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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 that you can cook without a recipe. The truth is, good cooking is more about technique than recipes and the best dishes are often the simplest to prepare. A properly cooked steak is case in point. With just a few ingredients and a single pan, you can cook a steak that’s as delicious as one you’d order in a high-end steakhouse.

The key is knowing how to pan-sear. Pan-searing is a classic technique in which the surface of the food is cooked undisturbed in a very hot pan until a crisp, golden-brown, flavorful crust forms. It’s the key to building flavor and texture in a dish. It also prevents sticking and gives your food a restaurant-quality look. Pan-searing is the absolute best way to cook a steak (salmon, 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

  • I just made these the other night for my boyfriend and we both LOVED them. I can’t believe how much I’ve been paying at a restaurant for this sort of thing when it’s so easy to prepare at home!! Who knew. Thank you Jenn, for this foolproof way to cook steak! 🙂

    • — Emily on September 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • I found this page a few months ago after realizing I’d previously just been steaming steak. I did it that night and it was the best steak I’d ever made in my life. So, today, I found some expensive steaks on sale and realized that I had forgotten to bookmark it. I’m expecting an amazing dinner :). Just wanted to leave a rate.

    • — Courtney on September 10, 2022
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  • How long would you cook for medium? And would you turn the heat down?

    • — Peggy on September 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Peggy, I’d keep the heat the same and flip the steak after about 3 minutes. Continue to cook on the other side for 4 5o 5 minutes. (That’s indicated in the recipe for easy reference.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2022
      • Reply
      • Never post a recipe again. I followed it to a T and the outsides of the steak are charcoal and the insides are undercooked. Ruined 3 steaks because of this. And yes, I’ve made some bomb steak before, and this has never happened to me. I’d give this a 0 star but it won’t let me

        • — John on September 9, 2022
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        • everyone, ignore this review…I find it unbelievable
          there are some people who just get a charge out of criticizing others
          I think that I have seen other negative reviews from John on this site

          • — Carol J Winkelman on September 15, 2022
          • Reply
          • I agree with you, Carol! Jenn is the best!

            • — Karen Lynch on September 15, 2022
  • Thanks for the recipe and tips. I add extra minutes on the pan to make it well done, I really love it 🥰

    • — Asianmom on September 3, 2022
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  • I have cooked steaks just like you did and they were the most tender steaks I’ve eaten anywhere and the best taste of any I have eaten at restaurants. Thank you so much. I will be cooking them this way at home anytime have steaks.
    Wanda Smith

    • — Wanda Smith on August 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • For once I didn’t have to call mum embarrassed asking her how to do something

    • — Will Moot on August 10, 2022
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    • LOL! 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 10, 2022
      • Reply
    • I have made this several times, its the best its really easy, i used to sear my steaks and finish in the oven. thanks so much.im 67 in my last stages of renal failure, im alone so i really don’t like cooking anymore ,and i need protein every day,so this is the best and easiest steak ive made

      • — Debbie Coop on August 10, 2022
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      • So glad you like this and find it easy to make!

        • — Jenn on August 11, 2022
        • Reply
      • I’m sorry you’re going through that & alone at that. Truly. Sending good thoughts & prayer to you. 🙏🏽

        • — Shuge78 on November 24, 2022
        • Reply
  • Wow! I followed your recipe to the T, instead of salt, I used cracked pepper, and my NY Strip turned out as good as Restaurant quality. It was sooooo good, juicy, and that crunchy coating was like icing on a cake. Thanks so much for sharing this, I’ll use it over and over again.

    • — Stan on July 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was my first time making a stove top steak. Man, I am pleasantly surprised! This seared steak recipe is so easy and my ribeye turned out perfectly. So tender and juicy. Thank you for sharing!

    • — Susan on July 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Would I follow the same method as for the steak if I wanted to cook Salmon fillets?

    Thanks for your help,
    Annie P.

    • — Annie P. on May 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, I have a recipe for seared salmon that you can find here. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on May 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe came in the clutch it tastes delicious it was easy it took literally less than 20 minutes depending on how you like your steak. Thank you for sharing 💯❤️

    • — Tyjeanna W on May 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Very nice. I used this method to cook a t-bone, 3 minutes per side. I substituted a couple of rosemary sprigs for the thyme. I loved the results.

