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How to Cook Steak

Gluten-Free Grilled Pepper Steak with Honey Onions
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a big, juicy steak, and you don’t have to go out to a fancy restaurant to enjoy one. With Betty’s step-by-step instructions, you can learn how to cook steak at home, so you’ll be ready for your next special dinner.

Inroduction

It’s simpler than you may believe to cook a restaurant-quality steak at home, but it’s helpful to understand the difference between cuts of steaks and methods of cooking. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about how to cook steak, including how to grill steak, how to cook steak in the oven, how to cook sirloin steak and more.

What Is Steak?

There are lots of different cuts of steak. What distinguishes steak from other cuts of beef is that steak can be cooked quickly. This is because steak comes from the parts of the cow that are exercised the least – the rib and loin sections.

These areas lack defined muscle and are marbled – i.e. streaked with fat. The more marbling, the more tender and juicy the meat will be when cooked.

Steak costs more than other cuts of beef because of its tender quality and quick-cooking time.

Different Types of Steak

Before you go buy a cut of steak, it is helpful to understand how different cuts differ from each other in terms of flavor. It is also good to understand the ideal cooking methods for different cuts, as you may prefer to cook differently depending on the time of year. When shopping for steak, keep in mind the average serving size is 2 ½ to 3 ½ ounces of cooked steak per person.

Here are the basics facts about six different types of steak.

Rib-Eye

  • Rib-eye (also called Scotch fillet, Beauty Steak, Delmonico Steak, Entrecôte) is an exceptionally tender and juicy piece of steak.
  • As the name implies, this steak is cut from the rib area of the cow and features lots of marbling (fat), which makes it taste delicious.
  • Rib-Eye steaks are thick, oval-shaped and usually sold without the bones – a rib-rye steaks sold with the bone included is called a cowboy cut or cowboy rib-eye. Rib-eye steaks come with a thick edge of fat, which should be trimmed down to ¼ inch before cooking.
  • It is best to cook rib-eye steaks quickly. Panfrying, broiling and grilling are all good methods.
  • Try for yourself with our recipe for Pan-Seared Sirloin Steak.

Pan-Seared Sirloin Steak

Beef Tenderloin

  • This cut of steak has fabulous flavor and an impressive look, which makes it a terrific choice for entertaining. As it is considered the tenderest cut of beef, it is also the most expensive.
  • As the name suggests, this cut comes from the cow’s short loin, which is rarely exercised and therefore very tender. Tenderloin is sold boneless. There are generally 3-4 servings in a pound of beef tenderloin.
  • One end of the long rectangular cut is narrower – the tail – and this end is usually tucked under and tied before cooking. The loin is typically tied off every 1 and ½ inches or so to maintain a uniform thickness that will cook evenly.
  • Another common method of cooking beef tenderloin is to butterfly it and stuff with filling. Give this method a try with our Gorgonzola- and Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Merlot Sauce. When beef tenderloin is cut into individual pieces, it is called filet mignon.

Gorgonzola- and Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Merlot Sauce

T-Bone Steaks

  • T-bones are yet another delicious cut of steak, very similar to Porterhouse Steaks. They come from the short loin area of the cow. This is also the area from which the tenderloin is cut.
  • T-Bone Steaks contain less of the tenderloin meat, while Porterhouse Steaks contain more tenderloin.
  • T-Bones get their name from their shape, which is like the letter “T” with a bone down the center and meat on either side.
  • As this cut of steak is very tender, it does not need a long cooking time. Keep in mind, the bone also holds heat and makes the steak cook more quickly. Broiling and grilling are two excellent methods of cooking T-bone and Porterhouse steaks.
  • Try making T-bone steak with our recipe for Grilled Pepper Steak with Honey Onions.

Gluten-Free Grilled Pepper Steak with Honey Onions

Top Sirloin

  • Top sirloin is cut from the top part of the sirloin and is tenderer than the bottom sirloin.
  • It is sold boneless.
  • The best ways to cook this cut include panfrying, broiling and grilling.
  • Try for yourself with our recipe for Lemon Dijon Pan Steak, a restaurant classic also known as Steak Diane.

Lemon Dijon Pan Steak

New York Strip Steak

  • New York strip steak (also called strip steak, Kansas City strip or sirloin) has good beefy flavor, though it is less tender than rib-eye or tenderloin.
  • It comes from the sirloin area and does not contain any tenderloin meat.
  • It is a rectangular piece of meat with marbling throughout. It is usually sold without the bone and has a strip of fat along one side.
  • Panfrying, broiling and grilling are all good methods of cooking strip steak.
  • Try for yourself with our recipe for Strip Steaks with Chipotle-Peach Glaze.

