Medium Vs. Medium Rare | Are They The Same?

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The most common ways to eat steak are medium and medium rare. But, for people who are not as used to knowing about the different degrees of cooking a steak, they all might seem the same! If you need clarification about this, too, you have stumbled across the right article here; we will discuss medium vs. medium rare! 

Medium vs Medium Rare

The concept of cooking meat to a certain degree is not limited to steak! There are a lot of different types of meat that can be eaten in medium rare! However, more often than not, it is used for steak. Many people need clarification about these and think they are all the same. However, that is so not the case! 

The main difference between medium and medium rare steak is how long they are cooked. A medium rare steak is cooked for a much shorter time than a medium steak, so it is pink and very juicy in comparison. 

If you aren’t a meat expert and you look at two slices of steak side by side, they might seem the same! So, the confusion between a medium rare and a medium steak is quite valid! The differences between the two get much more evident when the steaks are sliced! 

In this article, you will learn about these two types of steak, their characteristics, and their basic differences. I have also included their similarities and some wonderful recipe ideas that you could try. So, let’s get started! 

Medium Vs. Medium Rare | The Difference Table

Some differences can be discussed in detail regarding these two types of steaks. But, before we do that, let us briefly examine the main differences with this table. 

Basis Of DifferenceMediumMedium Rare
ColorPink surrounded by brownMostly pink with a hint of red
Temperature (For Steak)120-130 degrees F130-135 degrees F
Texture Tender and less juicyJuicier
Time2 minutes on each side3 minutes on each side

What Is Medium? 

What is medium?

If you or anyone you often know orders steak at restaurants, you may have heard the server ask how they would like the meat. Initially, when I was unaware of this whole concept, it baffled me! 

I didn’t know that just a few minutes here and there could make such a difference to so many aspects of meat! Moreover, the medium is one of the most preferred ways that people like to have their steak. But what exactly is this steak like? 

A medium steak or meat is cooked to an extent with pink flesh in the center, surrounded by a brown or gray band of cooked meat. The timing to get a steak cooked to medium depends on the type of meat. But, steak usually takes 3 minutes of cooking time on each side. 

A medium steak is also very tender to the bite. Much more than various other types of doneness. A medium steak is cooked to just the perfect amount; hence, it remains tender and juicy simultaneously. 

What Is Medium Rare? 

What Is Medium Rare?

Another popular way of enjoying certain types of meats, most commonly steaks, is medium rare. There are better ways to cook all sorts of meat than Medium rare, as options like poultry need to be cooked all through. 

Poultry and even fish, for that matter, are almost inedible at this stage. However, medium rare is the most common way to enjoy one after medium for steak and certain gamey meats. So, is a medium rare steak just like a medium steak? 

A rare, medium level of doneness means that meat or steak is cooked shorter than you would with a medium steak. This leaves the flesh pink inside, with some red speckles, showing the uncooked meat. 

This may seem odd to many, especially those who aren’t used to eating meat. Why would people enjoy something that isn’t even cooked all the way? Well, that is because a medium rare steak is exceptionally juicy, and many people prefer that over various other things! 

Medium Vs. Medium Rare | Differences Between The Two

Earlier, we looked at the differences between medium and medium rare steak, but all in brief. In this section, I have discussed each of those points in detail! So, let’s get right into the differences! 

1. Color

Their colors are the first and foremost difference that sets these two levels apart. As I mentioned before, it would be very difficult to tell the two apart if they were placed side by side, just as they are. 

This is because they both have a brown color on the outside, with a charred look. The difference becomes prominent when you slice a steak. A medium steak has a pink center with a brown band around it, whereas a medium rare steak is pink all over. 

 2. Temperature

The next factor that sets a medium steak apart from a medium rare one is its internal temperature. Here, the temperature will surely differ depending on the type of meat. So, we will be taking steak as an example. 

You will know that a steak is cooked to the medium stage when it reaches an internal temperature of 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit. A medium-rare steak has an internal temperature of 120- 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

3. Texture

The texture is another factor that sets these two steaks apart. A simple formula works here: the longer a slice of meat is cooked, the more moisture it releases and gets drier. 

