Benefits Of Using A Cast Iron Skillet For Cooking Steaks
Flavor is everything when youre working with a single ingredient like steak, even if youre making a delicious sauce to go with it! You really need that base experience to be nothing short of spectacular.
Cast iron is perfect for this job, because it provides high temperatures that are quickly achieved, and evenly distributed around the cooking surface.
The end result is a steak that has that all important sear on the outside, while remaining tender and sumptuous on the inside.
The nature of the seasoning surface also makes it easy to turn food sitting inside cast iron cookware. Thats crucial when you dont want to play with the steak too much, but do need to turn it quickly and cleanly.
A Treasured Special Occasion Meal Steak Dinner
One of my most favorite traditions that Chris & I have established for our life together is celebrating special occasions & significant moments with a special meal. The one special occasion meal we always come back to is steak dinner. Its probably in part due to nostalgia, as several of our first dates were at different steak houses throughout the Milwaukee area, but I also think theres something inherently special about a beautiful steak dinner.
Over the years Ive learned that its pretty darn easy to make a beautiful steak dinner at home. Thats exactly what were doing today. Now, Im the first to admit that cooking nice steaks at home can be kind of intimidating. But honestly? It couldnt be simpler once you get the hang of it. The secret? A trusty ol cast iron skillet!
This Herb Butter Basted Cast Iron Skillet Steak is a recipe Ive been tinkering with for years. It leans on a really straight-forward pan-sear to result in what I think is the perfect steak one that is juicy & melt-in-your-mouth tender with a gloriously crusty hard sear & has tremendous rich flavor thanks to an herb & garlic butter baste.
Absolutely perfect, every single time. Read on to learn more about this Cast Iron Skillet Steak, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin!
Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
We chose a second skillet by Lodge because the quality of this brand is irreplaceable. This time, we have a carbon steel skillet that is perfect for searing steak and as the name suggests, it is pre-seasoned. Once again, you have several options of size but we chose the 12-inch skillet since we feel like this size has more usability.
This skillet stands out in the carbon steel cookware mix with its thickness which helps retain heat longer than usual. Even with this size, it heats up well and quickly, and cooks perfectly both high and low temperatures.
- Thick surface that improves heat retention
- Cooks evenly on high heat which makes it perfect for searing steak
Biggest Drawback: Due to the extra thickness, this pan is not as light as your normal carbon steel skillet. Nevertheless, the difference is not that significant.
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Place The Steak In The Hot Skillet
The Spruce / Leah Maroney
Place the steak in the center of the hot skillet. It is important that most of the steak is in contact with the metal as possible, so never use a steak bigger than your pan.
This will generate a good deal of smoke, popping and sizzling, but you must wait exactly 2 minutes before moving the steak. You might think it is burning, but rest easy that everything is fine. Be patient and watch the clock closely.
How Do I Cook Steak
- First start out by letting the steaks rest at room temperature for 30 minutes .
- Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat . I like to turn on vent fan above stove.
- Dab both sides of steak dry with paper towels then season both sides with salt and pepper .
- Place steaks in skillet and using metal tongs press down across top surface of steaks to ensure the entire bottom surface is making direct contact with skillet.
- Let cook until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes.
- Flip and continue to cook until steak is about 10 degrees away from desired doneness approximately 3 minutes longer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add butter, garlic and thyme. Using an oven mitt grasp pan and tilt pan so butter pools to one side, spoon butter over steaks and continue to cook until steaks registers temperature of desired doneness, about 1 minute longer.
- Transfer to a plates, let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
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Best Nonstick: Anolon Advanced Deep Square Grill Pan
Some nonstick grill pans do not achieve those coveted grill marks, but if Instagram-worthy seared stripes are your goal, the Anolon Advanced 11-inch Square Grill Pan will not disappoint. It heats quickly and uniformly, and the rounded ridges, which are a little higher than some of the other pans we tested, sear perfect lines into eggplant and zucchini and cook everything uniformly, with no noticeable hot spots or cool spots.
The pan is deeper than other grill pans almost two inches deep which might cut down on splattering when you’re grilling fatty foods like steaks or hamburgers. It also has pour spouts on either side. The handle, which has a silicone insert, is comfortable to grip and stays cool to the touch. This pan is made of hard-anodized aluminum with a durable, chip- and scratch-resistant nonstick coating. The food we tested released from the pan easily with no issues whatsoever, and it was easy to clean as well, which is a boon since it’s not dishwasher safe. The grill pan is a good size for holding four to five burgers or small chicken breasts the ridges extend almost to the edge of the pan, making the whole cooking surface usable. The pan is oven safe up to 400 degrees F, and can be used on gas, electric, and glass or ceramic cooktops.
