Cast-Iron Skillet Steak Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 5 min. + standing Cook: 5 min.
You can enjoy a perfectly seared cast-iron steak any night of week at home. Read on to learn how to cook steak in a skillet in just about 10 minutes.

Updated: Mar. 06, 2024

Few meals are more iconic than a cast-iron steak dinner. Paired with steakhouse classics like smashed potatoes, roasted asparagus and a wedge salad, steak is a hearty, classy meal. You could always visit the best steakhouse in your state, but it’s pretty simple—and quite satisfying—to make steak at home.

If you’ve never cooked steak, it can seem intimidating. That’s why we put together a cast-iron 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.

How to Sear a Steak

Searing steak comes down to a few important factors: Reduce the moisture, use a hot skillet and flip the steak as it cooks. It’s as simple as that! When you do it right, the meat’s surface browns and caramelizes. Your steak will have a gorgeous, delicious crust.

Here are five simple steps to ensure a proper sear on steak:

  1. Salt your steak at the right time: Salt pulls out moisture through a process called osmosis. If you don’t time it right, that moisture will line the surface of the steak and interfere with a proper sear. So, you have a choice. You can salt the steak at least 45 minutes before cooking. That gives the moisture time to reabsorb into the meat. Alternatively, you can salt the meat immediately before cooking so the steak’s surface is still dry.
  2. Let the steak come to room temperature: A cold steak won’t cook (or sear) evenly, so give the meat time to come up to room temperature. About 45 minutes should do the trick nicely. Coincidentally, that’s the same amount of time you should rest a steak after salting it!
  3. Make sure the pan is hot: Steak’s signature sear comes from a sizzling hot pan, and a seasoned cast-iron skillet is the way to go. This sturdy skillet gets extremely hot and retains heat for a long time. Let the skillet preheat over high heat for four to five minutes. If you’re using an infrared thermometer, look for temperatures between 400° and 450°F.
  4. Pat the steak dry: Any excess moisture will cause the steak to steam instead of brown, so pat the surface dry with paper towels. If you salted at the right time, there shouldn’t be too much moisture. You can also set the steak on a wire rack while it rests to maximize airflow around the meat.
  5. Move the steak around: Some people say to only flip once, but our Test Kitchen recommends moving the steak more frequently. Moving the steak around inside the skillet ensures that it’s always touching a hot part of the skillet.

Cast-Iron 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.

Directions

Step 1: Season the steak

Remove the steak from the refrigerator. Sprinkle it with 2 teaspoons salt, and let it stand at room temperature 45 for 60 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: The resting step here is essential for proper searing later! It also gives the meat time to absorb some of the salt.

Step 2: Heat the skillet

Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s extremely hot, four to five minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon salt in the bottom of the skillet.

Editor’s Tip: The high heat produces a lot of smoke, so make sure you’re cooking in a well-ventilated space. It’s also a good idea to turn on your kitchen vent or fan.

Step 3: Sear the steak on both sides

Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Place the steak in the hot skillet. Cook until it can be easily moved, one to two minutes.

Flip the steak, placing it in a different section of the skillet. Cook for 30 seconds, then begin moving the steak around the skillet, occasionally pressing on it slightly to ensure even contact with the skillet.

Editor’s Tip: Moving the steak around the hot skillet helps it get a better sear.

Step 4: Cook to the desired degree of doneness

Continue turning and flipping for one to two minutes, until the steak is cooked to the desired degree of doneness. A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat should read:

  • Medium-rare: 135°
  • Medium: 140°
  • Medium-well: 145°

Editor’s Tip: Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook after it’s removed from the skillet. It’s best to aim for a few degrees shy of your desired temperature. Then let it rest for 10 minutes, and slice the steak against the grain.

Cast-Iron Steak Tips

How long does it take to cook steak in a cast-iron skillet?

In total, the steak should be in the skillet for under five minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Prepping the meat and skillet 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. As it cooks, baste your steak with melted butter and herbs, or top your cooked steak with a compound butter. 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. However, high heat can damage the coating on some nonstick pans, so check the specifications on your pan before proceeding. To cook steak in a nonstick pan, preheat the pan with cooking oil. Place the steak in 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 (just make sure the pan is oven-safe!).

Watch how to Make Cast-Iron Skillet Steak

Cast-Iron Steak

Prep Time 5 min
Cook Time 5 min
Yield 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 beef New York strip or ribeye steak (1 pound), 1 inch thick
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Directions

  1. Remove steak from refrigerator and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt; let stand 45-60 minutes.
  2. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until extremely hot, 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon salt in bottom of skillet; pat beef dry with paper towels. Place steak in skillet and cook until easily moved, 1-2 minutes; flip, placing steak in a different section of the skillet. Cook 30 seconds and then begin moving steak, occasionally pressing slightly to ensure even contact with skillet.
  3. Continue turning and flipping until cooked to desired degree of doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°), 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

6 ounces cooked beef: 494 calories, 36g fat (15g saturated fat), 134mg cholesterol, 2983mg sodium, 0 carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 40g protein.

If you’ve never cooked steak at home before, it can be a little intimidating. That’s why I came up with this simple steak recipe that’s so easy, you could make it any day of the week. —James Schend, Dairy Freed