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Is Cast Iron Best for Steak?

Apr. 15, 2021

You don't have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy a tender, juicy steak. Our tried-and-tested method makes cooking a skillet steak at home easy.

Few meals are more iconic than a hearty cast-iron steak dinner. When paired with mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus and a wedge salad, steak is the perfect way to indulge. While you can always visit the best steakhouse in your state, it’s pretty simple and satisfying to make steak at home.

We came up with this simple steak recipe that’s so easy, you could make it any day of the week. Our method involves just three things: salt, a fresh steak and a cast iron skillet. Master cast iron cooking with our guide.

The Best Cast Iron Steak Recipe


1 tablespoon salt, divided

1 beef New York strip or ribeye steak (1 pound), 1-inch thick


Step 1: Season Steak

When making steak, you want to make sure it’s well-seasoned. You don’t need a lot of fancy flavors to make the meat taste amazing. In fact, we opt only for salt. Salt with a smaller grain, such as table salt, breaks down faster and can give your steak a briny flavor.

To season, start by removing the steak from the refrigerator and generously sprinkle two teaspoons of salt on all sides of the filet. Let it stand for 45-60 minutes. This resting period gives the meat time to come up to room temperature, which helps the steak cook more evenly. It also gives the meat time to absorb some of the salt.

Feeling fancy? Try one of these steak rubs and marinades.

Cast Iron Skillet

Step 2: Heat Skillet and Prep Steak

The other key to a delicious steak is heat. And since that signature sear comes from a sizzling hot pan, a cast-iron skillet is the way to go. This hearty pan gets extremely hot and also retains heat for a long time, making it the perfect vessel for steak. You’ll want to preheat your pan over high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until very hot. Then, pat your steak dry with paper towels and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the skillet. Now you’re ready to sear!

Step 3: Sear Steak

Place the steak into the steak frying pan and cook until it’s easily moved. This takes between one and two minutes. Carefully flip the steak, placing it in a different section of the skillet. Cook for 30 seconds, and then begin moving the steak around, occasionally pressing slightly to ensure even contact with the skillet. Moving the steak around the pan helps it cook faster and more evenly.

Editor’s Tip: This step will produce a lot of smoke, so make sure you’re cooking in a well-ventilated space. It’s also a good idea to turn your kitchen vent or fan on.

Step 4: Cook as Desired

Continue turning and flipping the steak until it’s cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting in.

How long does it take to cook steak on cast iron?

In total, the steak should be in the pan for less than 5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Prepping the meat and pan takes a little effort, but the cooking time is short and sweet since you’re using such an extreme temperature.

Once you’ve mastered steak, try these other cast-iron skillet recipes.

How do you cook a medium-rare steak in a cast-iron skillet?

When cooking steak to your desired doneness, a meat thermometer is your best friend. (Here’s our Test Kitchen’s favourite.) A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat should read:


Medium: 140º

Medium-well: 145º

Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook a little bit after it’s been removed from the pan, so aim for a few degrees shy of your desired temperature.



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