Cooking steak on the stovetop is one of my go-to preparations for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. It can get the house smokey, but stovetop steak is easier than fussing with an outdoor grill and provides just as good, if not better, results. Just make sure you turn on the exhaust hood and open a window!
Tools Needed to Cook Steak on the Stovetop
As you can see, I used a cast-iron skillet to cook this steak and take the photos for this post, but a high-quality stainless steel skillet will work just as well. Other than that, all you need are paper towels to dry the steak and tongs to move the steak around (or whatever tool you think is easiest for this).
Tips for Perfectly Cooked Steak on the Stove
As long as the steak will fit in your skillet, then you can cook it on your stovetop. Here are a few more tips to ensure success:
- Use any cut of steak: Some of my personal favorite cuts to cook are ribeye, strip, and porterhouse, but any cut will do.
- Pat the meat dry and season before cooking: Before you put the steak in the skillet, make sure to pat it dry to remove any excess surface moisture, which helps achieve a nice crust, and season it fairly liberally with salt. If you want to infuse your steak with extra flavor, you can season the meat ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge until you're ready to cook. This is when you can also marinate the steak to your liking if you want to season it with more than just salt.
- Turn on your exhaust hood! Because you want to get your skillet extremely hot, there will be smoke once the steak hits the pan (if not, your skillet isn't hot enough), so turn on your exhaust hood and/or open a window to keep your smoke alarm from going off. It will get SMOKEY! There isn't anyway around this.
- Baste your steak: For that extra special restaurant touch, baste the steak with butter and herbs.
- Don't forget to let it rest: Once your steak is cooked to perfection, let it rest for a few minutes so the juices don't run all over the plate from cutting into it too soon.
Make Sure Your Skillet Is Hot!
I start by patting the steak dry, seasoning it liberally with salt, and letting it rest at room temperature for about half an hour before cooking.
This does two things:
- Salt draws out some of the moisture, which helps get a better sear.
- Letting the steak come up to room temperature helps it cook more evenly.
When it comes to actually cooking the steak on the stove at home, most people don't get the skillet hot enough to get a good sear.
To get the best possible sear on your stovetop steak, heat a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat for about three minutes until you can see the faintest whisper of smoke.
After that, add the steak to a dry pan – that’s right! You don't need to use any oil – and build up that delicious outer crust. Press it down every so often to make sure the beef gets good contact with the skillet.
And, contrary to what you may have heard before, feel free to move it around to get to a hot spot in the skillet or flip it over every minute or so.
Cook to Your Desired Level of Doneness
To cook your steak to medium or medium-rare, set the skillet over medium-high heat. To cook the steak to medium or well-done, start at medium-high for the first few minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking to your desired doneness.
Depending on the thickness of your steak:
- Rare to Medium-Rare Steak: two to three minutes per side over medium-high heat
- Medium-Rare to Medium Steak: three to four minutes per side
- Medium to Well-Done: four to five minutes per side
Ways to Adapt This Recipe
This recipe keeps it simple and just calls for salt, but feel free to include whatever other herbs and spices you prefer, or use a dry rub like this one. For extra flavor, feel free to season the meat up to a day ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge until you're ready to cook.
What to Serve With Steak
For a super quick and easy meal, I like to sauté some spinach in the same pan I cooked the steak in while it rests. Other ideas to serve with steak include:
- Twice-baked potatoes
- Boiled rice
- Garlic mashed potatoes
- Roasted broccoli
- Sautéed asparagus with morel mushrooms—the possibilities are endless!
Storing Leftover Stovetop Steak
While it's my belief that steaks are always best eaten fresh, you can store the leftovers for a few days in the fridge. In the case that I do have leftovers, I like to use them in quesadillas, paninis, or fried rice.
More Ways to Cook Your Steak
- Sous Vide Steak
- Garlic Herb Steak Bites
- How To Cook Skirt Steak
- Grilled Chili Lime Flank Steak
- Grilled Flank Steak with Mushrooms
Steak on the Stovetop
- One 3/4- to 1-pound steak, 3/4- to 1-inch thick, such as ribeye, strip, or porterhouse
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
- A few sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary, optional
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
Pat the steak dry:
Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season it liberally with salt all over; let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat the skillet:
Heat a cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet large enough to hold the steak on the stove over medium-high heat until very hot and it just barely starts to smoke, about 3 minutes.
Pat the steak dry (again) and cook:
Pat the steak dry again with paper towels, add the steak, and cook, pressing down to make sure it gets good contact with the pan, until a nice sear starts to form, about 2 minutes; flip over and cook for 2 minutes more.
- For a rare to medium-rare steak: Depending on the thickness of your steak, for a rare to medium-rare steak you should be able to remove the steak from the pan after 4 total minutes of cooking time.
- For a medium to well-done steak: Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, flipping over every minute or so, to your desired temperature, anywhere from an additional 2 to 6 minutes (or more for extra well-done).
Baste with butter and herbs (optional):
If you want even more flavor, add the butter and herbs to the pan during the last couple minutes of cooking and baste it with the butter.
Remove the steak from the pan and let rest for a couple of minutes before slicing. If desired, sprinkle with some flaky sea salt. Serve.