Introduction: 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.

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
  • Tongs
  • a knife
  • a plate
  • A clock or timer


  • One steak
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 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.

Step 3: Preparing the Meat

Picture of Preparing the Meat

When you get home you must get the meat out and let it warm up. When it is sitting in the grocery store, it is very cold and you do not want to cook a cold steak.

First pull the steak out of the butcher paper and let it rest on a plate. While it is sitting, use the salt and pepper to season it. Cover all sides with a good amount of seasoning.

Usually give the steak about 20 minutes to warm up. It is important to let the meat warm because when you cook it in the pan it will cook more evenly. You do not want a cold center.

While the steak is warming up, this is a good time to get the rest of your tools and ingredients ready. Place the pan on a burner and put it on high heat. Before heating, poor enough olive oil in the pan to coat the entire bottom. You want plenty of oil in the pan for the next step of the process.

Step 4: Seering the Steak

Picture of Seering the Steak

This next step is very crucial and can be dangerous. At this point, the pan should be very hot. You will use the tongs to place the steak into the hot oil. At these high temperatures there will be a lot of oil splatter so be careful when maneuvering the steak around in the pan.

When you place the steak in the pan begin timing the cooking for 1 Minute.
After a Minute has passed, flip it to the other side for 1 Minute.

After that minute has passed, flip the steak on its side and sear the edge until it is colored like the rest of the meat. do this for both sides. Tilt the pan so that the oil and juices run down to one side and use that to cook the edge of the steak. Refer to the photo for an example.

You will continuously be turning the steak for 1 Minute intervals until you feel that it is well done enough. This is all dependent on your wellness preference and the thickness of your steak. This will bring us to our next step.

Step 5: Cooking the Steak

Picture of Cooking the Steak

At this point, the steak has been seared on all sides, locking in the juices of the meat. Turn down the heat of your stove to medium.

Now comes the process of cooking through the meat to your preferred wellness. There is no exact science to this because of the variables of thickness and stove heat so you will just have to check the meat often to make sure it is not over or under cooked. For this demonstration, I cooked my steak to a medium wellness with some pink left in the middle.

Now that the heat is backed off, continue cooking the steak on each side for 1 Minute intervals.

Now it is time to add the garlic and butter. Cut off a nice healthy chunk of butter and throw it in the pan along with a generous amount of garlic. I used garlic powder because I didn't have any fresh garlic at the time. Allow the meat to soak in the greasy tasty goodness as you continue turning it. Keep in mind this is how to make the Perfect Steak, not a healthy steak.

I cooked my steak for 8 total minutes, flipping each minute, to get a medium wellness. Again, I have to be clear that variables in steak size and stove heat means that this may not give you the same result. Use the tongs to check the firmness of the meat. If it feels like it is beginning to firm up, then it is probably reaching a medium wellness.

After you have cooked it long enough, it is time to pull it from a pan and place it on a clean plate.

Step 6: Resting the Meat

You have finished cooking the steak and are about to devour it but RESIST!

You must let the meat rest before cutting into it. The process known as resting, allows for all of the juices of the meat to lock inside the steak. This gives your steak better flavor.

Allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes. If you become impatient, find a beer of your choice (if you are of age), and have a drink!

Step 7: Eat and Enjoy

Picture of Eat and Enjoy

You have been patient. You have waited five minutes. You are now ready to consume your amazing, and surprisingly inexpensive steak!

This steak requires no sauces. Sauce would only ruin the great flavors that you have created today in your pan.

Steamed vegetables and a cold beer also work as great sides to your meat masterpiece. Enjoy!


AaronS314 (author)2018-01-17

Wow!! I was really nervous to try and pan fry my steak. I've perfected the grill, butt never tried the pan method. 1st time doing so and i followed this 100%. Turned out awesome! My fiance told me it was the best i ever made! Thank you for this recipe. Found my new favorite

EricP222 (author)2017-10-28

First time I have pan fried a steak. It was delicious. Great recipe! Thank you.

CamiyahJ (author)2017-06-29

I tried this for dinner tonight! Everybody cleaned their plates it was so flavorable, tender, and juicy! Great recipe!

HGC (author)2017-05-16

well my grandma made the best bone steaks in the world. She got the pan hot enough this he oil was just beginning to smoke and then added the steak to sear it at high heat. Didn't flip it until the blood rose to the top, then spent the same amount of time cooking the previous side that was up, and you are done. Perfect medium rare with all the juices inside.

stroker49 (author)HGC2017-05-19

Exactly the correct way to do it! Never season a steak with salt before searing - it'll end up as dry as anything because the salt will suck the juices out.

fred_ (author)stroker492017-05-26

A dry steak has been over cooked or had poor marbling. The salt on the outside will draw moisture then brine the meat. You have to give it time. This will help slightly with moisture and flavor retention. If you salt and don't give it time you have a wet surface which doesn't help browning and liquid didn't get distributed into the meat. Salt it, wait, dry it, sear it.

