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I love a good grilled steak, but when I’m craving a juicy steak with a good sear, I pull out my cast iron.

Medium-rare slices of steak in cast iron skillet with herb butter.

Why sear steak in cast iron?

One of the most flavorful ways to cook a steak is to use a cast iron skillet.

When cooking on a skillet the full surface of the steak is exposed to the heat, which allows the meat to form a delicious crust. This crust creation occurs due to the Maillard effect, which is when the meat’s amino acids and natural sugars experience a chemical transformation.

This effect also happens on a grill, but typically only where the grill grates are, which is how you get beautiful grill marks.

By cooking in cast iron, you also have the advantage of being able to baste the steak with melted butter to add even more flavor and moisture.

What steaks are best for the cast iron method?

You can cook virtually any cut of steak using the cast-iron pan method. My favorites include ribeye steak, filet mignon, New York strip steak and porterhouse. You can also cook boneless or bone-in steak.

No matter which steak you choose, for the best results, make sure that your pan is larger than your steak, so you can lay it flat in the pan. If you have a larger steak, like a tomahawk, it’s hard to get an even sear if the bone sticks out beyond the rim.

The steaks pictured throughout this post are Snake River Farms boneless ribeye filets. SRF is American Wagyu beef that has tremendous marbling and flavor. (use code GIRLSCANGRILL to save 15% at checkout.)

With this method, you don’t have to limit yourself to beef. You can also cook pork loin chops, porterhouse pork chops and tomahawk pork chops in a cast iron pan.


ingredients for cast iron steak: Steak, butter, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Oil: Use an oil that has a high smoke point like corn oil, avocado oil or canola oil. Olive oil is not recommended for high-heat cooking.
  • Steak: You can use any type of beef or pork steak for this recipe.
  • Butter: Use salted or unsalted real butter. Don’t use spreadable butter or margarine. They are mostly oil. You want real butter flavor. I like Kerrygold butter the best.
  • Fresh Herbs: Thyme and rosemary are great complements to steak.
  • Fresh Garlic: To round out the flavor of the herb butter, add freshly minced garlic.
  • Steak Seasoning: Use a simple blend of kosher salt and black pepper or your favorite steak rub.

See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to cook steak in a cast iron skillet

  1. STEP ONE: Season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper or your favorite steak rub. Let the steak rest at room temperature while you heat the skillet.
Two steaks seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic.
  1. STEP TWO: To get the perfect sear, heat a cast iron skillet to 500F degrees over medium-high heat. I use an infrared thermometer to accurately measure the temperature. The one pictured below is a Thermapen IR. I love it because it’s both an infrared thermometer and a digital meat thermometer.
IR gun showing the cast iron pan to be 516F degrees.
  1. STEP THREE: Add oil to the skillet and let it heat for about 30 seconds. It will start to shimmer. Add the steaks to the pan and press down on them. This will ensure they have full contact with the pan to develop the best sear.
Pressing raw steak down in pan with tongs.
  1. STEP FOUR: After 3-5 minutes, the steaks will form a perfect sear on the bottom. Once they do, give them a flip. Cook them for another 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness.
Lifting seared steak to show seared bottom.

PRO TIP: Cooking time varies, depending on the thickness of your steak. Steaks that are 1-inch thick will take 2-3 minutes per side. 1 1/2-inch-thick steaks will take about 5 minutes per side. For thicker steaks like cowboy steaks and tomahawk steaks, consider the reverse sear method.

  1. STEP FIVE: To render the fat on the edges of the steak, cook them on their sides. Rotate them every minute, until the total edge is seared. Depending on the thickness, the internal temperature of your steak will be around 100F degrees at this point.
Steaks cooking on their sides in a cast iron pan.
  1. STEP SIX: Reduce the heat to medium. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, minced garlic and fresh herbs to the skillet.
two seared steak in a pan with butter, garlic and herbs.
  1. STEP SEVEN: As the butter melts, grab the skillet with an oven mitt or towel and tilt it. As the melted herb butter pools up on one side, use a spoon to baste the butter over the steak. Continue cooking and basting until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
Basting garlic herb butter onto steak in pan.

