How should I have my steak cooked when pregnant?

Eating steak while pregnant is generally considered safe, as long as it is properly cooked and handled. The main food safety concern with steak during pregnancy is avoiding potential exposure to harmful bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella that could lead to food poisoning. Undercooking steak raises this risk. Knowing how to cook steak to a safe internal temperature is key.

Quick Overview

The recommended internal temperature for cooking steak during pregnancy is 145°F (63°C) for medium rare or 160°F (71°C) for medium/well-done. Using a meat thermometer ensures the steak reaches a safe temperature. Pregnant women may also want to avoid or limit raw or very rare steak and deli meats to further reduce bacteria risks. Choose fresh, high-quality steak and cook thoroughly.

Food Safety Concerns with Undercooked Steak

Eating undercooked or raw meats like steak during pregnancy increases the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Toxoplasma can be present in raw and undercooked meats, and these illnesses can be especially dangerous during pregnancy.

Some potential risks associated with food poisoning from undercooked steak while pregnant include:

  • Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea
  • Harm to the developing fetus if infection spreads to the placenta
  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Stillbirth

Pregnant women have suppressed immune systems, so food poisoning tends to hit harder. Undercooked steak is not worth the risk of coming down with a nasty stomach bug or worse when pregnant.

Riskiest Ways to Eat Steak While Pregnant

Here are some of the highest risk ways to consume steak if pregnant:

  • Raw Steak: Eating raw steak products like steak tartare or carpaccio is not advised during pregnancy due to high bacteria risks.
  • Rare Steak: Rare steak cooked to only 120-125°F internal temperature cannot guarantee killing harmful bacteria.
  • Deli Meat: Pre-packaged sliced deli meats also pose a higher listeriosis risk and should be heated until steaming before eating.

Safest Way to Eat Steak When Pregnant

The safest way to eat steak during pregnancy is to cook it to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F for medium rare or 160°F for medium/well-done. Using a food thermometer is the only way to accurately measure the internal temperature of steak to ensure doneness and safety.

How to Cook Steak to a Safe Temperature

Follow these steps for safely cooking steak to an internal temperature of at least 145°F while pregnant:

  1. Choose high-quality, fresh steaks with minimal marbling/fat.
  2. Trim any excess fat to reduce the risk of flare-ups and charring.
  3. Pat steaks dry before seasoning or marinating.
  4. Insert an instant-read meat thermometer sideways into the thickest part of the steak.
  5. Cook to desired doneness according to these guidelines:
    • Rare: 120-125°F (not recommended when pregnant)
    • Medium Rare: 145°F
    • Medium: 160°F
    • Well Done: 170°F
  6. Let steak rest 3-5 minutes before cutting to allow juices to redistribute.
  7. Discard any marinade used on raw meat after cooking.
  8. Wash all surfaces, utensils and hands that touched raw meat before serving.

Grilling Tips

Grilling is a popular way to cook steak. Follow these extra guidelines when grilling steak while pregnant:

  • Preheat grill to kill any bacteria.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by using separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked meat.
  • Cook steak over direct high heat, moving it once half cooked to get grill marks.
  • Avoid charring or burning steak, which can produce harmful compounds.
  • Insert thermometer sideways into steak away from bone to check temperature.

Pan-Searing Tips

Pan-searing is another excellent method for cooking steak during pregnancy. Follow these tips:

  • Pat steaks very dry before searing.
  • Get pan and oil very hot before adding steaks.
  • Don’t overcrowd pan, cook steaks in batches if needed.
  • Flip steaks with tongs once half cooked and browned.
  • Use meat thermometer in thickest part to test for doneness.
  • Let steaks rest after cooking before cutting.

How Long to Cook Different Cuts of Steak

Cooking times for steaks will vary based on thickness, doneness and cooking method. Below are some general guidelines for common steak cuts when cooking to medium rare (145°F):

Steak Cut Approximate Cooking Time
Filet mignon, 1-inch thick 4 to 6 minutes per side
Ribeye, bone-in, 1-inch thick 6 to 8 minutes per side
Strip steak, 1-inch thick 5 to 7 minutes per side
Flank steak, 1/2-inch thick 8 to 10 minutes total
Skirt steak, 1/2-inch thick 8 to 12 minutes total

Always use a meat thermometer to double-check internal temperature rather than relying solely oncooking times. The thickness of the steak will significantly impact total cooking time needed.

Tips for Safely Handling and Storing Steak When Pregnant

In addition to cooking steak thoroughly when pregnant, proper handling and storage are also key to reducing foodborne illness risks. Here are some recommended tips:

  • Buy fresh: Purchase steaks before the sell-by date and use within 3-5 days for optimal freshness and quality.
  • Check temperature: Steak should be cold to the touch when buying and close to 40°F max temp.
  • Avoid cross-contamination: Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat. Never place cooked meat back on surface/plate that held raw.
  • Wash hands and sanitize: Wash hands and counter thoroughly after working with raw steak.
  • Marinate with caution: Refrigerate meat while marinating. Discard used marinade after cooking.
  • Defrost safely: Thaw frozen steak overnight in fridge vs. countertop.
  • Store properly: Keep steak in coldest part of fridge for max 2-3 days. Freeze for longer storage.
  • Reheat thoroughly: Cook leftovers to 165°F internal temperature.

