Cast Iron Cooking-How to Cook A Steak

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We live in Nebraska which is known for 2 things....corn and beef. We enjoy nothing more than a good steak and although summer is grilling season, our preferred method for cooking a steak is the trusty cast iron skillet. This is an ages old method and gives you a wonderfully juicy steak every time, regardless of the weather.

Start with a well-seasoned cast iron skillet in the 8- to 12-inch range. You want to use a flat-bottom, not a grill bottom skillet.

Before we begin, a word on safety: you are going to be working with VERY hot metal. Use a double or triple thickness of potholders. Do NOT use a standard oven mitt, as when the pan heat penetrates, your hand will be trapped in there with it.

This technique will also generate a fair amount of smoke, so turn on your vent fan and crack a window to allow good airflow. Don't worry, though, the only smell that will linger will be that of delicious steak.

First, set your steak out and allow it to come to room temperature. Don't worry about it spoiling, you won't be leaving it at room temp long enough to do any damage.

Now, put your seasoned skillet in the oven and set the temperature to "broil." Allow it to heat for 15 to 20 minutes. While the oven is heating, season the steak on both sides with liberal pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a light coating of oil (not olive oil for this job since it's smoking point is too low). Once your oven heating is done, turn your large stove burner to high. If it's an electric stove, allow the burner to come to full temp. Remove the skillet from the oven and set it on the burner for another three minutes. You will now have an insanely hot cooking surface.

Using tongs, place the steak in the skillet. After 30 seconds, turn it over to brown the other side. Transfer the skillet to the center rack of your oven and cook for three minutes on each side. (NOTE: This cooking time is for an inch-thick steak. Adjust your time for thinner cuts.)

Remove the skillet from the oven, and move the steak to a platter to stand. This is perhaps the most neglected portion of any meat cooking process. If you cut into a steak, pork chop or even chicken before it's had standing time, you will end up with a platter dripping with juices that belong in the meat. Allow your steak to stand, with a tent of foil to retain the heat, for 10 minutes and you'll be rewarded with a steak that is as juicy on the last bite as it was on the first, and leftovers that won't have the texture of cardboard.

During the resting period, I crumble my favorite, Magtag Blue Cheese (from our neighboring state of Iowa) over the steak and it melts into a delicious, cheesy topping. YUM!!

Sharing at Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.


  1. Very nice, I already sent the link to both of my 20 something sons-thanks:@)

  1. Nicki said...:

    Thanks for this tutorial for steak. We eat a lot of steak/beef and grill it most of the time. I use cast iron nearly every day so I'm excited to try this method of cooking a steak.
    Rapid City, SD

  1. Julie Harward said...:

    I love steaks cooked this way, this is the way my mama taught me...much more tender than grilled I think! :D

  1. Lori E said...:

    I have done this and you are so right about how good it smells. Letting the meat rest is absolutely critical. Good tutorial.

  1. Anita said...:

    I think I might have heard about letting it come to room temp somewhere, but the rest I did not know. Now, I must say that a fair amount of smoke is generated every time I cook, lol!! My son just gets a pot holder and runs to the smoke detector and starts waving pretending that it's going off when I start cooking. The two go hand in hand, so we'll be fine with the smoke!! This looks SO good, and I will try it. We don't grill that much.

  1. I'll definitely be giving this a try! I love blue cheese on my steak...YUMMMMO!

  1. Lynnie said...:

    We love cooking on our grill as well - year round actually. Since I have been reading your blog I have acquired a few more cast iron pieces! I am excited about cooking steaks for dinner tomorrow night using this method! I know it will be yummy; perhaps matched with some garlic mashed potatoes...oh YEAH!

  1. Lady Farmer said...:

    Sounds divine! I never could cook a good steak,(but I'm very good at smokin' up my kitchen!) so I am going to try this! I love my cast iron skillet! And the blue cheese ~ mmmmm!

  1. Always Nesting said...:

    Oh, I haven't had a steak cooked like that in, well, I can't even remember. Years and years. I just picked up some steak today but already cut it up for kbobs. Yours looks better, much better :)

  1. ButterYum said...:

    Yummo - I missed dinner tonight and a lovely steak would sure hit the spot! I really like cooking in my cast iron pans - we have to keep telling people how wonderful they are!

    Happy FF.


  1. Gail, I have never made steak like this! It sure looks wonderful! I enjoy a lovely carmelized outside, and a juicy inside. I bet this does the trick!
    You are the best cast iron cook I know! I can count on learning something useful and delicious when I come to visit.
    xo Yvonne

  1. Cathy said...:

    This is a great post, Gail. I use my cast iron pan for steaks but have never tried this method. I can't wait to try this. I love a good steak and am frustrated at times when I don't cook it just right.

