How To Cook Beef Shoulder Steak On Stove

beef shoulder steak
Steak cut from the beef shoulder

Looking for an easy way to cook beef shoulder steak on the stove? Look no further! This step-by-step guide will show you how to make a delicious and tender beef shoulder steak in just minutes. All you need is a skillet and some basic ingredients.

As a chef and steak lover, I do prefer fatty beef cuts. For instance, take a rib-eye steak. It has more marbling; therefore, it’s more tender and more flavorful. Shoulder steak, on the other hand, has a nice beef flavor; however, it lacks tenderness.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to cook steak on the stove – shoulder steak to be exact. I’ve included a buying guide and how to check the steak’s internal temperature. An overcooked shoulder steak is chewy. Make sure to follow the temperature chart below.

A tender and juicy steak from cow's shoulder

Flat iron steak

How to Cook Beef Shoulder Steak on the Stove

First and foremost what is a beef shoulder steak? The beef shoulder steak cut is from the chuck primal and is located in the shoulder area. This cut of meat is well-marbled with fat which makes it flavorful, but it can also be tough if not cooked properly. Unlike fillet shoulder muscle is worked more, making the steak tougher. But don’t let that scare you off, with a little bit of care you can make a delicious beef shoulder steak on the stove.

If planning to cook shoulder steak well done it’s best if you marinade or dry brine the meat first. Overcooking the beef without any prior tenderizing can make the meat chewy.

This recipe is pretty simple. All you need for this cooking method is a few basic ingredients and a heavy pan or cast-iron skillet. Cooking steak requires high heat and not all pans are created equal. A heavy pan will help to create a nice sear on the outside of the steak without warping or damaging it. Some nonstick pans can warp when exposed to high heat for too long. Here’s an article that can help you choose the best frying pan for steak.

cooking beef shoulder steak
Steak carved from beef shuolder

Here’s what you need for cooking beef shoulder steak:


  • Beef shoulder steak;
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Butter;
  • Fresh thyme;
  • Fresh rosemary;
  • Light olive oil.



  1. Season. After buying shoulder steak, the first thing you should do is season it with a generous amount of kosher salt and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Ideally, leave it for 24 hours before cooking. Salt will help to tenderize the meat and make it juicier;
  2. Bring steak to room temperature. Take the steak out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking and season with freshly ground black pepper. Bringing steak to room temperature will ensure the steak is cooking evenly;
  3. Preheat the pan. Take your cast-iron skillet or any other heavy pan and place it on a stovetop over high heat until scorching hot. Add a few tablespoons of light olive oil. Avoid using unrefined oil since they burn easily. Here’s a list of the best oils for searing steaks;
  4. Sear the steak. Lay the steak away from you to the scorching hot pan and sear for 1 minute on each side. When a brown crust is formed, turn the heat to medium and continue cooking;
  5. Check internal temperature. About halfway through cooking the steak check the internal temperature. You can do it with a meat thermometer or using a finger test method. I’m using a 1-inch thick steak and I’m cooking it to medium-rare. It takes 5-6 minutes to reach medium-rare. Remove steak from the heat source when steak’s internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. Steak continues to cook for another few more minutes when off the heat source;
  6. Baste. Finish cooking the steak with a knob of butter and some fresh herbs. Add butter, fresh thyme, and rosemary to the pan and baste the shoulder steak for a few minutes until it reaches the desired doneness;
  7. Rest. Leave the steak to rest for at least five minutes before cutting into it. It’s a crucial step that allows steak juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat;
  8. Slice and serve. Slice steak against the grain into thin strips and enjoy with your favorite sides.

Note: thick and thin steaks cook at different rates. Thicker steak cuts can take several minutes more to reach the desired doneness compared to thin steak cuts.

Looking for more steak cooking guides here you go:

Steak Doneness Temperature Chart

steak temperature chart
Steak temperature chart
  • Rare steak: 125° F;
  • Medium rare steak: 135° F;
  • Medium steak: 145° F;
  • Medium-well steak: 150° F;
  • Well done, steak: 160° F.

To check the steak’s doneness take a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the steak.

If you do not have a meat thermometer, use a finger test method. It’s a reliable way of checking meat’s internal temperature. Most chefs and advanced home cooks use this method without needing any thermometer.

Here’s a video explaining how to use the finger test method:

To keep in mind, take the steak out of the heat source when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. When the steak is resting, it continues to cook for a few more minutes.

Beef Shoulder Steak Buying Guide

Here’s a bullet list of things to keep in mind when buying a beef shoulder steak:

  • Marbling. Look for steaks with a good amount of marbling. Marbling is the streaks of fat running through the steak. Steak with more marbling tends to be juicier and more flavorful;
  • Smell. Avoid steaks that smell sour or have an ammonia-like scent. Those are signs of a bad steak;
  • Color. Look for bright red meat with a bit of purple hue. Avoid steaks with brown color since they tend to be old. Grass-fed compared to grain-fed cattle is leaner and has a more dark red color. It’s easy to recognize grain-fed because it’s pink and has white marbling;
  • Texture. The steak should have a firm texture. If it’s too soft, it can be an indication that the meat is old or not fresh;
beef shoulder steak buying guide
Lean steak cut

Let’s get it straight grass-fed or grain-fed beef. I personally prefer grass-fed and here’s why.

Grass-fed steak is leaner and has a more intense flavor. Yes, it has less marbling but at the same time, it has a more complex set of flavors because of its natural diet. Since grass-fed beef is on a diet of plants and sometimes grain it’s more environmentally sustainable and packed with more nutrients. You can instantly recognize grass-fed steak from the marbling. It is slightly yellowish because of the pigments in the plants.

Grain-fed cattle are fed with corn, soy, or other grains. Those foods make the cattle fat and as a result, grain-fed beef is also higher in unhealthy saturated fats. Suppose you like the buttery taste then grain-fed steak is for you. It’s quite a bit more tender and juicy, but at the same time, it lacks a beefy flavor. Grain-fed beef can be easily recognized from its white marbling and pink color.

Beef shoulder steak is readily available at most supermarkets. However, for the best quality steak, it’s advisable to visit a local butcher shop or an online shop. It usually comes in 10oz weight and about one-inch thickness.


Is shoulder steak a tough cut of meat?

Yes, shoulder steak is a tough cut of steak. It’s not as tender compared to the likes of rib-eye or filet mignon. However, if cooked properly it can be just as delicious.

How do you tenderize a shoulder steak?

The best way to tenderize a shoulder steak is with kosher salt or marinade. If you are using a marinade make sure to use an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, or citrus juice.

Why is my shoulder steak tough and chewy?

Shoulder steak is tough and chewy as it’s. It’s even chewier if cooked medium-well or well done. It’s best to tenderize the meat with kosher salt or marinade to prevent it from becoming tough.

What is the best way to cook beef shoulder steak?

The best way to cook shoulder steak is slow cooking. It’s generally not recommended to cook it on high heat as it can become tough and chewy. However, if you must cook it on high heat make sure to not overcook it.

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