Steak 101: How to Cook a Steak Perfectly


When it comes to how to cook a steak perfectly, how you cook your piece of meat depends on the type of meat you are cooking.  Not all steaks are created equally, and there is not one way to cook a steak perfectly.

That is due to some types of meat cook faster than others, due to the thickness of the meat, amount of fat or marbling and whether the cow was grain fed or had a grass-fed diet.  Another factor in how to cook a steak perfectly is whether you like your meat raw, medium or well done.

Most store bought meat comes from cows fed a grain diet, lacked the ability to roam freely on the farm, and often has a higher fat content.  Grass-fed beef is recent entry into the beef market that is becoming popular as people watch what they are eating today.

Cows fed a grass based diet, are often free range animals allowed to move freely on the ranch, which produces more tender and leaner of beef that are often 10% to 15% lower in fat content, so the meat cooks faster, and thus can become over cooked more quickly as compared to beef fed a grain-based diet.

This changes how you cook a steak perfectly.


How to Prepare the Pan?


To cook a steak perfectly, you need to start with a hot pan that is slightly smoking before you place your meat in the pan.

Set the temperature on your oven burner to Medium and add one to two tablespoons of good quality olive oil or coconut oil to the pan until it is slightly smoking.

Let the pan reach 350° Fahrenheit before putting your meat in the pan.  Your heat setting is too high if the oil is smoking vibrantly and turning brown.  Turn it down a bit.

Why use olive oil or coconut oil, you ask?

The key to cooking a steak perfectly requires the efficient transfer of heat from the bottom and sides of the pan to your meat, and oil is the perfect conduit to allow the transfer of heat from the pan to your meat to cook it thoroughly and perfectly.

Coconut oil has a higher smoking point, 350 degrees F, vs olive oil, which begins to smoke at about 280 degrees F.

If there are cold spots on your pan, the meat may not cook evenly, and as Alton Brown says, “that’s not good eats.”


What Type of Meat are You Cooking?


Everyone loves to enjoy a juicy and flavorful steak; yet with several different cuts of steak available, and the availability of grain-fed and grass-fed beef, there isn’t one way to cook a steak.

USDA certified free range grass-fed beef comes from cows that ate natural grass and not grain that often includes hormones.  This type of high quality beef is generally lower in fat, is more tender and flavorful, and cooks faster than grain-fed beef


Now that your pan is nice and hot, how long you cook your steak depends on the cut of meat.  Some cuts of meat, like tri-tip or skirt steak, you cook for 3 minutes per side while others like a rib-eye steak you may want to cook it for 5 -6 minutes per side.

If your steak is in the refrigerator, take it out and let it reach room temperature before cooking it.  Letting your steak rest and reach room temperature will allow it to cook a bit faster and enhances the flavor most professional chefs recommend.



New York Strip and Sirloin Steak

New York Steak


The New York Strip steak also goes by the name strip steak.

Season each side with salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes per side for medium-medium well.  Cook about two minutes per side if you prefer medium rare.

If you don’t want any pink in the center, poke your meat to allow more blood to drip out.

Let the meat rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.



Flat Iron Steak

flat iron steak

Season each side of the flat iron steak with salt and pepper and cook 3-4 minutes per side for medium-medium well, 2-3 minutes for medium rare or 4-5 minutes per side for well done.

If you don’t want any pink in the center, poke your meat to allow more blood to drip out.

Let the meat rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.



Skirt Steak

skirt steak

Skirt steak is a thin cut of meat with a bit more marbling running through it that has a more intense flavor than other cuts of meat, and is perfect for putting on salad, used in fajitas or served in pita bread.  It’s also great just as it is served with a side of mashed potatoes or veggies.


Season each side with salt and pepper and cook quickly about 2 minutes per side or 3 minutes per side for well done.




tri-tip steak

Tri-tip steak is a flavorful cut of beef that comes from just in front of the hind quarters of the cow.

Pre-heat and oven to 450° Fahrenheit.  Cut a large onion into four sections and place on the bottom of the roasting pan.

Sear the meat for 2-3 minutes on all sides in a heated pan on the stove.

Remove the roast from the pan and cover the tri-tip roast with salt and pepper.

Place a meat thermometer in the meatiest part of the roast and place the roast over the onion in the roasting pan.  Place about 1 inch of water or broth at the bottom of the pan, which will keep your roast from drying out during cooking.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350° Fahrenheit and place the roast in the oven.

Remove when the internal temperature of the roast reaches 140° Fahrenheit.

Let the roast rest for 5 minutes so the juices have a chance to begin running before slicing and serving the tri-tip.  This will give a juicy roast.  If you cut it immediately, the meat may be dry and a bit leathery.


If you are interested in learning about the benefits of eating grass-fed meat, check out Plaidcow Society, which delivers the best cuts of grass-fed meat to your door.

Ken Weiss


  1. Maria April 17, 2017
    • Ken Weiss April 20, 2017

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