How to Pan Fry Sirloin Steak

For most people, sirloin steak is not an everyday meal. One of the more economical prime cuts of beef, sirloin steak offers a flavorful break from ground beef, chicken and other daily fare. It comes from the upper, forward part of the rear hip, so the muscles got a fair workout moving the steer about. Though leaner and less well-marbled than some popular cuts, sirloin nonetheless offers superior flavor and tenderness. It is best cooked using dry methods such as grilling, broiling or frying. It becomes tougher and chewier when cooked beyond medium rare.

Sirloing steak with french fries and garnish. Credit: Magone/iStock/Getty Images

Preparation and Handling

Step 1

Remove the sirloin from the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes before cooking it, so it can reach room temperature.

Step 2

Pound the steak repeatedly with a meat mallet or the side of a sturdy plate to tenderize it. Don't cut the steak or pierce it with a fork at any time during preparation or cooking. This promotes juice loss.

Step 3

Dry both sides of the steak using clean paper towels to enhance the searing process.

Step 4

Press salt and fresh ground pepper into the meat using the heel of your hand. Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to both sides of the sirloin.

Pan Frying

Step 1

Preheat a pan using high heat. Do not use a nonstick pan. You should feel heat radiating from the pan when you hold your hand 1 inch or so over the bottom of the pan. Place 1 tbsp. of oil into the pan. Let the oil heat until it begins to separate into droplets or starts to smoke.

Step 2

Place the steak into the oil puddle, and swish the steak around to spread the oil across the cooking surface. Sear the steak over high heat for three minutes. Flip the steak over using tongs and sear the other side for three minutes. This high heat causes an interaction between amino acids and sugar that creates hundreds of flavor compounds, adding a rich, complex flavor to the outer surface. The steak should now be cooked to rare. If you want the steak more fully cooked, reduce the heat to medium and cook each side another minute or two to reach medium rare level of doneness, and cook another three or four minutes to reach a medium level of doneness. For medium-well doneness, cook each side an additional five minutes or so.

Step 3

Transfer the steak to a plate, cover it with tin foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. The flavorful juices have fled to the middle of the steak, and resting allows them to redistribute themselves throughout the steak, and the steak reabsorbs some of the juices that leaked out.

Step 4

De-glaze the pan over high heat by adding 2 tbsp. of water. Use a spatula to scrape the pan and loosen any burnt-on meat drippings. Pour the deglazing liquid over the resting sirloin.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb. of sirloin steak, 3/4 to 1 inch thick

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Vegetable oil

  • Meat mallet

  • Pan

  • Tongs

  • Plate

  • Tinfoil

  • Spatula


You can slit the steak to check for doneness, but you would lose some of the juices. With experience, you can tell doness by pressing on the steak. Meanwhile, stick an instant-read meat thermometer into the side of the steak. Remove the steak at 120 degrees for rare, 130 for medium-rare, 140 for medium and 150 for medium for well done.


To prevent food-borne illness, do not allow raw beef to touch other uncooked foods.

Use a meat thermometer to test the doneness of your steak. A rare steak should not measure less than 130 degrees F to ensure safety.

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