How to Cook Steak
Cooking steak can be intimidating, especially because there's no one "right way" to do it. Learn these methods for cooking steak, and decide which option is best for you. Here are four ways to cook the perfect steaks: on the grill, in the oven, on the stove, or cooked sous vide.
How to Cook Steak 4 Different Ways
1. How to Cook Steak on the Grill
We won't get into the fiery debate between charcoal versus gas grills here — we've covered that in depth. But for certain, great grilling can be had with either charcoal or gas.
We've also covered how to pick the best steak for grilling. The good news is, the perfect steak doesn't need to be the most expensive. If breaking the bank isn't part of your barbeque plan, consider less spendy sirloin, hanger, flank steak, and skirt steaks.
Choose cuts that are at least 1-inch thick. If the steak is too thin, the interior gets cooked well-done before the exterior can develop the crave-worthy crust. If you can, choose steaks of even thickness so they'll be done at the same time. Also, meat near the bone will take a little longer to cook.
Marinades and Rubs. The ideal steak marinade combines acid, fat, and seasonings. The acid creates a tangy flavor foundation and tenderizes the meat; the fat adds flavor, seals in juices, helps keep the meat from sticking to the grill, and promotes caramelization; and the seasonings complete the flavor profile. Here's a breakdown of The Best Steak Marinade in Existence.
Rubs are another way to go. These simple seasoning mixtures infuse grilled steaks with exciting flavors. The best rubs enhance the natural smoky flavors of the grilled meat without overwhelming it. Add a little oil, vinegar, or other liquid to the mix, and you have a wet rub. Let rubbed meats sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. Now that you've prepped your meat, learn step-by-step how to cook steak on the grill:
- If your steak was marinating, wipe off the wet marinade with a paper towel, then set it down on the hot grill and leave it alone for several minutes without turning.
- After a few minutes, the meat will release its grip on the grill, and you can turn it without tearing the meat; If you start to turn it, and it's still gripping the grill, just give it another minute.
- Sear steaks over high, direct heat, then move them to indirect heat to finish cooking. That's the most common method. But if you like to live dangerously, do it in reverse: start with indirect cooking, with the lid on, and then finish with a quick, high-heat sear. You'll get the same results: a juicy steak with a crisp, caramelized crust.
- Once your steak is done to your liking, remove it to a plate and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
Some Favorite Grilled Steak Recipes:
2. How to Cook Steak in the Oven
Broiling steak in the oven gives you grill-like results in the kitchen. Broiling is like grilling turned on its head, with the high heat coming from above the meat instead of below it. Both grilling and broiling are fast and easy. Here's how to broil in 5 easy steps.
1. Before turning on the broiler, remove thawed steaks from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Then pat the steaks dry with paper towels and season the meat as you like.
2. Trim excess fat from the meat to avoid grease flare-ups. Make a few vertical cuts along the edges of the steak to keep it from curling under the broiler.
3. Situate the top oven rack to just below the broiler coils. Turn the oven on to broil. Allow it to preheat for 5 minutes.
4. Place steaks on a broiling pan—or if you don't have a broiling pan, make one: line a shallow baking sheet with foil and set a flat rack on top of it. But do not use a glass baking pan under the broiler — it will break under the high heat.
5. Slide the steaks under the glowing coils. The distance between the top of the steaks and the heat source should be between 3 and 5 inches. If the top rack position is too close to the coils, lower the rack to the second position.
6. Keep an eye on the steaks. Once the crust is nicely browned, grab a couple pot holders and pull out the broiling pan. Flip the steaks and cook the other side until done. Broiling cooks food fast. So once you've turned the steaks, let them cook another minute or so, and then check for doneness with an instant read thermometer.
7. If the outside is nicely crusted but the inside is too raw for your liking, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees F and roast until done. Remove and let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Related: The Best Cutting Boards for Meat
3. How to Cook Steak Stovetop-to-Oven
If you're cooking your steaks in the oven, take a tip from restaurant chefs start by searing the meat on the stovetop, then finish up in a super-hot oven. This stovetop-to-oven process results in a steak with a deeply caramelized crust and a tender and perfectly cooked interior.
Oven Roasted Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce
- 2 (6 ounce) filet mignon steaks
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 tablespoons butter
1. Bring the steaks to room temperature. Rub the steaks with 1/4 teaspoon oil per side and generously season with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) (a very hot oven produces a juicy interior). Place a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or cast-iron skillet in the oven as it preheats. When oven reaches 500 degrees F (260 degrees C), use a baking mitt to remove the pan from oven. Be careful! The pan and the handle will be extremely hot. Place the pan on the stovetop and turn the heat to high.
3. Immediately place steaks in the middle of the hot, dry pan. Cook 1 to 2 minutes without moving; turn steaks with tongs, and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Transfer the pan with the seared steaks to the hot oven. Roast in the center of the oven until the steaks are cooked to your liking, about 3 to 5 minutes. (See below for info on how to determine doneness.)
5. Transfer the cooked steaks to a warm platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
Give it a rest. Before slicing or serving, let the meat sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The steak will continue to cook (the temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after being removed from the oven) and the juices will redistribute throughout the meat.
6. While the steaks are resting, place the skillet over medium heat. Add ½ cup dry red wine to the skillet and bring to a boil. As the wine boils, use a wooden spoon to scrap any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid boil until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup. Remove pan from heat. Add the butter, swirling the pan to incorporate it into the sauce.
7. Serve the steaks whole or slice thin and fan onto individual serving plates. Pour the sauce over the steaks just before serving.
4. How to Cook Steak Sous Vide
There's another way to get juicy steaks on the stovetop. It's a technique called sous vide (pronounced sou-VEED). It starts with the same searing technique as above. but instead of going from skillet into a very hot oven, the steak gets sealed in a plastic bag and goes into a hot water bath to finish cooking. Interested? Watch this video for all the details:
VIDEO: Sous Vide New York Strip Steaks
Chef John's technique doesn't require expensive sous vide equipment -- all you need is a heavy pot and a cooking thermometer. See how it's done!
How to Test Your Steak for Doneness
For the most accurate results, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness:
- Rare -- 125 degrees F (52 degrees C)
- Medium Rare -- 130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
- Medium -- 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
- Medium Well -- 150 degrees F (65 degrees C)
- Well done -- 160 degrees F (70 degrees C)
You can also use your fist. Admittedly, this method is more art than science, but it will give you a general idea of doneness. First, make your hand into a fist. You'll notice there's a fleshy, roughly triangular patch of skin between your folded-up thumb and pointer finger. Touch that flap of skin and compare it to the steak. Here's the deal:
- Very loose non-fist -- Rare
- Tight fist -- Well done
- A grip halfway between loose and tight -- Medium
See? Not science. But close enough for grill-work.