Pan Seared Cowboy Steak

PREP TIMEREST TIMECOOK TIMETOTAL TIME
5 mins45 mins to 24 h10 mins1 to 24 hours

This is a really easy recipe for pan-seared cowboy steak. The steak turns out tender and juicy with a nice crispy crust. The butter, garlic, and herbs add to the flavor. Just a heads up, though – this recipe works best for a cowboy steak that’s at least 1.5 inches thick.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

To prepare a cowboy steak in a skillet on the stovetop, you’ll need:

  • Cowboy steak (at least 1.5 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 thyme or rosemary springs

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer

How to Cook Cowboy Steak on a Stove

First, let’s gather all your ingredients together, then dive into the steps below. It’s more than just a simple recipe; it’s a collection of handy tips to help you cook the perfect cowboy steak on a stove.

all ingredients for pan seared cowboy steak
Ingredients: Black pepper, garlic, salt, butter, avocado oil, rosemary, and cowboy steak

Step 1: Prepare the Cowboy Steak

First, grab a paper towel and pat the cowboy steak dry. Now, you have two options for salting it:

  • Option 1: Salt both sides of the steak, then place it on a rack with space around it for air to circulate. Stick it in the fridge and leave it overnight. Yes, it takes a while, but it’s worth it. Remove the steak from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking. Overall, the steak is drier on the surface and tastier when you cook it the next day. I always do this when I’m searing a steak on the stove.
  • Option 2: If you can’t wait until tomorrow, no worries. Just salt the steak, let it rest for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, then pat it dry again. It won’t be as perfect as the overnight method, but it will still add extra flavor to your steak.

Each method of salting a steak has pros and cons, which you’ll understand better once you learn how salt interacts with steak. The outside of the steak needs to be dry because any moisture ruins a good crust. Here’s what happens with salting: right after you sprinkle the salt, it draws out moisture, making the steak surface wet. But if you’re patient and let the steak sit for a bit, it’ll reabsorb those juices again, and the surface will end up super dry. This takes some time, so leaving your steak in the fridge overnight is your best bet.

Therefore, when it comes to choosing a salting method for a cowboy steak, it all depends on what you want to achieve and how much time you have. If you’re not in a hurry, option #1 is your best bet. You won’t regret it.

raw cowboy steak
Cowboy steak, 24 hours after salting

Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet

Place your cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and let it heat for 2-3 minutes. Next, add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil to the skillet and wait another minute. Your pan should reach a minimum of 400°F within those 3-4 minutes, but it will likely be closer to 450°F. This temperature is perfect for searing a steak.

Meanwhile, prepare your cowboy steak. Sprinkle finely ground black pepper on both sides. Then, immediately place the steak in the hot skillet.

Cast iron skillet heated to 446 degrees F
Cast iron skillet heated to 446°F
Cowboy steak seasoned with ground black pepper
Cowboy steak seasoned with ground black pepper

Step 3: Place the Cowboy Steak in the Skillet

Make sure your skillet is super hot before you start. Now, take your seasoned cowboy steak and place it in the skillet. Give it a gentle press with your hand – just enough to ensure it’s making good contact with the pan. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 90°F, flipping every 30 seconds for an even cook on both sides.

When checking the steak’s temperature, insert your instant-read thermometer probe right into the middle, not just at the edges, to get an accurate internal temperature reading. Once the steak hits 90°F, add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and butter, and wait for the butter to melt. In the meantime, sear the edges of the steak.

Step 4: Baste the Cowboy Steak with Butter

Once the butter has melted, reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Tilt the cast iron skillet so the butter gathers near the bottom edge. Grab a spoon, and let’s start basting. Gently spoon the butter over the steak in a kind of rhythmic dance. Keep this up for about 30 seconds, flip the steak, and do the same on the other side. Don’t like basting? Let the butter pool in one spot, put the steak in, and flip it every 30 seconds. You’ll get the same tasty results.

Meanwhile, monitor the steak’s internal temperature. Remove it from the pan when it’s 15-20°F below your preferred doneness. For example, for medium-rare doneness with a target temperature of 130-135°F, remove the steak at about 110-115°F. The FAQ section below provides more details on this step. If you like your steak more on the well-done side, keep cooking and basting until it hits your perfect temp.

