Football — and all the fun that goes with it — is back this year! If the game day party is headed to your house, remember that great food is the key to a winning affair. You’re sure to score points with guests when you serve steaks that are perfectly prepared on your natural gas grill.

Grilling is one of the most popular ways to enjoy beef because it provides maximum flavor and optimal tenderness, according to the Georgia Beef Board. However, many cooks tend to worry that their lack of grilling prowess will ruin a pricey piece of meat.

When you follow this playbook (and allow yourself a little practice), you’ll find grilling is easy and — most importantly — very satisfying. Check out these guidelines for grilling a restaurant-quality steak at home.

Select your cut

A quality cut of beef is the starting place for an exceptional grilled steak. Yes, it will cost more, but will pay off with every juicy bite. The national Cattlemen’s Beef Board provides an excellent rundown of the various cuts that are good on the grill. A good choice for beginners is a well-marbled ribeye. It’s super juicy, rich with beefy flavor and excellent on the grill.

Pro Tip: For best results, choose steaks that are at least 1 inch thick.

Prep the grill

Always start with clean grill grates. Dip a paper towel in oil using tongs, then lightly coat your grill grates. Next, create two cooking zones — a hot one for charring and searing and a cooler one for gentle cooking. For a gas grill, turn the burners on one side to high and the other side to low. Cover the grill and preheat for 15 minutes until it reaches 450 F.

Set a seasoning strategy

While your grill is heating, pull meat from the fridge and season it. Remember: For food safety reasons, meat should go quickly from chill to grill.

First, pat steaks dry with a clean paper towel. Next, season them. A beginner can’t go wrong with a pinch each of simple sea salt and cracked pepper. If you are a grill veteran looking to take your steaks to new heights, check out these dry rub and marinade ideas from the Beef Board.

Pro Tip: Rub a little olive oil on steaks to help seasonings stick.

Get grillin’

Once your grill grates have pre-heated and your meat is seasoned, you’re ready to put those steaks on the grill. Perdue Farms’ Beef Grilling Guide offers these step-by-step instructions:

  • Place the seasoned steaks over the direct-heat side of the grill. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes before doing a quarter/45-degree turn. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes before flipping.
  • For thin steaks, continue cooking over direct heat, giving another quarter turn after 2 to 3 minutes. For thick steaks, place over indirect heat when you flip, close the lid, and open again within 3 to 6 minutes to give steak a quarter turn.
  • Once the steak is about 5 degrees below the final desired internal temperature (see Monitor Doneness below), remove from the grill. Let steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes, which allows juices to be absorbed into the meat.

Pro Tip: The best thing to do to a steak on the grill is to leave it alone. Flip it once, and don’t poke, prod or press it… let the heat do all the work. Follow the 60/40 rule. This means 60% of the cook time is on the first side, flip, and cook the other side for 40% of the time.

Monitor doneness

You’ll need to measure the doneness of steaks to ensure every guest gets meat prepared to their individual liking. The most accurate way to measure doneness is with an instant-read meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer in the center or meatiest portion of the steak. Use the chart below to cook to your ideal doneness.

  • Rare 120 F
  • Medium-Rare 130 F
  • Medium 140 F
  • Medium-Well 150 F
  • Well 160+ F

Pro Tip: The internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after meat comes off the grill.

With this game plan, you’re sure to serve up perfectly grilled steaks that will please every football fan at the party. Enjoy the game!