Pan Seared Hanger Steak

If you cook hanger steak right and cut it the right way too, it’s amazing. It’s super tender and has this strong, beefy flavor that’s hard to beat. Let me walk you through this pan-seared hanger steak recipe. It’s pretty simple: just garlic, butter, pepper, salt, and thyme or rosemary, but it brings out the hanger steak’s flavors. Stick around, and I’ll show you how to make it and share some tips to ensure it turns out awesome.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

To prepare a flavorful, tender, and very juicy hanger steak on your stovetop, you’ll need:

  • Hanger Steak (In this recipe, I start with a whole hanger steak, which, after trimming, yields two separate hanger steaks)
  • High-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Unsalted butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh Thyme or Rosemary

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer

How to Cook Hanger Steak on a Stove

Below is the recipe and a step-by-step guide on how to cook a hanger steak in a skillet. I’ll also explain why this method works so well. The main thing I’m aiming for? To get that perfect crust and nail the medium-rare doneness. Make sure to check out my tips along the way; they’re what make this recipe a standout.

Note: I used a 2-pound piece of meat in this recipe, which I cut into two hanger steaks. Please remember that these steaks vary in thickness and size.

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

Step 1: Prepare the Hanger Steak

Alright, let’s get this hanger steak ready. First up, trim it into two pieces. Just slice out that long, tough sinew in the middle. Once you’ve got your two pieces, dry them off as best as possible. Now, let’s talk about salting. When’s the best time? Well, it’s kind of up to you, but here are some ideas:

  • Option 1: My favorite option. Sprinkle a good amount of salt on all sides of the hanger steak, and then pop it on a wire rack in the fridge overnight. This way, the salt works its magic. Don’t forget to let it sit out for about 30 minutes before you cook it the next day. 
  • Option 2: If you’re not in the mood to wait all night, just salt it, set it on the wire rack, and leave it be for about 45-60 minutes before you cook. This can be on your kitchen counter or in the fridge.
  • Option 3: You’re short on time? It happens to the best of us. If so, skip the pre-salting now and move to the next step.

Here’s the thing about salting hanger steak: right after you salt it, the surface gets moist in 2-3 minutes. But give it an hour, and the meat will reabsorb most moisture. This means that trying to sear the steak anytime between 2-3 minutes and an hour after salting isn’t the best idea. You can’t get that perfect crust if the steak’s surface is wet. It needs to dry out first. What I like to do is salt the steak the day before I plan to cook it. Just leave it in the fridge overnight. Trust me, when you take it out the next day, you’ll notice how dry it is on top – that’s perfect for searing. Plus, the flavor gets so much better overnight.

salt seasoned hanger steak
Hanger steak, 24 hours after salting

If your hanger steak is ready to hit the pan, proceed to the next step. My tip? Go for a thicker hanger steak if you’re searing. And try to stick to cooking one piece at a time. It gets tricky when you cook two different cuts together because they usually vary a lot in thickness.

Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet

Preheat your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then, add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and give it a minute to heat up. By this time, your pan should be between 400 and 475°F, perfect for searing a hanger steak.

While the pan’s heating, season your hanger steak with some finely ground black pepper on all sides. If you haven’t already salted the steak, the perfect time to do it is just a few seconds before it hits the pan – ideally, when your skillet’s been on the heat for 3-4 minutes. This way, you won’t have the steak getting all moist on the surface from the salt.

Cast iron skillet heated to 473 degrees F.
Cast iron skillet heated to 473 degrees F.

Step 3: Place the Hanger Steak in The Skillet

Place the seasoned hanger steak into a super hot skillet. Keep flipping it every 30 to 60 seconds. Once the thermometer hits 100°F, it’s time to turn the heat down to medium-low, and voila, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Note: Don’t worry about flipping the steak too much. If it’s your first time cooking steak, it’s better to flip it more often. This way, the steak cooks more evenly, plus you get to keep a close eye on that lovely crust forming.

Step 4: Baste Hanger Steak with Butter

Add the butter, garlic cloves, and a bit of thyme or rosemary. Now, just wait a second for the butter to melt. This is a great time to sear the sides of your hanger steak quickly.

Hanger steak seared in a cast iron skillet with butter, rosemary, and garlic.
Hanger steak seared in a cast iron skillet with butter, rosemary, and garlic.

