If you’re like me, your bucket list looks something like this:
- Visit Venice before it sinks
- Make out with Hollywood crush
- Cook a steak that’s edible
Well, I am happy to report that my bucket list is down to only 2 items now. Since I am still scared of flying and Ryan Gosling is still married, that means I have finally learned to master the art of cooking steak. And not just one way, but all different kinds of ways. And if I can do it, you can, too. Now keep reading to learn about the many ways to cook a steak.
4 Ways to Cook That Perfect Steak
Whether you’re all about the grill or save the lovin’ for the oven, you have a few different methods to choose from when cooking up that perfect steak.
How to Cook Steak on the Stove
Want an easy way to get a crispy crust and juicy center every time? Then learn how to pan roast your steak.
To start, you’ll want to pick the best steaks for the job, so go for a NY strip or ribeye steak. Anything that is nice and marbled and at least an inch thick will do. Season well with some salt and let the steak warm up to room temperature (takes about 30 minutes). Don’t season the steak with any other rub at this point because it will just burn and become bitter.
Next, get your pan nice and hot, like smoking hot (trust me), and leave out any butter or oil for now. Sear your steak on the high heat on each side for 1-2 minutes. This will create a beautiful crust – and no, this crust won’t lock in the juices, but it gives your steak incredible texture and flavor.
Once you’ve got a nice crust, you’ll actually want to flip your steaks often to cook evenly. About halfway through cooking, add in a few tablespoons of butter and any herbs or aromatics you want (garlic and thyme are wonderful – more on cooking with herbs here). Use a large spoon to baste the steaks in the butter as you continue to cook to your desired doneness.
Your best way to determine doneness is to use a meat thermometer:
- Rare is 125°F and takes about 6 minutes to cook total.
- Medium rare is about 130°F and takes roughly eight minutes.
- Medium is 140°F and takes 10 minutes to cook.
- Well-done steaks are about 155°F and take roughly 12 minutes.
These temps remain consistent no matter what technique you use to cook your steak, and this pan roasting method gives you buttery, juicy steaks every time.
How to Cook Steak in the Oven
This is a great method for when you crave a grilled steak but the weather outside will not cooperate. Broiling works great on all cuts of steak, but it’s really good for strips, T-bones and ribeyes.
Again, just make sure your steaks are at least one inch thick. Anything thinner and you can easily and quickly overcook it in the broiler. Also go for a steak with some nice fat around the edge and marbling throughout.
Position your top oven rack so it sits three to five inches below the broiler coils, then preheat the broiler to its highest possible temperature. Many ovens go as high as 550 degrees for broiling.
Your steak should have been salted and left out to get to room temperature for half an hour. When your broiler reaches the right temperature, set your steaks on the broiler pan and place the pan on the top rack.
The key to broiling the perfect steak is to never take your eye off the ball. We are working with incredibly strong heat here and your steaks will cook very fast, so don’t walk away. Cook on one side for 2-4 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 2-4 minutes. When you remove the pan to check your steaks, use oven mitts and be very careful.
Cooking Steak in the Oven with a Cast Iron
I can’t stress enough how amazing your steaks will come out if a cast iron pan is involved. Regular stainless-steel pans just won’t give you the same flavor or crust that a cast iron pan will.
This technique will require you to first sear your steaks on your stove top, then place your cast iron pan into the preheated oven to finish cooking. You’ll want to preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and again, season your steaks with salt and let them get to room temperature.
When your oven has reached the right temperature, place a little butter in the pan and sear your steaks for 1-2 minutes on each side. Be sure that pan is nice and hot before you begin searing.
Using an oven mitt, place your cast iron pan in the oven and let your steaks cook another 5 – 7 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Remember, keep that thermometer handy.
Also remember to be careful taking that very hot pan out of the very hot oven when done.
