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A Comprehensive Steak Cooking Guide: 5 Best Ways to Cook Steak

May 21, 2021

Every steak lover has their favorite way to cook a good steak. Sometimes, though, you just have to change it up! There are many delicious ways to enjoy these juicy beef cuts. Today, we’re sharing the five best ways to cook steak.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional chef or even super savvy in the kitchen! Our steak cooking guide is for all ability levels and flavor preferences. You can keep each of these methods fairly simple and still end up with a mouthwatering dish. As long as you use high-quality steaks, the meat will speak for itself.

A quick tip before diving in: Remember to let your steaks rest (except with reverse sear or sous vide) so the juices redistribute, which leaves you with juicy, flavorful steaks!

1. Grilled

Why we love it: Quick and easy method that is hard to mess up

Most steak fanatics will find it hard to argue that grilling is one of the best ways to cook steak. Who doesn’t love the satisfying cooking experience and amazing smoky aromas? Not to mention, grilling steak:

  • Keeps its juiciness and great texture.
  • Results in a subtly delicious smoky flavor, especially when cooking over wood pellets or charcoal!
  • Uses the meat’s natural fats and juices for flavor...mmm!
  • Doesn’t require you to use cooking oil.

What you’ll need:

  • Gas, charcoal, or wood pellet grill (e.g., Traeger or PittBoss): Wood pellet is our favorite because you can grill or smoke on them and they provide many options!
  • Steaks: Grilling works great on many cuts, from a NY strip to filet mignon to a sirloin.
  • Salt and pepper (or additional herbs/seasonings as desired)
  • Oil (optional)

Easy Steps to Grill a Steak:

  1. Fire up your grill. While it heats, oil (if desired) and season the steaks on both sides.
  2. Once the grill is very hot, throw on your steaks and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how well-done you want them.
  3. When the time is up or the steaks have reached your desired doneness, remove them from the grill and let rest for a few minutes covered in foil. Serve hot and delicious!

Pro Tips

  • Opt for marinated steaks for flavor that packs a punch!
  • To achieve the cool crosshatch look, rotate steaks halfway through cooking each side.
  • Top with butter for a mouthwatering finish.

2. Pan-Seared

Why we love it: Results in a flavorful steak without having to grill outside

Ever had that craving for a grilled steak in the middle of winter? Or maybe grilling isn’t an option for another reason? Pan-searing is a great way to satisfy that craving indoors. Cooking steak on the stove:

  • Produces in a yummy brown crust thanks to the Maillard reaction.
  • Creates another enjoyable cooking experience, filing your home with aromas and flavors.

What you’ll need:

  • Iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed pan
  • Oil of your choice: We prefer butter, but you can also use vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • Steaks: Best with a Beef Boneless Sirloin. If you’re feeling upscale, try a NY strip or Delmonico!
  • Salt and pepper (along with other desired seasonings)

Easy Steps to Pan-sear a Steak: 

  1. Heat your skillet until it is hot. While heating, season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Once the pan is hot, add a lump of butter and immediately place the steaks on top of the butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the desired doneness.
  3. When the steaks are cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and let rest for a few minutes.

Pro Tips

  • Use a very hot pan. A cast-iron or similar heavy-bottom skillet is best because they hold more heat.
  • Use a mesh splash guard and turn on your hood fan to prevent a greasy mess and lingering fried meat odors.

3. Sear-Roasted

Why we love it: Easy method that provides the best of both worlds

This method requires searing your steak quickly in a cast-iron skillet, then baking it the rest of the way in the oven. While it’s important to pay attention to prevent over-cooking, many appreciate sear-roasting because it:

  • Avoids burning the outside while achieving desired doneness.
  • Provides an even sear and retains the steak’s juiciness.
  • Results in a crisp brown crust from pan-searing.

What you’ll need:

  • Iron skillet or other oven-safe pan
  • Steaks: Great for very thick cuts, at least 1.5 in thick
  • Salt and pepper (along with other desired seasonings)
  • Oil of your choice
  • Oven mitts

Easy Steps to Sear-roast a Steak:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and heat your skillet. While heating, butter or oil and season your steaks on both sides.
  2. Place the steaks in the hot skillet and sear, about 2-3 minutes each side or until browned.
  3. Put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking. Cooking time depends on steak thickness and how well you want them cooked.
  4. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the steaks are cooked to your liking. Remove from the skillet and let rest for a few minutes.
  5. Top with your preferred finishing sauce or butter and serve.

Pro Tips

  • Opt for a seasoned cast iron or oven-proof stainless steel skillet.
  • Use an oil with a high smoke point, such as grapeseed, canola, peanut, or extra light olive oil or ghee.

4. Reverse Seared

Why we love it: Less moisture loss means a juicier steak!

You can use either the stove or grill to sear, OR use both the cool and hot sides of the grill for the entire process.

The reverse sear is a universal favorite way to cook a steak and also works well on thick cuts. Although it requires a bit more effort, the results are worth it! You’ll end up with:

  • Evenly cooked, juicy steaks.
  • More tender meat.
  • Better browning.

