Pan Seared Steak

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While I love a great grilled steak, there are a lot of times when Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate. Instead of depending on the perfect weather for our steak dinners, I rely on this delicious pan-seared steak recipe.

A good steak doesn’t take long to cook, and the side dish can be as simple as a bag of frozen green beans or as decadent as a hot dish of homemade au gratin potatoes. However you decide to serve this pan-seared steak, this recipe gets the protein on the table in under 20 minutes.

Ingredients

Pan Seared Steak Ingredients (see text for details)
  • 1-2 lbs. ribeye or New York Strip steaks
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

How to Choose the Right Steak

You can use this pan-seared steak recipe with any cut of steak that is about 1 to 2 inches thick. I have two favorite cuts for this.

Ribeye is the absolute best steak for pan searing, in my opinion. The marbling of the fat in a ribeye makes it one of the most tender and rich cuts of meat. 

New York Strip Steak is also an excellent choice for pan searing. It has less fat throughout, making it a healthier option. The trade-off is that it will not be quite as juicy and rich as a ribeye.

Note that the ribeye is not the cheapest cut of meat, but the best way to have a delicious steak is to buy the highest quality cut you can afford.

Pan-Seared Steak Instructions

Step 1 – Prepare the Steaks

Seasoned raw steak with salt


Prepare your steaks by taking them out of the fridge to bring them to room temperature. I usually take mine out of the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before I start cooking. 

Pat your steak dry before seasoning. This step will decrease the backsplash of a wet steak hitting hot cooking oil in step 5.

My favorite way to season a pan-seared steak is with salt and pepper. It’s simple and classic, and you can’t go wrong.

I do sometimes spice things up with a garlic butter steak, and you can find quick instructions for that below.

Step 2 – Preheat the Cast Iron Skillet and Add Oil

Preheating cast iron skillet

This is the most crucial step when making pan-seared steak. Preheating your skillet will give you that golden brown, seared crust with a juicy interior. On medium-high heat, you’ll want to get up to about 400°F (204°C). This takes about 5 minutes, and you’ll see your cast iron pan smoking.

You could also preheat your cast iron skillet in the oven at 400°F (204°C) for about 10 minutes. This will make the pan extremely hot, so please be careful when handling it and be prepared for some sizzling and a little smoke when you add your steak.

Step 3 – Add Oil and Steak to the Pan

Searing steak in skillet

Pour your oil into the preheated skillet and let it get hot, about 1 minute. Always use an oil with a high smoke point as you are cooking with very high heat. Avocado oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are all great options.

Place your seasoned steak(s) in the preheated skillet. 

Step 4 – Pan Sear the Steak

Searing steak in skillet, one side already seared and flipped

Cook on the first side for 3 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. This will get you a medium-rare steak, reaching 125°F (52°C) when I remove it from the heat and 135°F (57°C) after resting.

I avoid cooking more than 2 large steaks at a time because if you want a nice brown sear, you never want to overcrowd your pan.

Since the steaks cook relatively quickly, you can always cook them in batches. The second set of steaks can cook while the first steaks rest.

Step 5 – Let the Steak Rest

Resting steak after searing

Once the steaks reach your desired doneness, remove them from the pan and let them rest. 

I like to put them on a plate and cover them with aluminum foil until I’m ready to serve. You can read more on resting steaks below.

Cookware Used

Cast Iron Skillet: Cast iron is my preferred pan for searing steak. It cooks the steaks evenly and gives you that beautiful brown sear on the exterior of the steak.

Metal Tongs: Metal tongs are the best way to flip a pan-seared steak. Cast iron can stand up to the metal utensils, so use a sturdy pair of tongs.

Digital Thermometer: Until you’re a meat cooking pro, use a digital thermometer to get your steak to the proper temperature. That way, you never risk serving an overdone or undercooked steak.

Plastic Cutting Board: I love plastic cutting boards. They are the ideal surface for seasoning meats before you cook them. Easy to maneuver around your kitchen and very easy to clean.

Do I Need to Rest a Pan-Seared Steak?

Yes! Just like you would if you were grilling a steak, you always want to let the steak rest after cooking. Keep in mind that while the steak is resting, its internal temperature will continue to rise. 

I recommend pulling the steak off the heat source to rest once you reach about 5-10 degrees before your desired doneness.

How to Sear a Steak to the Correct Temperature

Here are the proper cooking temperatures so you’ll know how to sear a steak to the perfect doneness.

Rare

A rare steak needs only a couple of minutes to cook as the inside will still be pink and cool. Once you preheat your pan, cook on each side for 1-2 minutes until the internal temperature is about 115°F (46°C) and let it rest. Once rested, the internal temperature should reach 125°F (52°C).

Medium Rare

A medium-rare steak will reach an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C) after resting. Sear both sides in a preheated skillet for 3-4 minutes each, getting to 130°F (54°C) before taking them off to rest.

This is my ideal choice for cooking steak. I like the outside to be seared brown and the inside to be pink, but thoroughly warmed through.

Medium

Sear each side of the steak for about 4-5 minutes to reach 135°F (57°C) and then remove the steaks to rest and come up to 140°F (60°C).

Medium Well

A medium-well steak will reach 145°F (63°C) when you want to remove it from the heat. This will take around 5-6 minutes per side. Rest the steak, and you should reach an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C).

Well Done

A well-done steak will leave you with no pink in the center. You’ll sear both sides for around 7 minutes each until 150-155°F (66-68°C) and 160°F (71°C) after resting. 

How to Make Garlic Butter Steak

Garlic butter steak

As mentioned above, sometimes I stray from the classic salt and pepper and do a garlic butter steak. This preparation is very easy.

During the last minute of cooking, you can add 2-3 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan to give a rich buttery, garlic flavor as the steak finishes.

Spoon the garlic butter over the steak before serving.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Pan Seared Steak being served

Now that you have a simple recipe for pan-seared steak, it’s time to crank on your stove and get cooking! Try different cuts of meat until you find your family favorite. 

You can also cook a few small steaks and adjust how long you leave each steak in the pan for family members who prefer a different doneness. 

This is one of my favorite weeknight dinner treats because I can have a hearty meal on the table for my family in less than 20 minutes.

Print

Pan Seared Steak

A good steak can be quickly seared in a pan for delicious results.

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs. ribeye or New York Strip steaks

  • 1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil

  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/4 teaspoons pepper

  • 2-3 garlic cloves (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Instructions

Prepare the Steaks

Prepare your steaks by taking them out of the fridge to bring them to room temperature.

Pat your steak dry before seasoning.

Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the Cast Iron Skillet and Add Oil

On medium-high heat, you’ll want to get up to about 400°F (204°C). This takes about 5 minutes, and you’ll see your cast iron pan smoking.

Add Oil and Steak to the Pan

Pour your oil into the preheated skillet and let it get hot, about 1 minute. Always use an oil with a high smoke point. Avocado oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are all great options.

Place your seasoned steak(s) in the preheated skillet. 

Pan Sear the Steak

Cook on the first side for 3 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. This will get you a medium-rare steak, reaching 125°F (52°C) when I remove it from the heat and 135°F (57°C) after resting.

Let the Steak Rest

Once the steaks reach your desired doneness, remove them from the pan and let them rest. 

Tried this Recipe?

Let me know how you did on Twitter: @clan_kitchen