Can a steak cooked on the stove have the same smoky flavor and the char that a charcoal grilled steak has? Never! Can a stove top steak be just as juicy, tender and flavorful? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, as the temperature on the stove is easier to control, it’s that much easier to consistently cook a perfect steak indoors.
Picking the best meat for a stove cooked steak
Pick whatever cut you like. I don’t particularly like cooking fattier steaks, like rib eye, on the stove. The fat creates a lot of smoke. Those are best cooked outside. Leaner steaks -like trip loin, t-bone, and tenderloin – are better suited for stove top cooking.
Choice-grade steaks are great and are reasonably priced. USDA Prime or Certified Black Angus steak is better, though more expensive. If possible, spring for Prime or Certified Black Angus. Make sure the steaks are between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 inches thick. Thinly cut steaks will dry out very easily and are practically impossible to cook perfectly, especially on the stove.
Trim off excess fat. The fat adds flavor, but when cooking a steak indoors over high heat too much fat can create quite a bit of smoke in the kitchen. Regardless, make sure you have the range hood on when cooking your steak.
Seasoning your steak (start well in advance)
A good steak does not need much seasoning. Coarse salt and pepper is all that is needed. You may add little bit of garlic or onion powder, but just a tiny bit, don’t overdo it.
There are two ways to season your steak to get the best results. Which one you pick mostly depends on how much time you have before cooking.
- If you intend to cook you steak very soon, say within 30 minutes to an hour or so, season it just before searing as salt will cause the steak to release water. Water interferes with browning and caramelization.
- If you have a couple of hours or even days, season the steaks well in advance. Salt tenderizes and amps up the flavor. But, it needs time to do that. Two plus hours in my experience. When you put salt on the meat, it draws water from the meat to the surface through osmosis process. This makes the surface wet and the meat inside drier. Neither is good for making a great steak. However, over time, the salt will get diluted in the water and will get re-absorbed back into the meat along with the water. As I mentioned above, this process takes time. If you have the luxury of waiting a few hours or salting in advance, this will benefit the steak. Otherwise, salting right before cooking is best.
Here are my striploin steaks after spending two days in a fridge. They have a perfectly dry surface and they are nicely tenderized and seasoned inside. They also lost some water which made them have a richer tastes. Essentially, they dry aged for two days.
Bring the steak to room temperature
Take your steak out of the fridge about 45-60 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature. This will allow it to cook more evenly. If seasoning right before cooking, pat dry with a paper towel just before seasoning. Wet surface will not get properly browned and caramelized.
Searing the steak
One of the best ways to cook a steak indoors is to start with searing it on cast iron pan. Preheat a seasoned cast iron pan to about 350F – 400F. I used to recommend 500F but not any more. You get too much smoke and the meat burns at 500F. I get much nicer browning at about 350F. Do not use nonstick pans as they start releasing toxins when heated to high temps. They also warp. An infrared thermometer would be very helpful at this point. If you don’t have one, place a few drops of canola oil in the pan. Semi-refined canola oil’s smoke point is 350F. Or use butter. Butter starts smoking at about 350F. Refined canola oil starts smoking at 400F so you can use that too. As soon as you see it smoking, the pan is ready for searing.
Sear the steaks over for 2 minutes. Flip on the other side, and sear for another 2 minutes. Do not touch them before the 2 minutes are up. The steaks will stick to the pan initially but will release themselves after a proper sear which is about 2 minutes.
Rest your steak before finishing in the oven
This step is somewhat unexpected and not typical, but very crucial. I learned about it just recently and it made a dramatic difference to how my stove top steaks taste. Before you finish cooking your steak in the oven, transfer it to a plate, cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. The reason is that meat is mostly muscle that will contract and tighten during the searing process. For a tender, juicy steak, you must let the muscles in the meat relax before you cook your steak at a lower temperature. When in a rush, I reduce the rest time to 10 minutes and it still makes a huge difference.
Finishing your steaks in the oven
While it’s possible to fry a perfect steak entirely on the stove top, it’s not that easy and not necessary. A far better method is to finish cooking the steak inside the oven. Before you start searing, preheat the oven with a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to 410F. Transfer the seared steak after a 10-20 minute rest to the hot baking pan.
