Do you want a crusty, restaurant-style steak but find that you’re prying and tearing your meat? Here’s what you need to know.

By Sarah Wharton
Photo by Kritsada Panichgul

Hot pan + dry food + leave it alone = deliciousness

Step 1

To cook a steak like a chef, start with room temperature meat. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. 

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Photo by Marty Baldwin

Step 2

Set a dry stainless steel or cast-iron skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes—it will be extremely hot.

Photo by Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD/AndyLyons

Step 3

Pat meat dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add a neutral oil (like vegetable or canola) to the pan, give it a minute to heat up, then carefully lay in the steak. Now do nothing! Seriously. Just let it sear. If you try to move the steak and it sticks, it’s not seared—let it cook a little longer. When you can move it, check that the steak has a nicely browned dry-looking crust. If so, flip it and sear the second side. Thin steaks can be cooked completely in the skillet, while thicker steaks should be finished in the oven.

Photo by RJT LLC/ScottLittle 

Step 4 

If you want to get really fancy, toward the end of searing the second side, toss in a pat of butter (a little smashed garlic and a sprig or two of thyme or rosemary are optional) and baste the steak, being careful to keep the hot fat and juices away from you. Either way, always let meat rest 5 to 10 minutes (depending on thickness) before slicing.

What else could you be doing wrong in the kitchen? Check out our pro tips to make meals easier to prepare and more delicious: