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.
How Do You Clean A Cast Iron Pan
Uncoated cast iron should be cleaned with special care. Always check the manufacturers instructions, but generally, simply scrape out any bits of cooked-on food and then use a stiff-bristled brush or scrubber to scrub the pan with mild soap and hot water. Some people say not to use soap, but mild soap will ensure you remove the grease from the pan . You can also use kosher salt and hot water.
After washing, the pan should be dried well. If it is not very well seasoned, you can use a paper towel to wipe on a thin layer of oil after cleaning to prevent rust during storage. If you like, you can use this opportunity to heat the pan on the stove again to improve the seasoning.
Enameled cast iron generally doesnt need special attention when cleaning, and some can even be washed in a dishwasher.
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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How Do You Season A Cast Iron Pan
While most uncoated cast iron is pre-seasoned and can be used right away, it will perform better after seasoning. Seasoning cast iron involves coating the pot or pan with cooking oil or grease, then heating it to bond some of the oil to the pan. Almost any cooking oil can be used, but its best to use an oil that can withstand high heat, or it can smoke excessively during the seasoning process. While canola oil can be used, it can also leave a sticky residue. Vegetable shortening, grapeseed oil, or your favorite vegetable oil are all acceptable.
An easy method is to apply a small amount of oil to the pan, wipe it onto the sides, and then heat it on the stove until its very hot. Wipe the exterior with oil and place the pan upside down in the oven at 450 degrees for an hour. Let the pan cool for at least an hour and then scrub it with hot water and kosher salt to remove any oil residue.
Any time you cook something with fat or oil, the pans seasoning will improve. A very well-seasoned pan will be smooth, black, and shiny, and drops of oil will bead up on the surface. Once a pan is well seasoned, it will need little additional seasoning or maintenance, but if your pan starts to look dull or water doesnt bead on the surface, you can repeat the seasoning steps or just make sure to cook some bacon or other fatty foods.
The Best Pan For Searing Steak
If you haven’t yet learned the simple art of pan searing a steak, it’s high time. This is an easy, delicious treat that any cook can master with a few simple steps and–of course–the right tools.
Using the right pan is the key to getting a good sear. There are a few options, but we have a definite favorite. Just as important is not using the wrong pan. Some pans won’t give a very good sear, and some are downright unsafe.
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The Overall Best Cast Iron Grill Pan
Yes, it’s made from pre-seasoned cast iron, so it heats up quickly and stays there â but the Lodge grill pan is well-suited for steak for another reason: It has a textured base for a barbecue-like sear, whether you’re cooking on the stove, in the oven, or out on a campfire. This one also features a square shape and two handles for heavy lifting, one of which comes with a silicone handle to prevent burns.
- Size: 10.5 inches
- Material: Pre-seasoned cast iron
One reviewer wrote: “Received this yesterday and cooked a Delmonico. Followed all the rater’s suggestions on cooking/searing and I cannot believe I am saying this was the best steak ever. Better than any grilled steak. Steak tasted like fine quality restaurant steak houses.”
Price Colors And Looks
This should not be a factor in your choice. The prettier and pricier it is, the less likely you are to abuse the pan. You want a cheap beater pan that you would not cry if you break. To be fair, most of these manufacture claim to have a lifetime warranty, so technically you shouldnt have to worry about it. My experience tells me that they will say its your fault and deny you the warranty.
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Here Are The Temperatures For Steak Doneness:
- Rare 125°, very red inside, cool interior
- Medium rare 135°, red inside and warm
- Medium 145°, pink inside and warm
- Medium well 150°, slightly pink inside and warm
- Well 160°, no pink inside
Keep in mind that the steaks will cook another 5 degrees from carryover cooking after you remove them from the heat, so pull them a little early.
Top Results For Perfect Cast Iron Skillet Steak
Perfect Medium Rare Sirloin Steak Recipe | Alton Brown
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Perfect Pan-Seared Ribeye Steaks Recipe | Alton Brown
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Best For Camping: Field Cast Iron Skillet
Every morning should start with eggs and bacon, even if you’re in the great outdoors. Thankfully, cast iron cookware is durable enough to handle the open flames of a campfire, making it an indispensable tool while camping. And for a skillet that won’t weigh you down, go for Field’s cast iron. Its 8-inch pan is big enough to fit four fried eggs or two New York strip steaks, but only weighs 4.5 pounds.
More than 2,000 reviewers have rated Field skillets five stars on the company’s website, saying they’re ultra-smooth and modern heirlooms. “This pan has the very smooth interior finish similar to the old collector pans made by Griswold,” said one customer. “The Field pan is lighter and a delight to hold. We are just starting to use it but I anticipate that it will only get better. This pan is the ONLY currently made pan I would say is in the league with the hard to find vintage pans of 60 to 80 years past. And again, these are lighter. More Field pans will become my presents to the younger generation in my family and those of my dear friends.”