Optionally, you may add a pat of butter on top of each steak for a richer flavor.
Cook for 10 to 14 minutes, until the desired doneness is achieved, flipping the steaks halfway through the baking and basting it with juices.
Checking for Doneness
After about 9 minutes the steak will be rare to medium rare and this is a good time to check for doneness. The most accurate and reliable way is to use an instant thermometer, or a BBQ thermometer.
A BBQ thermometer is ideal as it will alert you at the exact time when your steak reached the desired donness. No more over cooked steaks. I use my old ThermoWorks BBQ thermometer in the kitchen all the time now. I just love the convenience and stress-free cooking it promotes.
If you want to imitate the results of the pros at your local steakhouse, below is the table of temps that summarizes the target temperatures very nicely. It’s based on fairly unanimous opinions of such respected sources as AmazingRibs.com, CertifiedAngusBeef.com and other.
|Steak Doneness||Remove from Oven at this Temp||Final Cooked Temp|
If you do not have a thermometer handy, perform a finger test. The finger test is another somewhat popular technique. I tried it but I could never master it to feel confident enough and have consistent results. I suppose if I made a dozen steaks a day, or even a week, I would. But I don’t. But seriously, spend thirty bucks and get yourself a BBQ thermometer. You’ll thank me later.
Here is what rare to medium rare steak pulled at 125F and rested for 10 minutes looks like.
The final rest
Once your steak is out of the oven, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the meat fibers to reabsorb the liquids , which will keep the steak tender and juicy.
This post was updated on November 4, 2018
Fantastic recipe. Very well written!
A fantastic recipe, I thank you for sharing it.
You are welcome. Glad you liked it. Happy cooking!
Hi! Hoping you see this before 5:30 tonight…I looked and looked and couldn’t find the answer, but do you need to rinse the meat and blot dry before coming out just cook as is when you salt hours before? Thanks!
Sorry for the late response, but no, you don’t need to rinse the meat. Just blot if you see any liquid.
Diane M. Wehunt
Great recipe for delicious, tender, and flavorful steak!!!! It is awesome! Thank you for sharing!!
You are very welcome, Diane.
I appreciate your tip for the Perfect Steak.. I didn’t know that you should leave the coarse salt until you are ready to cook the meat. It makes perfect sense that the salt would draw moisture from the steak. When you think about it, To cure meat I would think that they salt it to dry it out. I also was thinking, when I make Fried Zucchini, I salt lightly the zucchini to release a lot of the moisture so the breading will cling to it! Most of the other tips I knew but I didn’t know it all! By the way, my husband only uses steak sauce out when the steak isn’t great! We do not have any in our home.
Thanks for the feedback, Janice. Glad you found something new and useful here.
These were THE BEST steaks we have ever had, whether at home or a steak house!!! Followed your recipe without exception….used boneless ribeyes and was a bit smoky during searing but would use ribeyes again. Thank you!!!
You are very welcome, Debbie. Happy to hear that you liked the results. Yeah, with ribeye it gets a bit smoky, which is the reason why I tend to go for tenderloin or striploin steaks when cooking inside. I hope you try my other recipes, plenty of good ones here.
When is dinner? Looks scrumptious,
I followed the directions for making tender juicy steak, and it came out tender, juicy and delicious. My family devoured the steak. Thanks for the tips. In the past I voided making steak on the stove because it always was tough and chewy. Not anymore.
Glad to hear it. I like grilled steak but it’s not always possible to cook outside. Having a great recipe for indoor steak cooking is a must.
Followed your directions and the steaks came out great. Thank you!!
Happy to hear that, Diana. Make sure to check out my other recipes, there plenty of really good ones;)
What a great post!
I’ve been cooking steak by a certain method for a long time and that’s how we’ve always cooked it. But coming across your method and looking at your pictures definitely gave me an open mind to want to try.
I do have a question about basting them with juices. Do you mean juices from when they were resting?
That and the butter if you decide to use it.
