How to Cook a Steak on the Stove Top Without Oil

Grilled Steak Ribeye on pan and wine
Cook steaks quickly on the stove top. (Image: Lisovskaya/iStock/Getty Images)

Cooking steak on the stove without oil is a quick and easy process called pan-searing. Though some procedural details vary depending on the cut of meat and its size, the general process is universal. Only sear fully thawed meat; otherwise the outside cooks far quicker than the inside. Even searing beef that's still chilled from being in the refrigerator negatively affects the quality of the finished steak. The fibers in cold meat contract when they are suddenly exposed to extreme heat, yielding a tough steak. Take the steak out of the refrigerator an hour before you pan-sear it.

Step 1

Trim excess fat from around the edges of the steak with a non-serrated knife. Pat the steak with salt and pepper. Add any other herbs or spices you like with beef.

Step 2

Place a large skillet on a burner turned up to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and wait for it to stop bubbling and to begin browning.

Step 3

Lay the steak in the skillet and sear it for three minutes. Prod the steak periodically with tongs to dislodge it in case it begins to stick.

Step 4

Turn the steak over using the tongs. Continue to pan-sear it until it's cooked to the temperature you want it. Use a meat thermometer to determine when it's done. Remove the steak from the skillet at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a rare preparation. Add 10 degrees for each consecutive preparation, up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for well-done.

Step 5

Allow the steak's juices to settle for 10 minutes before cutting into it. Skipping this resting period lets too much juice run out when you begin to eat, drying out the steak.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-serrated knife

  • Salt and pepper

  • Large skillet

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

  • Tongs

  • Meat thermometer

Tip

Pour 1/2 cup of red wine or bourbon into the pan along with the butter for more flavor. The added liquid also helps prevent the exterior of the steak from burning with the absence of oil. Wait for the butter to fully melt in and for the liquid to start bubbling to add the steak.

Use a meat thermometer rather than rely on any recipe's stated cooking time, because the time is always a bit different based on the thickness of your steak, whether or not it's deboned, the material of your skillet and other variables.

Warning

Be careful when trimming the steak not to make any cuts in the meat that would allow its juices to escape during pan-searing.

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