How to Sear a Steak

Searing a steak is a crucial step to create a flavorful crust on the outside while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Here’s a basic guide to help you sear a steak:

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Steak (preferably at room temperature)
  • Salt and pepper (or other preferred seasonings)
  • High smoke point oil (e.g., canola, grapeseed, avocado oil)
  • Cast iron skillet or heavy stainless steel skillet
  • Tongs
  • Butter (optional)
  • Thermometer (for checking doneness)


  1. Choose the Right Steak: Select a high-quality steak with good marbling, such as ribeye, sirloin, or filet mignon.
  2. Preparation: Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Moisture on the surface can prevent proper searing. Season the steak with salt and pepper, or your preferred seasonings. Let the seasoned steak rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature to ensure even cooking.
  3. Preheat the Skillet: Place your skillet on high heat and let it heat up for a few minutes. You want the skillet to be very hot before adding the steak.
  4. Add Oil: Add a high smoke point oil to the hot skillet. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the skillet evenly.
  5. Searing: Carefully place the steak in the skillet. It should sizzle immediately upon contact. Allow the steak to sear without moving it for 2-3 minutes. This creates a nice crust.
  6. Flip and Sear: Use tongs to flip the steak. Sear the other side for 2-3 minutes. For thicker steaks, you can also sear the edges by holding the steak with tongs.
  7. Butter Basting (Optional): If desired, you can add a knob of butter to the skillet during the last minute of cooking. Tilt the skillet and use a spoon to continually baste the steak with the melted butter.
  8. Check Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. Here are the approximate temperatures for different levels of doneness:
    • Rare: 120-125°F (49-52°C)
    • Medium Rare: 130-135°F (54-57°C)
    • Medium: 140-145°F (60-63°C)
    • Medium Well: 150-155°F (66-69°C)
    • Well Done: 160°F (71°C) and above
  9. Resting: Once the steak reaches your desired doneness, remove it from the skillet and place it on a plate. Allow the steak to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier steak.
  10. Slicing and Serving: After resting, slice the steak against the grain to ensure tenderness. Serve and enjoy your perfectly seared steak!

Remember that cooking times can vary based on the thickness of the steak and the exact temperature of your skillet, so it’s a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure your steak reaches your preferred level of doneness.