Buy it: $40 , anolon.com, or bedbathandbeyond.com
Test : Comfort And Ergonomics
Given how little light was shed on the skillets based on performance, other characteristics like price, comfort, and some design considerations were going to be the primary deciding factors.
During all of the prior testing, we had been taking UX notes, including which skillets were the most uncomfortable to hold and which were just too heavy. We also ran an oil-pouring test, filling each skillet with a half-cup of oil, then pouring it back out into a narrow jar to see which channeled the fluid most effectively.
We learned that the best pour spouts are large and deep, and if you can’t have that, you’re better off having no pour spout at all. The skillets with shallow and small spouts tended to dribble the most. While good to know, We don’t consider small spouts a dealbreaker if the pan otherwise performed well and is well priced.
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How To Cook A Steak In A Cast
- Be sure your steak is completely thawed.
- Season your steak as desired we recommend Kansas City Steak Original Steak Seasoning.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot, for about 5 minutes. A very hot skillet delivers the best sear.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and immediately place your steak in the hot skillet.
- Cook the steak until internal temperature reaches 5°F lower than the desired final temperature, as listed in the chart below, turning once for 1-inch thick steaks, occasionally for thicker steaks.
- Remove and rest the steak for 5 minutes before serving, covering lightly with foil. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise about 5°F during this time . The final internal temperature of your steak should match the temperature of your desired level of doneness, as listed in the chart below.
- Resting your steak is also important because the heat of cooking pulls the juices in the meat toward the surface if you slice into it immediately after cooking, those flavorful juices will end up on your plate, not in your skirt steak. Allowing the steak to rest will give the juices time to sink back in and throughout the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
- Once the steak has rested, it’s time to carve. Make sure your carving knife is sharp .
Cast Iron Skillet Steak
When it comes to cooking steak, you want to get your pan as hot as possible, so you can develop a crunchy, well-browned crust. Since cast irons temperature doesnt drop very much when you place a cold or room temperature steak in your skillet, this allows you to continue cultivating an even, thick crust. Furthermore, cast iron allows you to start by searing your steak on the stovetop, and then finish it off in the oven for a more even interior temperature, no need to switch pans. Grab our recipe for cooking cast iron steak in the oven here.
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Straight To The Point
Our favorite cast iron skillet is the Lodge 10.25-Inch Skillet. It’s basic, durable, performs well, and inexpensive. We also like the Lodge Blacklock 10.25-Inch Skillet, which is pricier, but lightweight and easy to move around.
You could say there’s no better cookware investment than a cast iron skillet: The more you use it, the better it gets, and its versatility is nearly unmatched. Need to shallow-fry chicken cutlets? Want to make a pan pizza? About to bake some biscuits? Cast iron can handle all of that and more.
We set out to find the best cast iron skillet, putting 17 of the top models through a series of tests to determine which ones performed the best and were the easiest to use.
Best Pan For Steak Buying Guide
So, youve decided that you need to buy a new steak pan. But, how do you choose which one is right for you? The best pan for steak can vary depending on your individual circumstances and it wont be a one-size-fits-all situation. Keeping the following things in mind should help you make a better decision.
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Frequently Asked Questions On Steak Frying Pans
1. Is cast iron or stainless steel better for searing?
Both stainless steel and cast iron steak pans are great for searing steak. However, a stainless steel pan with an aluminum core sears steak much better than a cast iron pan. This is because the stainless steel pan heats up faster and has a lesser probability of getting hotspots.
2. How do you cook steak in a steel pan?
Cooking steak in a steel pan is pretty straightforward. First, heat the pan and cooking oil for some minutes, then place the steak on the pan. Ensure the steak cooks under medium heat and turn it on both sides after every minute to ensure it cooks evenly on both sides.
3. Is pan searing the same as frying?
No. Pan searing is the preparation process of getting the meat ready for the next cooking process, which is either braising or roasting. On the other hand, frying is a complete cooking process whose result is food that is ready to consume.
3. Can I cook steak in a regular frying pan?
While you can prepare steak in a regular frying pan, it is not always recommended. This is because some pans can’t withstand the high heat needed for cooking steak. Additionally, some pans don’t provide even heat distribution which is a requirement when it comes to preparing steak.
How Long To Cook Steak In A Cast Iron Skillet & Steak Doneness Temperatures:
The cook time for cast iron skillet steak varies greatly based on the temperature of your skillet, the thickness of your steak, & your desired level of doneness.
Nothings worse than spending a lot of money on a nice steak & accidentally overcooking it! Eliminate all of the guesswork by using an instant-read thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the steak.