To cook steak in the oven without a cast iron, you’re going to follow the exact same directions as above, but you’ll need an oven-proof skillet instead. These are usually stainless steel pans that have a special handle that won’t melt.
How to Cook Steak on the Grill
One of the absolute best things about summer is being able to grill your steaks outdoors. Grilling the perfect steak can seem complicated, but it’s fairly easy if you follow a few guidelines.
First, it doesn’t matter if you use a gas or charcoal grill. What really matters is that you select steaks that can stand up to this kind of direct heat. Filet mignons are NOT the right steak to throw on the grill. Consider instead a nice porterhouse, sirloin, flank, ribeye or London broil.
Again, make sure your steaks are at least an inch thick and get them up to room temperature and season before grilling.
Once your grill is fired up, figure out where the hottest and coolest areas are. Next, place your steaks on the most direct heat to sear on each side, then move your steaks to where they’ll get indirect heat to finish cooking.
That’s really the key to successful grilling: know your hottest and coolest areas, start hot and move to warm. You’ll have juicy and delicious steaks every time.
How to Cook Steak Sous Vide
Pronounced “Soo Veed,” this is a French style of cooking food under pressure. Now it may sound fancy and complicated, but once you learn the basics, this technique will deliver remarkably perfect steaks every single time.
Some chefs even say that sous vide will give you better steaks than you can get even in the finest steakhouses in the world. This is because the cooking technique is slow and gentle, so your steaks are cooked evenly from top to bottom and side to side. No high heat means precision cooking made simple.
Now, there are those people who love this technique so much that they have purchased fancy equipment like a water oven or immersion circulator. If you decide you love this technique and want to only sous vide your steaks from now on, you may also want to pick up one of these fun gadgets.
But for now, you can simply use a large pot filled with water and a candy thermometer so you can try this technique without investing your 401K in kitchen equipment.
Sous Vide Basics
This technique can be boiled down to just two steps:
- Seal your well-seasoned steaks into a plastic food bag and cook to your desired final temperature. The temperature of your water bath will determine the final doneness of your steak. You can find temperature charts for different steaks and water baths here.
- Your final step is to remove the bag from the water and the steaks from the bag, then sear the steaks on all sides to get that flavor crust and textural contrast.
That’s it. Season. Seal. Plop. Cook. Remove. Sear. Eat.
This method works for all cuts of steak from tenderloins, strips, ribeyes, and porterhouse, to butcher’s cuts like the hanger, flap, or skirt.
To sous vide or not sous vide? That is the REAL question when it comes to cooking steak, and we say go for it!
Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak
You are so close to crossing off one item from your bucket list you can taste it. But hold on, let’s end with some final steak cooking tips that will really put you on top of your steak game.
- Salt your steaks as early as possible. This will help make your steaks more flavorful and yes, even juicier.
- Always choose thicker cuts of steak as they will help you better control the cooking temperature. If you don’t see what you need in the case, ask the butcher to cut you some nice, thick steaks.
- If you want the most flavorful steaks (as opposed to the tenderest), choose steaks that have a lot of marbling. These will be ribeyes and strips. To be a steak cooking master, it’s really best to learn all about the different cuts.
- Don’t forget to use a meat thermometer to pull your steaks off the heat as soon as they reach the right temperature.
- And speaking of doneness – forget letting your steaks rest before cutting into them. That is a myth. Your steaks will keep cooking for 5-7 minutes if you let them rest, and this means they will become overcooked.
You now know how to cook the perfect steak – and not just one way but many different ways. Should your Hollywood crush ever decide to divorce his or her nearly-perfect-in-every-way spouse, you can invite him or her over for a romantic steak dinner.
Now just need make sure you have the best steak knives to get the job done – there’s no sense in cooking up a perfect steak only to rip through it with serrated, subpar knives. Go for the best steak knives (as in straight-edged and ready for business) instead, like these beauties from F.N. Sharp – you can thank us after you enjoy slicing through that perfectly cooked steak.