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How To Cook Steak On The Stovetop

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Pan-searing is the best way to cook a steak, and it’s also the easiest!

I love the kind of dinner you can create without relying on a recipe. Truth be told, good cooking is more about mastering techniques than following recipes, and the best dishes are often the simplest to whip up. A perfectly cooked steak is a prime example. With just a handful of ingredients and a single pan, you can prepare a steak that rivals one you’d enjoy at a high-end steakhouse.

The secret lies in mastering the art of pan-searing. This classic technique involves cooking the surface of your food undisturbed in a piping hot pan until a crisp, golden-brown, and flavorful crust forms. It’s the key to building flavor and texture in a dish, while also preventing sticking and giving your meal a restaurant-quality appearance. Pan-searing is hands-down the best way to cook a steak (it works wonders for salmon and scallops, too), and it also happens to be the easiest.

What you’ll need to Cook Steak on The Stovetop

ingredients

When it comes to beef, the best candidates for pan-searing are boneless, quick-cooking cuts between one and one-and-a-half inches thick, such as NY Strip, rib eye or filet mignon. (For larger or slow-cooking cuts, like beef tenderloin with red wine sauce or beef stew with carrots and potatoes, pan-searing is usually the first step, and then you finish the cooking in the oven.)

How to cook steak On The Stovetop

To begin, pat the steak dry with paper towels. (Any moisture on the exterior of the steak must first evaporate before the meat begins to brown.)

Season the steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper; the seasoning will stick to the surface and help create a delicious crust.

seasoned steaks

Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it’s VERY hot. The best pans for pan-searing are stainless steel or cast-iron since they can withstand high temperatures.

Add the oil to the pan. You’ll know it’s hot enough when it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan.

Carefully set the steak in the pan, releasing it away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter in your direction. It should sizzle. (Use a pan that is large enough that it’s not such a tight fit or the pan will cool down and your food will steam instead of sear.)

pan-sear steaks in skillet

Leave it alone! Avoid the temptation to peek or fiddle or flip repeatedly. The steaks need a few minutes undisturbed to develop a brown crust. (Don’t worry about sticking; the steaks will release easily when they are ready to flip.)

Flip the steaks when they release easily and the bottom is a deep-brown color (usually about 3 minutes).

flipping steaks

Continue to cook the steaks for another 3 to 4 minutes on the bottom side for rare or medium-rare.

During the last minute of cooking, add 1 tablespoon of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan with the steaks (this is optional but delicious).

pan-sear steaks butter and thyme

If you are serving the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve hot. If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes; then slice thinly against the grain. (Resting allows the juices to redistribute from the outside of the steaks; if you slice them too soon, the juices will pour out of them.)

Video Tutorial

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Pan-Seared Steaks

Pan-searing is the best way to cook a steak, and it’s also the easiest!

Servings: 2 to 4
Prep Time: 4 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (12-oz) New York strip or ribeye steaks or 4 (6-oz) filet mignons, about 1½ inches thick
  • 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme leaves

Instructions

  1. To begin, pat the steaks dry with paper towels.
  2. Season the steaks all over with the salt and pepper.
  3. Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron or stainless steel) over medium-high heat until it's VERY hot.
  4. Add the oil to the pan and heat until it begins to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan.
  5. Carefully set the steaks in the pan, releasing them away from you so the oil doesn’t splatter in your direction. The oil should sizzle.
  6. Leave the steaks alone! Avoid the temptation to peek or fiddle or flip repeatedly; the steaks need a few minutes undisturbed to develop a golden crust. Flip the steaks when they release easily and the bottom is a deep-brown color, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook the steaks for another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side for rare to medium-rare. (For medium, cook 4 to 5 minutes on second side; for well-done, cook 5 to 6 minutes on second side).
  7. During the last minute of cooking, add the butter and thyme sprigs to the pan with the steaks.
  8. If you are serving the steaks unsliced, transfer them to plates and serve hot. If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes; then slice thinly against the grain.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Serving size: 6-oz portion NY Strip
  • Calories: 492
  • Fat: 39 g
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Protein: 33 g
  • Sodium: 421 mg
  • Cholesterol: 147 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Hello all,

    I’ll make this short and say this article was a life saver! I needed an easy and fast way to cook steaks and this was the best thing ever! I cooked a NY steak and it cooked it to a perfect and taste medium! If there are bad reviews, they clearly did not read or follow the article. Pat dry, medium/high heat, drop steak once it is hot enough, cook for desired time. I did 4 min, flip and another 4 min. It was a 1lb steak and I did add butter, no herbs. Extremely tasty and will make again! Again, this was cooked to a perfect medium.

    • — Yoshi on June 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Yum! Thanks for this recipe.

    • — Anne Sandlund on June 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn, thanks so very much for your meticulous instructions on searing a steak. I cook rarely and haven’t cooked a steak in at least 10 years, so had zero recollection how. I bought a beautiful, thick, rib-eye and followed your instructions to the letter. Perfection! I enjoyed the steak very much! Thanks again.

    • — Brian Nattrass on May 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Thank you so much for sharing this technique. It turned my steak into steakhouse quality, just by following your instructions. I used T-bone with the bone cut out (for my dog) and they were less than 1 inch thick so were a little overdone for my taste, but that’s my fault for trying this with thinner steak. Even so, the flavor was excellent! To think all these years I’v been marinating, rubbing, grilling my steaks when the best and simplest and best way was to just pull out my cast iron skillet. Can’t wait to get some thick ribeye!

    • — Cathy on March 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thanks for teaching me how to cook a delicious steak.