A wet brine will result in more moisture absorption and also more moisture loss when cooking. The end result being more moist product with more lost meat flavor. You may prefer a dry brine on a chicken. Give it a shot.

tkjtkj (author)2017-05-24

KenH130 : who wrote:
"As an engineer you have over thought things ;)Flipping the steak often (30 sec) prevent deep cooking and toughening of the meat. Allowing the meat to cool quicker as each flip prevents deep heating on any given side. Extreme heating steams the fluids out and renders the fats. The ideal steak eg. medium-rare, should be a solid pink/red, not well-done gray with a pink/red stripe in the middle. "

Thanks for commenting.. but you're missing the point: My offering was merely this: being an engineer and scientist at doctorate level , I merely offered a theoretical statement to explain this 'alleged characteristic' of flipping's effect on 'juiciness' , and that, my friend, is how science works.

Now, your contribution is not incompatible with mine tho it is more complex: Indeed, 'higher heat' thru NOT flipping really might contribute to 'flipping juiciness', for it could very well result in the same thing that i suggested: that a 'belt of lower-temperature' is maintained in the middle. In fact it might be very difficult for anyone to measure and thusly document which of the two mechanisms is at work, or are both valid.

By the way, your description of what defines the 'perfect steak' is quit lacking in appreciation for what the 'sous vide' method yields: a center band extending UNIFORMLY to each main surface of the meat, to perhaps 1/16th of an inch of surface, beyond which a torch or very hot pan will sear and blacken within seconds. We're not talking about a 'thin band of central pink...' etc, we're talking about nearly the ENTIRE,FULL thickness of the steak having whatever degree of doneness desired... a degree of doneness that can't be 'over-done', once the water-bath temperature is decided upon.

" Flipping more often increases "juice" retention and can enhance the browning crust." That statement by a reader here did deserve to be analyzed, and 'over thinking a problem' is not a valid concept in the world of science.

Please forgive the way this Instructables system botched the formatting .. all paragraphs disappeared, making what i wrote above quite difficult to read. Was not my fault!

jlms (author)2017-05-22

That steak is burnt in the outside and almost well done in the inside.

Olive oil is best for for salads not for cooking, the virgin and extra virgin varieties are most definitely not fro cooking, there are many other oils for this, coconut butter is surprisingly good as long as it isn't smelly (it depends on the brand and procedure to make it).

One does not add anything to a steak bar salt and pepper, that is why sauces of all kinds exist to accompany the meat.

Great attempt but some of the basics are misunderstood.

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)2017-05-17

I always grill steaks. And I NEVER put any flavorings on steak. Steak comes with its own flavor. If you don't like steak flavor, you are buying poor steaks or are a chicken eater.

DonnaA81 (author)2017-05-17

I'm Gona cook my rib eye steak like this don't HV olive oil do HV everything else just need a potato couldn't carry home

DanT4 (author)2017-05-17

You never flip a steak more than once. Also, setting that burner on
high only gives you a burnt, rare steak. Set that burner on medium and
let your pan come up to temperature. A few minutes on each side, to your
liking, and you're done. Follow Gordon Ramsay to properly cook a steak
in a frying pan.

kz1 (author)2017-05-17

The best cooking instructions I ever heard for steak: "Cripple it, wipe it's butt, and send it on out."

mellyBC (author)2016-09-20

there is so much wrong with can I take it seriously?
First, it's pour not poor
Second, no metal in nonstick
Third, flipping the steak so often is a big no no.

I can't continue reading this.

RobV3 (author)mellyBC2016-10-22

Nonstick pans are metal with a Teflon coating. So yes, pans are made of metal.

Many of the world's best chefs and food labs recommend flipping once per minute (see Nathan Myrhvold's "Modernist Cuisine" etc)

I don't think you quite know what you are talking about, to be honest.

KenH139 (author)RobV32017-05-16

They are saying never use metal tools anywhere near a non-stick pan. Yes pans are made of metal, good on you for noticing.

Teflon is fragile and very toxic. You do not want to scrape it up. If one ever see's a non-stick pan with scrapes and an imperfect, coating discard immediately.

kz1 (author)KenH1392017-05-17

In my humble but most accurate opinion, cast iron or stainless are the way to go. Non-stick coatings other than carbon are a no-no.

