How to Make Steak Just Like a Steakhouse

You don't need fancy equipment or culinary training to make an excellent, juicy, seared steak at home. Follow these tips, then bring on the creamed spinach and potatoes!

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Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Photo By: Evi Abeler

Great Expectations

Few meals are more satisfying than a perfectly cooked steak that's charred on the outside and rosy pink and juicy within. All you need to make one like a pro is a cast-iron pan, salt and pepper, and a few essential techniques. Whether it's a beautifully marbled prime ribeye or a lean London broil, these tips will ensure next-level steak every time.

Dry It Off

Patting your steak dry with a paper towel before seasoning will give it a deep brown, flavorful crust. This move prevents the salt from melting and stops steam from forming when the steak hits the pan — both crucial for a good sear. After the steak is dry, brush with a bit of olive oil and pat down with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring It to Room Temperature

If the steak is too cold, it won't cook evenly because the inside will remain raw after the outside sears. Allow at least 30 minutes for the steak to sit out before cooking.

Get the Pan Hot — Really Hot

Put away your nonstick saute pan — it won't hold the heat you need. This is what cast-iron skillets were made for. Get it scorching hot: You can preheat it in a 400 degree F oven, or over a high flame. You'll know the pan is ready when a drop of water evaporates immediately.

Place Your Steak In the Pan — And Don't Move It

Put the meat in the skillet. If the steak has a fat cap, then that side can be seared first, and you won't need any additional oil in the pan. Resist the urge to poke and turn the steak. Once you start searing, give your steak a few minutes on each side to develop an ample crust. You'll know it's time to flip when you can move it freely in the pan. If it sticks to the bottom, it's not ready to turn.

Sear the Sides

Remember, steak is three-dimensional. That's why chefs use tongs to hold thick pieces up and sear the edges all the way around.

Add Butter

After you flip your steak, add a dollop of butter on top. It will melt into the steak, basting the meat and helping with the caramelization of the crust.

Cook to Perfection

For evenly cooked thick steak (1-1/2 inches and over), transfer the skillet to a 450-degree oven for 3 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reaches the desired temperature. Here are the numbers.* Keep in mind the steaks will continue to cook when they're off the heat.

Rare: 125 degrees F plus a 3 minutes rest off the heat

Medium-Rare: 130 to 135 degrees F

Medium: 135 to 140 degrees F

Medium-Well: 140 to 150 degrees F

Well-Done: 155 degrees F

*These temperatures are considered safe by many chefs and cooking experts. Nonetheless, extra caution must be exercised when cooking for at-risk groups, particularly the elderly, children under 7 and the immuno-compromised. In such cases, we suggest the USDA guidelines of cooking steak to at least 145 degrees F plus a 3-minute rest be strictly followed.

Give it a Rest

Loosely cover the steak with foil and let it hang out off the heat for 5 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute evenly. If you don't, all that flavorful liquid will run out onto the cutting board when you slice into the meat.