So, keeping that in mind, a medium steak is cooked for a longer period and hence, is less juicy than a medium-rare steak. Moreover, a medium steak tends to be slightly more tender than a medium rare steak. 

4. Time

The last difference between the two lies in the cooking time. Again, the cooking time does differ for different types of meats. So, here we will be talking about steak. The average time to cook a steak to the medium stage is 3 minutes on each side. 

It gives the steak a lovely char on the outside and also makes the inside tender. Medium rare, on the other hand, is cooked for two minutes on each side, and just this difference of a single minute brings about a lot of changes in its texture and color! 

Medium Vs. Medium Rare | Similarities Between The Two

In the previous section, we discussed the differences between a medium and a medium rare steak. Although they do have some obvious differences between them, there are also a few minor similarities between the two as well. 

1. Both Methods Used To Cook Meat

The idea of cooking something to a medium rare or medium extent applies only to meat. This, too, is only very popular with some meat out there! Certain types of meat, especially pork and poultry, cannot be eaten when they are medium rare. 

So, this concept in cooking only applies there. But, meat like beef, elk, and certain other gamey selections can be cooked to medium rare or medium and easily enjoyed, while it isn’t possible with others. 

2. Meat Is Not Cooked All The Way 

The next and final similarity that a medium and medium rare steak share is that the meat is not cooked throughout, in both cases. Yes, a medium steak is more cooked than a medium rare one. 

However, even a medium steak has a pink center surrounded by dark, cooked meat. Medium rare, however, is mostly all pink in the center. So, in both cases, the meat is not cooked all the way, hence the similarity. 

Types Of Meat That Taste Good When Cooked Medium Rare

Even after knowing all about the rare, medium level of doneness with meat and what it’s like, it can still be a task to figure out what sort of meat tastes good when cooked to this extent. Do not worry; here, I have mentioned a few types of meat that can be enjoyed as medium rare and taste good! 

1. Beef

The first and most obvious option when cooking a steak to a rare medium level is beef. Generally, beef, regardless of the cut, only needs as much processing or cooking as other types of meat. 

Moreover, when beef is cooked to a rare medium degree, the meat is extremely juicy and tender, just at the right places, making it amazing! The internal temperature of a steak should be 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit at medium rare. 

2. Lamb

Lamb is another meat that tastes marvelous if cooked to a rare, medium level. Lamb is a juicy type of meat, and cooking it to a rare, medium level makes the meat retain all of its natural moisture and flavor. 

This, in turn, makes the lamb really tender and also juicy. For lamb, however, this practice is much more common with burgers than racks or whole chunks of meat. The internal temperature of lamb at medium rare should be 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Venison

Usually, the whole concept of cooking meat to a rare, medium level ends with lamb and beef. But if you are into certain specialty cuts and gamey meat, then venison is something that you should try out immediately! 

Venison, in most cases, is always served medium rare. The reason behind this is that venison meat is very tender. If it is overcooked even a little bit, it tends to get dry inside and inedible! So, medium rare, with an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit, works best. 

4. Elk

Elk is another type of gamey meat that many people think is the same as venison. But they are two very different types of meats with similar textures and structures and the same amount of tenderness. 

So, just like venison, elk is best served at a medium-rare level. It is because the longer it is cooked, the tougher it gets. The internal temperature of medium-rare elk would be the same as venison. In most cases, elk is cooked to a higher degree only if it is ground meat. 

5. Bison

Bison is not a very popular sort of meat, even for those who enjoy eating gamey meat. However, people who have developed a taste of bison need help to get enough of it! It has a strong flavor and is extremely juicy and tender. 

Considering its tenderness, cooking a bison steak beyond medium rare will surely leave it dry. So, most people prefer taking it off the grill when it has reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain the juicy texture. 

Types Of Meat That Taste Good When Cooked Medium

Some types of meat taste well when cooked to a medium level of doneness. This list isn’t necessarily all meat, but I have also included seafood, so have a look! 

