Forget shivering by the grill in winter’s icy grip or dodging searing summer sun – a perfect steak is just a pan sear away! The great outdoors might hold a certain romantic appeal for grilling, but your trusty kitchen holds the potential for culinary fireworks, with methods that deliver equally mouthwatering results, minus the weather drama. So, put down the lighter fluid and stoke your culinary fire, because we’re about to unleash four indoor techniques that will transform you from steak novice to sizzling sous chef.
We tested different techniques to find the best ways to cook steak at home, and here are the results.
The 4 Best Ways to Cook a Steak Indoors
- 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:
- Remove the steak from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. A room-temperature steak will cook more evenly than a cold steak.
- Use an oven-safe cast-iron skillet. Cast iron gets hot and stays hot, and because it’s flat, the entire surface of the steak will caramelize on the hot cooking surface.
- Season liberally. This means plenty of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the steak.
We assume that you like your steaks medium-rare to medium. If you like them less or more done, modify the cook times below accordingly.
Pre-sear, Then Finish in the Oven
Searing means applying high heat to a piece of meat to brown it and produce a flavorful crust outside. One of the most traditional ways to cook a steak is using a combination of searing to caramelize the surface of the steak and then transferring it to the oven to finish cooking to your desired doneness.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F.
- Get your cast-iron skillet hot over high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of a high-heat cooking oil, such as grapeseed, or canola.
- Once the oil shimmers, set your steak in the skillet. Sear undisturbed for 2 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for or 2 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest on a cutting board tented with foil for 7 minutes.
Pros: This is a traditional method that has been used quite often. 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, leading 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 and no panic (unlike in the previous method), making this technique a relatively foolproof one.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 200 F.
- Place the steak on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 to 35 minutes. Your target temperature for the steak is 120 to 130 F, which is considered rare.
- Remove from the oven and brush some oil on both sides of the steak.
- Quickly sear in a hot skillet for 1 to 2 minutes per side. This will raise the steak’s internal temperature to 135 F.
- Tent the steak with foil and let it rest 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 is 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-duty skillet on the stove on high heat until it’s hot. 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: If you don’t care for the chargrilled effect, you might prefer the following method. The 4-3-2 method works best with a boneless, rather than a bone-in, rib eye because the entire surface of the steak must be in contact with the pan’s surface, 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 surface of the steak before cooking it entirely in the oven.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 F.
- Place the steak on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Top with butter (optional).
- Roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, tent the steak with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Pros: This method produced a steak with even doneness and a soft texture. Less 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, less browning means that it’ll lack the complex flavors that the Maillard reaction creates. Also, the outer edges of the steak tend to curl in the oven. Its 30-minute total cooking time (cooking plus resting) is also on the longer side.
Regardless of what method you choose for cooking, you’ll need to rest your steaks. Resting helps redistribute the steak’s juices so they don’t gush out when cutting into it. The resting times for each method are included in the instructions.
Remember to slice your steaks against the grain. While this is critical with tougher steaks like flank or skirt steak, even a tender steak like a rib eye will be tougher if you slice it with the grain.