  1. Oh, that looks absolutely delicious! How done is the steak? medium? medium well? How do you adjust for different doneness's? I'm so curious! :-)

  1. cocinadiary said...:

    Hi Gail, I am visiting for the first time and I am laughing because for some reason this is the only way I have cooked steak in my life. So when I got engaged to my handsome (a farmer from Colorado) he was really You are right. steaks come out juice and delicious always. Angie

  1. Haha...I don't blame you for not going with turkey bacon. I wouldn't have caught on either if it wasn't for my love affair with bacon alongside my desperate wish to knock off the 5 pounds I've gained over the summer. :-)

  1. Gretchen said...:

    I loved cooking with cast iron. Unfortunately, due to iron restrictions we can't use our old ones, but I do have cast iron clad pans which are almost as good. I love your blog. I'm a bit late but I wanted to thank you for visiting my roosters. I had fun displaying them.

  1. This looks delicious, but I have a few questions. First, when you put the skillet in the oven with the broiler on, do you put the skillet on the highest rack up next to the broiler or just in the middle? Second, when you put the steak back into the oven is the broiler still on, or have you turned the oven off or to a different temperature? Third, would you say this steak is medium rare? We LOVE steak, but always grill outside. Missouri has pretty good beef too :)!! Please contact me at with the answers to my questions if you don't mind :). Have a blessed day and weekend :0! P.S. I enjoy your blog :0!

  1. Wanting to answer a few questions that have come up. I cook steak to medium. If you want your steak cooked more or less, adjust your time in the oven to reflect that. We use the finger test to tell the doneness of a steak....if you are not familiar with that technique, here is a link to explain it

    When the steak goes back into the oven, the oven is still on broil.

    Hope that clears things up...if not, ask :)

  1. Andrea said...:

    My cast iron pan always gives me the best sear on steaks...and you're right about the smoke! I'll take a little smoke anyday for a perfectly cooked steak!!!

  1. Ok now I have GOT to try melting cheese on my steak. That looks awesome!

  1. Mimi said...:

    Great tutorial. Cooking steaks can be so frustrating. I can't wait to try this method.

  1. Tina G said...:

    What a great idea! Thank you! My son just grilled steak last night and it was awesome! I will try it this way next time! Thank you so much for sharing!

  1. Deb S. said...:

    Thanks for such a informative post. I bought 2 sets of cast iron, 1 set enamel coated on one is not. I dont use them as much as I should, mostly beacuse I'm not sure how to properly do so. This will help me cook my hubbys fave without going out to the grill. Thanks!

  1. Jacqueline said...:

    Gail you have my mouth watering and it is breakfast, oh yeah, you can have steak for breakfast - what is steak and eggs! I always do mine on the grill, but it never gets this kind of a crust. Thanks we will try it. Love the smothering of blue cheese, obviously I have been way too chintzy in my use of the fabulous cheese!

  1. Gail,
    What marvelous information. I will be trying this. And blue cheese just makes it perfect.


  1. You're making me want to go out a buy a cast iron skillet! Looks delicious.
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  1. susan said...:

    My mother used to cook steaks in the skillet--we just always use the grill if possible. But my husband is adamant about the 10 minute rule! and he loves blue cheese too :)

  1. LDH said...:

    I haven't had much practice grilling so this method sounds great to me. I just might have to turn off the smoke alarm because it is sensitive. But I always remember to turn it back on. Thank you for the great tutorial!

  1. I would love to get a cast iron skillet... my problem is I have a glass top stove and it specifically forbids cast iron:(

    I enjoyed this first visit to your blog and am looking forward to returning. And, I am printing out your oat bread recipe... yum!

  1. Pioneer Beauty said...:

    Dear Gail,
    Thank you so much for stopping by Pioneer Beauty and Joining the Giveaway..I just became a follower and love all the Cast Iron cooking..we cook on Cast Iron and Love it...You mentioned that you became a follower but I didn't see you on the followers page...also I was curious on how you came across the Giveaway..
    I look foward to getting more cooking tips with Cast Iron..
    In Christ

  1. mangocheeks said...:

    I just adore those cast iron pans, they'd be so darn pricey to have schlepped over to Scotland. But I'm still liking them.

  1. I tried our method of cooking steak today. It was indeed delicious! Very good sear and had a great flavor. Thanks for sharing.


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