1. Beef

Yet again, beef wins the race when it comes to cooking meat to different levels of doneness. After medium rare, one of the most popular ways people enjoy eating their steak is if it is cooked to a medium level. 

The meat is less juicy than it would be at a medium-rare level since a lot of moisture from the meat is lost. However, as it is cooked from the sides, it gets tender and generally gives a great mouthfeel. 

2. Lamb

Lamb is another versatile cut of meat that can take different cooking levels and still taste great! A common way to cook lamb to ensure it retains moisture and is tender is cooking it to a medium level. 

It can be for ground meat and also for a whole steak. Lamb tastes incredible if cooked to a medium stage, for the same reason as that with beef. The meat gets tender, just the right amount of juicy, and tastes incredible! 

3. Pork

Pork can be a tricky piece of meat. Some people would only recommend eating pork if it is well done; however, that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, pork has certain bacteria, and parasites destroyed when the meat is cooked. 

In most cases, pork is cooked either to a medium level or even well done, in other cases. All harmful bacteria and parasites die at temperatures beyond 145 degrees Fahrenheit; hence, pork remains tender and tastes good. 

4. Duck 

Cooking meat to a medium level of doneness is only recommended for some poultry. Poultry like chicken and turkey are white and always cooked to a well-done extent; otherwise, they are likely to spread salmonella. 

However, duck, in comparison, has a very different texture. It is much closer to red meat as compared to poultry. Moreover, cooking duck till it is well cooked always tends to make it dry, so people prefer eating duck cooked to a medium level. 

5. Seafood

With most types of fish and seafood, only two cooking levels are acceptable for consumption. The first is eating the meat raw, while the other is cooking them all to a medium level. 

If cooked beyond a medium level, seafood and fish tend to dry out and get overcooked, leaving them inedible. So, almost every type of fish and seafood is cooked to the highest internal temperature of 145 – 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a medium level of doneness. 

Medium Vs. Medium Rare | Which One Is Healthier? 

When meat is cooked to different degrees, quite a lot of its juices are lost, which creates changes in the texture. However, does the loss of juices also account for the loss of certain nutrients? Is one of these a healthier option than the other?

Medium and medium rare steak, in most cases, are equally healthy. As there is little difference in their degree or time of cooking, it does not create as much of an effect that would lead to nutrition loss. So, it all eventually depends on what type of meat you are cooking. 

Medium Vs. Medium Rare | Which One Is Better? 

Another question that may have crossed your mind, especially if this is something other than what you are too familiar with, would be if either is better. Well, I don’t think it would be fair for me to judge this. 

This is simply because flavor preferences are unique to every person. So, because I think something is better, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else would think the same! So, it eventually completely depends on the person eating the steak and their preferences, with texture and flavor. 


This article helped you understand the differences between a medium rare and a medium level of doneness with meat. There are certainly some notable differences between the two that are brought about just because they are cooked to different levels. But, eventually, it all comes down to preference, as both levels taste incredible in some way or the other! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can beef be eaten at both medium and medium rare stages?

Yes, beef can be eaten at medium and rare levels of doneness. 

Is it safe to eat pork when it is medium rare? 

Eating pork cooked just to a medium level isn’t recommended, as it can harm health. 

Can fish and seafood be cooked beyond medium? 

No, if seafood and fish are cooked beyond medium, then dry out and become extremely chewy and almost inedible. 

Can poultry be eaten medium or medium rare? 

No, most types of poultry can only be eaten if they are cooked until they are well done. 

Are gamey meats like elk and venison ever cooked beyond medium rare? 

Yes, they are cooked beyond medium rare, but that is mostly when they are mixed with ground pork to prepare burgers. 

Can medium and medium rare steaks work as substitutes for each other? 

No, not necessarily, as they have different textures which are easy to tell apart. 

Is a medium steak more expensive than a medium rare one? 

No, the cut of meat decides the cost of it and not the level of cooking. 

Is it safe to eat duck cooked to a medium level of doneness? 

Duck is the only type of poultry that can be served and enjoyed at a medium level of doneness. 

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