How To Pan Fry the Perfect Steak

Picture of How To Pan Fry the Perfect Steak
One of my favorite meals to cook for myself is a pan fried steak. Steak is a tricky food to get right, but I have perfected my method for cooking one. This step-by-step instruction will explain in detail how to pan fry a steak for yourself.

This tutorial is for people with prior cooking experience and should not be attempted by anyone who does not feel comfortable in the kitchen. This is a very precise and time sensitive process that could easily turn into a tough, leathery disaster. But this steak is surprisingly easy to prepare as long as you properly prepare and follow each step.
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Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Here is a list of supplies you will need to cook your steak


A Stove
One frying pan suitable for the size of your steak
a knife
a plate
A clock or timer


One steak
Olive oil
Fresh Garlic (or Garlic Powder)

Step 2: Shopping For A Steak

Picture of Shopping For A Steak
The first step is to locate the steak that you wish to cook. I always buy my steak at Tacoma Boys. They have a quality meat selection. It is a bit more expensive, but in my opinion, it is worth it. 

The steak I chose was a 8oz Kobe Petite Sirloin steak. It is small enough for one person and a relatively inexpensive cut of meat. Find a steak that looks tasty to you! If you have the money for a nice New York Steak go for it, but for this tutorial we will be working with a petite sirloin steak.

While you are at the store, make sure you have the rest of your ingredients such as olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, and garlic. A grocery store is a perfect opportunity to pick up some fresh garlic if you prefer that to garlic powder.

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BennettG made it!15 days ago


BennettG made it!15 days ago


Warndog2129 days ago

Of age be damned. If you can cook a steak good enough for me you've earned that beer at any age!

wildjackal1 month ago

I read your method, Martha Stewart's, then I came back to yours because it was better. And that's not nothin. I follow your procedure for searing, but once I finished searing it, I moved it to the oven broiled it to finish. Great flavor. Thanks.

neffk9 months ago

Nice work. I'll have to try the petite sirloin. So far, eye of round is my favorite cut. It's not too expensive and it can be cut into nice uniform steaks.

BTW, you are NOT sealing in juices. That's a myth that's over 100 years old. I've heard it many times myself but it makes no sense. If the juices were sealed in, why is it sizzling? You should sear the meat so it tastes delicious.

olrob neffk9 months ago

My selection of a good inexpensive steak is to pick one (e.g. from Stop&Shop) that sells for over $11.00 a pound and whose price is marked down to over half the original price. It has been aging(?) for a few days before the meat manager reduces the price. I bring it home and put it in the back of the freezer. I must have over 10 in the freezer now. They are arranged so the oldest is in the front. When I want to cook steaks, I select the oldest and put them/it in my warming oven (an area in the fireplace containing 2 heating lamps) with one or both lamps on until they feel defrosted. I then let them sit in the open for a time before I start cooking. I have had some that look "freezer burned" but they cooked fine and tasted great.

gsloan olrob1 month ago
If you get freezer burn, I learned about a trick and tried it on some ribeye that I had with freezer burn...
Take frozen beef steak and unwrap ... then using Cool Whipped topping layer some on a large enough flat plate or tray. Lay the steak onto this layer of topping and then cover the entire steak with a thick coating and let the steak thaw at room temp if you are planning to cook within a few hours or refrigerate if you plan on another day. To cook remove steak from your tray with tongs and place it on a hot grille and cook asmyou normally would. The topping will just melt off and offers a slightly sweet flavor to the steak. My theory is that it somehow absorbs into the burned area in the steak. But it works and I didnt believe it would, and my wife absolutely hates freezer burn and usually would not even continue eating a freezer burn steak if I was being cheap and trying to sneek one by her tastebuds. I told her what I was doing and I just asked her to taste it. It was even acceptable to her.
wb6mri9 months ago

This sounds pretty good with one exception I grew up in a family of chefs (for real one was one of Patton's) all old world/country trained as was I. Here is my issue with the method. once you sear the steak, roast, or any uncoated meat sear it in your olive oil/butter that is smoking turn over now leaveit in the pan or throw it under the broiler pull it out after checking with a meat thermometer flip over finish off basting the meat then pull it out place on a plate for 5-10 minutes cut away.

The other thing I was never allower to cook anything in anything other than good old fashioned "Lodge" or "Griswald" cast iron. You can cook in anything you want but good black cast iron even if you buy it second or third hand rusty and all will last you till you die. I have a chicken fryer that I bought 10 years ago from a grand mother of a friend who had it for 30 years before me and still great.

