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There are two primary ways to cook a steak, either on a grill or in a pan. This recipe will walk you through how to sear the perfect steak using a griddle or cast-iron pan.
Why you should sear steak
When you grill a steak, you that great flavor created when the fat drips onto the coals or burners. But the exterior of the steak only gets charred or seared with grill marks where the meat touches the grill grates.
When you sear a steak, the entire surface of the meat makes direct contact with the heat source. The sugars and proteins experience a chemical reaction, forming a flavorful crust that encapsulates the inner meat. And the brown crust provides a tantalizing texture. This is called the Maillard reaction.
There are a couple of ways to sear a perfect steak. Most restaurants use a cast iron skillet, because they can get really hot and distribute heat evenly. This is a great option to try at home, as well.
Another way to sear a steak is with a flattop griddle like an Evo, Blackstone or Cuisinart 360. The advantage of using a griddle versus a skillet is that you can cook many steaks at once and you can cook some side dishes all at the same time.
When searing steak, start with a high smoke point oil to create the perfect crust. Finish with butter to add wonderful rich flavor.
- Steaks: Most of the time, I cook ribeye steaks because they have great marbling.
- Steak Seasoning: Honestly, steak is delicious with just kosher salt and black pepper, but when cooking steak, I usually use my Steak Rub recipe.
- Oil: Because we’re cooking at high heat, use an oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil or peanut oil. Olive oil is not recommended.
- Butter: Butter is added for flavor. Choose a high-quality butter like Kerrygold. I prefer to use salted butter.
Substitutions: You can follow this recipe with any type of beef steak, such as New York strip steak, filet mignon steak, porterhouse steak, sirloin steak and chuck steak.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to cook the Keyword
- STEP ONE: Season your steaks on both sides with steak rub or salt and pepper. Let it rest at room temperature on the counter while you heat the griddle.
PRO TIP: The steak must be dry to form a nice crust, otherwise it will steam. That’s why I don’t use a marinade. For a better sear, remove it from the packaging and pat it dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- STEP TWO: Heat the griddle to medium-high heat. You can use an infrared thermometer to measure the heat of the surface. You want it to be between 450-500F degrees. Add a high smoke point oil to the surface.
If you’re using a cast iron skillet instead of a griddle, place the pan on the stove over medium-high heat and heat the pan surface to 450-500F degrees.
PRO TIP: The best way to apply the oil is to place it in a squeeze bottle. Then, you can squeeze the oil directly on the griddle surface.
- STEP THREE: Add the steaks to the griddle or pan. To create a beautiful crust, press the steaks down with your tongs, so they fully make contact with the surface.
- STEP FOUR: After about 4 minutes, the steaks should have formed a great sear. Flip the steak and press down again. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. If the edges are fatty, use the tongs to hold the steak on each side to sear.
- STEP FIVE: Add two pats of butter on each steak. You can use regular butter or compound butter like my Ancho Garlic Compound Butter. Cook another 2 to 5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. As they rest, the temperature will rise a few more degrees.
If you’re cooking these in a hot skillet, you can grab the handle with an oven mitt and tilt the pan. Then, use a spoon to baste the meat with melted butter and drippings. For added flavor, add a couple of sprigs of thyme and crushed garlic to the pan.
PRO TIP: To accurately measure the internal temperature of your steaks, use a digital meat thermometer and insert it into the side of the steak toward the center. The final cook time will depend on the thickness of your steak. Thinner steak will cook faster than thicker steak.
Steak Doneness Temperatures
How to serve seared steak
Once the butter melts and the steak reaches your desired doneness, remove from the griddle to a plate or cutting board. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow all of the juices to settle into the steak. Tent it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
Leftover seared steak can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can also freeze seared steak for up to 6 months.
I like to slice leftover steak before storing it. That way, you can easily add it to dishes like omelets and sandwiches.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Let your steak rest at room temperature after seasoning
- Heat your griddle to 450-500F degrees
- Use oil with a high smoke point
- Press the steak down for the best sear
- Use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness
Frequently Asked Questions
If your griddle or skillet is set to medium-high heat, it will take about 3-4 minutes per side to sear a 1 to 1-1/4 inch thick steak. Then, allow another 2-5 minutes to continue cooking it to your desired internal temperature. Thinner steaks will cook faster.
When cooking at a high temperature, it’s important to use an oil with a high smoke point like vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, avocado oil or peanut oil.
Follow the same technique you would for cooking a steak on a griddle. Because a cast iron pan has sides, you can also baste the butter on the steak. This means you can add the butter to the skillet, grab the handle with a hot pad and tilt it. Then, use a spoon to pour melted butter and pan drippings over the steak repeatedly.
Plan on two teaspoons of steak seasoning for every 1 pound of steak. For reference, a boneless ribeye that’s between 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick usually weighs around 1 pound.
Reverse searing is the process of cooking a steak at a lower temperature, usually on a smoker, so it absorbs the woodfire flavor. Once the steak reaches 90-110F degrees, it’s transferred to a grill, griddle or hot pan set to high heat to sear steaks to their final temp.
Side dishes that go great with seared steak
More Steak Recipes
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How to Sear a Steak on a Griddle
- 2 steaks, ribeye, sirloin, NY Strip
- 4 tsp steak seasoning*
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 4 tsp butter
- Season: Sprinkle seasoning on all sides of the steaks. Let rest at room temperature while you heat the griddle.
- Heat Griddle: Turn your griddle to medium-high heat. Let it reach 450-500F degrees. Drizzle oil on the griddle.
- Sear: Add the steaks to the grill. Press down to form a great sear. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until they have a good sear. Flip. Cook 3 more minutes. If the edges are fatty, use the tongs to hold the steak on each side to sear.
- Top: Add two pats of butter on top of each steak. Continue cooking for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness.
- Rest: Remove from the griddle and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.