    • — Glen on May 11, 2022
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  • how hot should the pan be?

    • — Caden on May 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Caden, it’s hard to give you an exact answer but you want it hot enough so that it’s almost but not quite smoking. Hope that helps at least a bit!

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made rib eye using the cook top method. They were very tasty, and turned out perfect!

    • — Linda on April 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • For people worried about smoking, grease fires, fire alarms going off, etc. check your oil She specified vegetable oil but so many people use olive these days for health and it has a lower smoking point. Other higher point oils are peanut, certain avocado, corn. It’s actually odd that extra virgin has become so common place, it’s used for cooking when it has a low smoke point and its flavor is best enjoyed uncooked.

    Also, we always open our windows and doors beforehand and if its a real concern we use a hot plate outside.

    • — LC on April 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Best filet I’ve ever had! I did do it on high heat and because I like it still mooing, seared both sides quickly. Flavor was amazing! Perfectly done. Let it rest for 10. Thanks for the recipe 😘

      • — Elizabeth on April 9, 2022
      • Reply
  • Perfect every single time!

    • — Ann on April 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • It was perfect. Hot cast iron skillet with butter, 3 min. Turn over 4 min. New York strip!

      • — Sheila on April 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • I did the recipe exactly as described, and used the same cut of steak….they ended up horribly burned! They’re like clumps of charcoal now, not even edible steaks.

    Definitely NOT going to be cooking them on med-high from now on….

    • — Andreas on March 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Holy smokes! I never comment on recipes but I had to. This was freaking delicious! I have no words. The only thing I did different was leave out the thyme because I’m not a fan of it. But it was literally perfect. I told my husband I’m never having steak another way again. Barbecue shhmarbecue!!!! Thank you for sharing this.

    • — Janelle on March 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • I cook NY Strips and Filets this way all the time as an alternative to grilling. I still grill a lot, but it’s nice to switch it up sometimes. I use no less than 1/2 inch steaks. Prefer 1 inch though. This is the same recipe I have used for years with only 1 addition. Towards the end I turn the steaks (only works with NY) on the fat side to render some of the fat to mix in with the butter. I rest them against the edge of the pan for about 1 minute then back down for the mix. I add the butter and FRESH thyme plus I toss in a few cloves of garlic. After about 30 secs I press on the garlic some and spoon the butter mixture over the steaks.

    For those concerned about the smoke and splatter, I have a large mesh splatter guard I bought somewhere about 20 years ago. I put it over my pan and sometimes throw a paper towel on top. I use it for a lot of things I fry or deep fry.

    • — Lenny K on March 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • So, I’m confused. At the top you write about “pan-searing is usually the first step, and then you finish the cooking in the oven.” What am I missing? I don’t see any information about how to finish the cooking… in the oven.
    Is there any information about temp of oven? Use the same pan, or transfer to something else? How long in the oven? Like I said …. I’m confused or just not reading things correctly.

    • — Cobia on March 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cobia, Sorry for any confusion. It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is the best stovetop recipe so far. I used to over flip and fiddle. This let it Rest In Peace is my go to for now on. Thanks

    • — Jeff on March 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this tonite with a nice Ribeye Steak. It turned out fabulous! My husband enjoyed his steak & ate all of it. First time since 1998! It was tender & juicy. Thank you!

    • — Marilyn on February 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • I would consider myself a “newbie” but I followed the instructions and the steaks turned out great (except I did have a small one that I cooked 2 mins each side that was well done but still crispy/tasty). I see a lot of grease fire comments and I must say I put the oil in before I got the pan to my hottest temp. I also used about a 6/10 on my electric stove. I’ll probably cook my next steaks this way!

    • — David on February 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • It bothers me when people give bad reviews without taking any responsibility; here are some suggestions for what might have happened, as ours was terrific! 1. I used 2 new york strip steaks 1 1/4 inch thick. Don’t use thinner steaks! 2. My stove top controls are 1-10, I never use 10 except to boil water. I used a setting of 6 and it was perfect. Know your stove! 3. Prior to starting, I opened the window, turned the exhaust to high, and lightly covered the pan with tinfoil while cooking. No problem with smoke! We might never grill again! These were wonderful!