A quick guide to steak doneness temperatures:
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How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet
Cleaning technique is very important and very different from most other types of pans.
Here are some steps to follow:
Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet
Le Creuset is a high-end brand that is popular among families for close to a century. Even though the prices of their products are a bit on the steep side, you can expect unmatched quality and performance. Without a doubt, a pan is not just a pan if it doesnt serve you well, and Le Creuset is a perfect cast iron steak skillet and what you deserve for all your frying needs.
This pan is versatile and comprises premium enamel, an excellent feature that allows uniform heat distribution. What this means is that youll benefit from even cooking with no hot spots. Additionally, the material is premium quality and doesnt require seasoning or maintenance.
The black enamel cover works perfectly well, even at extreme temperatures. Therefore, this makes it suitable to sear a steak. Even better, the nonstick coating ensures you use less oil when cooking and controls the temperature. It is a great choice when cooking eggs since they wont slide on the pan.
On the same note, since it uses less oil, you can use it for shallow frying of vegetables. In addition, you can soak the pan in water and soap for regular cleanup, and the enamel coating doesnt chip off. Best of all, you can throw it in a dishwasher for a quick cleanup. Also, removing stuck-on food remains is easy as long as you use a wooden spatula.
· It has a large loop helper handle and good grip
· Easy to clean
· Its Oven safe for up to 500°F and versatile
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Our Cast Iron Skillet Testing Methodology
For consistency, we only tested 10 to 10.5-inch skillets. We conducted three cooking tests to evaluate the different aspects of performance.
All cast iron pans are heavier than aluminum or even stainless steel. We compared the weight of these skillets to each other and found minimal differences. All of the skillets had one extended handle and one helper handle. However, we preferred pans with helper handles that you could fit your fingers in, as opposed to just extended grips.
Cornbread: We used to evaluate the heat retention and distribution of each pan. We measured the height of the cornbread at the edge and middle. We looked at the browning and crust on the edges and underside of each cornbread.
Steak: We based our steak testing on this recipe from Serious Eats. We seared New York strip steak by heating canola oil until smoking, placing the steak in the center of the plan, and flipping repeatedly for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak. The best seared steaks have a deep brown crust that is visible from the side of the steak when you cut into it.
Eggs: Our last test was to make a sunny side-up egg in the middle of the pan with less than half a teaspoon of butter. We did this last to give the skillets a chance to develop a bit of seasoning. We looked for the egg to slide off the pan without breaking or sticking.
Will Food Stick On Cast Iron
Cast iron does not have a nonstick coating. However, over time and with regular use, a seasoning is built up. This seasoning is improved with fat, so it pays to use your cast iron for tasks like frying bacon and roasting chicken thighs. The more seasoning on your pan, the more naturally nonstick it will be.
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Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The Chef Collection skillet is shallower than the classic Lodge and holds about 2 cups less. Its capacity could be problematic if youre braising something like pork chops with vegetables and will make it more difficult to fry chicken without risk of dangerous oil overflow. While you can always braise or deep-fry in a Dutch oven instead, if youd like to be able to do these things in your skillet, we recommend the original Lodge 12-inch skillet instead .
The lighter weight of the Chef Collection skillet could also be a slight handicap if you were browning a very thick piece of meat like a tomahawk steak, as a heavier pan will hold in more heat and give you better second-side browning. However, we didnt notice a difference between the Chef Collection and the heavier traditional Lodge when we seared half-inch-thick strip steaks.
Lodge doesnt have a formal written guarantee or warranty on its classic cast-iron ware. That said, many of us have Lodge skillets at home that range in age from 15 to 20 years old and have never had a problem. The lack of a warranty doesnt concern us because Lodge cast-iron skillets are very durable, and Lodge has a good reputation for customer service.
Overall Size And Weight
One of the downsides to cast iron is that it is much heavier than cookware of a similar size thats made from other materials. The thickness of the cast iron used directly impacts the pan’s weight. Until recently, all cast iron cookware was relatively thick, which helped with its heat retention properties but also increased the weight and the heating time.
Today, there are some manufacturers that are producing cast iron cookware made from thinner material. This cookware is lighter in weight, so its easier to handle, but for most thin pans, it doesnt heat quite as evenly as thicker cookware and it wont retain heat as long. The difference is minimal, so if weight is a concern, its worth looking at some of the lighter pans.
Then there’s capacity: While bigger is often better, allowing you to cook more food in the pot or pan, when youre buying cast iron cookware its wise to keep the weight in mind so you dont buy something that you cant lift after youve filled it with food. There are also incredibly petite cast iron pans, which, while somewhat humorous and limiting, are actually quite nice for frying a single egg or serving personal-sized portions of casseroles or desserts.
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