Photography, Erik Putz. Food styling, Ashley Denton. Prop styling, Madeline Johari.
I'll be the first to sport a parka and boots and face the elements on a cold winter night if it means a juicy steak for dinner. However, there are times when you just want steak without having to bundle up. Here's how to cook a perfect steak indoors, by pan-frying it.
The classic method of pan-cooking a steak involves searing it for about two minutes per side in a hot skillet, then sliding that skillet into a hot oven to continue cooking. This method works reasonably well, but when dealing with a thicker cut of steak, it tends to cook unevenly; dry on the outer edges and undercooked in the centre. In order to correct this, it's time for a little rethink.
The method below begins in the oven and finishes in the pan. Slow-roasting the steak in the oven first allows heat to evenly penetrate the meat, giving the interior a chance to begin cooking without overcooking the outside. It's crucial that the meat is roasted on a rack, allowing all the surfaces to be exposed to air.
This helps to dry the surface in preparation for pan-searing, which will result in an unbelievably delicious crust on the steak. Give it a try, you'll love it. And who knows—maybe next summer you won't even bother dragging the barbecue back out again.(Photography, Erik Putz. Food styling, Ashley Denton. Prop styling, Madeline Johari.)
Prep 10 min Total time 35 min
This raises the matter of effectively cooking meat until it turns brown or is seared. The aim of browning meat is to generate taste. Whether you're browning a steak or minced beef, you're enhancing the flavour through caramelization. Below are a few important points to consider for successfully browning meat.
Preheat the pan: If you don't hear a "tsssss" when you add your meat to the pan, it isn't hot enough. Remove the meat and wait until your pan is hotter.
Avoid cold meat in a hot pan: If you're not comfortable bringing meat to room temperature, at the very least take it out of the fridge 15 to 30 minutes before you intend to cook it. If the centre of your meat is cold, it will be undercooked when the exterior is cooked.
Pat your steak dry: Oil and water don't like each other. When meat is wet and enters a hot oiled pan, a layer of water between the pan and the meat prevents it from colouring. Pat your meat as dry as you can get it with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel before seasoning it and adding it to the pan.
Season, season, season: Salt serves two functions when it comes to browning meat. First, salt brings out the flavour in the meat. Second, the salt helps caramelize the meat, forming that crispy crust you're looking for. Pat your meat as dry as you can, then rub it with oil to form a seal. Season well with salt and pepper, then add to pan.
Use high heat: Many of us feel scared to use the highest temperature on our stovetop for anything other than boiling water. However, in this case, it is necessary. To achieve a perfect sear on meat, you must use a very hot pan. The hotter the pan, the better the caramelization and colour. If the pan is not hot enough, it will take too much time to create a crust, and the inner layer of the meat will start cooking at the wrong temperature.
This is commonly known as the "rubber chicken" problem. Reducing cook times is better, especially with pricey cuts like filet mignon.
Use a pan that retains heat well: There's a reason professional cooks favour stainless steel and cast iron pans; they retain heat—especially high heat—well.
Cast iron is particularly ideal for steak as it heats up evenly, and when seasoned properly have a non-stick coating. They also don't need to cost a fortune.
Unlike butter, which burns at high temperatures, and olive oil, which loses its distinct flavour with prolonged cooking, neutral vegetable oil such as corn oil has a high smoke point and can ensure a faster sear on a hot pan. When cooking a steak, it's better to begin with hot oil, such as Mazola Corn, and finish with melted butter for flavour.
Enameled cast-iron pans can get quite pricey. For everyday use, this standard cast-iron skillet is a great, budget-friendly introduction to the category.
While high-tech thermometers with wifi connectivity are great for long-roasting cuts of meat such as prime rib or even turkeys, a quick-cooking option such as steak is just fine with a standard, lo-fi thermometer like this Thermapro model.
Typically used for fish, slotted spatulas are actually far more versatile, and great for scooting under and flipping steaks without breaking that carefully-achieved crust. This option rings in at a good price given its stainless steel construction.
Not all upgrades need to take you far outside of the box. Sometimes a good-quality steak and a light drizzle of green sauce works, too. Get the recipe.Photo, Roberto Caruso.
A juicy and buttery steak that's sure to set the mood for date night. Get this steak with garlic-herb butter and roasted parmesan caulilini recipe.Photography, Erik Putz. Food styling, Ashley Denton. Prop styling, Madeline Johari.
Juicy strips of steak with crunchy bok choy and salty-sweet miso butter, this is a healthy plate that's sure to impress. Get this one-pan steak and bok choy with miso butter recipe.(Photo: Erik Putz; Food styling by Eshun Mott; Prop styling by Christine Hanlon)
On hot summer nights, lighten up dinner with a grilled steak salad. The crisp, fresh vegetables are refreshing and flavourful, while the juicy steak packs in some filling protein. Get the recipe.Photo, Erik Putz.
Planning ahead? Get your steaks ready the night before with this rich, aromatic marinade, and when you’re ready to make dinner, throw them on the grill while you prepare a side of fresh summer vegetables. Get the recipe.Photo, Angus Fergusson.
Tacos are great for easy entertaining — everyone loves them. Top these with pico de gallo, avocado and a squeeze of lime to finish. Get the recipe.Photo, Sian Richards.
Sauce up that steak with something other than BBQ sauce tonight. Try this fresh salsa for a simple, colourful finish. Get the recipe.Photo, Erik Putz.
Add simple twists and fun ingredients to freshen up dinner. Roasted piquillo peppers add colour and flavour to your steak, while a healthy kale salad rounds out the plate. Get the recipe.Photo, Angus Fergusson.
Ready in 25 minutes! Serve with a side of cauliflower ‘rice’ and an easygoing red wine. Get the recipe.Photo, Roberto Caruso.
Broiled steak in kale and asparagus salad drizzled with a classic caesar dressing. Get this broiled steak and spring kale caesar salad recipe.(Photo: Erik Putz; Produced by: Stephanie Han Kim; Food styling: Haley Polinsky; Prop styling; Madeleine Johari)
Seared and juicy, this T-bone is rubbed with a citrus and rosemary-based seasoning for a simple, zesty and aromatic finish. Serve with a kale and red pepper saute. Get the recipe.Photo, Roberto Caruso.
A garlicky and juicy strip loin cooked to perfection. Get this garlicky pan-fried steak recipe.
Give your steaks a rich and spicy update with chili and espresso rub. Get the recipe.Photo, Roberto Caruso.
An easy way to update steak is by finishing it with fresh, flavourful ingredients. Here we’ve added tomatoes, basil and barbecued garlic. Get the recipe.Photo, John Cullen.
Steak, two ways! Tonight, grilled up a bunch of lightly seasoned flank steak to serve over fresh and creamy corn, then use the extra for a crisp salad tomorrow. Get the recipe.Photo, Erik Putz.
Juicy steak, flavourful parsnip puree come together with fresh radish salad and sweet vinaigrette. Get this rainbow radish steak salad with honey vinaigrette recipe.(Produced by Sun Ngo; Photography by Erik Putz; Food styling by Ashley Denton; Prop styling by Christine Hanlon)
A crisp and refreshing summer salad that (thanks to yesterday’s leftover steak) only takes 15 minutes to make! Get the recipe.Photo, Erik Putz.
Originally published January 2015; Updated November 2023.
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