Few meals are more iconic than a hearty cast-iron skillet steak dinner. When paired with steakhouse classics like 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 a cast-iron skillet steak recipe that’s 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.
Cast-Iron Skillet Steak Ingredients
- Kosher salt: 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.
- Beef New York strip or ribeye steak: For the juiciest and most tender steaks, pick a steak with a healthy amount of marbling. These cuts may be more expensive, but the tenderness and juiciness will be well worth it. Make sure it’s about 1 inch thick, as well.
Step 1: Season the steak
To season, start by removing the steak from the refrigerator and generously sprinkle two teaspoons of kosher salt on all sides of the fillet.
Let it stand for 45 to 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.
Editor’s Tip: Use this time to whip up a homemade steak seasoning blend to take it up a notch.
Step 2: Heat the skillet and prep the 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 four to five 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 the 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 produces 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. 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. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Cast-Iron Skillet Steak Tips
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.
Can you cook steak in butter?
Yes, you can cook steak in butter. Baste your steak with melted butter and herbs or use a compound butter as a topper once cooked on the stove. The butter will melt into the steak, giving it even more flavor. You can also try any of these steak flavor boosters!
Can you cook steak in a nonstick pan?
If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can use a nonstick pan. To cook steak on a nonstick pan, get the pan nice and hot first. Place the steak on the hot pan and don’t touch it until you flip it to the other side. Once the meat is seared, turn down the temperature for medium or well-done steaks. You can also finish the steak in a 350° oven.