We all know that Steak cooked on the grill is amazing. But did you know that cooking steak with cast iron skillet can produce an amazing steak too? The beauty of cooking steak with your trusty cast iron skillet is that it produces a perfectly cooked steak with a nice crust on the outside, and the only thing needed is a cast iron skillet, an oven, and a good steak. 

Why Cast Iron? How is that different from a regular pan?

If you haven’t been cooking in cast iron, well, I’m glad you stumbled on this post because it’s one of the most versatile tools to have in your cooking arsenal, and much safer too.

If you’re still cooking on non stick cookware, it’s now time to take a closer look at what you are cooking on as modern non-stick pots and pans made with coatings like teflon release Perfluorinated (PFOAS) compounds that have been shown to leach into the food and air when heated causing a myriad of health effects including cancer.

PFOAs are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment and can accumulate in our bodies and have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease and development problems in children. Cast iron is a tried and true tested, safe cooking surface that will stand the test of time, and is often passed down for generations!

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

make sure the pan is greased with a bit of butter but wait to add more butter after you’ve seared a nice crust on both sides.

 

The benefits of Cooking In Cast Iron:

  • NON TOXIC
  • Naturally non stick
  • Long lasting
  • Can be used on the stove top, oven, grill or even a campfire
  • Retains heat extremely well

Cast Iron develops a seasoning over time from regular use and oiling of its surface that makes it naturally non-stick. You clean cast iron cookware with just water and a good scraper and then reapply some oil to keep it from rusting.

They can easily rust when exposed to water or air (why you should always add a bit of oil or butter after cleaning), but they can be re-seasoned and brought back to their original glory. If you need help seasoning or restoring your cast iron, check out our full guide on how to season and care for cast iron cookware here.

Many people find cast iron at flea markets and restore them to their original glory. They are a piece of history that you can cook on and pass down to your kids one day!

Tools Needed for Cooking Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet

Themapen: the Thermapen is the gold standard in instant read thermometers and what pretty much every chef in America uses. If you don’t have a meat thermometer yet, here is your official call to action as you need a meat thermometer to accurately identify when your meat is cooked to the right internal temperature.

OR, for the technical person that likes gadgets and wants to be guided through the cook:

Meater Bluetooth Enabled Meat Thermometer: this connects via an app and lets you know when you have reached the proper internal temperature of any meat. It also gives a ton of cooking guidance in the app including videos and tutorials helping you accurately cook any kind of protein. Perfect for long cooks like a roast. Also great so you don’t get distracted and accidentally overcook something!

guide to cooking steak with cast iron

You need a meat thermometer for cooking steak- PERIOD! One of my favorites is the thermapen.

The Thermapen is the gold standard in instant read thermometers and what pretty much every chef in America (and Globally) uses. If you don’t have a meat thermometer yet, here is your official call to action as you need a meat thermometer to accurately identify when your meat is cooked to the right internal temperature.

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

Cast iron scrapers are an easy way to assist in keeping your cast iron clean.

 

Where to Buy Steaks

As with all ingredients, go with the best quality you can find! I try to buy grassfed steaks when possible. Why? When you feed beef on grass in pasture, versus a conventional GMO corn and grain diet, you will get a healthy fat called CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which comes from the cows getting linoleic acid from the grass. CLA is a healthy fatty acid that you can only get from your diet that is known to have many benefits, including helping to improve your body’s metabolism, reducing inflammation, and promoting weight loss. Research has shown that CLA can also help to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, making it a must-have nutrient in your diet. 

When you buy steak, remember you are what you eat, so get beef that has not been feed antibiotics or hormones and go for the best quality you can find. I’m a fan of the grassfed Ribeye or New York Strips steaks at White Oak Pastures, a regenerative farm out of Georgia with the highest quality standards for the way they raise their cattle in the world of farming, even down to the way they handle cows during the processing phase. Use my code for $20 off your order of $150 of more.

For special occasions, I also like Snake River Farms. Their beef is not grassfed or regenerative farming, but I do like their Wagyu options with amazing marbling for special occasions. 

