If you don't have access to an outdoor grill, or maybe it's just too cold to go outside, you can still cook a fantastic steak without leaving your kitchen. We tested different techniques to find the best ways to cook steak at home.
You could use any cut of steak for these methods, but for our comparison, we used tender steaks (such as New York strip or rib eye) cut 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. No matter which method you use, you'll want to start with these simple steps:
- Take your steak out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. A room temperature steak will turn out better because it requires less time over the heat, which in turn helps ensure it doesn't overcook.
- Get out your cast-iron skillet. Cast iron gets hot and stays hot, and because it's flat, you can be sure that every inch of your steak comes in contact with the hot cooking surface.
- Season it adequately. This means plenty of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
We assume that you like your steaks medium-rare to medium. If you like them less or more done, you'll need to modify the cook times below accordingly.
Watch Now: The 4 Best (And Worst) Methods For Cooking Steak Indoors
Pre-sear, Then Finish in the Oven
Searing means to apply very high heat to a piece of meat for the purpose of browning it and producing a flavorful crust on the outside. One of the most traditional ways to cook a steak is using a combination of searing to brown the steak and indirect heat in the oven to cook it to your desired doneness.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Get your skillet hot over high heat and add some high-heat oil, such as refined grapeseed oil.
- Once hot, set your steak in the skillet. Sear for 2 minutes.
- Flip and sear for another 2 minutes, then transfer the entire skillet to the oven for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest, covered in foil, on a cutting board for 7 minutes.
Pros: This is a traditional method that has been in widespread usage. If you've eaten steak at a restaurant, it was almost certainly cooked this way. This method produces a hard-seared crust, which is precisely what you want from a perfectly cooked steak.
Cons: The cooking process leaves little room for error in terms of timing, which can lead to a sense of panic in the kitchen.
The 'Reverse Sear'
In this method, we turn the tables on the previous method. This time we start the steak in the oven and then sear it afterward. With the reverse sear, there's no particular hurry, no panic (unlike in the previous method), making this technique a fairly foolproof one.
- Preheat the oven to 200 F.
- Place the steak on a sheet pan with a rack and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 to 35 minutes. Your target temperature for the steak is 120 to 130 F, at which point it is considered rare.
- Remove from the oven and coat the steak in oil.
- Quickly sear in a hot pan for 1 to 2 minutes per side. This will raise the steak's temperature to 135 F.
- Let the steak rest, tented, for 10 minutes.
Pros: The steak should be evenly cooked all the way through, resulting in perfect medium-rare with a lovely seared crust on the outside. The cooking process itself was considerably more relaxed.
Cons: The flip side of a relaxed method is that it is the slowest method, with cooking times anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. If you don't mind waiting, this may be the best way to cook steak indoors.
The 4-3-2 Method
The 4-3-2 method is the simplest method and by far the quickest, while most closely replicating a chargrilled steak cooked on an outdoor grill.
- Preheat a heavy skillet for a long time over high heat. Don't add any oil.
- Add the steak, press flat, and cook for 4 minutes without moving.
- Flip and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Remove from the pan and rest for 2 minutes before serving.
Pros: This method was easy to execute, quick (only 9 minutes combined cooking and resting time), and produced a steak that was cooked to medium to medium-rare perfection. If you enjoy a chargrilled steak, this is the technique for you.
Cons: Obviously, if you don't care for the chargrilled effect, you might prefer the next method. The 4-3-2 method works best with a boneless, rather than a bone-in, rib eye because the steak needs to be right up against the surface of the pan, and the bone can interfere with that.
The Oven-Only Method
In addition to seasoning, we also apply a generous knob of butter to the top of the steak before cooking it entirely in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Add the steak to a sheet pan with a rack. Top with butter (optional).
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Pros: This method produced a steak with even doneness and a soft texture. The lesser degree of browning allowed the pure flavor of the aged beef to shine through.
Cons: This method will not yield the fully seared crust produced by the techniques described above, so its texture will be somewhat one-dimensional. Moreover, its lesser degree of browning means that it will lack the complex flavors that the Maillard reaction creates, and the meat tended to curl in the oven. Its 30-minute total cooking time (cooking plus resting) is on the longer side as well.
Regardless of what method you choose for cooking, you'll need to rest your steaks. Resting helps preserve the steak's juices so that they don't come gushing out when you cut into it. The resting times for each method are included in the instructions.
Remember to slice your steaks against the grain. While this is most critical with tougher steaks like flank steak or skirt steak, even a tender steak like a rib eye will be tougher if you slice it with the grain. If you're going to go to the trouble of cooking it properly, you might as well slice it properly, too.