Pan Seared Strip Steak

Preparing the perfect strip steak at home requires careful preparation, but it is not as difficult as it might seem. My 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 (I recommend avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Unsalted butter
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh Thyme or Rosemary

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • 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 1.75-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, I’m keeping it simple with salt, garlic powder, and pepper to highlight the attributes of the New York strip steak. Toward the end of cooking, I add butter, garlic, and herbs to enrich the steak’s flavor and achieve a beautiful, crispy golden-brown crust.

strip steak with thyme, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, butter, two garlic cloves, and avocado oil
All ingredients for pan-seared strip steak

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.

15 minutes after salting the steak
15 minutes after salting the steak, its surface becomes firmly moist – the worst time to sear the steak.
15-20 minutes after salting
As the salt works its magic, the meat starts to release moisture through a process called osmosis.
Strip steak rests on a wooden board after spending 24 hours in the refrigerator, following the salting process
The surface of the salted steak, after 24 hours in the refrigerator – is extremely dry.

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 my 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 425°F; therefore, not all oils are suitable for this task. I recommend refined avocado oil, which has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor.

Cast-iron skillet with an infrared thermometer displaying 460°F.
Cast iron skillet heated to 460°F.

So, preheat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. After 2-3 minutes, add the oil and wait for it to begin to smoke. In this instance, my pan reached the desired temperature after approximately 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, just before you start searing, season the steak with pepper and garlic powder.

Strip steak seasoned with garlic powder and black pepper
Strip steak seasoned with garlic powder and black pepper

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 100°F. Once the steak reaches the desired temperature, reduce the heat to low and move to the next step.

strip steak seared on cast iron skillet
Start by searing the steak, starting from the side with a layer of fat.

It took me approximately 4-5 minutes to bring the steak’s internal temperature to 100°F. It’s important to note that the steak I used for this recipe was a 1.75-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.

I highly recommend investing in an instant-read thermometer for the most accurate results. While it isn’t a major expense, in my 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.

steak with butter, thyme, and garlic in skillet
Steak with butter, thyme, and garlic in skillet

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.

butter-basted steak
Baste the steak with the melted butter

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. I 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 about 115-120°F for strip steaks thinner than 1.5 inches. For those around 2 inches thick, aim for 110-115°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.

Internal Steak Temperature 129.4°F
Internal Steak Temperature 129.4°F

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.

pan-seared strip steak; medium-rare doneness
Sliced medium-rare strip steak with thyme, garlic, and butter

FAQs

How long does it take to sear strip steak on the stove?

In my case, searing a 1.75-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, I 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 my 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, I lean towards the pan-seared strip steak due to its amazing crust and rich buttery flavor.

pane seared strip steak

Pan-Seared Strip Steak

Adam Wojtow
An easy-to-make pan-seared strip steak recipe with a rich flavor, enhanced by thyme and butter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 16 oz Steak

Ingredients
  

  • 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 I recommend refined avocado oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • thyme or rosemary fresh

Instructions
 

  • 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 3-4 minutes. Then add refined avocado oil and wait another 1 minute.
  • 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 100°F (approx. 4-5 minutes in my 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 115-120°F for strip steaks thinner than 1.5 inches. For those around 2 inches thick, aim for 110-115°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.

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.