Excited to try this! I use a very similar method, but have never let the meat rest before transferring to the oven. I’m intrigued!
When I cook my folks always rush me because everyone’s hungry. With the steaks it’s a different story – just make sure to give them a good rest because they taste so much better.;)
Bought 1 1/2 inch Black Angus strip steaks. Followed your directions to a T with the exception of time allowed for seasoning. I seasoned 4 hours prior uncovered in the fridge. They turned out amazing !! Incredibly juicy and tender *Fine dining Restaurant quality.
Question, you had seasoned two days prior. If I follow the same allowed time, do I put them in a container in the fridge or just on a platter not covered? How do you age the steak for 1-2 days. Thanks for your post can’t wait to entertain and serve to friends.
Awesome! Glad you enjoyed your steaks. 1 1/2 inch thick Angus steak, ha? My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I put my steaks on a platter, uncovered. I flip them once or twice and wipe off excess liquid with a paper towel.
Very good information. Looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
Not a problem. I hope you like your steak cooked using this method. I haven’t had any complaints, only compliments.;-)
Wow! You sir are a steak master. And your explanations are detailed and helpful. I made some steaks yesterday following your guide and I got more praises in one evening than in the past several years. I am not a pro by a long shot but I felt like a pro last night. Thank you and God bless.
You are very welcome! Thank you for the compliment. I am honored.
I am totally making these tonight. Your pictures made me so hungry for a steak.
This is very impressive! I just made steaks with a marinade and they were pretty yucky. I had no idea preparing steak was so involved, but your directions are not intimidating at all. I can’t wait to give it a try! Thank you.
I hear you. I avoid using marinades on my steaks as most of the time they do more bad than good. Salt and pepper is all that’s needed as far as seasonings go to make a tasty steak.
Excellent method! I followed it to the tee yesterday and my steaks turned out just perfect. I don’t have an easy access to a grill so this method is great for me, not that steaks cooked this way are any worse than grilled.
I don’t usually cook the steak and never indoors. The detailed information helped tremendously, steals turned out great the family said, thanks!
You are very welcome! Glad I could help.
I came across your website while looking up on how to cook steak! Just a question though, if you don’t put oil, will the steak burn or stick to the pan?
You can sear with and without a little bit of oil, I’ve done it both ways. You are right, searing without oil will make the meat stick to the cast iron pan initially but once the crust develops the meat will separate quite easily. You just need to be patient to not disturb the steak until it’s time to flip it.
I can’t use a cast iron pan on my stove. Is there an alternative?
CI is ideal for searing, but you can get a similar beautiful brown bark by cooking meat in a little bit of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high to high temp. I cooked a chuck roast in a slow cooker on the weekend. Prior to putting in a slow cooker I seared it in non-stick pan on each side for 5 minutes per side over medium-high heat. The meat browned well and looked really good. It will work on a steak too but the baking time may need to be shortened.
I’m excited to try your method but have one question. Do you oil the steak before seasoning it?
Hi Lisa, no, no oil. Good luck.
Sarah, that’s a very astute observation about the salt, but it requires a clarification. Salt tenderizes and amps up the flavor. But, it needs time to do that. 2+ hours in my experience. When you salt the meat, the salt draws water from the meat to the surface through osmosis process. This makes the surface wet and the meat inside drier. Neither is good for making a great steak. However, over time, the salt will get diluted in the water and will get re-absorbed back into the meat along with the water. As I mentioned above, this process takes time. If you have the luxury of waiting a few hours or salting in advance, this will benefit the steak. Otherwise, salting right before cooking is best.
I will try resting my steaks before popping them in the oven next time! However, salting your steak does not cause it to lose any substantial liquid and I find it makes my steaks much more tender. I usually salt for 1 to 2 hours before I sear, and since I don’t use cast iron it usually takes a little longer to get the sear I want but it comes out as strong as if done on cast.
Marina | Let the Baking Begin!
I’m a first time visitor to your blog and I am impressed, especially with your posts on meats and sausages! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and beautiful photography!
Thank you for the kind words, Marina.