    • — Pamela Aucoin on March 19, 2023
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  • Jenn…
    You are my Cooking Genie!!! Been cooking steaks for years and this simple but amazing recipe is genius! Tried it today in my mother’s cast iron pan. Turned out just PERFECT!! You are a gift to the cooking world!!
    Thank you!
    Carol

    • — Carol K on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Seems to me that a lot of the complaints about ‘too rare’, ‘too done’, etc. could easily be solved by using an instant read meat thermometer. That way you can more accurately get the meat cooked to your liking.

    • — David on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • what about reverse searing if you want the inside to be more done than medium rare

    • — terry on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Terry, that should work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Questions Jenn: to dry the steaks out, does it work to put the steaks in the frig uncovered, and for how long? And: I have an electric stove, will they sear as well as a gas range?

    • — Pamela Harriman on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Pamela, I don’t find it necessary to have the steaks sit in the fridge to dry, but it’s certainly OK to do for up to a few hours. And an electric stove should work just as well as gas; the key is just to have the pan very hot before you put the steaks in. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • We love garlic on our steaks. Would you advise fresh garlic or granulated & how & when would you advise adding? Thanks in advance Jenn. You are the best out of all the recipe sites. You are so kind & seem to respond to questions all the time & needless to say you are making us all better cooks! 😊

    • — Dana on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, thanks for your very kind words – so glad you like the recipes! For the garlic, I would go with fresh and add them along with the butter. It will help to infuse the butter with a subtle garlic flavor. Just keep your eye on them as you don’t want them to burn. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Loved it, first time I pan seared steaks…came out great! Will be doing again.

    • — Kathy on February 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • We’ve made this recipe a few times. It comes out perfect every time.

    • — Jeff on February 15, 2023
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  • Absolutely delicious…and oh so easy.

    • — Jeff on February 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Definitely don’t recommend following these directions. You’ll end up with a rare steak, even following the time recommended for medium.

    • — Hannah on February 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • The technique is solid,did you let your steaks come to room temperature before cooking? Usually 30-45 minutes.Hope this helps and happy cooking.

      • — lowandslow on March 19, 2023
      • Reply
    • HANNAH: Any steak (your choice!) can be made this way. Just remember that Bone-In or boneless will have different cook times. As per your comment though, are your steaks thin or thick cut? Oven temps. vary by oven (+/-) of set temp.. May need to cook longer to get a Medium. Be Patient.

      • — RC* on March 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • I have followed this recipe several times since first seeing it in 2020. Every time I have made this using strip steak or ribeye it has been fantastic! We just had strip steaks tonight for Valentines Day and they were as always terrific. Thank you!

    • — Dave on February 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Will this work for skirt steak too?

    • — P on January 29, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi P, This method could be used, but depending on how well-done you like your skirt steak (and how large it is), you may need to finish cooking it in the oven.

      • — Jenn on January 30, 2023
      • Reply
  • These days I often buy steak when it’s on sale and will cook 2 of a 3 pack and freeze the 3rd. I have often heard steak from frozen is not as good. Do you think this method will work as well from frozen (thawed) as from fresh?

    • — Colleen on January 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Colleen, it should be fine with thawed steak. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this steak today, it was great and I followed the recipe to the letter. I did make one change In the last minute I used 2 tablespoons of butter with garlic and rosemary. The flavour was there and the crust was perfect. I cooked for the 4 Minutes as we like our steaks medium. When I do this again I will do for 5 minutes but will turn off the heat on my cast Iron frying pan 2 minutes before and add butter and rosemary and garlic to get the steak more to our liking.

    • — Ron on December 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yummy!

    • — jenny on December 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just cooked two filets according to this fantastic recipe, and they were medium-rare and beautifully browned–much more tasty than done on the grill and perhaps less mess. Also love all your salmon recipes, which use a similar method. Ignoring the urge to fiddle with the beef or fish is key for a perfectly done dinner. Yours is my go-to website for delicious recipes; photos and step-by-step instructions help to make each recipe foolproof. Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Barbara on December 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best steak I’ve ever made

    • — RB on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hello Chef,
      Thank you for those quick tips! My rib eye steaks came out delicious… I am serving it with broccoli and cheese, and some Spanish rice…

      • — Lovie Morefield on December 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi my name is Rob. I have always been looking for a way to sear and cook steaks on the stove but Oh my god this worked so well it was better than the grill. I’m wondering if I can use the same method to make Hamburgrrs ? I also took the juices with the oil and made a dipping sauce. I can’t wait to try again.

    • — Robert on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed, Robert! It will work with burgers, too.

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’m on a low carb diet with a low grocery budget, a combination that rendered my take on this recipe to be done with top round instead of a strip or filet. I have to say, adjusting a minute less per side for the thinner cut, the method described here was absolutely perfect. I have found the one I’m sticking with after some less than stellar results from recipes on other sites. Turned out flavorful, perfectly medium-rare, and-and this was a nice bonus for going with a cut of round-delightfully tender. Thank you so much for the great information!

    • — Brian from Jackson on September 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • This steak is on my “next week” docket, although obsessing and looking forward begins today 🙂 Would be interested in hearing if you pan sear steaks directly from the fridge, or if you let them come to room temperature first.

    • — Jeff Winett on September 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeff, you definitely can take them out about 30 minutes ahead of time. (I usually forget though and they still turn out well.) 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can confirm – this is the *best* way to make steaks. Simple, straightforward, and flawless each time. You can also include slightly more involved rubs, but don’t go too crazy and be sure to be careful in what you choose. The very high heat can scald some herbs, so make sure you choose a more heat-tolerant rub or seasoning. The herb butter process here is truly *chefs kiss*

    • — Sam Minish on September 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • A great recipe and the only way we prepare steaks! A suggestion for those concerned about the smoke and potential splatter indoors is to heat your skillet and perform the entire operation on your outdoor grill. Works just as well without chancing the smoke alarms!

    • — Andy on September 15, 2022
    • Reply

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