WebstaurantStore / Food Service Resources / Kitchen & Cooking Tips / How to Cook Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet
How to Cook Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet

How to Cook Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet

Last updated on 2/16/2024

Cooking premier cuts of steak in a cast iron skillet offers several advantages. Cast iron distributes heat evenly across its surface and retains heat well, resulting in a uniformly cooked piece of meat. The intense heat it provides is needed for searing, helping to create a deliciously crisp crust while cooking the interior to perfection. Additionally, with cast iron skillets, you have the option to finish your steak in the oven. We'll cover everything you need to know about cooking steak in a cast iron skillet, from the optimal cooking times for steak and a step-by-step guide to searing to the best oil to use.

Shop All Cast Iron Skillets

Steak Cooking Time Chart

Whether you prefer your steak rare, well done, or somewhere in between, this chart will show you the optimal internal temperature and cooking time, resulting in a perfectly done steak.

Doneness Temp Turning Point 1/2" 3/4" 1" 1 1/4" 1 1/2" 1 3/4" 2"
Rare 125°F First Side 4 min 5 min 6 min 7 min 7 min 8 min 10 min
Second Side 3 min 4 min 5 min 5 min 6 min 7 min 8 min
Medium Rare 135°F First Side 5 min 6 min 7 min 8 min 8 min 9 min 11 min
Second Side 4 min 5 min 6 min 6 min 7 min 7 min 9 min
Medium / Medium Well 150°F First Side 6 min 7 min 8 min 8 min 9 min 9 min 12 min
Second Side 4 min 5 min 6 min 7 min 7 min 8 min 10 min
Well Done 160°F First Side 9 min 10 min 11 min 12 min 13 min 14 min 15 min
Second Side 7 min 8 min 9 min 10 min 11 min 12 min 13 min

How to Prepare Your Steak

First, add oil to your cast iron skillet and begin heating it on high until the oil shimmers and begins to smoke slightly. While your pan is heating up, pat the steak dry and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Make sure your pan is well-seasoned before use and allow it to fully heat up before adding your steak, as this is key to keeping the meat from sticking to the skillet.

Best Oil for Steak

When cooking steak in cast iron skillets, you want to use oils with a high smoke point like peanut, canola, grapeseed, and avocado oil. These oils all have smoke points over 400 degrees Fahrenheit that can withstand the high heat needed to cook steak.

Cooking Steak in Cast Iron

Once you've seasoned the meat and heated your pan, you are ready to place your steak into the cast iron skillet. Watch our video to learn how easy it is to cook steak in a cast iron skillet.

You can also follow our step-by-step instructions with pictures below to cook the perfect steak.

  • Placing a raw steak onto a cast iron skillet1.

    Pick the steak up by the bone or at the center to avoid tearing the meat and gently lower it into the pan.

  • flipping a steak in a cast iron skillet2.

    Flip your steak using tongs every few minutes. Make sure to also cook the sides. You can do this by pressing each of the steak's edges down against the skillet for a few seconds.

  • basting a steak with oil3.

    Use a spoon to baste your steak in the oil and its juices.

  • checking the temperature of a steak with a thermometer4.

    Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. This will help you cook your steak to the desired degree of doneness.

  • adding aromatics and butter to steak in a cast iron skillet5.

    Place aromatics and a tab of butter in your cast iron skillet. Spoon your aromatics and generous amounts of butter over the meat as it cooks.

  • cooked steak on a wooden cutting board6.

    Remove your steak from the pan and allow it to rest on a plate or cutting board for 10 minutes.

  • medium rare steak on a wooden cutting board7.

    If you need to cut the steak into smaller pieces, use a fork to hold it and a sharp chef's knife to slice from the meat's center out to its edges.

Cast Iron Skillet Steak FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how to cook steak in a cast iron skillet:

How Do I Avoid Hot Spots in My Cast Iron Skillet?

While it is commonly assumed that using cast iron cookware produces even heat and consistent cooking, this is not always the case. Be sure to always choose a skillet that is the same size as the burner you are using to cook the steak, as this helps eliminate hot spots.

How Hot Should My Cast Iron Skillet Be?

You don't need to worry about the specific temperature, but you do want your pan to be smoking hot, which is the point at which the oil begins to smoke. Depending on the thickness of your cast iron pan, this may take 5-8 minutes on high heat.

Should I Cook My Steak Covered or Uncovered?

We do not recommend covering steak while cooking it in a cast iron skillet as it will trap steam inside and prevent a crust from forming on your steak.

How Can I Prevent My Cast Iron Skillet from Smoking?

Some smoke is inevitable, but it shouldn't fill your kitchen. To reduce the amount of smoke, start with oil, rather than butter. We recommend around 1/2 cup for a 12-inch skillet. A few minutes before you finish cooking your steak, add butter and aromatics. Doing so will enhance the flavor and color of your steak without too much smoking and before the milk proteins in the butter begin to burn.

Should I See Fire?

You should never see fire when cooking in a cast iron skillet. If your pan catches fire, place salt or baking soda on the flames, remove your pan from the burner, and cover it with a lid.

Cooking steak in a cast iron skillet is ideal because it can help your steak develop a crispy and aromatic crust while the interior remains juicy and tender. Cook a perfect steak every time by following our simple steps and reading through our list of frequently asked questions.

Join Our Mailing List

Receive coupon codes and more right to your inbox.

Recipe converter
WebstaurantStore blog
Videos of demonstrations, how-tos and more