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How to cook steak: Your guide to the 6 best methods

Which is your favorite?

Sirloin steak
amirali mirhashemian/Unsplash / Unsplash

If you love a good steak (who doesn’t?), you probably have a tried-and-true method of preparing your favorite cut. Perhaps you’re a grill master who swears by the charred and blackened grill marks that can only come from firey, open flames. Or maybe you’re committed to your cast iron, devotedly basting your beautiful steak in garlic-infused butter as it sizzles on the stovetop. No matter what your favorite steak-cooking method, there’s something for everyone and more than a few ways to get absolutely delicious results every time. These are the best methods of cooking steak.

Grilling

Steak on the grill
Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Ah, the grill. Who doesn’t love the smoky, sweet scent of summertime in the air? Grilled steaks are something truly special—not just for their chargrilled, mouth-watering flavor but also because of the nostalgia and good times they inevitably bring with them. A truly great grilled steak is arguably one of the most classic summertime dishes, and we absolutely love steaks prepared this way. Cooking steaks over an open fire is easy, simple, and a hell of a good time.

No matter if you’re using gas or charcoal, get to know your grill’s hot spots. Cooking a steak on a grill should involve both direct and indirect heat. It’s best to sear your steak directly over the flames to develop a good char and then move away to indirect heat so that the steak can continue to cook internally without burning the outside. Depending on your steak and preferred level of doneness, the process should take between five and fifteen minutes.

Pan searing

Ribeye steak cooking in a cast iron pan.
Amy Ellis Photography / Amy Ellis Photography

Pan-searing is arguably the most common method of cooking steak. Sure, grilling may be the sexier choice, but between weather unpredictability, apartment living, or just a general lack of enthusiasm for the outdoors, we’d wager that steaks are more often prepared by pan-searing than any other cooking method.

Seared in a hot pan over the stove, pan-seared steaks are best when cooked in a heavy, heat-holding skillet or pan such as cast iron. This helps to cook the steak evenly and develop a beautifully golden crust.

To pan-sear a steak, heat a neutral oil such as vegetable or canola in a cast iron pan and add the steak to the hot oil over medium/high heat. Sear both sides of the steak to develop a crust, then lower the heat to continue cooking until the steak has reached your desired temperature.

Stir-frying

Steak and pepper stir fry in pan
Cooker King/Unsplash

Stir-fried steak is a quick and easy method that is sure to please everyone in the house. This fast cooking method involves trimming steak into small, bite-sized pieces and cooking over high heat with other ingredients like vegetables with only a small amount of fat. The best steaks for stir-fries are more tender cuts like sirloin, tri-tip, ribeye, top loin, tenderloin, shoulder center, shoulder top blade, flat iron, and shoulder petite tender.

Broiling

Pan with steak going into oven
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Broiling steak is a great option when you’re just not in the mood to fire up the grill or stand over a hot stove. It’s also a very quick method, helping you get dinner on the table fast.

To broil your steak, simply preheat your oven’s broiler for 5-10 minutes while the seasoned steak comes to room temperature. Place the steak in a cast iron skillet, broiling pan or a shallow baking dish and place on the top rack of your oven, about 3-4 inches from the broiler’s heat. Depending on your desired temperature, broil the steak for 2-5 minutes per side.

Reverse searing

Steak in pan with rosemary
felix_w/Pixabay / Pixabay

This increasingly popular method of cooking steak is quite simple despite its somewhat intimidating name. Reverse searing is simply searing a steak after it has been internally cooked, not before. The more traditional method of searing on high heat and then finishing the cooking process on lower, slower heat is great for a quick cook or a thinner piece of steak. Reverse searing is ideal for thicker cuts of steak that may take a bit longer to cook.

Sous vide

We love our sous vide machine for everything from barbecue ribs to de-crystalizing honey, but this handy machine is also perfect for reverse searing a steak. By cooking your steak with a sous vide machine, then searing it in a hot pan afterward (reverse searing), you’ll end up with an incredibly flavorful, sinfully juicy steak.

No cooking (steak tartare)

steak tartare
Natasha Breen/Getty Images / Getty Images

Alright, we cheated a bit on this one. While not technically a way to cook steak, this is an incredibly delicious way to eat it. And hey, no need to heat up the kitchen. This retro dish has gone out of style with home cooks, and we can’t understand why. Sure, raw meat can be a little bit intimidating, but with a quality piece of beef and a simple recipe, this delicious dish is well overdue for a comeback.

Beef tenderloin—the cut of beef used for filet mignon—is the best and most traditional cut for making steak tartare, as it is incredibly tender and flavorful. When mixed with just a few simple ingredients, raw steak transforms into a French bistro-inspired, sophisticated, savory wonder.

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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