PRO TIP: To measure the internal temperature of the steak, insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of the steak. Be sure it’s in the center of the meat and not touching bone or gristle.

Varying degrees of steaks and different doneness levels.

How to serve pan-seared steaks

Once the steaks reach your preferred internal temperature, remove the skillet from the heat and let them rest for 10 minutes.

If you leave the steaks in the pan to rest, there will be more carryover cooking than normal because cast iron holds heat very well.

Two whole steaks in cast iron skillet with herb butter.

Place the steaks on a cutting board and slice against the grain. Garnish with sea salt and fresh herbs.

one sliced steak on cutting board. One in pan.

For added flavor, place the slices back in the skillet with the butter or spoon the butter on the slices on a plate.

Medium-rare slices of steak in cast iron skillet with herb butter.


Cooked steak can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Enjoy it cold or reheat it in the microwave or in a clean skillet. You can also freeze steak for up to six months.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Season your steak and leave at room temp while you heat your skillet
  • Cook with cast iron for the best results
  • Make sure your cast iron reaches 500F degrees for the best sear
  • Cook on all sides, even the edges
  • Baste with real butter
  • Let your steak rest before slicing into it

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to cook a steak in a cast iron skillet?

The cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your steak and the heat of your skillet.

If you heat your skillet to 500F degrees, a 1-inch steak will take about 2-3 minutes per side and a 1 1/2-inch steak will take 4-5 minutes per side.

You’ll also want to cook the edges for 30-60 seconds per side to render the fat.

Why is a cast iron skillet better than non-stick skillet?

Cast iron holds heat well and distributes it evenly across the pan because it’s a very dense metal. Non-stick pans have lower heat retention and are designed to allow foods to release easily. They’re better for low-fat recipes with little oil or butter.

How do you butter-baste a steak?

Once the butter has melted in the pan, grab the handle to tilt the pan slightly. If you’re using cast iron, the handle will be hot, so use an oven mitt or towel, and make sure it’s far from the flame.

When the pan is tilted, the butter will pool to one side. Use a large spoon to scoop up the butter and pour it onto the steaks. Repeat this butter-basting process until your steak is cooked to your preferred degree of doneness.

What size pan is best for searing steaks?

I use both a 10-inch and 12-inch cast iron skillet, depending on the size of the steak I’m cooking. I tend to use a Lodge 10-inch skillet when I’m just making two filet mignon steaks and the 12-inch pan for ribeyes.

Want even more great grilling recipes and tips? Subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for my latest grilling adventures. If you make a recipe, I’d love for your to leave a comment and rating below. Thanks.

5 from 1 vote

Perfectly Seared Cast Iron Steak

If you love steak with a perfect sear and rich herb butter sauce like you find in restaurants, you've got to try this cast iron steak recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2


  • Cast Iron Skillet


  • 2 steaks
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil, vegetable or avocado
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh herbs, thyme, rosemary


  • Season: Combine the salt, pepper and garlic or use your favorite steak rub and season the steaks on all sides.
  • Heat Skillet: Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat to 500F degrees. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds.
  • Sear: Add the steaks to the skillet. Press down so they get complete contact with the pan. Sear for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak. Flip. Sear another 3-5 minutes.
  • Sear Edges: Turn the steaks on their sides and sear each side for about 1 minute to render the fat.
  • Baste: Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter, garlic and herbs. Grab the pan's handle and tilt it so the butter pools to one side. Using a spoon, scoop the melted butter and baste it over the steaks. Continue cooking and basting to your desired doneness.
  • Rest: Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Sprinkle more coarse salt and fresh herbs on the slices and spoon on any remaining butter.


Measure the heat of the skillet using an infrared thermometer
The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated using two 10-ounce ribeye steaks. 


Calories: 817kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 58gFat: 64gSaturated Fat: 29gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 218mgSodium: 1448mgPotassium: 823mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 700IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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