Perfect Pan-Seared Steaks Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Perfect Pan-Seared Steaks Recipe

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Want perfect pan-seared steaks? This recipe will get you there. It starts with pre-salting the beef, which ensures perfectly seasoned meat all over. Then you sear the steaks in hot oil, flipping them over and over for maximum browning without too much overcooking under the surface. They're finished with a bath in melted butter for even more silky, rich, and delicious meat. This recipe works for rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone, tenderloin, or strip steak.

Why It Works

  • Pre-salting the meat seasons it fully and gives it enough time for any juices drawn out by the salt to be re-absorbed, guaranteeing better browning later.
  • Flipping the steaks back and forth as they cook maximizes browning while minimizing an overcooked layer under the surface.
  • A final bath in melted butter takes these steaks over the top in flavor and texture.
  • Yield:Serves at least 2
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in ribeye steaks, at least 1 1/2 inches thick, about 1 pound (450g) each (see note)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) butter
  • A few thyme sprigs and sliced shallots (optional)

Directions

  1. 1.

    Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 40 minutes and up to 2 hours. Alternatively, place on a plate or on a rack over a baking sheet in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator at least 40 minutes before cooking.

  2. 2.

    Heat oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat until heavily smoking. Season steaks with pepper, add to pan, and cook, flipping frequently with tongs or cooking fork until internal temperature has reached 110°F (43°C) for rare or 130°F (54°C) for medium (steak will continue to cook for a bit afterward), 6 to 12 minutes depending on thickness. Add butter and optional aromatics to pan and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from pan and tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.