Learning how to cook steak in a pan is like an art form that you can master with enough practice. Perfectly pan-seared steak is delicious!
Once you learn to make it at home and to your liking, you won’t have to pay the restaurants for this dish anymore, you can make it at home.
You can check to see if your steak is finished cooking by using a thermometer and gauging the temperature. Depending on where the inner temp of your steak is will tell you how your steak is doing.
A simple chart to remember is:
- 120º F – 125º F = rare
- 125º F – 135º F = medium rare
- 135º F – 145º F = medium
- 145º F – 155º F = medium well
- 155º F + = well done
How to tell if the meat is cooked without a thermometer
Another great trick for learning to cook a steak to your desired temperature without using a gauge is to use your hand. Sounds crazy, but it’s a pretty nifty trick. Here’s how you do it:
- Take your non-dominant hand and open your palm, facing up.
- Take your thumb and your index finger and make a circle.
- Using your other index finger (on your other hand) gently touch the palm of your hand under your thumb. That part that is raised while it’s in this circle position.
- This is about what your steak feels like to the touch when it is medium-rare.
- Now move your thumb to your middle finger and touch your palm in the same spot again.
- This is how a medium steak feels.
- The ring finger is a medium-well steak.
- The pinky finger is the equivalent to well-done steak.
Notice how the steaks get tougher as they cook.
While this hand trick is pretty nifty and can keep you from repeatedly stabbing your steak checking for doneness with a gauge, using a thermometer of any sort to check for accurate temperature is the best way to verify that your steak is finished.
How to cook steak in a pan
This pan-fried steak recipe is delicious and very user-friendly for first-time steak makers or those who fry up a skillet steak weekly.
Rub your steak with salt and pepper. While these are great seasonings to use, the salt also doubles as a tenderizer for the meat. This is why it’s essential to do this step first, giving the steak the longest amount of time possible to marinate.
In a large skillet, melt your butter and add in the aromatics like garlic cloves, thyme, and sage.
Once those have been added, and your butter is completely melted, you can add in your steaks. You are cooking them for a few minutes per side depending on your desired level of doneness.
When they’re finished cooking, remove them from the heat and let them rest for about 10 minutes. This helps the steak to reabsorb the juices inside of it, which makes it less messy to cut into and better-tasting when you do.
Just make sure that you cut against the grain for tender bites!
How to Cook Steak in a Pan
- 4 steaks see note
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 3 leaves sage
- Rub steaks with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add butter, garlic, thyme, and sage.
- Add steaks (see note) and cook for 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the desired doneness. Medium-rare is ideal and will register 135ºF on an instant-read thermometer.
- Let rest on a plate covered with foil for 10-15 minutes.