Can You Cook Steak in a Nonstick Pan? (Best Pan to Cook Delicious Steak)

Nonstick pans are a staple in the kitchen. Therefore, it’s only reasonable for people to nurse the idea of cooking steak in this cookware. 

However, when cooking a food item such as steak, the major aim is to sear evenly. That is, cooking the food item until the brown crust forms. You don’t want to miss the aroma and taste of a well-cooked steak. Do you want that? Surely not!

All things considered, can you cook steak in a nonstick pan?

While you can cook steak in a nonstick pan, it is ideal to cook steak in a cast-iron skillet or a stainless steel pan. These pans have greater sealing abilities and can be safely transferred to the oven to finish the cooking process.

In this post, you’ll find the information you seek and be able to make an informed decision about the best pans for cooking a mouth-watering steak!

Are you ready? Let’s get down to business. 

Can you cook steak in a nonstick pan?

For home cooks like you and I with limited resources, is it possible to cook steak in a nonstick pan?

You can cook steak in a nonstick pan, but the results will pale in comparison to if you cooked your steak in a cast-iron skillet. Cooking steak in a nonstick pan is ultimately not recommended.

When you cook steak in a nonstick pan, you won’t achieve a great sear, which is the process’s ultimate aim. 

Why so? Nonstick pans aren’t designed to deliver the high amount of heat or temperature needed for the steak to sear evenly. Such cookware is only designed to cook food items that require low to medium heat.

Instead of a nonstick pan, consider using a cast iron skillet. It’s what many professional chefs use to deliver restaurant-quality steaks.

With a cast iron skillet, you can get the desired flavor from your cooked steak, contrary to the unpleasant taste and uneven sear of a nonstick pan.

medium rare steak with aioli on cutting board

Cooking steak on a nonstick pan

While we recommend cooking steak on a cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan, it would be silly of us to exclude our readers who are working with limited resources.

Cooking steak on a nonstick pan is similar to using a cast iron skillet.

Luckily, you can follow the same steps cooking in a nonstick pan as with a cast iron skillet.

Cook your steak at high heat after it has reached room temperature to get a decent sear and cook it to your desired finish. There is an entire step-by-step guide below!

Although the sear won’t be as great as it would be with a cast iron skillet, it will still be pretty tasty.

can you cook steak in a nonstick pan

Can you use a cast iron skillet to cook the perfect steak?

If you shouldn’t cook steak in a nonstick pan, is a cast-iron skillet a superior option?

Yes, you can and should use a cast iron skillet to cook your steak. Cast iron skillets have great conductivity, which leads to good heat retention and a flavorful sear on your steak.

However, remember to prepare your steak and the cookware before cooking for the best outcome. 

What makes cast iron skillets superior-quality cookware for cooking steak is its heat retention capabilities. Once heated, cast iron skillets tend to stay heated for a long while. 

The cast iron skillet’s dense nature also implies that it will not only remain hot for a long period; it will also heat your steak evenly to give you the desired outcome. 

The heat retention and ability to heat up evenly enables cast iron skillets to give steak the desired browning and sear that you’re. You can also achieve a deep-brown crust using this kind of cookware.

How to cook steak in a cast iron skillet

You don’t need to be a professional chef or buy a course that teaches you how to cook a steak using a cast iron skillet. The process is simple and straightforward.

So, even if it’s your first time making steak with a cast iron skillet indoors, you won’t run into trouble. You can even make a nice, tasty steak on your first try!

There are two key components to cooking steak on a cast iron skillet:

  • Proper preparation of your steak
  • Proper use of your cast iron skillet

Let’s break it down a little further.

steak with good sear in cast iron skillet

How to properly prepare your steak

Before we cook the steak, preparing it for the cast iron skillet is crucial to a good finished product.

  1. Handpick a high-quality steak – find a good cut of meat such as filet mignon or New York strip. Look for good marbling or lots of white strips in the meat. That is the fat that makes your steak so tasty.
  2. Bring your steak to room temperature – good cooks think ahead! Get your steak out an hour or two before you intend to cook it so it can rise to room temperature.
  3. Salt and pepper your steak – while the steak comes to room temperature, you’ll want to salt and pepper it. The salt draws moisture off the surface of the steak to improve the sear while the pepper adds extra flavor.

How to use your cast iron skillet

Once you’ve done your due diligence in preparing your steak for the cooking process, you can turn your attention to the cast iron skillet.