GRASSFED BEEF and sustainably raised protein: White Oak Pastures
WAGYU BEEF and KUROBUTA PORK (I use SRF for special occasions): Snake River Farms

 

cooking steak with cast iron

You are what you eat so make sure you are eating clean beef. High quality steaks and a good dash or fresh ground pepper and sea salt are all a good steak needs for seasoning.

 

Ingredients for cooking a steak with cast iron skillet

  • Salt: I like a nice kosher sea salt for steaks
  • Pepper: fresh ground!
  • Butter: for cooking the steak in, start off with a pat, and then add more butter after you’ve seared on both sides to make a nice pan butter sauce with the addition of garlic and herbs
  • Garlic: for adding to the pan butter
  • Sprig of Rosemary or thyme (optional but so good)- for adding to the pan butter

 

cooking steak with cast iron

Salt, pepper and a good herbed compound butter are my favorite ways to season steak.

 

Steak Variations for Cooking Steak in Cast Iron Skillet

I’m a tried and true ribeye girl, my husband likes New York Strips and heck, many people prefer a filet. If you are cooking a filet, keep in mind that it will be thicker so you will have a bit more time in the oven. It’s all about monitoring that internal temp with your meat thermometer or Meater Bluetooth enabled meat thermometer. Other cuts to try:

  • Hanger Steak Hanger steak, also known as butcher’s steak, is a highly flavorful and tender cut of beef that has gained popularity among foodies and chefs in recent years. While it was once a hidden gem in the meat case, this cut has now become a staple in many restaurant menus due to its rich taste and versatile nature. 
  • Picanha or Coulotte Steak Picanha, also known as coulotte steak or top sirloin cap, is a popular cut of beef that originates from Brazil. This flavorful cut is prized for its tender texture and rich beefy flavor, and is often cooked over high heat to develop a delicious crust on the outside while remaining juicy and succulent on the inside. Picanha is often cooked whole but is perfect for slicing and cooking in cast iron.
  • Denver Steaks – The Denver steak is a newer cut of beef that comes from the chuck primal, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite of steak lovers everywhere. It’s known for its marbling and tenderness, making it a great choice for grilling, searing, or roasting, and its affordability means you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a delicious and satisfying steak dinner. 

 

First, Preheat Your Oven

A key component of cooking steaks in cast iron is first searing in cast iron, and then transferring the steak in the pan into the oven to continue cooking until you’ve reached your desired doneness. Now, keep in mind that if you are cooking a thin steak you will never make it to this step. Thin steaks will just get a sear on each side and then be ready to rest under foil for 10 minutes before slicing into them. But for thicker steaks, the process will mimic how I grill them- hot and fast sear on the grill and finished on indirect until the steak has reached your desired internal temp.

Season Your Steaks

Take your steaks out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before cooking with them. Then, right before you put them on the cast iron, pat them dry and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Don’t do this too far ahead of time because the salt will draw the moisture out and you will not get that crust you are looking for.

The Sear 

The beauty of cooking anything in cast iron, not just steak, is that the surface of cast iron makes it easy to develop a nice crust as a result of the Maillard reaction.

This is why I use cast iron for making my skillet smashed sweet potato medallions, the cast iron helps the edges caramelize which makes for the perfectly sweet crunchy bite. The Same happens with steaks in cast iron.

First, you want to heat your cast iron on medium high heat for at least 5-7 minutes and get it nice and hot. Add a drop of water and if it sizzles, it is ready! Next, add a pat of butter (I recommend butter or ghee as my preferred fat for high heat cooking. Skip the yucky seed oils like canola or vegetable oil!) 

Note, what I’ve discovered over the years is that if you add TOO MUCH BUTTER (I know, is that even possible?) that you will not get a good crust because there is too much liquid in the pan. So, start with a pat of butter to get your char, and when you are finished getting that nice crust on both sides of your steak, you can then add an entire stick of butter which will then melt and combine with crusty bits in the pan and make for an awesome pan sauce. After competing on the Steak Cooks offs circuit where everyone finishes their steaks with butter, I’ve found that I cannot eat steak without large amounts of butter (or blue cheese) so this butter pan sauce is what I always make because steaks finished with large amounts of butter are what dreams are made of!

You can also add crushed garlic and rosemary sprigs to flavor the butter if you want to take this pan sauce butter to the next level!

