Steps to Make It

  1. 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 into the meat with the back of a spoon. Turn the steaks over and repeat.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Transfer the grilled steaks to a platter and reseason with salt and pepper. Let the steaks rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Author's Note:
The recipe can be made using either brown or white sugar. The latter seems to caramelize a touch better, but both work well. And don't be stingy with the salt. You need it to offset the sweetness.

Sugar burns when grilled, so you will need to choose a steak that is fairly thin and quick cooking -- 3/4- to 1-inch thick is ideal. Don't try this on a thick porterhouse steak. The burnt sugar will become bitter before the meat is cooked through.

Source: by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing)
Reprinted with permission.