What you’ll need:

  • Iron skillet OR a grill
  • Wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet (unless cooking on the grill)
  • A good meat thermometer
  • Steaks: Great for very thick cuts, at least 1.5-2 in thick
  • Salt and pepper (and other desired seasonings)
  • High-temp-friendly oil
  • Butter

Easy Steps to Reverse Sear a Steak:

  1. Preheat the oven to between 200-275 degrees. Lower temperatures cook the meat more evenly, although it will take longer. If you’re grilling, create a two-zone fire by banking a chimney of coals under one side of the grill, or turn on only half the burners of a gas grill. Cover the grill to preheat.
  2. Season your steaks on both sides generously with salt and pepper. Place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Skip this step if you’re grilling.
  3. Place the steaks in the oven and roast until they reach about 10 to 15 degrees below your desired final temperature, or about 45-60 minutes. If grilling, place the steaks on the cool side of the grill so they cook slowly via indirect heat. Check temperature frequently with your thermometer.
  4. Shortly before removing the steaks from the oven, add a tablespoon of oil to your skillet and preheat on high. When the oil starts smoking, add the steaks along with a tablespoon of butter. Let cook, swirling and lifting occasionally, until lightly browned. This should take about 45 seconds on each side. Then hold the steaks on their sides to sear the edges. To finish on the grill, remove the steaks and tent them with foil while you get the grill as hot as you can. Turn all gas burners all the way up and close the lid to preheat, or add extra coals. When the fire is roaring, cook the steaks over the hot side, flipping every few seconds until they’re crisp and charred evenly, about 90 seconds total.
  5. Serve steaks immediately, or let them rest for a minute or two max. 

Pro Tips

  • Use a very good meat thermometer and remember to check your meat temperature frequently.
  • There’s no need to rest reverse-seared meat as you normally would with other traditional cooking methods.

5. Sous Vide

Why we love it: Super accurate and evenly cooked steaks

Sous vide may sound fancy, but thanks to today’s technology, it’s actually quite easy. Not to mention, it creates very little mess and results in steak cooked to perfection. Why sous vide your steak?

  • The meat is sealed with its juices, keeping moisture and flavor in the meat.
  • It results in big flavors from your preferred spices thanks to being sealed in.
  • It’s easy enough for anyone to do at home.
  • Timing isn’t as important.

What you’ll need:

  • Sous vide machine
  • Vacuum sealer and bags or heavy duty freezer bags
  • Large pot
  • Steaks: Best for steaks with great marbling and at least 1.5 in thickness
  • Kosher salt, pepper, and any other dried spices, aromatics, or pastes you like

Easy Steps to Sous Vide Steak:

  1. Season your meat generously with kosher salt, pepper, and your favorite spices or paste.
  2. Seal the steaks in either a food-grade vacuum sealing bag or a strong resealable freezer bag. Throw in any large aromatics (e.g., rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, dried chiles), on the meat so they are locked in place when the bag is sealed. You can even add a small amount of butter, ghee, or coconut oil, but avoid super liquid-y options as they could interfere with the seal.
  3. If using a vacuum sealer, follow the instructions (and don’t be afraid to double or triple seal it). If you’re using freezer bags, press out as much air as you can and seal your bag almost completely, leaving a small gap for air to escape. Hold it by the corners of the seal and slowly lower the bag into a pot of water (like the one you’ve prepared for cooking) until the water is up to the seal, then close it completely. The pressure of the water pushes out any remaining air.
  4. Fill your large pot with water and set up your sous vide machine according to the instructions. Some models let you simply enter what you’re cooking and automatically set the cooking temperature and time. If yours does not, refer to a sous vide temperature and time guide, like this one.
  5. Once your steak is cooked to your desired temperature, remove it from the pot. You can serve as is, or choose to sesar it to add a tasty crispy finish. If you decide to sear, remove it from the bag, dry it thoroughly with paper towels, season as desired, and sear it on all sides on a very hot pan or grill, turning regularly to prevent overcooking one side. Remember, your meat is already cooked, so you only need 30 to 60 seconds on each side and on the edges.
  6. Serve!

Pro Tips

  • There is no need to rest sous vide as long as you’ve cooked your steak at the right temperature and time.
  • If you choose to sear, let it rest for a few minutes so it is closer to room temperature, which enhances the searing effects.
  • If you’re not eating your sous vide immediately, place it in a bowl of ice water to cool it quickly, keep it in the bag, and store it in the fridge for up to seven days or in the freezer for up to a year. 

Best Ways to Cook Steak

We hope this steak cooking guide has given you some inspiration for your future beef entrees. Try different methods to find your favorite and add some variety to your meals. The beauty of these five techniques is that you can get creative, playing with your oils and aromatics for different flavors.

Just remember, no matter how you cook your meat or which ingredients you choose, when you use high-quality steak it’s sure to be tasty and wow the whole family!

Stephanie Painter
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