How to Cook a Steak in an Iron Skillet on a Stove Top

Steaks aren't just for grilling. When a craving for steak strikes, you can indulge in a juicy cut of beef in the comfort of your own kitchen. A cast-iron skillet produces a brown, crusty sear on a steak and cooks the meat to perfection. Iron is dense and a good heat conductor. It is slow to heat up but maintains the temperature once hot. Steaks are ideal for cooking in an iron skillet because the pan browns the exterior without overcooking the interior. Cuts suited for stove-top cooking include rib-eye, sirloin, skirt and strip steaks.

Simple seasonings bring out the flavor in a pan-seared steak.
Credit: karandaev/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Remove the steak from the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before cooking. Pat it with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Step 2

Apply a thin coating of oil to both sides of the steak using an oil mister or brush.

Step 3

Season the steak on both sides with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Use your hand to rub the salt and pepper into the surface of the steak, then let the steak sit for about 5 minutes.

Step 4

Set the burner or heating element to high and heat the pan for 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 5

Gently ease the steak into the pan to avoid splattering. Let the steak cook undisturbed for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the steak over and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes, depending on thickness.

Step 6

Remove the steak from the skillet with tongs and place on a plate or platter. Tent loosely with foil and let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Things You'll Need

  • Steak, no more than 1 inch thick

  • Paper towels

  • Cooking oil — vegetable, canola, peanut or safflower

  • Salt and black pepper

  • Seasoned cast-iron skillet

  • Potholder or heat-proof glove

  • Tongs

  • Plate or platter

  • Aluminum foil

  • Stove

Tips

Cast-iron skillets need to be re-seasoned periodically. Melt a spoonful of shortening in the pan, rub the fat all over the pan with a paper towel, and bake upside down at 350 F for one hour.

Turn on the exhaust system over the stove if the hot pan causes the oil to smoke.

Warning

As an iron skillet heats, its handle also becomes hot. Use caution and keep the handle turned away from the front of the stove if young children are in the kitchen.

Thick-cut and bone-in steaks may remain unpleasantly rare when cooked on the stove top. You can use an iron skillet to sear the exterior and then finish cooking them in the oven.

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