I hope this is helpful to a few people. And if anyone wants some cast iron recipes let me know and I'll do a cast iron recipe Instructable.

gsloan wb6mri1 month ago
I would like to see a collection of the cast iron recipes.... i have a great collection of old and varied sizes from 24" down to 6" and most all are old except the big ones are older Lodge and I say older to mean 1980 or before that a little. I used them a lot for campfire cooking.
gsloan wb6mri1 month ago
Great looking steak.... i prefer grilled an smoked over charcoal..

Not to mention the whole "locking in the juice" is a disproved myth

timbit19859 months ago

Eh, not bad :) You probably shouldn't use olive oil to sear off meat though. Use something with a higher smoke point like grape-seed oil, tallow, or coconut oil.

I sous-vide my steaks to 132F. Once you've tried sous-vide you will never go back.

mulibarri9 months ago
I would recommend not putting on the seasoning until ready to pan fry. By putting the salt on early you will be drawing out the juices.

Salting the surface only removes surface juices. If you salt your steak 10 minutes or so before searing, and then dry the surface very well, you end up with a much nicer crust. The salt helps remove the liquid closest to the surface. Removing the liquid speeds browning, as the surface no longer has to dump all that energy into forcing the water to go through a phase change.

You should salt a steak a good forty minutes before cooking. This allows proteins that enhance the Maillard reaction to be drawn to the surface and gives time for the salt to be reabsorbed deeper into the meat.

corycar mulibarri9 months ago

actually, you WANT to draw out those juices a bit - it's what makes that tasty crust! Plus the amount of time being suggested above is not long enough to "hurt". Source:

andrewwinter9 months ago

Made my steaks last night with this method, but with Ghee.

The one thing I can never get over is how oily pan-frying steaks makes them TASTE. But this method at least kept some of the flavours.

Alton brown busted the myth about searing being useful in locking in the meat's juices:

Thanks for the link. I always suspected searing did nothing to retain moisture during cooking. It can add to the flavor I am sure. A little bit of clarity through experimentation never hurt (except for maybe the cows).

Cheese Queen9 months ago

An eighth point: use the most flavorful cut on the cow- the rib steak. The deep marbling creates the interstitial juiciness and the fat conveys the flavor that you just won't experience in a lean cut..

Fruity olive oils? Not on cow meat, please!

And I second the notion that it is the age of the ANIMAL that creates the most flavor; young steers most typically marketed have very bland beef compared to older cattle. And long aging (dry rather than "wet") will create the finest beef of all.

vinz3nt9 months ago
any pan without Teflon is better. My father used to be a cook and he never bakes meat in a pan with Teflon, according to him there's more heat in a non Teflon pan
darksb3r vinz3nt9 months ago

This is probably true. More common pans that are coated with non-stick use thin (cheaper) metal like stainless or even aluminum. These metals have a high thermal conductivity, but that makes them very poor heat retainers. Cast iron has very high heat retention and density, which would really be noticeable on electric ranges where heat is cycled on and off contstantly.

artducko darksb3r9 months ago

yesiree, my vote is for cast iron. i have my granma's wagner skillet. looking for a stainless for eggs and such. [the ex got it] no teflon will Ever be in my kitchen!

I have one cheapy teflon pan for eggs. I've found the hassle of cleaning eggs overpowers my distaste for teflon. Unless you heat the empty pan over too hot heat, or scratch it with metal, there's not much to worry about.

Cleaning? I have my egg and flapjack cast iron pan - add the lard, bacon grease, or butter for the eggs or omelette then after cooking to clean I simply rub some salt on the pan and wipe with a paper towel. I never use soap on my cast iron ever and rarely water. Salt is well known for its cleaning and germicidal properties.

If heat retention with electric stoves are an issue, you can heat the pan in the oven first at high temps.

lazemaple9 months ago

I think you did a fine job of this instructable on a whole, and believing the 'why fors' we all grew up with in no way diminishes the fine meal you enjoy after the fact!:-) Kobe steak? My mouth is watering!
A couple of important points if I may - olive oil does not withstand high temp frying very well, mid and low smoke oils break down and deteriorate in high heat cooking. Olive oil has a mid smoke point; you want an oil with a high smoke point preferably coconut, corn, soy or for even better results Lard [bacon] or Tallow! In the past all kitchens had a 'drippings pot' on the counter for saving to fry eggs, veggies, mushrooms, meats and even potatoes in the pan or in the oven with.