Is butter all melted? Cool. Tilt your pan so all that good stuff gathers on one side. Grab a spoon and start basting that melted butter over the hanger steak. Keep this up for about 30-45 seconds on each side. You’ll want to do this until your instant-read thermometer shows about 15-20°F below your target temperature. Once you hit that, immediately take the hanger steak from the pan.

For example, if your target temperature is 135°F, remove the hanger steak when it reaches between 115-120°F. Why do it this way? Check out the FAQ section below – it’s got all the answers.

Step 5: Let the Pan-Seared Hanger Steak Rest

The only thing left is to let the hanger steak rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Trust me, don’t skip this part. It’s as crucial as everything else we’ve done. Letting the hanger steak rest means it won’t lose as much juice when you cut into it. You’ll lose those tasty juices if you slice it right off the bat.

Cooked hanger steaks
Cooked hanger steaks

Slicing time. Here’s a super important tip: always slice the hanger steak against the grain for the most tenderness. Hanger steak, just like flank or skirt steak, has these long fibers. Cut along them, and you’ll end up with a chewy bite.

pan-seared hanger steak; medium-rare doneness
Pan-seared hanger steak; medium-rare doneness

Do you still remember the butter, garlic, and herbs left in the pan? Now’s the perfect moment to bring them back into play. Serve them up with your beautifully sliced hanger steak. A quick tip: give that butter a quick warm-up before you pour it on. Trust me, it makes a difference.

FAQs

When’s the best time to take a hanger steak off the pan? 

When cooking a steak from scratch in the pan, it’s smart to take the hanger steak off about 15-20°F before it hits your ideal temperature. Don’t worry. Give it 5-10 minutes to rest, and it will hit the perfect temperature thanks to carryover cooking. Many folks forget this trick, and that’s exactly why a pan steak often ends up overcooked.

Some say you should take the steak off just 5-10°F below the target. But from what I’ve seen, that’s not quite right. The steak’s internal temperature usually jumps by about 15-20°F after taking it off the heat. So, keeping this in mind is key to not overcooking your steak.

What is the ideal doneness for a hanger steak?

Medium-rare doneness is the way to go for hanger steak. It’s juicy, tender, and packed with flavor. But cooking it more than medium? I wouldn’t recommend it – it gets too tough and chewy. Of course, it’s all about what you like. Your steak, your rules. So, no hard feelings if medium-rare isn’t your thing.

Hanger steak cooked to medium-rare
Hanger steak cooked to medium-rare
Hanger steak seared in a cast iron skillet with butter, rosemary, and garlic.

Pan-Seared Hanger Steak

Adam Wojtow
Experience the rich, beefy flavors of a perfectly cooked hanger steak with this simple pan-seared recipe. Follow these straightforward instructions to achieve a tender, juicy steak with a great crust every time.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • hanger steak
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper finely ground
  • butter unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil I recommend refined avocado oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • thyme or rosemary fresh

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the Hanger Steak:
    Trim and split the hanger steak into two pieces, then dry the steaks thoroughly.
    Salt Options:
    Option 1: Salt generously and refrigerate on a wire rack overnight, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
    Option 2: Salt and leave on a wire rack for 45-60 minutes at room temperature or in the fridge.
    Option 3: If short on time, skip pre-salting and move to the next step.
  • Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet:
    Heat the skillet over medium-high for 2-3 minutes, then add a tablespoon of avocado oil and wait a minute. In the meantime, season steak with black pepper (and salt if not done previously).
  • Sear the Hanger Steak:
    Place steak in the hot skillet. Flip every 30-60 seconds until internal temperature reaches 100°F, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Baste with Butter:
    Add butter, garlic, and herbs to the skillet. Once melted, tilt the pan and baste the steak with melted butter on each side for 30-45 seconds. Continue until the internal temperature is 15-20°F below your target (e.g., remove at 115-120°F for a 130-135°F target).
  • Rest the Hanger Steak:
    Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Then, slice the hanger steak against the grain for maximum tenderness. Serve with the pan drippings (re-warmed butter, garlic, and herbs).

Notes

  • Salting: Salt the day before cooking for best results.
  • Flipping: Frequent flipping ensures even cooking.
  • Resting: Rest the steak to retain juices.
  • Slicing: Always slice against the grain.
  • Doneness: Ideal at medium-rare; avoid cooking beyond medium.

More Pan-Seared Steak Recipes To Try

Photo of author

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 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.