How to Cook Steak in a Cast-Iron Skillet
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You don't need to visit a fancy restaurant to enjoy a tender, juicy steak. You just need to know how to cook a steak in a cast-iron skillet at home.
Few meals are more iconic than a hearty cast-iron steak dinner. When paired with smashed potatoes, roasted asparagus and a wedge salad, steak is the perfect way to celebrate or indulge. While you can always visit the best steakhouse in your state, it’s pretty simple and satisfying to make steak at home.
If you’ve never cooked steak, it can be intimidating. That’s why we put together this simple guide outlining how to cook a steak in a cast-iron skillet (we even can tell you just how to clean a cast-iron skillet after you’re done). The recipe is so easy, you could make it any day of the week. Our method involves just three things: kosher salt, a fresh steak and a cast-iron skillet.
Don’t have a cast-iron pan? Pick up our Test Kitchen’s favorite cast-iron skillet.
The Best Cast-Iron Steak Recipe
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 beef New York strip or ribeye steak (1 pound), 1-inch thick
Step 1: Season steak
When making steak, you want to make sure it’s well-seasoned. You don’t need a lot of fancy flavors to make the meat taste amazing. In fact, we opt only for salt—just make sure that it’s kosher. Salt with a smaller grain, such as table salt, breaks down faster and can give your steak a briny flavor. (This bamboo salt cellar is perfect for storing your kosher salt.)
To season, start by removing the steak from the refrigerator and generously sprinkle two teaspoons of kosher salt on all sides of the filet. Let it stand for 45-60 minutes. This resting period gives the meat time to come up to room temperature, which helps the steak cook more evenly. It also gives the meat time to absorb some of the salt.
If you’ve already mastered steak basics, try one of these steak rubs and marinades.
Step 2: Heat skillet and prep steak
The other key to a delicious steak is heat. And since that signature sear comes from a sizzling hot pan, a cast-iron skillet is the way to go. This hearty pan gets extremely hot and also retains heat for a long time, making it the perfect vessel for steak. You’ll want to preheat your pan over high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until very hot. Then, pat your steak dry with paper towels and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the skillet. Now you’re ready to sear!
Step 3: Sear steak
Place the steak into the skillet and cook until it’s easily moved. This takes between one and two minutes. Carefully flip the steak, placing it in a different section of the skillet. Cook for 30 seconds, and then begin moving the steak around, occasionally pressing slightly to ensure even contact with the skillet. A grill press is great for this. Moving the steak around the pan helps it cook faster and more evenly.
Editor’s Tip: This step will produce a lot of smoke, so make sure you’re cooking in a well-ventilated space. It’s also a good idea to turn your kitchen vent or fan on.
Step 4: Cook as desired
Continue turning and flipping the steak until it’s cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting in.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Steak in a Cast-Iron Skillet?
In total, the steak should be in the pan for less than five minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Prepping the meat and pan takes a little effort, but the cook time is short and sweet since you’re using such an extreme temperature.
Once you’ve mastered cooking steak, try these other cast-iron skillet recipes.
How Do You Cook a Medium-Rare Steak in a Cast-Iron Skillet?
A medium-rare steak has a rich, buttery flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that disappears as soon as it’s cooked any further. When cooking steak to your desired doneness, a meat thermometer is your best friend. A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat should read:
- Medium-rare: 135ºF
- Medium: 140ºF
- Medium-well: 145ºF
Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook a little bit after it’s been removed from the pan, so aim for a few degrees shy of your desired temperature.
Still have questions about cast-iron cooking? Our helpful cast-iron cooking guide features all the best cast iron recipes, care tips and cooking gadgets our Test Kitchen stands behind. Also don’t miss the types of steak everyone should know.
Next Up: Learn how to sear a steak in 5 simple steps.