The Biggest Reason Your Steak Won't Sear

When you splurge on a great steak, there's no doubt you want to do it justice and cook it well. And for many people, that means getting a great sear. While searing your steak won't make it juicier by sealing off the meat, it does improve the flavor through what's called "the Maillard reaction," according to Foodal.

Thanks to amino acids reacting with sugars during the searing process, the steak appeals more to your senses. That means the steak tends to have better color, a more wonderful smell, and a more delicious taste from the caramelization of the meat (via The Spruce Eats). To achieve a near-perfect sear, you'll want to look for a dark color on your steak without burning it. But getting that reaction for the best sear calls for some very specific cooking conditions. According to a decades-long cook on Quora, a too-cold grill or pan, too much moisture, and a number of other factors can all foil the sear.

This is how you can create the right conditions for searing

The first thing you need to consider and ensure before cooking your steak or even heating up the pan or grill is the cooking surface, according to The Spruce Eats. It needs to be squeaky clean so the steak can make good contact with the metal from top to bottom for an even sear.

Next, the heat source needs time to get very hot. The reaction you need to sear meat can only happen at very hot temperatures between 300 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. So, make sure you give your grill or pan enough time to heat up and act quickly to make the most of that heat once the necessary temperature is reached.

Finally, make sure the meat itself is as dry as possible. Water is the enemy of searing because it can cool down the grill or pan's surface, breaking the seal between the meat and metal by creating steam from the heat. If you like to marinate your steak, that's fine so long as you allow any excess to run off before placing the steak on the grill.

With those tips and the right conditions, you should be able to get a good sear on your steak every time.