How To Cook a Steak Without Fear!

Nothing (NOTHING) has been more intimidating in my culinary adventures than learning to cook a steak. I’m not even talking about grilling, or marinating, or doing some impressive open-fire paleo stuff in a cutthroat competition. I’m just talking about cooking a nice hunk of beef, for myself, in a kitchen, on the stove. Cooking steak while inexperienced (CSWI) is intimidating for two reasons:

  1. Good cuts of quality meat are EXPENSIVE. You can’t afford to mess it up too many times.
  2. Cooking steak is some sort of cultural litmus test for your comfort and toughness in the kitchen.

On top of this, there is a litany of bad advice on how to cook a steak. Or advice that makes you a lot more nervous and confused than necessary. My favorite myth is that you need to have the steak brought to room temperature before cooking it. Inaccurate. Neither is the suggestion to refrain from putting salt on a steak before cooking it, nor using only a very specific type of oil, nor insanely precise oven thermometers.

Look, if you do any of these things, awesome. You do you. It won’t ruin the meat, but my point is: it’s not necessary.

Instead of telling you all the things not to do, I’m going to tell you the simplest, bare-bones method for cooking a steak or two in an oven. As with all cooking, there is a bit of an art to it. After trying it a few times, you’ll be able to dispense with all the frills and get down to business. Perhaps without even consulting these handy steps.

Step 1:

Purchase a steak. Not a frozen one. Make sure you’ve got oil (any kind will do, but olive and canola are best), salt, and aluminum foil.


Step 2:

When you’re ready to cook, move an oven rack underneath the broiler and preheat it on high.

Step 3:

Blot the steak with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then rub it all over with oil and little salt.

Step 4:

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven on high. Make sure to use a skillet or pot that can go inside the oven.

Step 5:

Place the steak in the skillet. Sear it on each side for about 90 seconds, flipping the meat with tongs.


Step 6:

Place the whole skillet or dutch oven under the broiler. For a medium rare-ish steak, cook for 2 minutes on each side, flipping the meat with tongs. For a more well done-ish steak, each side should cook for 3 minutes.

This is the most finicky step. It requires a bit of intuition because all ovens operate differently, and the thickness of the meat matters, too. When each side of a thick cut of filet mignon is broiled for 2 minutes, you’ll get a pretty bloody center.  You’ll get a medium- cooked filet mignon when broiled for 3.


Step 7:

Remove the steak to a cutting board, tent it with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 5 minutes, before slicing it against the grain. The “grain” is the pattern of lines in the muscle. You want to cut perpendicular to these faint lines. Cutting against the grain is important because it leaves the steak more tender and, frankly, more pleasant to chew.

Now you have a steak! That wasn’t so scary, right?

Cooking it at home is rewarding and much less expensive than getting it at a restaurant. One more important note about cooking your own steak: if you put A1 sauce on that sucker, I’m going to judge you forever. Instead, try these toppings:
Black Garlic Butter


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