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Kitchen Basics: How to Sear a Steak

Learn how to sear a steak and lock in its flavorful juices by following this step-by-step guide.
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Yunhee Kim

Searing is a crucial step in cooking a succulent steak. It draws moisture from the outside layer, creating a caramelized crust that seals in juices. A stainless steel skillet is essential, as it can withstand higher heat than a nonstick one. Once the steak seems cooked, don't prematurely slice into it to check for doneness. Use an instant-read thermometer, or try the finger test (on the next page), a technique favored by chefs.


Step 1
Season sirloin with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to room temperature (leave out for up to an hour).

Step 2
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil in a stainless steel (not nonstick) skillet over medium-high to high heat.

Step 3
Place steak in pan and cook for 3 minutes without moving it around.

Step 4
Use tongs to flip over steak and cook for another 3 minutes—again, no touching.

Step 5
If steak is more than an inch thick, finish in a 325° oven until cooked to desired doneness. Meat should register 130° on an instant-read thermometer for rare—the temperature will rise 5° while it rests—or use the finger test (next slide). Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

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