    • — Frances Prevatt on February 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hubby said this was the best steak he’d had in a long time, and that it had a perfect crust on both sides. His steak was 1.25″ thick and I cooked it on 7.5 out of 10 (3 minutes on side 1 and 5 on side 2 for medium well). Thank you for this recipe.

      • — Elaine on February 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • Great recipe. I goofed and flipped the steaks too soon so only one side had a crust. But they were still delicious!

    • — Tim on January 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this tonight for myself, one steak. Before cooking, I let the steak sit at room temperature for about 35min with salt and pepper. I heated some oil, added the steak. It was immediately smoking because of the high heat and formed a crust very fast (2.5min for me), I flipped and let it cook another 4min and basted with butter and dried thyme. I let it rest about 7min in aluminum foil and then cut into it. Definitely medium-rare! Retained all it’s juices, not dry at all. I paired it with garbanzo beans. I will probably let it cook a little longer in the future. Thank you!

    • — Jessica Main on January 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m always afraid I will ruin a steak, especially with how expensive they are. This method works perfectly for me. Thank you so much.

    • — JoAnn M. Garrett on January 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • We got some steaks for Christmas but live in MN so didn’t really want to grill them – saw this recipe some time back and wanted to give it a try – all your other recipes have been spot on. This one did not disappoint! We let the steaks get to room temperature, pat them dry and used generous seasoning (added garlic and onion powder along with the salt and pepper). Used a splatter shield and had EXCELLENT steaks in less than 15 minutes! This is our go to now for steaks! It did produce some smoke, which was expected. If you don’t have an external exhaust fan it could get REALLY smokey…no problem with opening the window and door! YUM!

    • — Heather D. on December 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • And cooking times were spot on!

      • — Heather D. on December 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thanks Jenn.I used this method for the 1st time last evening and it gave us wonderful steaks with a beautiful crust. I used my splatter shield as it does make a bit of a mess but otherwise the steaks were delicious. I shake my head at some of the negative reviews here and have to wonder what on earth people are thinking, or maybe not thinking! Apparently culinary common sense is lacking in some. Anyway, great method. Thanks again.

    • — Susan on December 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • For such a simple recipe, I expected the cook times to be pretty spot on. They weren’t for us. We were using 1 inch steaks.

    • — Jessica Nicole Galbraith on December 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Seasoned 2 NY steaks 4 hours prior to cooking.
    We let both steaks warm up on counter 1-2 hours prior to cooking
    We used a cast iron pan and followed your directions.
    Both steaks were medium rare after resting for 20 minutes under foil.
    Steaks were tasty, juicy & tender.
    We plan to cook the other two NY steaks tomorrow and will purchase fresh thyme like you suggested!
    Thank you for your easy steak recipe.

    • — Rose Harrison on December 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe, ended up with a perfect, juicy steak.

    • — Lillia on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • I used your recipe for pan searing steak tonight loved it it was awesome!

    • — Lisa on December 7, 2021
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  • the worst steak recipe i’ve ever tried. I cook steak a lot, but when I haven’t cooked them in a while, I refresh my memory with a recipe. This recipe burnt my steak and left the inside raw. I was surprised to see all of the good reviews. I believe i’ve tried this recipe twice now and have had the same result both times.

    • — Bryant on December 6, 2021
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    • Had two thin new York strips. This worked great at 3 mins per side, maybe a little less would have been better. It was good though.

      • — Ed on August 1, 2022
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    • This recipe is for a thin steak. If I would have had a 1 inch steak, I would have finished in the over after searing both sides.

