Master the Art of Pan-Searing: A Guide to Cooking Steak on the Stovetop

Pan-searing is not only the easiest way to cook a steak but also the most delicious! Forget about complicated recipes – in cooking, it’s all about mastering techniques. And when it comes to a perfectly cooked steak, pan-searing is the key.

The Secret to Pan-Searing

Pan-searing is a classic technique that involves cooking the surface of your food undisturbed in a hot pan until a crisp, golden-brown crust forms. This technique builds flavor and texture, prevents sticking, and gives your steak a restaurant-quality appearance. It’s no wonder that pan-searing is the go-to method for cooking steaks, as well as other delicate proteins like salmon and scallops.

Getting Started

To cook a steak on the stovetop, you’ll need boneless cuts that are between one and one-and-a-half inches thick. Popular options include NY Strip, rib eye, and filet mignon. For larger cuts or slow-cooking recipes, pan-searing is usually the first step before finishing in the oven.

Begin by patting the steak dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper to create a flavorful crust.

The Pan-Searing Process

  1. Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it’s very hot. Stainless steel or cast-iron pans work best as they can withstand high temperatures.
  2. Add oil to the pan, and wait for it to shimmer and move fluidly around the pan.
  3. Carefully place the steak in the pan, releasing it away from you to avoid oil splatters. It should sizzle upon contact. Make sure the pan is large enough to allow proper searing without steaming.
  4. Resist the urge to peek or flip the steak repeatedly. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes, allowing a brown crust to form. The steak will release easily when ready to flip.
  5. Flip the steak when the bottom is a deep-brown color (usually about 3 minutes). Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes for rare or medium-rare.
  6. Optional: During the last minute of cooking, add butter and fresh thyme to the pan for additional flavor.
  7. Serve the steaks immediately if you prefer them unsliced. If you plan to slice the steaks, transfer them to a cutting board and let them rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. Slicing too soon will cause juices to pour out.
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Elevate Your Steak Game

Now that you’ve mastered the art of pan-searing, it’s time to enjoy your perfectly cooked steak. Pair it with your favorite side dishes and savor the flavors of a restaurant-quality meal right at home.

For more cooking inspiration, check out the recipes below: