The Absolute Best Cuts Of Steak To Air Fry

As much as meat aficionados love the thrill of the grill, we all know it's not always the most convenient cooking tool at our disposal. It might be cold or rainy outside, we may be tired or in a hurry, or we may inhabit a small city apartment where grilling feels like a distant dream. That inconvenience is why cooking steak in the air fryer can be a fantastic option. Although some people find it controversial to use it for cooking meat, claiming it makes it dry or chewy, we're here to say you can absolutely cook meat in the air fryer, with delicious results. 

Not only can cooking steak in an air fryer be an easier, cleaner endeavor than heating up the grill or the stove, but it can also be a healthy alternative, as the extra fat falls to the bottom of the device. Using an air fryer also means being minutes away from a delicious meal, especially when your steaks are at room temperature. (If you're working with frozen meat, you should consider an additional three minutes per side when cooking.) However, not all steaks are equal, which is we've highlighted the best cuts to cook in the air fryer.  

Before getting started

To guarantee success when cooking steak in the air fryer, it's important to have a meat thermometer in the kitchen, which will help you check the meat temperature throughout the cooking process and make sure you achieve the desired level of doneness. According to Kansas City Steaks, the temperature and color of cooked steak range from rare at 125 F, with its pink surface and bright red center, to well done at 160 F, at which point your steak should be brown throughout. There are three increments between these extremes: If you want to split the difference, cook your steak to a "medium" 145 F for a light pink center and brown exterior. Medium rare is just a little cooler. This type of steak is slightly brown on the outside with a pink center after being cooked to 135 F. Medium well, on the other hand, is cooked to 155 F, just under "well done," resulting in a steak that's decisively brown on the outside with just a hint of pink in the center. There should be something for any palate on this spectrum

A nice variety of spices, herbs, and condiments to liven up your steak are also important to remember. Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika are excellent for making rubs, while olive oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and Dijon mustard are essential when marinade-making. The acidity in marinades is especially helpful for tenderizing tougher cuts.

Cube steak

Steak Specialist writes that this convenient and versatile cut usually comes from the top or bottom round of the cow. It is also a very lean, sometimes tough cut. To prepare cube steak in the air fryer, your best bet is to marinate it. The acidic components — balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, or Worcestershire sauce — will help tenderize the beef. However, you can also use a simple seasoning made with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

Once seasoned or marinated, it will only take between five and seven minutes to cook in the air fryer (previously heated to 400 F and covered in a little olive oil or cooking spray). Flip it halfway through, and make sure you don't cook it past medium-rare, as it can get dry. In fact, that's one of the qualities that makes cube steak good for air frying — it's a popular cut for braising and pressure cooking. When it's done, let it cool for a couple of minutes. After it is cooled down, you can enjoy this delicious steak with simple, hearty sides like mashed potatoes and gravy, or use it to prepare stews or, even better, Philly cheesesteaks.

Flank steak

Let's make something clear before we begin: Skirt steak and flank steak often get mixed up, but they're not the same thing. While the first comes from the cow's diaphragm muscles, the second comes from the abdominal muscle below the chest (via Steak Revolution). It's a bit tougher but very lean and flavorful. It also has a tender texture and approachable taste. With these in mind, what's not to love about this type of steak?

If your goal is to serve up a juicy piece of flank steak, I Heart Air Frying suggests making sure the meat is at room temperature. If you do, the meat can soften, resulting in a more tender steak. Season it with a nice spice rub before placing it in the lightly oiled, preheated air fryer (400 F is ideal). Flank steak tastes best when cooked rare, medium-rare, or medium, as it can get somewhat chewy if it is overcooked. After removing the flank steak from the air fryer, it's a good idea to cover it in tin foil and let it rest for a few minutes, so the juices can settle.

Filet mignon

This beloved cut comes from the loin primal section of the cow, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association. As this muscle is connective tissue, and not toughened by exercise, it's extremely lean and tender. Makes sense, then, that "filet mignon" means small, pretty strip in French. In fact, it is said that the best filet mignon can be cut with a fork. It is a bit pricier than other options, but it's well worth it.

When it comes to cooking filet mignon in the air fryer, the cut's soft texture and mild flavor will work in your favor, allowing you to play with an assortment of rubs, marinades, butters, and sauces, such as peppercorn or Dijon. For ideal results, Air Frying Foodie suggests that the air fryer should be preheated at 380 F, and oiled before the meat comes in. Since the slices of filet mignon are usually around one or two inches thick, it won't take too long for them to cook; a filet mignon will usually take around 10 to 12 minutes to cook. Don't forget to flip them halfway through, let them rest for a few minutes, and present them on the table with your best French accent. Bon appétit.