Types of Steak to Eat When Pregnant

Most common cuts of steak from beef and lamb are safe to consume when pregnant as long as they are cooked properly. Some of the top types of steak to enjoy include:

Lean Cuts

Cuts with less marbling and fat are optimal when pregnant because any fat would need to be cooked through fully to be safe:

  • Filet mignon
  • Eye of round
  • Top sirloin
  • Flank steak
  • Skirt steak
  • London broil

Fattier Cuts

Ribeye, strip loin, and T-bone steaks have more fat, but can still be enjoyed during pregnancy. Look for options with less prominent marbling. Cook slower at lower heat.

  • Ribeye
  • Strip steak
  • T-bone
  • Tenderloin
  • Porterhouse

Ground Steak

Ground steak and beef should be cooked to at least 160°F internal temp when pregnant. Opt for leaner blends with under 15% fat content if possible.

Steak Marinades and Rubs for Pregnancy

Marinating steak can add great flavor, but the raw meat should never be left at room temperature longer than 1-2 hours. Some good pregnancy-friendly marinade ideas include:

  • Yogurt- or buttermilk-based
  • Fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, herbs
  • Red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic
  • Soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger

Dry spice rubs are an even safer option. Try combinations like:

  • Chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika, salt, pepper, thyme
  • Cajun seasoning blends
  • Rosemary, sage, oregano

Best Ways to Serve Steak When Pregnant

In addition to properly cooking steak, pregnant women should also take care in what they serve it with. Here are some of the safest steak pairings:

Compound Butters

Compound butters made with pasteurized ingredients that top a cooked steak are an excellent choice. Try flavors like garlic-herb, bleu cheese, chimichurri, etc.

Cooked Vegetables

Pair steak with cooked veggies like roasted, grilled or sautéed zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, green beans, etc.

Baked Potatoes

A baked potato with fixings like cheese, bacon, sour cream, etc. is a classic steakhouse accompaniment that poses minimal risk.

Salad with Cooked Ingredients

A salad made with lettuce, tomatoes and any other cooked veggies, hard cheeses, beans, nuts, or other safely prepared ingredients can complement steak.

Fresh Fruit

Fresh cut fruits like melon, berries and pineapple can brighten up a steak dinner.

Foods to Avoid Eating with Steak When Pregnant

There are also some foods pregnant women may want to use caution with or avoid pairing with steak including:

  • Raw greens/sprouts – Higher risk for pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.
  • Raw/undercooked eggs – Sauces like Hollandaise, Caesar dressing, etc. should be avoided.
  • Unpasteurized cheese – Stick with hard cheeses made from pasteurized milk.
  • Deli meats – Can harbor Listeria, warm before serving.
  • Raw shellfish – Raw oysters, sushi, ceviche are higher risk.
  • Raw vegetable garnishes – Play it safe and skip items like salsa.

Health Benefits of Eating Steak During Pregnancy

When consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, steak offers several important vitamins and nutrients pregnant women need including:


Steak is one of the richest dietary sources of iron, with more than 15% DV per serving. Iron is essential for preventing anemia and helps baby’s brain and neurological development.


Zinc is abundant in steak, with over 40% DV per serving. It helps support fetal growth and development and boosts immune function.

Vitamin B12

Steak provides nearly 60% DV of vitamin B12 per serving. B12 assists with energy levels and red blood cell formation in expecting mothers.


A 3-4 ounce serving of steak delivers 25-30 grams of highly bioavailable protein needed for muscle retention, milk supply and red blood cell volume expansion during pregnancy.

How Much Steak Can You Eat When Pregnant?

It is generally recommended to limit intake of beef like steak to 12 ounces (cooked weight) per week when pregnant. The followingportion sizes are appropriate:

  • 2-3 oz steak at 1-2 meals per week
  • 4 oz serving 1 meal per week
  • 6 oz serving 1 meal every other week

Consuming more than 12 oz per week is not advised due to concerns with exposures to hormones and antibiotics in conventionally raised beef. Always cook steak thoroughly when pregnant.

Safety Concerns with Steak During Pregnancy

When consumed in moderation and cooked properly, steak can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet. However, here are some concerns to keep in mind:

Foodborne Illness

Undercooked steak harbors bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure safe temperature.


Raw and undercooked meat may contain Toxoplasma parasites. Cook to safe temperature and avoid cross-contamination.


Some steaks like ribeye contain higher levels of mercury. Limit intake to under 12 oz per week when pregnant.

Added Hormones

Conventionally-raised beef may contain added hormones. Opt for organic steak when possible.

Processed Meats

Packaged lunch meats pose a higher Listeria risk. Heat/steam deli meats before eating when pregnant.


Enjoying steak in moderation can be a safe and healthy part of a balanced pregnancy diet as long as proper handling and cooking guidelines are followed. Choosing high-quality steaks, cooking to the recommended safe internal temperatures, limiting portion sizes, and pairing it with whole foods can help minimize risks and provide nutritional benefits. Taking simple precautions allows pregnant women to satisfy an occasional steak craving without worry during those 9 months.

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