After you’ve seasoned your steak generously on both sides, add it to the hot pan and let it sear for 2 minutes. Next, flip the steak over and let it sear for another two minutes or until a nice crust has formed. Now, you can add more butter! Now that the steak has developed its nice crust, you can now spoon the remaining herbed garlic butter over the steak while it sears and now transfer the pan to the oven.

Note, if this is a thinner steak, you might skip this step entirely! The oven part is completely contingent on the thickness of your steak. For super thin steaks, you will just sear on both sides and be done. The important thing is to NOT overcook your steak!

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

Thinner steaks won’t need anytime in the oven to finish cooking. Simply remove them from cast iron and let them rest under foil for 10 minutes so the juices have time to reabsorb.

 

Finish in the Oven (for thicker steaks)

Place the steak in the oven to continue cooking until its internal temperature has reached your desired doneness. You should be using an internal temp thermometer to reach your desired doneness and make sure to pull your steak out of the oven about 5 degrees less than your desired temp because it will continue to cook. To avoid overcooking I always remove from the pan and place on a cutting board and tent it under foil for 10 minutes so the juices have time to redistribute. Keep in mind that your cast iron is still hot when you take it out of the oven so if you keep the steak in the pan, it will continue to cook and you DON’T want that!

Internal Temps Guideline for Cooking Steak 

  • Rare: This is for folks who like their steak nice and pink in the middle. The internal temperature you’re looking for is around 125°F (51°C). You’ll want to take your steak off the heat when it reaches this temperature, as it will continue to cook a bit more while it rests.
  • Medium rare: If you prefer your steak with a bit more color in the middle, shoot for an internal temperature of around 135°F (57°C). This will give you a pink center with some browned edges.
  • Medium: For a steak that’s a bit more cooked but still retains some pink in the center, aim for an internal temperature of around 145°F (63°C). This will give you a mostly browned exterior with a pink center.
  • Medium well: If you like your steak with just a hint of pink in the center, aim for an internal temperature of around 150°F (66°C). This will give you a steak that’s mostly browned throughout with a slight blush in the middle.
  • Well done: This is for folks who like their steak fully cooked through with no pink whatsoever. To achieve this, you’ll want to cook your steak until it reaches an internal temperature of around 160°F (71°C) or higher. Just keep in mind that cooking a steak to this level of doneness can result in a drier, tougher piece of meat.

 

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

Remember that the best way to get the perfect level of doneness for your steak is to use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature regularly as you cook.

Rest the Steaks Under Foil for 10 Minutes before Serving

Alright my fellow foodies, let’s talk about one of the most crucial steps in cooking the perfect steak – resting it! We all know how satisfying it is to cut into a juicy, medium-rare steak, but did you know that letting your meat rest for a few minutes after cooking can take your steak game to the next level? Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak. If you cut into your steak too soon, all the juices will spill out and you’ll be left with a dry, tough piece of meat. So, let’s show some patience and give our steaks the time they need to rest and reach their full potential. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

I prefer a ribeye (right) but my husband prefers New York Strips when we cook steak. Filet is also another popular option for cooking in a cast iron skillet.

 

Cooking Steak with Cast Iron Skillet FAQ

Here are 5 commonly asked questions about cooking steak in a cast iron skillet, along with my answers:

How do I season my cast iron skillet for cooking steak?

To season your cast iron skillet, start by cleaning it thoroughly with hot water and a stiff-bristled brush. Then, dry it completely and coat it with a thin layer of neutral oil, such as avocado oil. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) and place the skillet upside down on the middle rack. Let it bake for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and let the skillet cool in the oven before removing it. Your skillet should now be seasoned and ready to use for cooking steak!

What’s the best type of steak to cook in a cast iron skillet?

The best type of steak to cook in a cast iron skillet is a thick cut of steak, such as ribeye, New York strip, or filet mignon. These cuts will develop a nice crust on the outside while remaining juicy and tender on the inside. Make sure your steak is at room temperature before cooking, and pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

How do I know when my steak is done cooking?

To check the doneness of your steak, you can use a meat thermometer. For a medium-rare steak, the internal temperature should be around 130°F (54°C), for medium it should be 140°F (60°C), and for well done it should be 160°F (71°C). Another method is to use the finger test, which involves pressing the steak with your finger to determine how firm it is. The more firm the steak is, the more well done it is.

