You can wow your guests with a delicious steak dinner by simply cooking rib eye in the oven. With its rich flavor and tender consistency, this juicy cut tastes just as good as it looks.
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"There really isn't another cut of meat quite like the rib eye," Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox, tells LIVESTRONG.com. It's both easy and quick to cook, he notes.
"The rib eye contains what is, by far, the most flavorful and nearly the most tender bite of beef."
There are two main ways to cook rib eye steak in the oven: You can either sear the meat and then transfer it to the oven or bake it before searing.
How to Choose the Best Rib Eye Steak
The rib eye cut lies in the upper rib cage of cattle, so it gets little exercise. For this reason, it's more tender than other pieces of meat. Plus, its leaner portions are covered by a layer of fat, which further enhances its flavor and tenderness.
A cooked 4.5-ounce steak (about a serving and a half) has 240 calories, about 38 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat, according to the USDA. (It also provides nearly 130 percent of the daily recommended allowance of zinc and over 180 percent of the daily recommended vitamin B12.)
"When choosing a rib eye at the butcher counter, fat is your friend," Polak says. Look for the presence of intramuscular fat — thin white lines of fat within the muscle itself — which is commonly referred to as marbling, he recommends.
"The appearance of the intramuscular fat is a great indication of the tenderness — more fat equals more tender," Polak says.
Opt for thin-cut steaks as a last-minute special occasion dish, thick-cut steaks for a tasty everyday dinner or hefty rib roasts for a holiday meal, Polak suggests.
Choose 1- to 1.5-inch thick steaks so they don't overcook. Reduce the cooking time for thinner steaks. For the best sear, make sure the meat is dry, Polak says.
If you have time, he recommends salting the meat lightly a day in advance for additional flavor. Forgot to plan ahead? You can cook rib eye frozen — it'll just require additional time.
When it comes to cooking rib eye steak in the oven, there are several approaches you can take. Here are two of Polak's favorite cooking techniques for this cut of meat.
Sear First, Then Finish in the Oven
Using a cast-iron skillet to cook a rib eye is quick and tasty, Polak says.
Things You'll Need
Cast iron skillet
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pat the steak dry using paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- Place an oven-safe cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat on the stove for 1 minute. Letting it warm up without any fat on it allows the pores in the iron to expand a bit so that when you add fat, it will create a nice nonstick surface, Polak says.
- Add vegetable oil to the pan. Vegetable oil can handle high temperatures without burning or smoking, Polak says.
- Season the steak with coarse kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. "The rib eye can handle plenty of salt and you want each bite to be well seasoned," Polak says.
- Once the fat starts smoking, place the meat in the pan. "Try not to move it around too much, since you really want to let a crust build," Polak says. This adds to the flavor. Sear the steak for 2 to 3 minutes until a crust develops.
- Flip the steak.
- Place the skillet in the oven, and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Let the meat rest for 5 to 8 minutes.
If the steak is thicker, turn it a few times in the oven, Polak recommends. For extra flavor, try adding a spoonful of good butter and a handful of fresh thyme to the pan for the last couple minutes of cooking, he says.
How to Reverse-Sear Steak
This method is a good fit for thicker steaks that are an inch thick (or bigger). "It's not worth the time with anything smaller," Polak says.
Things You'll Need
Oven-safe casserole or baking dish
- Pat the rib eye dry with paper towels to remove moisture.
- Season the meat with plenty of kosher salt and cracked black pepper, then place in baking dish.
- Place the steak in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, it'll be cooked rare. This will take around 35 to 55 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat, Polak says.
- Pull out the steak and let it rest for a few minutes. The rest is essentials — "if you go straight into a hot pan for the final sear you risk overcooking it pretty quickly," Polak says.
- Heat your pan until it's "screaming hot," Polak says.
- Place the steak in the pan and cook for 1 minute.
- Flip the steak and spoon butter and herbs over it while it cooks for an additional minute on the other side.
- The steak is done when its internal temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit, per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Let the meat rest for 5 to 8 minutes.
Tips for Your Best Rib Eye Steak
- Always let the rib eye rest after cooking it. Polak explains why: "Heat drives moisture in the meat to the surface, where some of it will inevitably evaporate during cooking."
This is why meat will shrink down during the cooking process. But a steak's natural juices are retained, and as the meat rests, the juices move away from the surface and get reabsorbed into the protein fibers of the meat, Polak says. The result is "incredibly juicy beef with every bite," he says.
Polak recommends letting individual steaks rest for 5 to 8 minutes. Larger chops and roasts should rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Cut the rib eye against the grain. This will help it become more tender and easier to chew. Considering this cut of meat has a robust flavor, "you can really experiment with sauces and sides without worrying about overwhelming the star of the meal," Polak says.
- Pair with veggies for a complete meal. Try serving rib eye with plant-based side dishes like baked or steamed asparagus, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts or sweet potato fries.
Don't hesitate to try other delicious recipes, such as pan-seared rib eye, roasted beef with potatoes and broccoli, steak casserole or pan-grilled steak and vegetables.
You can also slow-cook rib eye steak in the oven or in a slow cooker, but make sure to first sear it on both sides to enhance its color and flavor.