How Long You Should Preheat A Cast Iron Skillet For Restaurant-Caliber Steaks

Knowing how to cook the perfect steak requires careful attention to detail, and an excellent heat source. There are many methods to achieve a tasty result — the grill is a reliable method, and some steakhouse steaks employ infrared broiling, too. However if you're cooking at home, the cast iron skillet is an ideal candidate for the job.

You'll be able to get this pan incredibly hot, which will produce a perfect crispy crust when the steak is seared. To reach restaurant-level heat at home (a restaurant kitchen range reaches an astounding 55,000 BTU, while a home stove hits less than a quarter of such an output) a long preheat is necessary. You want to preheat your cast iron pan on high for 30 minutes. Your pan-seared steak will turn out extra caramelized and flavorful, thanks to the Maillard reaction. It will also cook to completion much faster than in a pan that is not preheated. Just note that much more smoke will be produced in the process, so make sure to get proper ventilation in place.

Preheat a cast iron for 30 minutes prior for ideal steak searing

While the 30-minute long pan preheating method does require some patience, it'll make the steak cook much faster. You'll know the pan is hot enough when oil starts to smoke right away when added. Such a method will cut down the cooking time to around four minutes, so make sure to stand by to flip the steak quickly. This fast-paced cooking duration is advantageous, especially for steak cuts comprised of leaner meat. It'll ensure that the exterior crust is delicious, trapping in all of the juices in the process.

Not all steak cuts are the same, so to guarantee ideal doneness, it's best to check with an meat thermometer, too. That coveted medium rare is in the range of 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit; a relatively narrow window, given the very high heat. As a result, don't always depend on the timer, unless you've previously cooked a similarly sized cut. Don't forget that steak will continue to cook once removed from the heat source, so you can take it off when it's five degrees under the temperature you're aiming for. And most crucially, don't forget the rest. After a few minutes on the cutting board, slice in, and discover a steak that's worthy of steakhouse status.