For those who eat meat, a perfectly cooked steak can taste like a slice of heaven. From rare to well-done, we all have our preferences; but we can all agree when a fantastic cut of steak has been ruined by the chef.
While many people will argue that the perfect steak can only be cooked on the grill; it is easy to achieve the same result in a pan, on a stove. That’s right. We will not only cover how to cook steak, but how to cook steak in a pan. With only a few easy steak cooking tips, this protein will be the star of all your dishes, every time, without fail. After all, is a meal really that good if the meat has not been cooked right?
How to Cook Steak: Choosing the Right Cut
If you want to know how to make steak perfectly, you first have to know how to choose the right cut for the occasion. Each cut has its preferred method of cooking and degree to which it is cooked. Although most cuts can be cooked on the stove tops, some may require “finishing” in the over, for example.
- Rump Steak: This versatile cut is affordable and packed full of flavor. It can be barbecued as a large piece; flash-fried and served whole; or simply cooked as individual steaks.
- Rib-Eye Steak: Generously marbled, rib-eye is full-flavored, rich and juicy and is the perfect cut for your skillet. It is available in two cuts: rib on the bone and boneless, and is best served medium-rare.
- Fillet Steak: Super tender, thanks to its positioning in the lower middle of the back – the part that does the least work. This cut does not have much fat and is also quite expensive. Hey, tender steak is not cheap steak. Serve it as rare as you can handle it.
- T-Bone: Cooks well when pan-seared and finished in the oven. It is often regarded as a cut of meat that is great for sharing; but no one is judging all the meat-eaters who would rather have a go at it alone.
- Sirloin Steak: This prime cut of meat has a bit more fat on it than fillet steak and is, as a result, more flavorful. To really make the most of sirloin steak, it is best served medium-rare.
If you are still unsure of which steak to choose for home cooking, consult your local butcher. They have the knowledge and experience so why not make use of their expertise? You may even get a better cut than you thought for an affordable price, as well as some cooking tips. Score!
How to Cook Steak in a Pan
Once you have chosen your perfect steak – boneless rib-eye, for example – cooking your steak on the stove is super easy and may even turn out to be your favorite method of cooking steak. Another way to make your steak perfect for pan-frying is to ensure that it is generously marbled and measures one to one-and-a-half inches in thickness. All this helps it maintain its juiciness and flavor throughout the cooking process. Nobody likes a dried-out steak.
Be sure to purchase steak you can afford. Purchasing over-priced steak that you are not sure how to cook simply makes no sense. Now, let’s get to it.
1. Blot Your Steaks
Get chopping board out and, using a paper towel, blot your steak to get rid of excess moisture. Don’t skip this step, even if it seems as if there is no excess moisture on your steak, because there always is excess moisture. If your goal is to end up with browned, caramelized steak, excess moisture must first evaporate from the meat; so, you want to get rid of as much as possible before placing it in a pan.
2. Heat the Pan
A cast iron skillet is always best for stovetop cooking because it retains heat best and gives the best sear. However, if you don’t have a cast iron skillet that is not a problem. Over high heat, heat up your skillet. If you are using a non-stick pan, reduce the heat a little. Be sure to choose a skillet roughly the same size as your steak. Using a pan that is too big will result in burnt steak juices in the extra space.
3. Seasoning the Steak
No matter which seasonings you decide to put on your steak, one thing we can all agree on is salt. For the best browning and deepest seasoning, salt your steak well. Some people like to salt their steaks the night before. The problem with this, however, is that salt draws moisture out of the steak, causing the outside of your steak to become wet again. For this reason, we find it best to salt the steak just before cooking it.
4. Oil the Pan
Next, brush the pan lightly with vegetable oil. A light brushing of oil helps prevent oil splatter when pan-frying; which means you can fry your steak and stand at a close enough distance without getting burned. No need to pan-fry steak from a distance. You’re welcome. When you start to see wisps of smoke rise from the pan, it’s time to place the steaks in.
5. How to Make Steak: Searing
Carefully place the steak in the center of the heated pan. If the pan is hot enough, you should hear a loud sizzling upon placement of the steak. If you do not hear this sound, remove the steaks immediately and allow the pan to heat up a little longer. For the perfect medium steak, fry each side of the steak for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping it once only. Do not touch or move the steak unnecessarily while it fries.
When is the Steak Done?
The best way to determine when the steak is done is to use a thermometer. There are a lot of variants to consider such as the type of stove, the steak and the pan. Using a thermometer takes out a lot of the guess-work and is a great tool to use, especially when you are a less-experienced cook. At the halfway mark – round about 4 minutes in – check the steak’s temperature with a probe thermometer.
- If your goal is a rare steak, 125 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature at which to remove the steak from the pan. It equates to approximately six minutes of cooking time.
- For medium-rare steaks, you are looking at a total of about 8 minutes of cooking time or 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The optimum temperature for medium steaks is 140 degrees Fahrenheit or a total of 9 to 10 minutes of cooking.
- Leave the steak to cook for about 12 minutes if you want a well-done, but not dried-out steak
6. Finish in the Oven – Optional
For more flavors and to ensure that you’re even your well-done steaks are juicy and flavorful, top your steaks with a little butter and pop them in the oven for 5 minutes while still in the pan. Note that an oven-proof pan should be used.
7. Resting is Optional
Not for you but for the steak. When researching how to cook steak in a pan, you are bound to come across the resting step. Emphasis is often put on this step, and it certainly is not a bad idea. Transfer your steak to a plate, cover with foil and leave them to rest for an additional 5 minutes. This allows the juices of the steak to redistribute. If serving piping hot steak is more a priority for you simply skip this step.
6. Slicing the Steak
Cut the steak into thin slices, making sure to cut against the grain in order to avoid a chewy bite.
How to Serve Steak
This is a good time to add any other seasonings – black pepper is a good one. The good old salt and pepper combo will never let you down. The reason why other spices are added after cooking is to avoid them getting burned in the pan. Spicing the meat beforehand runs the risk of the spice burning in the pan before the steak is imparted with the spicy flavor.
Serve the steak with your favorite sides. You can never go wrong with potatoes – from smashed potatoes to French fries. Or, simply serve with your favorite vegetables. No matter which sides you choose, your perfectly cooked steak is bound to the star of the show.
How to Pan-Fry Steak: It’s All About the Heat
When learning how to cook steak on the stove, sufficiently heating up the pan makes all the difference to the sear on the steak, as well as its degree of cooking – that is, rare to well-done. Since steaks tend to heat and cool off quickly, there is a short window of time before the steaks become too cool. Hot steak is tasty steak and it is therefore essential that your perfectly cooked steak is served hot for the best bite possible. Enjoy!
- How to Cook a Steak On Your Stove Top – HowStuffWorks
- The Surprising Trick To Making The Best Steak Of Your Life – HuffPost