HuyV7 (author)mellyBC2017-05-17

You're basically all wrong. The best way to get a uniform steak is to quickly sear it in a very hot pan (with oil that can withstand that heat without burning, probably not butter). Then wrap in in Tin foil and put it in the oven for varying times and temperatures depending on how well done you want it to be and how thick the cut is. for a medium beef I usually put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 70°C. Basically you want the core of the steak to reach 56°C then take it out. This will give it a super uniform rose color with a nice brown crust on the outside. The quick searing only affects the outside, while the rest was cooked at low temperatures which prevent bursting of cell walls and thus keeps all the juices inside the steak

This is basically similar to those Sous-vide cookers. Which cook at the absolute minimum temperature for a prolonged time to achieve even cooking while retaining the juiciness, then sear the outside afterwards.

kz1 (author)HuyV72017-05-17

I'm with ya on that except for the aluminum foil bit. Aluminum foil has been found to leach chemical nasties into food when heated. Apart from hats to block mind control waves, I never use the stuff where heat is part of the equation. :-}

kz1 (author)mellyBC2017-05-17

Properly seasoned cast iron skillets are virtually non-stick. Carbon is the perfect, all natural non-stick coating in the galaxy. At the risk of also sounding like a grammar Nazi, it's sear, not seer but I knew what he/she meant.

murdermouse (author)mellyBC2017-05-16

Thank you, mellyBC. I didn't want to be mean but it appears many others agreed with you. I was a chef for 20+ years and I can't believe someone would buy Kobe beef and then profane it that way.

I don't think anything but salt and pepper should touch that steak, it doesn't need the butter because Kobe has significantly more marbling than lesser meats and I nearly shed a tear when it was cooked to med-well.

kz1 (author)2017-05-17

Sounds pretty good but how do you keep from over cooking the garlic? It gets quite bitter if allowed to overcook. Thought about cooking with onions and adding garlic toward the end of the process to get the flavor but avoid the burn. Garlic and onions make for good steak fellows. :-)

PattyP17 (author)2017-05-16

Nice Instructable! I got the hub to cook ours over a flame outside tonight. In the kitchen, too hold the heat and have an even temperature across the pan, you need a skillet with a heavy bottom. Stainless with an extra heavy bottom works, but well-seasoned cast iron is preferred. The biggest no-no here actually the fact that you are heating a non-stick skillet above the approved level, and the coating will emit toxic gasses. You are never supposed to preheat Teflon, etc. with nothing it it, or only fat in it. You are never supposed to heat above medium heat even with food in it. The only time I go higher is if I have it at least half full of liquids (not fats). Yes, I read the directions that come with all my cookware. Heating the pans in the picture even half as high as suggested will create enough toxic fumes to kill some pet birds. You'll probably never smell it. Heating that high klso shortens the life of the non-stick coating. Oh yeah, ceramic coated pans would work too if they have a heavy bottom.

lakecountry21 (author)2014-02-25

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.

tkjtkj (author)matthewabel2017-05-16

As an engineer (tho mechanical, not 'thermal' !) i can imagine why your contribution here rings true!

The act of multiple-flippings would tend to prevent gravity affecting the flow of juices from reaching the 'pan' surface of the meat. ... Flipping often would be likely to result in the ' a juice layer' to end up being in the center of the cut of meat .. more pronounced with thicker cuts ...

I'd expect the 'flip once per side' approach, consequently, to let more juices 'wander' all the way to the pan-side , to be lost .. 'One-flip' methods would require more continuous time per side ... "Fluid Dynamics" would say that the result of an internal layer of juices arriving near the bottom would significantly INcrease the intra-juice-layer pressure, causing release of more juices at the extreme ends of the layer: ie, at the edge ..

Other ideas welcome!

KenH139 (author)tkjtkj2017-05-16

As an engineer you have over thought things ;)

Flipping the steak often (30 sec) prevent deep cooking and toughening of the meat. Allowing the meat to cool quicker as each flip prevents deep heating on any given side. Extreme heating steams the fluids out and renders the fats.

The ideal steak eg. medium-rare, should be a solid pink/red, not well-done gray with a pink/red stripe in the middle.

MaryJ81 (author)lakecountry212016-08-03

I agree!!! That was the worst ! I went against my better judgement trying something different.

smcooks (author)lakecountry212016-02-09

I actually think it is easier to blow torch the steak:

bsodergren (author)lakecountry212014-02-27

Gordon Ramsay disagrees with your flip once idea.

