How To Cook A Steak In A Pan

Few things are as satisfying as sitting down to a perfectly cooked steak. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by the cooking process and end up overcooking or undercooking their steaks. Fear not, as cooking a steak in a pan is a simple process that can be mastered with a few basic techniques. Follow these steps to produce a delicious steak that will impress your family and friends.

Step 1: Choose Your Steak

The first step in cooking a steak in a pan is choosing the right cut of meat. The most popular and widely available cuts of steak are sirloin, ribeye, and filet mignon. Sirloin is known for its rich flavor and affordability, ribeye is well-marbled and has a great combination of tenderness and flavor, and filet mignon is the most tender cut but has less marbling than other steaks.

Choose a steak that is at least 1 inch thick to ensure that it cooks evenly. Look for meat that is bright red and has a good layer of fat. The fat will add flavor and moisture to the steak as it cooks.

Step 2: Let Your Steak Come to Room Temperature

One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking a steak is cooking it straight from the refrigerator. This causes the steak to cook unevenly, with the outside being overcooked and the inside undercooked. Let your steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking to ensure that it cooks evenly.

Step 3: Season Your Steak

Season your steak generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Some people like to add other spices or herbs, but salt and pepper are all you really need to enhance the flavor of the meat. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of salt, as this will help create a crust on the outside of the steak.

Step 4: Heat Your Pan

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Cast iron and stainless steel pans work best for cooking steak as they can get very hot and hold that heat. You want your pan to be hot enough that you can feel the heat when you hold your hand a few inches above it.

Step 5: Add Oil

Add a tablespoon of oil to your pan, such as avocado or canola oil. You want enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, but not so much that you are deep-frying the steak. You can also use butter if you prefer, but it can burn easily at high heat so be careful.

Step 6: Add Your Steak

Carefully add your steak to the pan, laying it away from you to avoid any splatters. Let the steak cook on one side for 3-4 minutes without moving it. This will create a nice crust on the outside of the steak. Flip the steak over and cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side for medium-rare. Use tongs to avoid puncturing the steak and releasing its juices.

Step 7: Check the Temperature

To ensure that your steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness, use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. Medium-rare is 130-135°F, medium is 135-145°F, and well-done is 160°F and above. Keep in mind that cooking a steak beyond medium will result in a drier, less flavorful meat.

Step 8: Rest Your Steak

Once your steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a cutting board for a few minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak.


Q: Do I need to let my steak rest before cooking it?

A: No, you don’t need to let your steak rest before cooking it. However, letting it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking will ensure that it cooks evenly.

Q: Can I use olive oil to cook my steak?

A: You can use olive oil to cook your steak, but it has a low smoke point and can burn quickly at high heat. Avocado or canola oil are better options for cooking steak.

Q: How can I tell when my steak is done?

A: The best way to know when your steak is done is to use a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the steak to get an accurate reading of the internal temperature.

Q: Can I cook my steak in a non-stick pan?

A: You can cook your steak in a non-stick pan, but it won’t create the same crust as a cast iron or stainless steel pan. Non-stick pans can also release harmful fumes at high heat, so it’s best to use a high-quality, heavy-bottomed pan.

Q: Is it better to cook a steak on the stove or in the oven?

A: Cooking a steak on the stove allows you to develop a crust on the outside and control the internal temperature more easily. Cooking a steak in the oven is a slower process that can result in a more evenly cooked steak, but you won’t get the same crust. It ultimately depends on your preference and cooking skills.

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