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    How to Sear a Steak

    Published May 10, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Learn the intricacies for making the perfect seared steak that is extremely flavorful, tender, and juicy every single time you make it.

    We don’t eat beef that often these days, but occasionally we do have a craving for some.  If you are looking to try out some new beef recipes because you don’t eat that much either then try my Braciole or Kofta recipe. 

    cutting board of seared steak and sliced steak

    Searing Steak

    Searing steak can often be intimidating but once you learn the basic technique of doing it, you won’t believe how easy it is to do.  Searing is to brown meat quickly by subjecting it to very high heat in a skillet, or under a broiler.  The reason for doing this is to seal in the meat’s juices by creating a caramelized outside crust.  You can also partially achieve a sear on the grill by cooking on hot grill grates.

    Cuts of Meat to Use

    Searing doesn’t only apply to beef, as you can pan-sear fish, chicken, pork, or any other protein as well.  It is a very similar process for how to sauté.  However, since we are focused on beef in this article, here are the best cuts to use:

    • NY Strip
    • Sirloin
    • Ribeye
    • Flank
    • Skirt
    • Hanger
    • Chopped

    Internal Temperatures

    When learning how to sear a steak to your desired internal temperature I recommend using a quick temperature thermometer.  I love the thermoworks thermometer (this is an affiliate link that allows me to make a few bucks on each sale).

    Here are basic temperatures for different degrees of doneness:

    120°f to 125°f <-> Rare

    125°f to 130°f <-> Medium-Rare

    135°f to 140°f <-> Medium

    145°f to 150°f <-> Medium-Well

    155°f + <-> Well

    Remember you always have to account for carry-over cooking and resting which will continue to cook the steak. 

    Resting Meat

    Resting is the process of removing your cooking protein from the pan it was cooked in and setting it on a cutting board or plate to rest for a period of time before serving.  This process allows the juices from the meat to soak back into the steak making it juicy and tender and should be done for every piece of protein cooked.  I was always advised that meat should never smoke when cutting into it.

    Do I Add Herbs to The Pan When Cooking It?

    In the past 5-10 years you may have noticed that chefs add herbs and other ingredients to a pan while searing a steak.  What this does is enhance the flavors of the steak with these outside ingredients and can vastly improve the flavor.  Here are some items you can add:

    • Garlic Cloves
    • Peeled Shallots
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Oregano
    • Butter

    How to Sear a Steak

    Follow along with these simple instructions for searing the perfect steak:

    Season your piece of meat generously with salt and pepper.

    Seasoning steak with salt and pepper

    Next, add some cooking oil to a large frying pan over high heat until it begins to lightly smoke.

    pan of smoking oil

    Place the steak into the center of the pan and immediately turn the heat down to medium-high.

    adding seasoned steak to a hot pan

    Add in some garlic cloves, fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, and unsalted butter.

    pan with steak, garlic, and fresh thyme

    Cook the steak for 45 seconds before moving it all around the pan to ensure it becomes browned on every square millimeter of the steak. 

    moving a steak around in a hot pan

    After a total of 2-3 minutes of cooking, flip the steak over and repeat the process.  I like to add the herbs and garlic on top of the steak while moving it around in the pan.

    pan roasted strip steak

    Remove the steak after 2-3 minutes of cooking on the other side and set it on a cutting board or plate for 3-4 minutes before serving.

    resting cooked meat on a plate

    How Long do I Cook It?

    The process of knowing exactly how long a steak should be cooked to achieve the perfect desired internal temperature is a little bit subjective.  Here are the main things to consider for timing:

    • How big is the steak – the size will completely determine how long to cook it for.
    • What cut of steak is it – more tender steaks tend to cook faster, like a filet mignon vs a New York strip.
    • How big is your burner – you can have a pan on high heat on a smaller burner compared to a larger one, but it still won’t quite get to the temperature you need to sear.
    • What kind of oil to use – oils with lower smoking points like olive oil can help brown quicker, but requires more practice and control so you don’t burn the steak

    So, in the end, there is no perfect scenario, however, my two cents is for you to achieve a medium-rare internal temperature every time do these things:

    Cooking a 12-ounce New York strip steak using the cooking method above, 2-3 minutes per side on a larger size burner using a high smoking point oil and resting for 3-4 minutes will get you to a medium-rare internal temperature every time.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: Seared steak is meant to be eaten as soon as it is done cooking.

    How to Reheat: This recipe does not reheat well, but if you do need to reheat it, then re-sear it in a hot pan with lightly smoked oil until warmed.

    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.  This recipe will not freeze well.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    chef notes + tips

    • Some oils I prefer to cook with are olive, safflower, or canola.  Do not be limited by these and please cook with your desired oil.
    • I like to add the herbs and garlic on top of the steak while moving it around in the pan.
    • If you feel like you may have cooked it a bit too long, set it upright when resting it to help heat escape more quickly
    seared steak on a cutting board

    More Steak Recipes

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    How to Sear a Steak

    Learn the intricacies for making the perfect seared steak that is extremely flavorful, tender, and juicy every single time you make it.
    Servings: 1
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 6 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 12- ounce New York Strip Steak
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 5 garlic cloves
    • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Season the steak generously with salt and pepper.
    • Add the oil to a large frying pan over high heat and heat up until it begins to lightly smoke.
    • Place in the steaks, turn the heat down to medium-high, and add in the butter, garlic, and thyme.
    • After 45 seconds begin to move the steak around the pan cook for a total of 2-3 minutes before flipping the steak and repeating the process.
    • Remove the steaks and let rest on a plate.

    Notes

    Chef Notes:
    Make-Ahead: Seared steak is meant to be eaten as soon as it is done cooking.
    How to Reheat: This recipe does not reheat well, but if you do need to reheat it, then re-sear it in a hot pan with lightly smoked oil until warmed.
    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. This recipe will not freeze well.
    Some oils I prefer to cook with are olive, safflower, or canola. Do not be limited by these and please cook with your desired oil.
    I like to add the herbs and garlic on top of the steak while moving it around in the pan.
    If you feel like you may have cooked it a bit too long, set it upright when resting it to help heat escape more quickly

    Nutrition

    Calories: 843kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 71gFat: 58gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 280mgSodium: 180mgPotassium: 1144mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 231IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 118mgIron: 6mg
    Course: Main
    Cuisine: American, French