The Best Type Of Pan For Searing Steak

If you're a dedicated home cook, it's more than likely that you count at least one cast iron pan among your favorite pieces of kitchen equipment. Favored by professional and amateur chefs alike, cast iron pans are praised for their ability to distribute heat, their durability, and their versatility, being, as they are, safe for use both on the stovetop and in the oven (via MyRecipes). The pans are well suited for so many kitchen jobs that it can be tempting to turn to them each and every time we cook: From baking cornbread to roasting veggies to frying the perfect egg, cast iron is up to the task.

Often priced reasonably, a well-made cast iron pan will easily last for several generations, even improving with use as the nonstick coating known as "seasoning" builds up on the pan over time — another advantage that makes investing in this cookware an excellent idea (via Taste of Home). And in case you needed yet another reason to make sure you're well stocked in cast iron pans, add the fact that they're unparalleled for searing steak.

Cast iron is great for searing because it retains heat well

If you love tucking into a steak that's impeccably crusted on the outside yet tender and juicy within, you probably reach for your cast iron pan when searing one up at home. And though you may have noticed how great steak turns out when you cook it in cast iron, you might not know exactly why.

When dealing with metal pans, Serious Eats explains, there's a dance between two factors: The metal's conductivity and its heat retention (more scientifically known as volumetric heat capacity). While thinner metals such as aluminum and copper conduct heat very well — meaning they heat up very quickly — they don't hold on to the heat quite as well, their temperatures fluctuating quite substantially even when they're over a flame or in the oven. Cast iron, on the other hand, retains heat extremely well, making it an ideal surface for searing steak, chicken thighs, or any other food you want to expose to direct, steady heat.

The best way to sear steak in cast iron? Heat the pan up, apply a thin film of neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola, add a room-temperature, well-salted steak, and cook until medium rare. Grab a napkin while you let the meat rest — it's gonna be juicy — then dig in.