Strip Steaks with Chipotle-Peach Glaze

Flank Steak

  • Flank steak is another steak with a nice beefy flavor and a little more chew than the most premium cuts, like rib-eye and tenderloin.
  • It comes from the flank of the cow, as the name suggests, just beneath the loin area. It is rectangular in shape and without bones.
  • Grilling is a great way to cook this meat, as is the slow cooker.
  • Flank steak is generally cut into strips before serving. Use a sharp knife to cut steak across the grain at a slight angle.
  • Try for yourself with our recipe for Flank Steak Spinach Salad for a cool summer dinner salad or making an easy warming meal with our recipe for Slow-Cooker Cuban Flank Steak.

flank-steak-spinach-salad_hero

How to Season Steak

Steak purists may say you only need a generous sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to season a steak to perfection, but one of the great advantages of cooking a steak at home is that you get to cook to suit your own tastes.

Rubs, marinades and sauces are three methods for adding flavor to your steak at various stages of the cooking process.

Here’s how to season steak with rubs, marinades and sauces.

Rubs
Rubs can be dry (seasonings or herbs mixed with salt or sugar) or wet (seasonings with added liquid such as oil, mustard or wine that form a paste). Spice things up with one or these flavorful combinations.

  • Caribbean Rub: Mix 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice, 1 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon each salt and ground red pepper (cayenne).
  • Espresso Steak Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each instant espresso coffee powder, ancho chile pepper powder, paprika and brown sugar with 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • Smoke ‘n Spice Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each ground chipotle chile pepper powder, regular chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and brown sugar.
  • Southwest Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each regular chili powder or ancho chile pepper, ground cumin, smoked or regular paprika, garlic powder, salt and brown sugar.
  • Tandoori Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, ground turmeric and salt with 1 tablespoon ground red pepper (cayenne).
  • Spicy Herb Rub: Mix together 3 tablespoons dried Italian seasonings, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon each salt and garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon each black pepper and ground red pepper (cayenne).

How to Apply Spice Rubs to Steak

  1. Mix up the spice rub of your choosing, see options above for inspiration.
  2. To ensure even cooking, let your steak come to room temperature – allow about 30 minutes – then apply the rub generously to all sides of the steak and proceed with your preferred cooking method.

Note: Unused rub mixtures can be store in airtight containers in a cool, dark location for up to six months.

Marinades Letting steaks marinate in highly seasoned liquid makes for moist, flavorful meat. Here are some of our favorite marinades for serving up mouth-watering, juicy steaks.

  • Ginger-Garlic Marinade: Mix together ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup chili sauce, ¼ cup dry sherry, 2 clovers of garlic finely chopped and 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot.
  • Orange Thyme Marinade: Mix together 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, ½ cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 medium green onions finely chopped (2 tablespoons), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

How Marinate Steak

  1. Mix up a marinade of your choice – see above for inspiration – in a shallow glass dish or plastic bag.
  2. Add steak; turning to coat with marinade. Cover dish or seal bag; refrigerate. Turn meat occasionally. Refrigerate steak in marinade for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 hours.
  3. Remove meat from marinade; set marinade aside. Let steak come up to room temperature before cooking – this will take about 30 minutes. Cook steak as desired, brushing occasionally with marinade.

Note: Remaining marinade must be boiled to be served as sauce. Heat marinade in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute. If marinade is not boiled, discard for food safety reasons.

Sauces
After cooking, you can still add flavor to your steak by serving with a sauce, like one of these.

  • Blue Cheese Butter: Mix ½ cup sour cream with ¼ cup creamy horseradish sauce.
  • Southwestern Butter: Mix ½ cup butter softened, with ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin and 2 tablespoons salsa.
  • Pan sauce can be made by deglazing the pan in which steak was cooked. If you panfry your steak, this is a great way to get as much flavor as possible out of the pan, see instructions below.

How to Make a Pan Sauce

  1. After cooking steak, remove cooked meat from skillet. Add liquid – such as cooking wine or broth – stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet.
  2. Simmer uncovered until mixture is slightly thickened.
  3. Pour pan sauce over steak and serve.

