Is it Better to Cook Steak on the Stove Top or in the Oven?

Grilled Steak. Barbecue
A cooked steak with vegetables on a plate. (Image: Zoonar/D.Dzinnik/Zoonar/Getty Images)

Even a very hot cast iron skillet or griddle cannot replicate a charcoal grilled steak, and most broilers made for home use cannot approach the temperatures of their commercial cousins. In fact, whether they are seared on a grill or in a pan, finishing steaks in the oven is standard operating procedure for fine restaurants everywhere, for good reason. Employing your stove top and oven in conjunction results in the perfect sear and tenderness of restaurant-prepared steaks.

Equipment Envy

Commercial-quality equipment is not necessary to make great steak. Gas and electric ranges each have their advantages. A gas top generally achieves higher heat, but an electric oven employs heat more evenly. While a dual-fuel range -- a gas top paired with an electric oven -- is admittedly ideal for cooking steak, the only absolutely necessary pieces of equipment are a good-quality cast-iron skillet and a range of any type, as long as its heat source is reliable.

Steak Selection and Preparation

Whatever cut of beef you intend to cook, choose consistently-marbled steaks that are at least 1 inch thick but less than 2. About an hour before cooking, remove your steaks from the refrigerator and allow them to warm to room temperature. Placing refrigerated steaks directly onto heat prevents the searing effect and results in unevenly cooked steaks. Liberally season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.

It Starts on the Stove Top

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is ready, heat a lightly-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke slightly. Add butter to the pan. When the butter has melted and the foam subsides, add your steaks. Depending on the thickness of your steaks, sear them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until both sides are nicely caramelized.

It Finishes in the Oven

Transfer the skillet with the steaks into the preheated oven. As opposed to finishing the steaks on the stove top, transferring them to the oven stops the searing at the ideal point, allowing the interior of the steak to continue cooking without burning the exterior. Depending on the thickness of your steaks, they should take no more than 7 minutes for medium-rare doneness. Remove your steaks from the oven and allow them to rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for about 5 minutes before serving.

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