The other point I'd like to make is non-stick coatings are LETHAL when overheated and release toxic gases that are carcinogenic! I won't have teflon or any other non-stick coating in my home at all. Cast iron is absolutely the way to go when using very high temps to sear anything. I've been using my old Wagner high sided pan for 40+ years now for everything from skillet dinners, stews, dutch oven, casseroles and frying chicken, doughnuts, whatever you please.

The deadly toxins from non-stick frying pans | Mail Online - Daily Mail‎

    NONstick frying pans release chemicals linked to liver disease and cancer into the environment when exposed to heat, warns a study today
    matthewabel9 months ago

    Using the pan you cooked it in, you can make a terrific sauce with some deglazing liquid and bleu cheese, or cream and pepper.

    geocal9 months ago

    Turn on the exhaust fan.

    And open the windows.

    lakecountry219 months ago
    Do not flip you steak at 1 min intervals. flip a steak only once. You can sear the sides when you flip it the one time, but anymore than that and you are just letting flavor and juices escape. Also, do yourself a favor a pick up sooner sea salt and coarse ground pepper, that is all the seasoning you'll ever need.

    Modern tests have disproven the flip once theory. Flipping more often increases "juice" retention and can enhance the browning crust. Salt and pepper as your only seasonings, I completely agree with.

    Gordon Ramsay disagrees with your flip once idea.

    And so does Heston Blumenthal

    lol... no he doesn't? 0:52

    Dartag mcmahanly9 months ago

    Awesomesauce! Gordon Ramsay disagrees with Gordon Ramsay. Classic!

    p0tty9 months ago

    This should be called "You can still use old wives tales on how to cook a steak that is still edible because it isn't well done".

    Jarrillolata9 months ago

    I like to cook a big chop (30 to 35oz.) beef (12 old) or bull steer (4 old). Meat, without processing or cut, must be matured in cold storage between 0 and 4 ° C for 30 days (for the uninitiated) , this increases the mineral taste of meat .

    It can be done in several ways but the homemade version with pan requires using a good iron ( Wagner 's ), nothing crap nonstick or ceramic .

    The meat cannot be washed , not salt and not used cold, must be tempered at room temperature at least 2 hours before cooking .

    I'm Spanish ( first producer of world olive oil ), but this doesn't olive oil is used (only for the salad), and a I can’t ear nothing about margarine , butter or other sacrilegious fat. For a thick steak is used a piece of fat from the cow itself, just smeared when the pan reaches a high temperature before adding the meat.

    You had to seal meat try as quickly as possible, because if it will bake and the juices will be lost (at the end of the process we shouldn't be left sauce )

    You had to keep both sides at a uniform temperature, so you have to give 4-6 fast laps no more than one minute per side. Never tighten the meat with a spatula. That is not a mop ! .

    Once sealed, the iron pan is removed from heat, add salt, preferably flower sea salt, and fresh black pepper.

    If we want to made a little more cooked let it two or three minutes more(as we want to penetrate cooking) but not more than 5 min. with the heat of the pan. Serve and eat immediately with a wine like Regina Viarum or Almirez.

    lanternfish9 months ago

    Well done. It is surprising how many people destroy steaks by cooking them so badly. A couple of other tips:

    I would not season the steak until just before putting in the pan as salt tends to absorb moisture from the steak.

    I have taken to rubbing steaks with olive oil (no need to add oil/butter to pan) and when at room temperature I season the steak and leave for a few minutes before cooking.

    I also only cook one side at a time for approximately 3 minutes per side depending on thickness for medium rare. I do not sear both sides unless batch cooking in an oven.

    On a medium heat this gives good caremelisation/Maillard reaction and when the last side is cooking an indication that the steak is ready is when the red juice/myoglobin comes through the caramelised top.

    And then rest for 3 - 5 mnutes. By covering with aluminium foil (bright side to meat) you can retain the heat and provide a little extra cooking time.

    Another great side is mushrooms with a balsamic vinegar and sour cream sauce.

    Sorry about hijakcing your great Instructable.

    actually the point of seasoning is to get the flavors inside of the steak. while it is true that salt will initially pull some moisture out of the steak the moisture loss is negligible compared to the initial moisture content in the steak and is offset by the flavor body of the salt. it takes about 2 hits for the salt to absorb fully into the steak and you will lose about 3% of its moisture content. I will age that rubbing olive oil on the steak, our my favorite garlic butter, does make for a better steak on the grill
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