How to Cook a Steak on the Stove with Butter?

Cooking a steak in a skillet with butter can provide a truly satisfying culinary experience. The enticing sound of the meat sizzling in the hot pan, the aroma as the butter melts and coats the steak, and that first bite of a seared and tender piece. These are some of the simple pleasures that come with cooking steak on the stove. Let’s explore how to cook a steak on the stovetop with butter.

While grilling or broiling can also produce outcomes, cooking steak in a pan offers its own unique benefits. The direct contact with the surface allows for a sear, while basting with butter not only enriches flavor but also ensures that the meat remains juicy and tender.

By mastering the techniques and dedicating some time to practice, you can relish a high-quality steak cooked entirely on your stovetop. This comprehensive guide will lead you through each step of the process. From selecting the cut to basting with butter to achieving your desired level of doneness,. Lets start cooking!

Selecting the Right Steak

The initial crucial step involves selecting a type of steak that’s well suited for stovetop preparation. While more affordable cuts like flank or skirt steak can be pan seared, opting for steaks with marbling and moderate thickness will result in top-notch flavor and texture.

Here are some great choices:

  • Ribeye: This well-marbled cut has outstanding flavor and a tender texture. Go for a boneless ribeye around 1 to 1.5 inches thick. The high fat content means it can handle the dry heat of a skillet.
  • Filet mignon: Extremely tender with a milder beefy taste. Since filet mignon so lean, keep filets on the thinner side, around 1 to 1.25 inches maximum.
  • New York strip: Also called a shell steak, this cut has a thick band of fat along one edge that melts during cooking. Choose strips that are 1 to 1.5 inches thick for the best pan results.

When selecting your steak, look for marbling, which enhances both moisture and taste. The steak should also have a firm texture. Springy feel than being soft when touched. For stovetop cooking, opt for steaks that’re at least 1 inch thick, as thinner cuts tend to overcook quickly.

Preparing for Cooking

Before you start cooking on the stove, there are some steps to follow:

Allow the steak to reach room temperature; This ensures cooking later on. Remove the steak from the fridge. Let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour until it loses its chill.

To enhance the flavor, make sure to season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on an amount of sea salt, along with some coarse black pepper for the best taste. You can also consider adding dried herbs and spices such as powder, onion powder or a steak seasoning mix. Rub these seasonings over the steak to ensure they stick well.

Additional optional preparation steps involve trimming off any fat and patting the steaks dry using paper towels. Now you’re all set to start cooking!

Gear and Setup

Having the equipment will simplify your stovetop steak cooking process.

Opt for an iron or stainless steel skillet. Choose a sturdy pan that can maintain high heat levels. Aim for a diameter of 10 to 12 inches so that there is space for the steak without overcrowding.

Tongs are essential. Look for a pair that allows you to flip the steak easily and safely while keeping your hand away from the heat.

Invest in a thermometer. This tool removes any guesswork when it comes to achieving a certain level of doneness. Ensure it is both accurate and quick.

A heat-proof spoon or bulb baster is required. These are essential for basting the steak with butter while it cooks.

Don’t forget your mitt; It will protect your hand when grabbing hold of the hot skillet handle.

Regarding stovetop arrangement, make sure your exhaust fan is turned on and keep your cooking area clear. 

Make sure you have all the ingredients and tools because searing happens quickly.

Cooking Process

Now, for the part. Heating up the pan and cooking the steak;

  1. Heat the skillet; Place the pan on high or medium heat. Allow it to preheat for about 5 to 10 minutes until its smoking hot. It needs to be really hot to get a sear.
  2. Add a layer of oil; before adding the steak, pour around a teaspoon of oil into the pan (like grapeseed, sunflower, or vegetable oil). Tilt the pan to coat its surface. This will help prevent the meat from sticking. Clarified butter is always a choice.
  3. Put the steak in the pan. Use tongs to lay down the steak in the middle of the pan. Don’t. disturb it initially. Let it simmer without interference. Avoid poking or flipping it soon.
  4. Avoid overcrowding; cook 1 or 2 steaks at once, giving each space for proper searing. If you have steaks, work in batches.
  5. Flip after 2–4 minutes. Once one side is nicely browned, use tongs to flip it over. Again, let it sear without any disturbance.

After you’ve cooked one side, spread some butter on it (refer to the step).

Buttering up: Once you’ve flipped the steak, add a dollop of butter to the pan. Grab a spoon. Drizzle the butter over the steak. Keep repeating this process every minute or so. The butter will enhance the browning. Infuse the meat with delicious pan juices.

Gauging Doneness

Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, or make a cut to peek inside. Different levels of doneness will be discussed shortly.

Let it rest before slicing and serving. Once the steak is cooked, move it onto a plate. Allow it to rest for 5–10 minutes. This step is vital as it helps retain the juices. Now you’re all set to slice into your masterpiece!

