How to cook steak in a pan: A Circulon guide

How to cook steak in a pan: A Circulon guide

30 December 2022

Ready to turn up the heat? In just a few steps, you can master the art of searing the perfect steak in your own kitchen. Read on to learn how to cook steak in a pan just like the professionals do.

Ready to turn up the heat? In just a few steps, you can master the art of searing the perfect steak in your own kitchen. Read on to learn how to cook steak in a pan just like the professionals do.

How to cook the perfect steak in a frying pan

If you've been trying to find out how to cook a steak in a pan, you might've found more than one method online. While a lot of controversy surrounds this topic, we believe that the best techniques are the simplest ones. To cook a steak, you'll just need cooking oil, seasonings and a quality non-stick frying pan.

But cooking a steak also comes down to preference. The longer that you leave it on the heat, the more thoroughly the meat cooks. In a restaurant setting, steak is usually cooked to order according to one of five levels:

  • Blue: A dark, almost purple-colour steak that feels only just warm
  • Rare: Dark red with red juice flowing, spongy and soft
  • Medium-rare: Pink in colour with a little bit of juice, slightly soft and springy
  • Medium: Lighter pink in the middle with little to no juice, feels firmer
  • Well done: A tiny trace of pink but not entirely dry, with a spongy feel

When steak is ordered blue, it's the closest level to eating it raw.

You can decide how well cooked you'd like your steak to be but always make sure that you know how to store and prepare meat safely. We've detailed the methods for cooking two of the most popular types of steak - sirloin and rib-eye - below, and we also have a guide on how to cook a braising steak in a pan

Steak being sliced showing the pink inside

How to cook sirloin steak

Traditionally, sirloin steak is cut from part of the loin, further back towards the hindquarters of the cow. It's a lean cut, making it an ideal choice when cooked to medium-rare on a high heat. Professional chefs usually cook sirloin on the grill, but this prime cut is also delicious seared.

You can quickly learn how to cook sirloin steak using the following method:

  1. Prepare and season

Remove the steaks from the fridge just under an hour before you intend to cook - this brings them closer to room temperature, reducing cooking time.

Pat the steaks lightly with kitchen towel and then add seasonings. We love salt and pepper, but you could also try a steak seasoning mix or create your own.

  1. Heat the oil

Choose a large, heavy-based frying pan and add your cooking oil of choice. Heat it over a high flame; this is one of the most important steps because, if your pan is too cool, the steak will start to steam instead of sear.

Once it starts to shimmer, turn the heat down to medium-high. If you're using any flavoured butter with your steak, add it to the pan now along with any extra herbs.

  1. Sear the steaks

Using a pair of tongs, sear the steaks. Turn them no less than once a minute so that they start to develop a flavoursome golden-brown crust. For a medium-rare sirloin steak, the cooking time should be approximately two minutes on each side, four minutes in total.

You could use a digital thermometer to check that your steak is cooked just right. The middle of the steak should be 50°C for rare, 60°C for medium, or 70°C for well done.

How to cook rib-eye steak in a pan

You won't have to adopt a new method entirely to learn how to cook rib-eye steak. You can use the same techniques that we've listed in our guide to cooking sirloin steak; you'll just need to adjust the cooking time.

Rib-eye steaks are generally thicker-cut and have a high fat content. They might not fare as well when cooked at very high temperatures, so we advise using a medium-high heat. The following cooking times can be used as a guide for searing a 2cm thick rib-eye steak:

  • Rare: Two minutes on each side
  • Medium-rare: Up to three minutes on each side
  • Well done: At least four minutes on each side

Which oil is best for cooking steak in a pan?

We recommend using flavourless oils to cook your steak. At the very least, you'll need to choose an oil with a high smoke point - because it's likely that your pan will exceed temperatures as high as 200°C.

Some of the cooking oils that best fit this description include:

  • Grapeseed oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Refined avocado oil

Coconut oil is also suitable but it might leave a slightly nutty taste and scent to your pan.

You can also use olive oil to cook steak, as long as you have excellent temperature control. Olive oil has a low smoke point, but some chefs swear by it. We wouldn't recommend using truffle oil or sunflower oil for steaks, as both of these have a strong taste.

Buy quality cookware online with Circulon

If you'd like to start cooking fearlessly, upgrade to the hassle-free luxury of a non-stick pan set from Circulon. Our premium cookware is both durable and versatile, and we're proud to use innovative technologies in our original SteelShield™ range, too.

You'll find incredible frying pans, saucepans and sauté pans in our exclusive online offers. If you have any questions about your order or you'd like to learn more about maintaining your cookware, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.