How to Cook Steak

One of the easiest ways to cook steak is by panfrying. Follow these simple steps to learn how to panfry steak, and you’ll have a delicious dinner in only 15 minutes.

What you need:

how-to-cook-steak-01

1. Before cooking allow the steak to come to room temperature. Once the steak is at room temperature – generally, this takes about 30 minutes – dry with a paper towel. Blotting away excess moisture ensures you are searing the meat, instead of steaming. Sprinkle the beef with lemon-pepper seasonings.

how-to-cook-steak-02

In a small bowl, mix lemon peel, soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of oil.

how-to-cook-steak-03

Brush over both sides of beef.

how-to-cook-steak-04

2. Turn on the heat under the 10-inch skillet to medium and allow it to warm for 5 minutes. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add beef.

how-to-cook-steak-05

Cook 10-12 minutes or until browned on both sides. Use a thermometer to check internal temperature and determine if steak has reached desired doneness, see section titled, “How to Tell When Steak Is Done” for more detail.

how-to-cook-steak-06

Remove steak from frying pan. Let steak rest 5 minutes covered loosely by a sheet of foil. Then, cut into 4 serving pieces.

how-to-cook-steak-07

Enjoy!

how-to-cook-steak-09
Pan-Seared Sirloin Steak

Different Methods of Cooking Steak

There are many different methods of cooking steak. In addition to the panfrying technique described above, you can also cook steak in the oven, under the broiler, in the slow cooker or on the grill.

No matter which cooking method you choose, it is important to follow a few simple steps, including the following.

  • Always let your steaks come to room temperature – about 30 minutes on the countertop – since cold steaks will contract and cook less evenly.
  • Once your steak is at room temperature, blot any excess moisture away with a paper towel. If your steak is wet, you won’t be able to form the caramelized crust that makes steak so delicious.

How to Cook Steak in the Oven

Broiling is a great method for quickly cooking smaller, less-fatty cuts of steak, such as tenderloin, in the oven. Broiling enhances the flavor of smaller cuts by caramelizing the surface of the meat, creating a flavorful “crust” and sealing in the juices.

How to Broil Steak

  1. Set the oven control to broil; heat 10 minutes. Check the oven’s use-and-care manual for whether the oven door should be partially opened or closed during broiling.
  2. Place the meat on a rack in a broiler pan; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Broil for the time listed below, turning once.

Note, for cuts less than 1-inch thick, broil 2 to 3 inches from the heat. For cuts 1 to 1 ½ inches thick, broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat unless the timetable below gives a different distance.

Timetable for Broiling Steak

Cut of Steak

Thickness in inches

Approximate Cooking Time

Final Doneness Temperature

Rib Eye Steak

¾
1
1 ½

8 to 12
14 to 18
21 to 27

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Porterhouse/T-Bone Steak

¾
1
1 ½

9 to 12
13 to 17
24 to 31

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Loin (Strip) Steak

¾
1
1 ½

9 to 11
13 to 17
19 to 23

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Blade Chuck Steak

8 oz. each

15 to 20

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Tenderloin Steak

1

 

1 ½

13 to 16 (broil 2 to 3 inches from heat)
18 to 22

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Try this cooking method with our recipe for Cheesy Italian Tenderloin Steaks.

cheesy-italian-tenderloin-steaks_hero

How to Panfry Steak

Panfrying (also known as pan broiling) is a great method for cooking tender cuts of meat without liquid and is faster than oven broiling. It’s important not to overcook meat with this method, or it can become tough and dry.

  1. Use a nonstick skillet, or lightly coat a regular skillet with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Heat the skillet over medium heat (unless otherwise noted) for 5 minutes.
  2. Season meat as desired. Add the meat to the skillet. Don’t add water, liquids or fats; don’t cover. Cook for the time listed until the thermometer reaches the final doneness temperature, turning once. If the meat browns too quickly, reduce heat to medium-low.

Timetable for Panfrying Meat

Cut of Steak

Thickness in Inches

Approximate Cooking Time in Minutes

Final Doneness Temperature

Rib Eye Steak

¾
1

8 to 10
12 to 15

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Porterhouse/T-Bone Steak

¾
1

11 to 13
14 to 17

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Loin (Strip) Steak

¾
1

10 to 12
12 to 15

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Blade Chuck Steak

8 oz. each

13 to 15

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Tenderloin Steak (use medium-high heat for ½ thickness)

½
¾
1

3 to 5
7 to 9
10 to 13

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Sirloin Steak (boneless)

¾
1

10 to 13
15 to 20

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Top Round Steak (best when marinated before cooking)

¾
1

11 to 12
15 to 16

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Cubed Steak

--

3 to 5

145° medium-rare to 160°F medium

Try this cooking method with our recipe for Steaks with Mushroom Gravy or Pan-Seared Sirloin Steak.