Don’t forget to turn the burner after removing the steak from the pan.

baste the cowboy steak with the melted butter
Baste the cowboy steak with the melted butter
Cowby steak internal temperature 117 F
Cowboy steak internal temperature: 117.5°F

Step 5: Let the Pan-Seared Cowboy Steak Rest

Do not cut into the steak right after removing it from the pan! Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Because of carryover cooking, the steak will keep cooking even after it’s off the heat, bumping its internal temperature by 15-20°F.

After waiting a few minutes, slice the steak. You can cut it however you like since it will be exceptionally tender. Finally, pour the leftover butter over the steak and add seared garlic, rosemary, or thyme for garnish.

Cooked cowboy steak
Cooked cowboy steak
pan-seared cowboy steak; medium-rare doneness
Pan-seared cowboy steak; medium-rare doneness
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baste the cowboy steak with the melted butter

Pan-Seared Cowboy Steak

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  • Author: Adam Wojtow
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Rest Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This recipe’s a real winner for a pan-seared cowboy steak. It turns out tender and juicy with a nice crispy crust. The butter, garlic, and herbs add a fantastic flavor.


Ingredients

  • Cowboy steak (at least 1.5 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter
  • 23 garlic cloves
  • 2 thyme or rosemary springs

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Steak: Pat the cowboy steak dry with a paper towel. For salting, you have two options:

    Option 1: Salt the steak on both sides and place it on a rack in the fridge overnight. The next day, remove it at least 30 minutes before cooking. Overall, the steak is drier on the surface and tastier when you cook it the next day. I always do this when I’m searing a steak on the stove. 

    Option 2: Salt the steak, let it rest at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, then pat it dry again. This method will not be as perfect as the overnight method, but it will still add extra flavor to your steak.

  2. Preheat the Skillet: Preheat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and heat for another minute until the pan reaches 400-450°F, ideal for searing steak. Sprinkle finely ground black pepper on both sides of the cowboy steak, then place it in the hot skillet.
  3. Sear the Cowboy Steak: Place the seasoned cowboy steak in the skillet and press gently. Cook, flipping every 30 seconds, until it reaches 90°F internally. Check the temperature in the middle with an instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches 90°F, add garlic, rosemary, thyme, and butter, and let the butter melt. Sear the edges of the steak while the butter melts.
  4. Baste the Steak: Once the butter has melted, reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Tilt the skillet to gather the butter, and baste the steak for 30 seconds on each side. Alternatively, let the butter pool in one spot, put the steak in, and flip it every 30 seconds. You’ll get the same tasty results.

    Meanwhile, monitor the steak’s internal temperature. Remove the steak when it’s 15-20°F below your desired doneness. Don’t forget to turn off the burner after removing the steak.

  5. Rest the Cowboy Steak: Do not cut into the steak after removing it from the pan! Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Then, slice it however you like, pour the leftover butter over it, and add seared garlic, rosemary, or thyme for garnish.

FAQs

When’s the best time to remove a cowboy steak from the pan?

The best time to remove a cowboy steak from the pan is when its internal temperature is about 15-20°F below your target final temperature. This is due to carryover cooking, where the steak continues to cook even after it’s off the heat. For thick steaks like cowboy steaks, which are 1.5-2 inches thick or more, the temperature can rise by 15-20°F or even 25°F.

For example, I took my steak out at 117.5°F. After resting for 7 minutes, its temperature increased by 17°F, reaching 134.4°F. This shows why removing the steak earlier when pan-searing is important, especially if it’s around 1.75 inches thick.

Cowboy steak internal temperature: 134.4°F
Cowboy steak internal temperature: 134.4°F

What is the best doneness for a pan-seared cowboy steak?

The best doneness for a pan-seared cowboy steak is medium-rare (130°F-140°F). The fat starts to melt at this temperature, making the steak more juicy and flavorful. Of course, this is just my opinion based on experience; you can cook it to whatever doneness you prefer.

More Pan-Seared Steak Recipes To Try

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over five years and knows a lot about them, including the different types of steak cuts, how long to cook them, and the best ways to cook any steak.

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