      • — Ed on August 1, 2022
      • Reply
  • not for beginners, as this caused a grease fire.. heated the pan very hot, added the oil, and it immediately starts smoking. no sooner than later it immediately catches flame. me being someone who doesn’t cook a lot didn’t know how to handle it, but thankfully it just went out after a minute or so. didn’t even get to put my steak in ): now i’m sad and have a raw steak

    • — Lillie on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was the most easy recipe of all.
    Thanks Jenn
    I would like it to feature on https://thekitchenguides.com/

    • — Maria on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • It was perfect
    I’ve been trying to do this forever
    Thank you

    • — Tonya Williams on November 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another winner. Thank you Jenn. I didn’t have fresh thyme but used dried thyme instead.

    • — Linda on November 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Our ribeye was about one and a quarter to one and a half inches thick. I sliced it longways giving me two steaks about three-quarters inch thick. Froze one and shared the other.
    Decided to be brave and follow your recipe as close as I could. Dusting the steak with that much pepper and salt concerned me but I did. My cast iron griddle got smoking hot, I used olive oil and it danced. Each side got two and a half minutes. Then one minute each side with butter and thyme. Covered the steak with aluminum foil while I microwave heated two plates. Wow! Loved it. Medium well done which is perfect for us.

    Thanks.

    • — Paul Pierlott on October 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thank you so much for this recipe. I rarely make steaks so I needed a recipe to follow as my husband enjoys a medium rare. I was worried since some of the comments mentioned the recipe not working out but they turned out perfect for me. I used my better judgment and seasoned the steak with salt to our personal taste and followed the cook times. I was so impressed because I have used other steak recipes before but the steak is usually overdone or underdone. Not sure if it made a difference but I used a heavy iron skillet and olive oil.

    • — M.C. on September 30, 2021
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  • Was amazing

    • — Jenifer Dundee on September 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was super easy, and was a huge hit with my husband and kids! We will definitely make it again, and I’m going to try it with the salmon next. Thanks for making me look good, Jenn! 😉

    • — Carole on August 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is terrible for people who have never cooked a steak before. It made me burn my first two steaks really bad and made my smoke detectors go off a few times. I give this recipe a 1/10. Don’t look here to learn, go to Rachel Ray!

    • — Shelby Sutphin on July 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Though I did not use the seasonings & butter. I did use my own steak seasoning. My steaks came out great! Now I did search for a RARE skillet steak & RARE is exactly what I got. I recommend cooking it a little longer on both sides maybe 5 & 5 for those of you who like your steaks done a little more.

    • — Jessica on July 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Does it matter what temperature the steak is when it goes into the pan? Room temp? Refrigerator cold?

    • — Rebecca on June 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • No, it doesn’t matter. 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • First time I ever made steak – was phenomenal! Thank you 🙂

    • — Kathleen on June 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Better than grilling. Several times now and not a miss!

    • — Jack on June 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • This is my go to recipe for my #Essentials box lunches – it cooks perfectly and tastes delicious … In two words – it is #DeliciouslyBeautiful!

      • — Sylvia on July 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    If I have to cook 6 steaks for dinner and to be served individually, how would you suggest on the cooking process – from searing to adding the butter. Should I clean the pan each time I finished cooking 1-2 steaks? Thanks.

    • — Joyce on June 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Joyce, I’d use a pan large enough to cook 3 steaks at a time, don’t clean the pan in between steaks, and after cooking the second round of steaks, I’d remove them and I’d add the butter and thyme to the pan. Let the butter melt and then then pour it over all the steaks. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, for well done steaks, would you recommend keeping it longer in the pan, or transferring to an oven? If in an oven, what temperature would you recommend? Thank you.

    • — Robyn on June 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Robyn, I’d recommend cooking it longer in the pan. For well-done, I’d cook the steaks for 5 to 6 minutes on the second side. Also, you may want to use your palm to apply a little pressure to the steaks (while they’re raw) to thin them out a bit before cooking. That will help them to cook in the center more quickly. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was good but not sure worth the cleanup I was faced with. Oil splatters everywhere. I question using 2 Tablespoons of oil. I cut the amount of salt and pepper at least one half or more. Just the right amount and good for low sodium diet.

    • — Rebecca on May 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • It’s pretty good didn’t use salt n pepper tho use my own rub but your cook time is terrible you might as well go up an take a bite out a living cow

    • — Steakkiller on May 4, 2021
    • Reply

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