Steaks with Mushroom Gravy

How to Cook Steak in the Slow Cooker

The slow cooker is a convenient way to cook a steak that needs more time to become tender, like flank steak used in Slow-Cooker Cuban Flank Steak. It is also useful when cooking steak for a dish where the steak is meant to be served meltingly tender, like the boneless beef round steak in our classic Slow-Cooker Swiss Steak Supper.

When cooking steak in a slow cooker, check and see whether heating elements are in both the sides and bottom or only in the bottom. When the heating element is only the bottom, it is important to layer ingredients as your slow-cooker manual recommends. Consult individual recipes for detailed instructions about cooking steak in the slow cooker.

Slow-Cooker Swiss Steak Supper

How to Grill Steak

Grilling is a quick-cooking option that infuses dishes with a sensational smoky flavor. Here are some important steps you should always take when grilling steak.

  1. Before grilling steak, trim fat to ¼-inch thickness. Taking this step helps prevent dangerous flare-ups, which are caused when fat or oil drips onto the grilling fire causing it to flare up.
  2. Wipe off the marinade before grilling as oil- or sugar-based marinades can drip down into the grill and cause flare-ups.
  3. Steak is cooked over direct heat. To set up a charcoal grill for direct heat, evenly spread hot, white coals over firebox of grill. For gas grill, heat all burners on high for 10 to 15 minutes; then reduce heat as needed.
  4. Meat is done when internal temperature is 145°F (medium-rare), 160°F (medium) or 170°F (well-done).
  5. When using a marinade, boil 1 minute before serving. Better yet, set aside some marinade to use for serving, and discard marinade used for basting.

Making Grill Marks

To make grill marks, start with a hot grill. Use high heat to make the marks and quickly sear the steaks to form a crust on the outside.

  1. Place steaks on grill; do not move. Grill steaks 3 to 5 minutes, or until grill marks are visible on bottom of steaks. Do not move steaks during this time.
  2. Rotate steaks one-quarter turn. Rotate steaks and grill again, following same method above, to form cross-hatch marks.
  3. Repeat on other side. Made marks on other side, using same method above.
  4. Finish cooking steaks over medium heat. Reduce gas grill to medium or move steaks over coals with medium heat. Finish cooking steaks as directed, turning once. Grill time may be slightly less, due to searing process.

Timetable for Grilling Steak

Cut

Thickness in inches or weight in pounds

Grilling Time in Minutes

Beef Rib Eye Steak

¾
1

6 to 8
11 to 14

Beef Porterhouse/T-Bone Steak

¾
1

10 to 12
14 to 16

Beef Top Loin or Strip Steak

¾
1

10 to 12
15 to 18

Beef Tenderloin Steak

1
1 ½

13 to 15
14 to 16

Beef Top Sirloin

¾
1
1 ½

13 to 16
17 to 21
22 to 26

Beef Top Round Steak (marinated)

¾
1

8 to 9
16 to 18

Beef Flank Steak (marinated)

1 to 1 ½ pounds

17 to 21

Try grilling steak with our recipe for Grilled Korean Steak or Sirloin Steaks with Cilantro Chimichurri.

Grilled Korean Steak

How to Tell When Steak Is Done

Whether you prefer your steak medium rare, medium or well-done, it is best to rely on temperature, instead of time, to cook steak to the perfect doneness. With a meat thermometer, you can see if the meat is close to being done without cutting into the meat.

What to Serve with Steak

How to Store Leftover Steak

Uncooked beef steaks can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Store in the meat compartment or the coldest part of your refrigerator. Cook or freeze meat within 2 days of the sell-by date.

Steaks will keep in the freezer for 6 to 12 months. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator in a dish or baking pan with sides or in a resealable plastic bag to catch any drips during thawing. Don’t thaw meat on the countertop, because bacteria thrive at room temperature. A 1-inch thick steak will take 12 to 14 hours to thaw in the refrigerator.

Leftover cooked steak can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

Now you know exactly what to do next time you want to cook up an extra-special dinner for the ones you love!

Ways to Cook Steak



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