Before we begin cooking with the cast iron skillet, it’s important that your cast iron skillet has been seasoned. Refer to Serious Eats’, one of my favorite culinary websites, guide on seasoning a cast iron skillet.

Okay, now let’s get cooking!

  1. Start by oiling the pan – pour some vegetable oil into the pan. We recommend vegetable oil because of its’ high smoke point; other oils, such as olive oil, are too delicate to sustain the high heat when we are cooking the steak.
  2. Heat the skillet until the oil is visibly shimmering – the pan needs to be ripping hot before we put the steak in. An excellent indicator is looking at the oil; if it’s shimmering and you can hear crackling, we’re ready to move on.
  3. Sear the steak – sear the steak for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until there is a visible brown crust.
  4. Baste your steak with butter, garlic, and thyme – lower the heat and add butter, thinly sliced garlic, and a couple of sprigs of thyme to the skillet. Spoon the melted butter over the steak until it is finished cooking. You can check when it has finished by using a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

In case you need a good reference for internal temperatures, here is a chart with temperatures and their corresponding finish!

Finish of steakInternal Temperature
Rare (deep red inside)120 °F to 125 °F
Medium rare (red inside with pink edges)130 °F to 135 °F
Medium (pink inside)140 °F to 145 °F
Medium well (light pink inside)150 °F to 155 °F
Well done (brown inside)160 °F to 165 °F
“Doneness” of your steak and the corresponding internal temperatures.

Tips for cooking steak (for nonstick pan, cast iron skillet, and stainless steel pan)

Regardless of the pan you cook your steak in, there are some general best practices you’ll want to follow to produce a restaurant-esque filet mignon.

  • Don’t overcrowd the pan – while it can be tempting to crank out steaks 3 at a time for the family, this is detrimental to searing and cooking the steak. The heat is much less concentrated in a crowded pan.
  • Let your steak reach room temperature – this will allow you to cook your steak quicker and develop a better crust on it.
  • Pat your steak down – no, not like getting patted down at the airport. Take a paper towel and gently pat the surface of the steak, flipping to get both sides. This helps to remove excess moisture and get a good sear.
funny gif about steak

What is the best pan for cooking steak?

Having established that the nonstick pan is a no-go and the cast iron skillet is great for cooking steak, what about other pan options?

Aside from the cast iron skillet, stainless steel pans are also well-suited to cooking steak. They enjoy similar heat retention and conductivity properties as cast iron skillets.

There are numerous reasons these pans can cook a steak well. Firstly, they can reach extremely high temperatures when heated.

Secondly, these pans can also retain heat much longer and spread the heat throughout the pan for an even seared steak.

Besides getting very hot and even heat distribution, stainless steel is a long-lasting and strong cookware material. This means you won’t be budgeting for a pan for a long time when you have one in your kitchen.

You know what they say: buy once, cry once!

The only drawback is that cast iron and stainless steel takes longer to heat up and can be a bit heavy. 

Cast iron also ages gracefully, a feature most cookware lacks. Another amazing thing about cast iron is the more you utilize it, the better it cooks. A better-seasoned, aged cast iron skillet imparts unbelievable flavor to your food.

Is it better to cook a steak in the oven or stove?

With so many cooking advancements these days, there’s an overwhelming amount of options.

You can cook a steak on the grill, in a pan, or in the oven. How are we ever supposed to decide?

The best way to utilize the stove and the oven when cooking steak is to use them together. The stove gives a sear to your steak, while the oven can be used to cook the internal portion of the meat. 

Steak cooking begins on the stovetop. However, after the meat has been seared, it can be transferred to the oven to achieve that quality and tenderness you’re looking for. 

Moving the steak after cooking on the stovetop to the oven helps to halt the searing process at the ideal point. The exterior burning stops while the interior is being cooked up properly. 

Alternatively, you can do what is called the reverse-sear method of cooking steak. This involves starting with the steak in the oven and finishing it by searing it in a pan or skillet on the stove.

Should you use a non stick pan for steak?

No, you should not. We recommend using a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel pan for the best results.

How do you cook a steak in a non stick pan?

If you decide to cook your steak in a nonstick pan, bring the pan to high heat and sear the steak in a high smoke point oil, like vegetable oil. Baste with butter to finish.

Is it better to cook steak in nonstick or cast iron?

It is better to cook steak in a cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets can handle and retain heat much better than nonstick pans; this is essential for searing the steak.

What oil do you use for steak in a non stick pan?

You should use a high smoke point oil. This includes oils like vegetable oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil.

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