4 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Steak

updated Jun 13, 2019
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Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

Whether you opt for the oven, the stovetop, or the grill, I want you to know that cooking steak at home is a lot easier than you might think. To help you get it just right every time, no matter what your favorite method, you’ll want to start by avoiding these common cooking mistakes.

1. Cooking the steak straight from the fridge.

Even though cooking steak at home is easy, there’s more to it than tossing it straight from the fridge into a hot skillet or oven. Here’s the thing: Cooking a cold steak can be quick to result in uneven cooking, with a well-cooked outside and an undercooked center.

Follow this tip: Plan to take the steak out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking. This simple step helps the steak cook more evenly.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

2. Not seasoning the steak first.

Seasoning the meat is one of those steps that falls into the bucket of small effort, big reward. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking a filet or a fatty, full-flavored ribeye — failing to season the meat with salt does a disservice to both the flavor and the texture of the meat.

Follow this tip: Don’t be shy about seasoning your steak with salt before cooking. Not only will this give the meat a whole lot more flavor, but it also helps to create a dry surface on the steak, allowing it to pick up a better sear.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

3. Adding spices too soon.

While we’re all for adding ground pepper or steak seasoning to the meat, it’s best not to add it to the steak along with the salt before cooking. When added too soon, these spices can be quick to burn in a hot skillet before they have a chance to flavor the meat.

Follow this tip: If a sprinkling of pepper or other seasonings is a must for you, wait until the steak comes off the heat. They won’t work their way deep into the meat, but you’ll still get a punch of extra flavor with every bite.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

4. Keeping the heat too low.

No matter how you like your steak cooked, there’s one universal trait we’re all after: a deep sear with a great crust all around the outside. You’re never going to achieve that when the heat is too low or your skillet isn’t hot enough.

Follow this tip: You’re gonna want to crank the heat way up. That goes for the oven, the grill, and getting your skillet screaming hot on the stovetop. High heat and a hot pan are essential for creating that great crust on the outside of your steak. Plan to heat your skillet for at least 10 minutes over high heat or under the broiler before adding the steak.

Try Our Favorite Steak Recipes