To buy: $125 at fieldcompany.com
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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Nutrichef Cast Iron Reversible Grill Plate
- REVERSIBLE SIDES The NutriChef Stovetop Grill features convenient reversible sides The smooth side is great for making grilled cheese sandwich eggs & pancakes The ribbed side is perfect for grilling foods such as steak fish chicken & hamburger
- CAST IRON METAL The reversible grill and griddle is made from cast iron metal w/ a nonstick surface that ensures quick effortless food release & eliminates the need for butter oil or cooking spray Makes homemade grilled food slide out easily
- HEAT SAFE UP TO 480° F The cast iron flat skillet is heat-safe at high temperatures up to 480°F Features extra wide skillet size for large meals bbq griddle plate size measures 18L x 10W x 0 6H Includes heat resistant silicone oven grab mitt
- HEALTHIER COOKING The stove grill features ridged line surface which keeps excess oil away from food making it a healthier cooking option Ideal for grilling chicken steak & vegetables Adds grill marks to your food making it more appetizing
- INDUCTION READY The cast iron griddle for stovetop is compatible w/ all heating methods Works on gas induction glass ceramic & electric stove top It is stain-resistant & easy to clean Enjoy traditional grill cooking style with the whole family
- Care Instructions: Dishwasher Safe
- Power Source Type: Manual
Simple Chef Cast Iron Skillet 3
- Weight: total of 9.48 pounds
- Pre-Seasoned: yes
- Colors: black
The Simple Chef doesnt have a website for us to see more about the company who makes these skillets. The company may be a mystery, but they do appear to be selling a legitimate product. They also sell deep fryers, vegetable spiralizers and other cookware.
- Comes as a 3-piece set with a variety of sizes
- Can be used on a stovetop, over a campfire or in the oven
- Can be used for sautéing, grilling, frying and more
- Handle has a hole for hanging storage
- They offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- No website could be found through a Google search.
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Are There Any Pans Not To Use For High Heat Searing
Nonstick. Never use a nonstick pan for any high heat applications. High heat ruins nonstick coatings and can even result in the release of toxins if the pan contains PTFE.
If that’s not enough to dissuade you, the slipperiness of a nonstick coating results in mediocre browning, so even if you don’t care about ruining the coating, you’re not going to get much of a sear no matter how hot you get the pan.
Tin-lined copper. Any copper pan lined with tin should not be used, as tin has a melting point of about 450F. A gas burner can heat a pan to 500F in about 5 minutes–so don’t use tin-lined copper for high heat searing.
Why Use Oil And Butter When Searing
One is for color the other is for flavor, both with different smoking points. As mentioned before, all oils have a different smoking point. Each also has a different flavor. When using true, good olive oil, one can even taste a difference between regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. For steaks, use traditional olive oil and the highest quality of grass-fed butter you can find.
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Start With The Right Steak
In order to get that good sear and keep the meat rare , I need steaks that are at least 1 inch thick, preferably 1-1/2 inches. If you dont see such a steak packaged at the supermarket, ask the butcher behind the counter to custom cut one for you. My favorite cuts for sautéing include rib-eye, New York strip, and filet.
FiletThis exceedingly tender steak is cut from the tenderloin. Ask for center-cut filets, rather than ones from the tail or head 6 to 8 oz. per person is a good serving. Filet has a bit less flavor than other cuts, but its perfectly suited for the sauté pan, especially because its tender texture is an excellent match for a rich pan sauce. Serve this cut rare or medium rare when cooked past that, its flavor can become livery.
New York stripThe official name for this steak is top loin, and it comes from the middle back, called the short loin, which is located on the exterior surface of the spinal column. Confusingly, it goes by at least 20 names that I know of. Whatever its called, this steak is tender and well flavored and you will pay accordingly. It takes especially well to dry rubs and compound butters. For evenly seared steaks, buy one or two large, thick steaks , and cut them into servings after cooking, especially if you like meat rare or medium rare. Since theyre quite tender, I rarely use acidic wet marinades with these steaks.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Steak On Cast
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 youre using such an extreme temperature.
Once youve mastered cooking steak, try these other cast-iron skillet recipes.
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Other Tools Needed To Pan Sear A Steak
Since the right temperature is critical to steak-searing perfection, other tools you might want are both related to temperature.
Instant-Read Thermometer: One other essential tool for searing is an instant-read thermometer. Seriously, this little tool is going to up your steak searing game into the realm of professional chef! An instant-read thermometer is a shortcut to perfection.
This is true for many other applications in your kitchen, too: baking, grilling, even making a better cup of tea. An instant read thermometer takes all the guesswork out of cooking and baking. It is a must-have for any cook.
Our favorite instant-read thermometer is the Thermapen. They’re not cheap, but they are super durable, with some models even being water proof.
If you can’t afford a Thermapen, there are many less expensive options on Amazon.
Infrared Thermometer: Another great tool, though not as crucial, is an infrared thermometer. You use this to test the heat of your pan. It is also a versatile kitchen tool which you can use for deep frying oil, testing tea kettles, and a thousand other applications.
What To Serve With Steak:
- Potato Gratin This is a classic side for steak and its really hearty
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes Potatoes are the perfect pairing for steak, and these have a nice crispiness
- Steak Fries These are really easy to make and cook in the oven, and have a nice heft to them
- Roasted Parsnips A vegetable side that has a really nice flavor with the steak
- Maple Glazed Carrots So classic with steak, and has a lovely sweetness
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts A healthy side option
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The Best Skillets For Steak
To cook the perfect steak, you need to have a certain degree of knowledge in the field and the right tools.
Sometimes, the weather does not cooperate with our personal desires and the grill is not an option. This is when we normally turn our attention to the alternative indoor method of using a trustworthy skillet.
So, which are the best skillets for steak? While cast iron skillets are generally accepted as the best type of pans for steak, carbon steel and stainless steel are high-quality alternatives. The best skillet should be well-constructed, but the best material is somewhat up to preference.
In this article, well look at each of the three best kinds of skillets, by material. Although cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel are all great, its worth looking at each side by side to find your personal favorite.
Well also share our top 5 picks for the best skillets, made with different materials, so you can make the perfect steak!