To cook steak in a stainless steel pan, first, preheat the pan over medium-high heat and add a thin layer of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, place the seasoned steak in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until it reaches the desired level of doneness, using a meat thermometer to check for accuracy.
Cooking steak in a stainless steel pan is a versatile cooking method. It’s perfect for those who want to achieve a restaurant-quality sear and a deliciously tender interior in the comfort of their own kitchen.
In this article, I will guide you through the essential steps and tips to master this technique, ensuring that you can cook a delicious steak. Over my years of experience in many different restaurants, I mastered cooking steak in a stainless steel pan, so I have a lot of things to share with you.
Here are a couple of steaks that are incredibly easy to cook in a stainless steel pan:
Which steak cut is best suited for cooking in a stainless steel pan?
Thicker cuts like ribeye, New York strip, T-bone, Porterhouse, and filet mignon are great options for stainless steel pans. These cuts have a nice amount of marbling (fat), which melts as the steak cooks, creating a delicious, tender, and juicy texture. The stainless steel is perfect for achieving a nice crust on the outside of the steak while keeping the inside tender and moist.
Surely, you can choose any other steak cut; however, the ones I mention above will deliver the best result. Not to mention these cuts are quite a bit easier to cook than leaner, less marbled steak cuts.
What kind of oil should I use for cooking steak in a stainless steel pan?
When choosing an oil for cooking steak in a stainless steel pan, it’s important to select one with a high smoke point, as this will prevent the oil from breaking down and producing smoke at high temperatures. Suitable options include vegetable oils like canola, grapeseed, or sunflower oil, as well as other oils like avocado oil or light/refined olive oil. These oils can withstand the high heat required for searing a steak, ensuring a proper crust and preventing any off-flavors. Additionally, these oils have a neutral flavor, which allows the natural taste of the steak to shine through without being overwhelmed by the oil’s taste.
How to cook steak in a stainless steel pan
Here’s a list of ingredients and equipment you’ll need to cook a perfect steak in a pan. The cooking method described below will require to have a stainless steel pan.
- Rib-eye steak;
- Kosher salt;
- Freshly ground black pepper;
- Fresh thyme;
- Fresh rosemary (optional);
- Light olive oil.
- Stainless steel frying pan;
- Meat thermometer;
- Sharp knife;
- Cutting board;
- Paper towel.
Step 1: Bring steak to room temperature
Take the steak out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking. Season steak with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leaving steak at room temperature will help the steak cook evenly and prevent it from drying out. If using a thick cut of steak, leave the steak to rest for an hour before cooking. If cooking tough steak cut then marinade or dry brine for at least 4 hours before cooking. It will make meat tender when pan-frying.
Step 2: Preheat the stainless steel pan
Place stainless steel pan over high heat. Add a little bit of light olive oil and let it heat up for about a minute until the oil starts to smoke. If you don’t have light olive oil, any other neutral cooking oil will work just fine.
Step 3: Cook the steak
Before placing the steak in a hot pan, make sure to remove moisture from the steak’s exterior with a paper towel. It will help the steak to form a nice and crispy crust. Sear the steak on both sides for one minute on each side or until brown crust forms (it should not take more than 2 minutes on each side). Turn the heat down to medium and continue cooking to the desired doneness.
Step 4: Check the steak’s internal temperature
About 4 minutes into cooking the steak, check its internal temperature. Check the steak’s doneness level using a meat thermometer or a finger test method. Keep in mind to remove steak from the heat source when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. Steak continues to cook even after it’s removed from the pan, so it will reach the perfect doneness level when you’re ready to eat. I’m cooking my rib-eye steak to medium-rare; therefore, it should take around 6 minutes (for a one-and-a-half-inch thick steak).
Step 5: Baste
Finish cooking the steak with a knob of butter (around two tablespoons) and fresh herbs. Two to three minutes before finishing cooking your favorite steak, add butter, fresh thyme, and rosemary to the pan. Create a butter pool and, using a tablespoon baste the steak. It should make the steak juicy and packed with fantastic flavor.
Step 6: Rest
After removing the steak from the heat source, it’s important to leave it to rest for at least 5 minutes, depending on the steak size. Resting will help steak juices redistribute evenly throughout the meat and make the steak more tender.
Steak’s internal 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.
Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and check the internal temperature. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, use your finger to check how cooked the steak is cooked. It may look complicated for a beginner home cook; however, trust me, the finger test method is reliable and straightforward.
To perform the test, first, relax your hand and gently press the fleshy area under your thumb with the index finger of your other hand. This softness is comparable to the feel of a rare steak. Now, gently touch your thumb to your index finger and press the same fleshy area again. This slightly firmer texture resembles a medium-rare steak. Touch your thumb to your middle finger for a medium steak, your ring finger for medium-well, and your pinky finger for a well-done steak. As you progress through the fingers, the firmness increases, giving you a rough guide for comparing the feel of your steak as it cooks. Keep in mind that this method takes practice and may not be as accurate as using a meat thermometer.
How can I properly season my stainless steel pan for cooking steak?
Seasoning a stainless steel pan is not a common practice, as these pans don’t require seasoning like cast iron or carbon steel pans. However, if you want to avoid steak sticking to the pan’s surface, you must prepare the pan for cooking steak. So, first, heat the pan over medium-high heat until it is hot. Next, add a high smoke point oil, such as canola, grapeseed, light olive oil, or avocado oil, coating the bottom of the pan evenly. Allow the oil to heat up until it shimmers or just begins to smoke. Once the oil reaches this stage, carefully place the seasoned steak in the pan, ensuring proper contact between the steak and the pan for optimal searing and browning.
Will steak stick to stainless steel pan?
No, steak is not going to stick to the stainless steel pan if you let it cook for at least a minute before flipping it. If you try to flip it too soon, it can stick to the cooking surface.
Can you cook steak in stainless steel pan without oil?
You can cook steak in a stainless steel pan without cooking oil; however, it’s best to use oil. Oil will create a brown crust on the steak’s exterior, locking in all of that fantastic juice and flavor.
How do I know when the pan is hot enough to cook the steak?
To determine if a stainless steel pan is hot enough to cook a steak, heat it over medium-high heat and wait for it to become evenly hot. You can test the pan’s readiness by adding a small drop of water to the surface; if the water droplet sizzles and evaporates quickly, the pan is hot enough to sear the steak.