Ribeye steak

​​With its rich, buttery flavor, ribeye is one of the most popular cuts among beef lovers; so popular and delicious that it's also known as "the beauty steak" (via Steak Revolution). The ribeye comes from a long muscle called longissimus dorsi, that runs from the cow's hip to its shoulder, and since it's not as used as other muscles, it's more tender, but it also contains a good amount of fat. This all means the ribeye has gorgeous marbling (the speckles of white fat you see on the surface) and a smooth texture. 

As if all those qualities weren't enough, the ribeye can be cooked quite quickly, making it an excellent candidate for the air fryer, which makes it nice and tender. That being said, there's one catch: when cooked with the bone, it can be a little more difficult, although the bone adds more moisture and flavor. If you're a newbie, though, it's totally fine to cook a boneless ribeye in the air fryer and add more difficulty to your game later on.

Being such a naturally tasty cut, ribeye asks for simple seasonings. After prepping the meat, place it on the air fryer, preheated to 400 F, and cook it to the desired doneness (15 minutes should be enough for medium-well, according to Air Frying Foodie). After letting it sit for a few minutes, add a touch of rich butter, and enjoy your creation.

Porterhouse steak

The Porterhouse is a serious piece of meat. Steak Revolution states that it comes from the short loin portion of the cow, beneath its backbone, consisting of the top loin –also known as the New York strip– and the tenderloin. Separated by the T bone, the top loin contains more marbled fat. This fat gives the steak a more robust flavor, while the tenderloin is leaner and more tender. This surely gives carnivores the best of both worlds, and plenty of meat to work with, so it might be best to cook each steak individually and find someone to share the meal with.

When planning to cook a Porterhouse steak in the air fryer, it might be wise to purchase it from a butcher that sells quality meats, to ensure you get the best of the best when it comes to this very reputable and popular cut. Also, consider that it is usually quite thick; Fork to Spoon notes that this steak is at least an inch and a half, so it will take longer to cook. You'll need to preheat your air fryer to 400 F, and given that this is such an interesting piece of steak, you don't need to use complicated rubs or marinades. A simple combo of salt, pepper, and olive oil will let the meat's flavors shine.

Sirloin steak

Legend has it that this cut of meat got its name in the seventeenth century when King James I of England decided to knight the loin of beef as "Sir Loin" (via BBC). Sadly, this is probably not true, and the word most likely comes from the French surloigne, which means "above the loin." Appreciated for its hearty flavor, this cut comes from the sirloin, which is the subprimal posterior to the short loin. This section of the cow is where the Porterhouse, T bone, and club steaks also come from. When choosing sirloin, it's important to remember that it is divided into top sirloin, a more tender meat, and bottom sirloin, which is larger, leaner, and somewhat tougher.

According to Cool Bean Cooking, sirloin is ideal for air frying, especially when the meat has already been thawed. Prepare your air fryer by setting it to 400 F and oil it before placing the previously rubbed or marinated steaks. Remember that the meat should rest in the marinade for some time, depending on the amount of meat. Cook to your preferred level of doneness, flipping halfway through. Classics like French fries, roasted vegetables, and onion rings are excellent companions for this delicious cut.

Strip steak

According to Carnivore Style, this top-notch cut of meat originally went by the name of shell steak back in the 1800s, and later became known as strip steak.  It comes from the top loin of the cow, and while it is more commonly sold without the bone. You can also find the Kansas strip version with the bone attached. You can cook both kinds of strip steak in the air fryer to fantastic results, the main difference being that the bone will add more moisture and, honestly, can make the steak look more impressive.

Strip steak's beautiful texture and rich, beefy flavor make it an absolute favorite among connoisseurs, which is why it's important to have a piece of steak that is smooth, with a deep red color, and feels firm to the touch. The fat marbling makes it tender and flavorful, so a simple seasoning of butter, garlic and herbs might be all you need to create an air fryer masterpiece (via West via Midwest). Preheat your device to 400 F, oil it, and place the room temperature pieces of steak, cooking them for about 14 minutes (if you're aiming for medium-rare). The air fryer should give your strip steak a lovely, seared crust.