How do I clean my cast iron skillet after cooking steak?

To clean your cast iron skillet after cooking steak, use a paper towel to wipe away any excess oil or fat. If there are any bits of food stuck to the skillet, you can use a non-metal brush or a non-abrasive scrubber to gently remove them. Do not use soap or abrasive cleaners, as they can strip the seasoning from your skillet. Rinse the skillet with hot water and dry it completely with a towel. To maintain the seasoning, you can apply a thin layer of oil to the skillet before storing it

How to Slice your Steak

Always remember to slice your steak against the grain for ultimate tenderness. When serving, I always serve with extra pan butter sauce and flake sea salt. 

cooking steak with cast iron skillet

Always slice your steak against the grain for maximum tenderness!

Do you love steak? Check out all my grilled beef recipes for more beef inspiration! Don’t forget to follow and tag me on IG, FB and Pinterest when you try my recipe so I can see your creations! I love hearing from you!

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cooking steak with cast iron skillet

The Complete Guide to Cooking the Perfect Steak with a Cast Iron Skillet


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  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 2 steaks 1x

Description

This complete guide to cooking steak in cast iron will set you up for success to cook a restaurant quality steak at home in the comfort of your own kitchen.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 10″ cast iron skillet
  • 2 ribeyes, New York Strips or Filets
  • 2 tsp Salt (or to taste): I like a nice kosher sea salt for steaks
  • 2 tsp Pepper: fresh ground!
  • Butter: for cooking the steak in, start off with a pat, and then finish with a stick for a nice pan sauce at the end
  • Garlic: for adding to the pan butter
  • Sprig of Rosemary or thyme (optional but so good)- for adding to the pan butter

Instructions

  1. Take your steaks out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before cooking with them. Then, right before you put them on the cast iron, pat them dry and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Don’t do this too far ahead of time because the salt will draw the moisture out and you will not get that crust you are looking for.
  2. which makes for the perfectly sweet crunchy bite. The Same happens with steaks in cast iron.First, you want to heat your cast iron on medium high heat for at least 5-7 minutes and get it nice and hot. Add a drop of water and if it sizzles, it is ready! Next, add a pat of butter (I recommend butter or ghee as my preferred fat for high heat cooking.
  3. After you’ve seasoned your steak generously on both sides, add it to the hot pan and let it sear for 2 minutes. Next, flip the steak over and let it sear for another two minutes or until a nice crust has formed. Now, you can add more butter! Now that the steak has developed its nice crust, you can now spoon the remaining herbed garlic butter over the steak while it sears and now transfer the pan to the oven.You can also add crushed garlic and rosemary sprigs to flavor the butter if you want to take this pan sauce butter to the next level!Note, if this is a thinner steak, you might skip this step entirely! The oven part is completely contingent on the thickness of your steak. For super thin steaks, you will just sear on both sides and be done. The important thing is to NOT overcook your steak!
  4. Place the steak in the oven to continue cooking until its internal temperature has reached your desired doneness. You should be using an internal temp thermometer to reach your desired doneness and make sure to pull your steak out of the oven about 5 degrees less than your desired temp because it will continue to cook. To avoid overcooking I always remove from the pan and place on a cutting board and tent it under foil for 10 minutes so the juices have time to redistribute. Keep in mind that your cast iron is still hot when you take it out of the oven so if you keep the steak in the pan, it will continue to cook and you DON’T want that!
  5. We all know how satisfying it is to cut into a juicy, medium-rare steak, but did you know that letting your meat rest for a few minutes after cooking can take your steak game to the next level? Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak. If you cut into your steak too soon, all the juices will spill out and you'll be left with a dry, tough piece of meat. So, let's show some patience and give our steaks the time they need to rest and reach their full potential. After slicing the steaks, pour remaining pan butter over the steaks before serving. Delicious!!

Notes

Affiliate links have been used in this post. Thank you for your support!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
  • Category: Steaks in Cast Iron, Cast Iron Steaks
  • Method: Cast Iron Cooking, Grill,
  • Cuisine: American
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