MikeK81 (author)bsodergren2015-12-19

Late to this steak cooking party, but in looking at Ramsey's videos he shows both techniques. In this one he says to ONLY turn it over once:

So I wouldn't be so sure that you know what you are doing (if Mr. Ramsey is confused we are ALL in trouble).

summer chief (author)MikeK812016-01-22

I just want to know, he wants the pan to be on high before the steak hits the pan but if i want medium rare ill have to cook it alittle longer would that me should i turn it down to medium so the outside dont get black or should i start off with not puting it on high and just put it on medium

KimberlyK32 (author)summer chief2016-01-30

This depends on how thick your steak is. I followed the instructions and cooked for a total of eight minutes, and I got a nice medium rare steak.

And so does Heston Blumenthal

mcmahanly (author)bsodergren2014-02-27

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

Dartag (author)mcmahanly2014-02-28

Awesomesauce! Gordon Ramsay disagrees with Gordon Ramsay. Classic!

jerichards (author)lakecountry212015-11-24

Bobby Flay still agrees with this method. Heard him teach it to a "Worst Cook in America" recently. The guy won the round with his steak too.

meswanson (author)2017-05-16

Flipping the steak only once is an old myth. Continuous flipping will prevent the thick overlooked layer. Another myth is searing seals in the juices, it does not. If you want a truly tender and juicy steak look up reverse searing. Nice instructable!

KenH139 (author)meswanson2017-05-16

Correct you are. Finally someone here who knows how to cook.

I would add to the article that a little rendered beef fat (you can often ask the butcher for a small piece of fat when you purchase the steak. Cut it up and heat it in the pan before cooking the steak), or unscented coconut oil would be far preferred then olive oil which isn't intended to be heated, never-mind to extreme smoking temps!

SimplyT (author)2017-05-16

This looks great, excellent insight. My critique is: avoid an aluminum pan. The coatings do not hold up well under high heat. And A big steak can draw the heat out of the aluminum. Cast iron is magical! And you can get them cheap at every thrift store. ( wife would kill me if I used her saute pan this way!)

Hoverquad (author)2017-05-16

I'm a veggie and I'd eat it. What a lot of fuss over a lump of flesh.

thesnowtheriver (author)2017-05-16

very awesome. Seer in this case is spelled sear. we are cooking, not fortelling the future. LOL

fred_ (author)2017-05-16

Wow. I know it's a 2 year old comment but that steak is well past rare. Raw beef (steak tartare) is served in many places. If it's grey all the way thru with no juices it's flavorless leather. The fat (marbling) and fond burnt bits on the outside is the flavor and texture.

As for safety for the most part e.coli is gonna be on the surface of the meat and incinerated within the 1st seconds it hits the hot pan. If you're immune compromised the 160F well done temp is the instant kill temp. Well below that temp for a couple of minutes does the same thing. The salt (dry brine) in addition to helping retain moisture also kills surface bacteria.

You may like steak that is gray all the way thru but it was cooked all the way thru long before that. Depending on how hot the pan was and how thick the steak is you're pull temp might be 120F with a rest where the internal temp continues to rise as the outside cools.

You can look up the time/temp 6?log kill tables. You can cook chicken to 140F safely with time at temp, although you probably would like the texture.

OP add the oil after the pan is hot and make sure the steak is patted dry before hitting the pan. It will sear better and oil won't spend as much time at the smoke point. Searing doesn't do a thing to hold in juices by the way, but is a primary flavor component.

SteveR2 (author)fred_2017-05-16

Thanks for the science behind frying a steak, Fred -- interesting to know!

SteveR2 (author)2017-05-16

It is perfectly safe to eat beef raw if you so wish. How thoroughly you cook it is purely a matter of taste.

billbillt (author)SteveR22017-05-16

This is the correct statement..

sfields619 (author)2017-05-16

There's really nothing wrong with his technique here. As far as doneness the color revealed by the cut is perfect for medium well. Only thing I would do differently is cook for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare, 2-3 mins for rare, and for well done just throw it in the trash or give to the dog because well done steak is burnt steak!

mikebenf (author)2017-05-16

You are joking, that steak is perfect for those who like it more, shall we be polite and say crispy however most guys would probably prefer it to be a little less well done. Please, please never cook a steak until its grey inside, you will be missing one of the culinary delights of summer.

KortK (author)2017-05-16

Butter makes everything better. :)

I normally cook my steaks on a salt stone on the grill, but this looks worth trying. And yes, the multiple flip method is key when pan frying, as is the searing.

PeterM385 (author)2017-05-16

I just waved a piece of steak two feet from a lukewarm radiator. It was done to perfection!

meswanson (author)PeterM3852017-05-16

Ha, a purest! Just put raw meat under your saddle and ride a while for the perfect "Tar Tar"

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