How to Cook Steak Perfectly

This method of cooking steaks creates a flavorful crust and the perfect temperature in the center while sealing in all of the delicious juices.

This method of cooking steaks creates a flavorful crust and the perfect temperature in the center while sealing in all of the delicious juices.

What Makes a Perfect Steak?

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the perfect steak visions of a crispy seared crust and a perfectly cooked, juicy, tender interior pop into my head. And to get this perfect steak, I follow three easy steps that I also use for cooking steaks from frozen.

Step 1. Season 30 minutes before cooking

Step 2. Sear in a sizzling hot pan

Step 3. Finish cooking in the oven

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Step #1

After removing from the fridge, you’ll want to pat them dry and season with salt before letting them come to room temperature. Ok, I know that people get a little nervous about leaving meat out on the counter, but for the 30 – 40 minutes that it takes for salt to be absorbed into the steak (flavor) and start to break down the proteins (tenderness), you won’t risk the meat going bad. Though, after 60 minutes you do run the risk of bacteria multiplying.

After the 30 minutes is up, I brush both sides of the steak with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. I know there is some debate over whether to pepper before cooking. Some people say that the pepper burns, but I think that it adds a deeper flavor to the meat. So, I pepper it before I toss it into the searing hot pan.

Step #2

Which brings me to Step 2, the sizzling hot oven-safe pan. And I mean SIZZLING HOT! (I heat my pan over high heat on the stove for about 7 – 10 minutes.) Once the steak hits the pan, the magic starts. This is where you get that crispy crust on the outside of the steak. If you don’t hear the tell-tale sizzle when the steak makes contact with the pan, you’re going to end up with a pale, sad steak.

I turn my steaks after 3 minutes and let the second side cook for another 3 minutes. If your steak has fat along the outside, set the steak on its side and cook for another 3 minutes. This cooks the fat making it nice and crispy.

Step #3

After the steaks have been seared, I move the them into the oven to finish cooking. This step takes advantage of the radiant heat from the oven to finish cooking the interior of the meat to the perfect temperature.

It is also where the variables show up. The thickness of the meat, the true temperature of the oven, and how long the steaks were seared. I am going to strongly recommend using an instant-read thermometer to ensure that your steak reaches your desired doneness. To reach my favorite doneness, medium (145˚F), I finished my steaks in the oven for 3 more minutes. Then I let them rest. I like to put a pat of butter on top of them while they sit for 5 minutes which allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the meat. If you want to get a little more fancy, make The Best Garlic Butter and put a dollop of that on top.

Internal Temperature Guide for Steaks

Not sure what internal temperature you should be aiming for to make your perfect steak? Officially, the FDA recommends that steak be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°C or 63°C. But we’ve got all the numbers below for you.

  • Rare: 125°F or 52°C (Remove from the oven at 120°F or 49°C.)
  • Medium-rare: 135°F or 57°C (Remove from the oven at 130°F or 54°C.)
  • Medium: 145°F or 63°C (Remove from the oven at 140°F or 60°C.)
  • Medium-well: 150°F or 66°C (Remove from the oven at 145°F or 63°C.)
  • Well done: 160°F or 71°C (Remove from the oven at 155°F or 68°C.)

 

 

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How to Cook Steak Perfectly


  • Author: Allie McDonald
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

This method of cooking steaks creates a flavorful crust and the perfect temperature in the center while sealing in all of the delicious juices.


Ingredients

  • 2 (16 oz) New York strip steaks, rib-eye steaks or filet mignon, 1 1/4-inch thick, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, divided
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Remove your steaks from the refrigerator and pat dry. Season each side of the steak with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Allow to sit for 30 – 40 minutes to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  3. Brush each side of the steaks with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and season with pepper.
  4. Heat a heavy, oven-safe skillet over high heat on the stove. When it is smoking hot, sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes per side. If you have steak with fat on one side, turn the steak onto the fat side and allow the fat to render for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place the skillet in the oven and cook the steaks to 5°F (3°C) below your desired doneness. For a medium (145˚F) doneness, my steaks were in the oven for 3 minutes. This is where variables come into play – the thickness of your steak, the true temperature of your oven, and how much the steaks were cooked when they were seared. Make sure to use your instant-read thermometer for this step.
  6. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on each steak and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley.

Notes

Internal temperatures for steak doneness is as follows. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the steak:

  • Rare: 125°F or 52°C (Remove from the oven at 120°F or 49°C.)
  • Medium-rare: 135°F or 57°C (Remove from the oven at 130°F or 54°C.)
  • Medium: 145°F or 63°C (Remove from the oven at 140°F or 60°C.)
  • Medium-well: 150°F or 66°C (Remove from the oven at 145°F or 63°C.)
  • Well done: 160°F or 71°C (Remove from the oven at 155°F or 68°C.)

NOTE: The FDA recommends that steak be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°C or 63°C.

This post originally appeared in April 2019 and was revised and republished in April 2020.
How to Cook Steak Perfectly

14 Responses to “How to Cook Steak Perfectly”

  1. Anne — August 12, 2020 @ 6:42 pm (#)

    This didn’t work out so well for me. After 1.5 minutes in the very hot pan it wasn’t seared, it was burned. Set off every smoke alarm in the place. Had much better luck with the pork chop recipe. I’ll try again with the pan much less hot. I’m sure it’ll be just a bit of trial and error with the combination of my equipment.

  2. Dave — May 14, 2020 @ 6:57 pm (#)

    What temperature do you set the oven at? It’s not in the recipe 

    • Christine Pittman — May 19, 2020 @ 9:05 am (#)

      It’s in step 2 – Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Enjoy, Dave!

  3. Calvin — December 24, 2019 @ 5:24 pm (#)

    Got to master this technique, nice perfect steak!

    • Christine Pittman — December 30, 2019 @ 4:37 pm (#)

      Happy cooking, Calvin!

  4. Saundra K. Warren — December 23, 2019 @ 9:49 am (#)

    I love a great steak!!!

    • Christine Pittman — December 23, 2019 @ 1:33 pm (#)

      Enjoy, Saundra!

  5. Debbie Yoder — December 20, 2019 @ 7:58 pm (#)

    My favorite meal!

    • Christine Pittman — December 23, 2019 @ 1:14 pm (#)

      Enjoy, Debbie!

  6. Deborah Waddell — December 17, 2019 @ 11:27 am (#)

    Tried doing steak on the stovetop and they got over done, Will try these tips.

    • Christine Pittman — December 18, 2019 @ 11:09 am (#)

      Good luck, Deborah!

  7. Sarah L — December 7, 2019 @ 9:12 pm (#)

    This makes my mouth water just reading it. I’d use the garlic butter for the finish.

    • Christine Pittman — December 9, 2019 @ 11:08 am (#)

      Delicious, Sarah!

  8. Rose Mary George — April 2, 2019 @ 7:54 pm (#)

    Great tips. Can’t wait to try it.

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