Determining Doneness

When cooking steak, hitting the temperature is crucial. Here are some pointers:

Rare: 125°F, center is 

Medium rare: 135°F, center is warm red

Medium: 145°F, pink with a hint of red

Medium well: 155°F, slight pink in center

Well done: 165°F, no pink at all

Thinner cuts will cook quickly. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can determine doneness by observing and feeling the steak. A rare steak will be soft to the touch. Medium-rare will have some springiness. You can also use the “poke test”—a rare steak should feel similar to poking the part of your hand below the thumb.

The most foolproof way to test for doneness is using an instant-read thermometer. For a 1-inch thick steak, medium rare is typically reached after 8 to 10 minutes of total cooking time.

Thinner cuts will cook faster. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can check for doneness visually and with touch. A rare steak will feel quite soft. Medium rare has some springiness. Use the “poke test”—a medium-rare steak should feel like poking the fleshy part of your hand below the thumb.

Letting the Steak Rest

The final step may seem minor. It is actually quite important. Once the steak is cooked, transfer it to a plate or clean cutting board. Allow it to rest undisturbed for 5 minutes; for thicker cuts, let it rest even longer—up to 10 minutes.

This resting period allows the juices, which have gathered in the center of the meat during cooking, to evenly spread throughout the muscle fibers. Skipping this resting time will result in a drippy steak on your plate.

As it rests, you’ll notice that it gets browner and its internal temperature increases by 5 °F to complete cooking.

Don’t worry if your steak is a bit undercooked when you take it off the heat; letting it rest will help it reach a rare doneness. To keep it warm while resting, you can cover it loosely with foil.

Serving Suggestions

A cooked stovetop steak deserves a side dish. Here are some options:

  • Garlic herb butter: Add a dollop of garlic-infused compound butter softened at room temperature on top of the rested steak for a melt.
  • Sautéed mushrooms: Cook sliced mushrooms in the pan drippings for a rich side dish.
  • Roasted potatoes: Crispy roasted potatoes are a good choice to accompany steak. Coat potato wedges with oil. Roast them in an oven.
  • Creamed spinach: sauté spinach and finish with cream and Parmesan cheese to complement your buttery steak perfectly.
  • Caesar salad: A refreshing salad tossed in zesty Caesar dressing provides a contrast to the richness of the steak.

When presenting your cooked steak, aim for a display. Place the rested steak on a plate, and drizzle any pan juices over it. Arrange the side dishes thoughtfully. 

Light up some candles, pour yourself a glass of wine, and voilà. You’ve got yourself a top-notch steak dinner cooked entirely on your stovetop!

Additional Tips

With practice, you’ll master the art of cooking the stovetop steak to suit your preferences. Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind:

Temperature control: Opt for heat for cuts, and crank it up for thinner steaks. Thinner cuts will need faster flipping.

Cooking preferences:  Let the steak cook longer on one side for doneness, and flip earlier for done results.

Even cooking: If some parts are cooking faster than others, use tongs to lift those areas off the pan briefly.

Smoke management: Prevent smoke by using oil with a smoke point and maintaining medium-high heat instead of letting it get out of control.

Reheating leftovers: Reheat in a skillet or give it a buttery touch in the oven at 300°F. Sliced steak can even be enjoyed cold.

Feel free to experiment with types of steaks, seasonings, flavored butters, and side dishes until you create your stovetop steak masterpiece. The options are limitless!


What should I do if my steak sticks to the pan?

Ensure that the pan is heated before adding the steak. 

To carefully lift the steak from the pan, gently slide a pair of metal tongs underneath it. Use a splash of wine or broth to deglaze the pan and incorporate any bits.

Is it unhealthy to baste with butter?

Although butter does contain saturated fat and calories, using an appropriate amount for basting adds a flavor boost. Opt for high-quality butter and practice portion control for an approach.

What is the best thickness for a steak?

An ideal thickness is 1 inch, allowing for a sear while ensuring even cooking throughout. Thinner steaks tend to overcook, while thicker cuts may not cook through evenly.

Can you achieve marks on a stovetop-cooked steak?

While you may not achieve the grill mark pattern, using a blazing cast iron pan will create an exceptional crust all over the steak. Sear vigorously on both sides.

How can I fix a steak?

If your steak is underdone, simply sear it longer. Finish it in the oven. Salvaging a steak is more challenging. Slicing thinly against the grain and soaking it in broth can help improve its texture.

In conclusion 

Frying steak with butter yields delightful results and offers optimal outcomes. 

Give searing a ribeye or filet mignon a shot without relying on anything but delicious fats, a skillet, tongs for flipping, and plenty of melted butter for basting. You’ll find yourself savoring top-notch steak in the comfort of your home.

Key pointers include ensuring the pan is adequately heated before adding the steak, generously seasoning the meat, refraining from flipping, and allowing it to rest post-flip.

Before you know it, you’ll master the art of cooking steak on the stovetop to satisfy any craving. The sound of sizzling in the pan and the aroma of butter are signs that this method yields a carnivorous feast.

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