Pan Seared Steak

steak baste

Thank you Kim, for getting close enough to the ripping hot, popping oil to take this photo.

If you’re new to searing or would love a refresher, check out this post on the technique.

I grew up with an unspoken family tradition where every Saturday night (or sometimes Friday, but usually Saturday) in the spring and summer we would have a meal of salad, a baked potato, and a grilled steak. To this day, I can’t eat a steak without thinking about my parents hanging out back, with charcoal smoke rolling from the grill with NPR’s Back Porch music playing as they made dinner. I treasure that memory, and it’s one of the first memories that I realized I could recall through food.

However, since I have moved out on my own here in Raleigh I have never had access to a charcoal grill. I go home for such treats, but on my own, I sear mine in a cast iron skillet. In many ways I prefer it. Pan searing your food correctly can turn a raw piece of meat into a wildly flavorful treat, and finishing with a butter baste that’s been mingling with herbs and garlic elevates it further. You can do this with cheap cuts or expensive ones, but supermarket ribeyes or New York strips can be transformed into something really impressive here. Below is how I, and many other grill expatriates, do so.

Pan Seared Steak

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: ~10 minutes


  • Sirloin, ribeye or NY strip, about an inch thick*
  • ~1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • kosher salt

*If you are lucky enough to have a steak more than an inch thick, you will burn the outside before you cook it thoroughly. In this instance, we would use the reverse sear method. If your steak is thinner, then you need to cut back on the cook time.


  • Cast iron skillet
  • Spring tongs
  • cooling rack
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Your finest heat proof glove


  1. Remove steak from fridge about 20-30 minutes before cooking time, rubbing each side with about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and pepper to preference.
  2. Place cast iron skillet on stove top at medium-high heat for 3 minutes, until evenly heated.
  3. Add olive oil to pan, roll pan to coat. Then place steak in skillet (away from you, please). Turn your vent fan on if you haven’t yet. DO NOT DISTURB STEAK FOR 2.5 minutes. Flip, THEN DO NOT DISTURB STEAK for another 2.5 minutes. Seriously, don’t disturb it. Let Maillard take the wheel.
  4. Remove skillet from heat with a gloved hand. Add your butter, garlic and rosemary. Tilt the pan (gloved hand still) to pool the butter with garlic and rosemary, and spoon the mixture over the top of the steak repeated for another minute. If an inch thick, your steak should be close to medium-rare, but still use your thermometer to check.
  5. Remove steak from skillet and place on a cooling rack and cover with foil. Rest for 10 minutes then serve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s