Preparing the perfect strip steak at home requires careful preparation, but it is not as difficult as it might seem. Our recipe for pan-seared strip steak isn’t merely a brief set of instructions; it is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide that explains what to do and why, ensuring you make the perfect steak every time.
Read on to learn how to transform a strip steak into a culinary masterpiece while mastering a few general rules for cooking any steak.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
To prepare a tender, juicy, and butter-infused strip steak on your stovetop, you’ll need:
- A 1.5 to 2 inches thick strip steak, also known as the New York Strip
- High-smoke point oil (We recommend avocado oil)
- Kosher salt
- Ground pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh Thyme or Rosemary
The Tools You’ll Need
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Instant Read Thermometer
How to Cook Strip Steak on a Stove
Here is a detailed, step-by-step guide, complete with explanations and photos, on how to cook a strip steak in a skillet.
Note: This recipe uses a 1.8-inch thick strip steak. If you find the steak too large to consume alone, feel free to share it with someone else. When it comes to seasoning, we’re keeping it simple with salt, garlic powder, and pepper to highlight the attributes of the New York strip steak. Toward the end of cooking, we add butter, garlic, and herbs to enrich the steak’s flavor and achieve a beautiful, crispy golden-brown crust.
Step 1: Prepare the Strip Steak
To achieve the perfect balance between a medium interior and a crispy crust, your steak should be 1.5 to 2 inches thick. This is particularly important when pan-searing at high temperatures.
When it comes to seasoning – or, more precisely, salting – the timing depends on your specific plans for the steak. Shortly after you salt the steak, the salt extracts moisture, which becomes visible on the meat’s surface. After some time, the meat reabsorbs this moisture, almost disappearing from its surface after approximately 40-45 minutes.
The key takeaway is this: Salt your steak for at least 45 minutes before cooking for optimal results. To intensify the flavor, leave it uncovered on a rack in the refrigerator overnight. However, if you’re in a rush to cook the steak, it’s best to salt it immediately before cooking.
Creating the perfect steak crust relies heavily on a dry steak surface. That’s what makes these tips so crucial.
Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet
The next important step involves selecting the proper pan and heating it to the optimal temperature. A cast iron skillet is our preferred choice, lauded for its superior heat retention, which ensures the steak cooks evenly. For high-temperature cooking, choose an oil with a high smoke point. The pan must reach a minimum of 450°F; therefore, not all oils are suitable for this task. We recommend refined avocado oil, which has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor.
So, preheat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. After 1-2 minutes, add the oil and wait for it to begin to smoke. In this instance, our pan reached the desired temperature after approximately 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, just before you start searing, season the steak with pepper and garlic powder.
Step 3: Place the Strip Steak in the Skillet
Place the steak in the hot pan and cook it, flipping every minute, until it becomes a rich brown color or until an instant-read thermometer displays a temperature of 110°F. Once the steak reaches the desired temperature, reduce the heat to low and move to the next step.
It took us approximately 5 minutes to bring the steak’s internal temperature to 110°F. It’s important to note that the steak we used for this recipe was a 1.8-inch thick strip steak. The cooking time can vary based on several factors, including the thickness of your steak and the equipment you’re using, such as the stove, the power of the burners, and the type of pan. Therefore, please consider our cooking times rough estimates rather than precise measurements.
We highly recommend investing in an instant-read thermometer for the most accurate results. While it isn’t a major expense, in our opinion, it’s an essential tool for cooking steak.
Step 4: Baste Strip Steak with Butter
Add garlic, herbs, and butter to the pan, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow these ingredients to sauté gently until the butter melts, infusing the steak with its flavors.
Next, grab a spoon and gently tilt the skillet, beginning to baste the steak with the melted, aromatic butter. Continue this process for about a minute on each side while closely monitoring the steak’s internal temperature. The basting not only imparts the steak with beautiful color and a superior crust but also infuses it with the unique flavors of the herbs.
It’s essential to note that this cooking method results in carryover cooking. This means the steak’s internal temperature will continue to rise by a few degrees as it rests. We aim to achieve medium-rare doneness, approximately 130-135°F. So, to prevent overcooking, remove the steak from the pan when its internal temperature reaches roughly 120-125°F.
Step 5: Let the Strip Steak Rest
Let the cooked steak rest for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes. During this rest period, the temperature of the steak will subtly increase, and the muscle fibers will relax. If you slice the steak immediately after cooking, it may lose some of its juices, reducing both juiciness and flavor.
While you may have heard about cutting tough steaks against the grain, this principle doesn’t apply to strip steak. Steaks such as the Ribeye, T-bone, and New York Strip are all cut from the short loin and are already sliced against the grain by the butcher. Thus, you can cut a strip steak in whichever way you prefer.
How long does it take to sear strip steak on the stove?
In our case, searing a 1.8-inch thick strip steak takes about 7-8 minutes, reaching a temperature of around 129~°F. However, it’s essential to note that the cooking time may vary depending on several factors, such as the thickness of your steak and the equipment you’re using – including the stove, burner power, and pan type. As a result, the 7-8-minute estimate mentioned in the recipe should be considered a rough guide rather than an exact measurement.
To achieve the desired doneness, we highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer to monitor the steak’s internal temperature. This way, you can ensure a perfectly cooked strip steak every time.
Is strip steak better pan-seared or grilled?
In our opinion, the grilled strip steak is better, especially when using the reverse searing technique, due to its ease of preparation. However, both methods offer brilliant results. Nonetheless, we lean towards the pan-seared strip steak due to its amazing crust and rich buttery flavor.
Pan-Seared Strip Steak
- 1 boneless strip steak 1.5 to 2 inches thick
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- ½ stick butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil we recommend refined avocado oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- thyme or rosemary fresh
- Prepare the Strip Steak: Pat dry the steak with paper towels then season the generously with salt at least 45 minutes before cooking. For intensified flavor, leave the salted steak uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. If in a rush, salt the steak immediately before cooking.
- Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then add refined avocado oil and wait another 1-2 minutes.
- Sear the Strip Steak: Season the steak with pepper and garlic powder just before searing then place the seasoned steak in the hot skillet and cook, flipping every minute. Cook until the steak reaches an internal temperature of 110°F (approx. 5-6 minutes in our case). Adjust cooking time based on steak thickness and stove heat.
- Baste with Butter: Add garlic, herbs, and butter to the skillet, reducing heat to medium-low. Allow the butter to melt and infuse the steak's flavor. Tilt the skillet and baste the steak with the melted butter for about a minute on each side.
- Rest the Strip Steak: Remove the steak from the pan when its internal temperature reaches about 120-125°F. Then let the cooked steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the muscle fibers to relax.
- Serve: Slice the strip steak as desired and enjoy with your favorite sides.