How To Cook Fillet Steak In a Frying Pan

Fillet steak is a cut that comes from the lower middle of the back and forms part of the sirloin. It’s a very lean and tender cut of meat. The fillet muscle is partially inactive, which is why it’s so tender. It’s also a costly cut of beef; therefore, it’s considered a premium cut.

In restaurants, we use fillet cut for cooking one-and-a-half-inch thick steaks, filet mignon, chateaubriand, and wellington steaks.

In this article, I’ll show you how to cook a perfect fillet steak and how to buy one. Since we’re going to be using a frying pan for this cooking method, you’ll need a good steak pan. Later in this article, you’ll find a separate section where I’m talking about two different pans for steaks.

How To Cook Beef Fillet Steak In a Frying Pan

how to cook fillet steak
Fresh filet steak

Fillet steak is a lean and tender cut of meat. It can be grilled or pan-fried. Since we’re going to pan-fry fillet steak, you’ll need only a few ingredients and some essential equipment.

A few important things to keep in mind. A skillet with a thick base or frying pan is necessary because you’ll need to sear fillet steak over high heat. High heat can warp the pan or even damage the interior cooking surface if a pan is too thin.

Follow the recipe below to cook the steak:



  • Fillet steak;
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Cooking oil (light olive oil, grapeseed, or canola);
  • Garlic;
  • Fresh rosemary;
  • Fresh thyme;
  • Butter.


  1. Take the fillet steak out of the fridge and season it with a generous amount of salt. You can add some freshly ground pepper; however, most chefs tend to leave it towards the end of cooking because the peppercorns burn when on a very high heat creating a bitter taste. Leave the steak to rest at room temperature for about an hour before cooking it. Remember that simple steak seasoning works best for this type of steak.
  2. Prepare everything in advance. Wash fresh herbs and peel the garlic. Take out butter from the fridge. Have a probe thermometer and tongs sitting on a countertop. Prepare everything in advance because steak cooks fast, depending on doneness. You’ll need to act quickly in order not to overcook the steak;
  3. Pat dry the steak. Using a paper towel, remove moisture from the exterior of the steak;
  4. Preheat the pan. Put a pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Add cooking oil and spread it out across the cooking surface;
  5. Cook the fillet steak. Gently place the steak in a frying pan. Do not drop it; otherwise, you’ll burn yourself.
  6. Flip the steak. Depending on the doneness, cooking times will differ. I’m cooking my steak medium-rare; therefore, I’ll cook around 6 to 8 mins total, meaning I’ll cook around 2 mins for each side twice.
  7. Check internal temperature. Stick the probe thermometer into the steak to check the internal temperature. Alternatively, you can use a “finger test method”;
  8. Baste. Halfway through cooking, add butter, herbs, and garlic. Using a tablespoon, baste the steak in hot butter infused with flavors from the garlic and herbs.
  9. Rest. Take the steak out of the frying pan and leave it to rest for about 8 mins. Resting is very important since cutting the steak straight out of the pan will lose lots of steak juice and flavor.

Steak Temperature Chart

steak temperature chart
Filet steak cooked to medium level of doneness
  • Rare steak: 125° F;
  • Medium rare steak: 135° F;
  • Medium steak: 145° F;
  • Medium-well steak: 150° F;
  • Well done, steak: 160° F.

Fillet steak’s internal temperature continues to rise for another few minutes after taking it out of the frying pan. If you’re cooking steak to medium, it means you’ll need to take the steak out of the pan when the internal temperature reaches 140° F.

You can use a probe thermometer to check the steak’s doneness. However, it’s not ideal since sticking it into the meat will result in losing some of the fantastic steak juice.

Most chefs and home cooks rely on the “finger test” method. It’s the oldest and most reliable way to check steak doneness. Since you do not stick anything into the steak, it stays intact, meaning you’re not going to lose any juice and flavor.

Please do not cut the steak with a knife to check the doneness. It’ll dry the steak.

How To Buy Good Fillet Steak?

how to buy good fillet steak
High-quality filet steak

Before buying steak, you need to understand a couple of things. First and foremost, grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Both grass-fed, and grain-fed steaks have their unique characteristics, and understanding the differences between the two can help you select the best option based on your preferences.

Grass-fed steaks come from cattle that have been raised on a diet of primarily grass and forage throughout their lives. These steaks tend to have a leaner texture and a more distinct flavor profile.

Grain-fed steaks, on the other hand, are sourced from cattle that have been fed a diet consisting mostly of grains such as corn or soy. These steaks are typically more marbled, resulting in a richer and more tender texture. Grain-fed steaks may have a milder flavor and are often more widely available than their grass-fed counterparts.

Marbling refers to the distribution of intramuscular fat within the steak. A well-marbled filet steak will have thin, web-like streaks of white fat evenly dispersed throughout the muscle tissue. Marbling is an essential factor to consider because it contributes to the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the cooked steak. When selecting a high-quality filet steak, look for an even distribution of marbling throughout the meat.

The color of a filet steak can give you valuable information about its freshness and quality. A fresh, high-quality filet steak should have a bright, cherry-red color. Avoid steaks with a dull, grayish, or overly dark appearance, as this may indicate that the meat is past its prime or has been exposed to oxygen for too long.

A high-quality filet steak should have a mild, fresh, and slightly sweet aroma. An unpleasant or sour smell may indicate spoilage or bacterial growth, which can compromise the taste and safety of the meat. Always trust your nose when selecting a steak and avoid any off-putting odors.

Best Pan For Pan-Frying Fillet Steak

best pan for pan frying fillet steak
Hexclad pan for searing steaks

The best overall frying pan for pan-frying a steak is HexClad 12 Inch Hybrid Stainless Steel Frying Pan. It has a thick bottom that can withstand the high heat required for pan searing. The nonstick coating can withstand high heat without flaking or peeling. It retains and distributes heat well. It’s an excellent and all-around versatile nonstick pan.

The best budget option is a cast-iron skillet. It has a thick and heavy bottom. Cast iron retains and distributes heat well. Often I use this Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. It’s excellent for steak and other dishes. Though keep in mind this cast iron skillet is heavy compared to Hexclad.


How to cook fillet steak in a regular frying pan?

Preheat the pan to about 450° F and add steak to the pan. Cook it to your liking. Use butter and fresh herbs for basting mid-way through cooking the steak.

How long do you pan fry fillet steak per side?

2 to 4 mins are best for pan frying fillet steak per side. Any more than that, and the steak can burn. At around two and a half minutes, pick the steak up and check if it’s not burning.

How long does it take to cook a fillet steak on the frying pan?

To cook steak rare takes 4-5 mins. To cook fillet medium rare takes 6-7 mins. Medium takes about 8 mins. Medium-well around 9-1o mins. Well done takes about 11-12 minutes.

Can I cook fillet steak in a nonstick pan?

Yes, you can cook fillet steak in a nonstick pan. Make sure it has a thick base and a high-quality nonstick coating. If it has a thin base, it can warp. If a nonstick coating cannot withstand high heat, it can flake or peel.

Can you cook a fillet steak in a stainless steel pan?

Yes, you can cook fillet steak in a stainless steel pan. Many chefs like using a stainless steel frying pan for searing stakes since stainless steel pans are durable and capable of withstanding high temperatures.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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