How To Cook A Steak

Making a steak is really pretty simple. Start with a nice steak for starters. Sirloin, T-bone, and rib eye are good choices for general steak-eating purposes. If you want to get fancy, you could pick up some filet mignon, although it’s generally about twice the price of sirloin. So…weigh carefully how much you care.

With the exception of filet mignon (which are usually cut to around 2 inches thick), choose steaks between 3/4 inch and 1 1/2 inches thick. They’ll cook better, more evenly, with this pan-broiling method I’mmonna show you in a second. Bring them to room temperature before cooking by leaving them on the counter (away from your fly farm) for 30 minutes or an hour before cooking.

When they’re done cooking, they need to rest for at least 5 minutes before you tear into them. That’s exactly enough time to make a gorgeous pan sauce with some wine! Perfect! You are going to impress the hell out of yourself with this recipe.

Oh, Snap. I should also tell you that this is going to smoke and get crazy. Your smoke alarm may start blowin’ up. Turn on your exhaust fan at the very beginning; if you don’t have one (like me), open a window and turn on a ceiling fan, ‘kay?

If you are REAL averse to smoking out your house, you might just want to do this on a grill. Same method — but you miss out on the delectable pan sauce. (*Unless, like some dear, sweet, clever commenters pointed out, you put the pan ON the grill. Doy, Hilah! Thanks, y’all!)

Heat your grill to a medium-hot temperature and cook about as long as you would using the pan-broiling method. To check the temperature of your grill, hold your hand about an inch above the grate, palm side down. Count “mississippis” or “one-thousands” or “tarantulas” or whatever funny word you use to count seconds. When you can hold your hand there for 3 seconds, that’s medium hot. Approximately. You know.

How To Cook Steak

Anyway, so now you have some raw steaks staring you in the face. Shut your face, steak! This is how you’re gonna do it.


Pan-Broiled Steak

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Yield: 2 1x


  • Steaks (one big one or two smaller ones or one smaller one or fuck it, just get some hotdogs and stop trying)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Pepper (this is one time when I will tell you to use fresh ground pepper if you can)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh herbs if you can spare them


  1. Bring the steaks to room temperature, or thereabouts. Get a paper towel or a Whataburger napkin from your glovebox and pat the steaks dry.
  2. Cut a clove of garlic in to halves and smear the meat with the cut sides of the garlic. Smear both sides.
  3. Sprinkle with pepper and salt, liberally. Do not be a miser. Depending on the size of your steaks, between 1/2 teaspoon and a teaspoon of salt per steak. Same for the pepper.
  4. Preheat your skillet over high heat. PLEASE use cast iron. If you must use stainless steel, well, then you must. But DO NOT use a non-stick skillet. They buckle under the pressure of such high heat cooking and may actually catch on fire and then your smoke alarm will be going off for a real reason instead of a dumb reason like aromatic steak smoke.
  5. Once it’s really really hot, put your steak in and leave it alone for about 5 minutes (assuming you’re going for medium doneness)
  6. If a lot of fat is accumulating in the skillet, try to spoon some of it out without burning yourself with boiling oil. If you can’t manage it safely, don’t worry. I care about your fingers and hands and the skin on your leg!
  7. After 5 minutes, flip the steak and cook another 5 minutes. Around now is probably when your smoke alarm is beeping at you and won’t shut the eff up even after you take the battery out because it’s wired into the electrical system for “safety”.
  8. Check for doneness by cutting a teeny slit in the thickest part of the meat and looking in it. If there’s a bone in your steak, check near the bone. If you’re going for medium, the meat should still be pink right now, more like medium-rare. BUT you need to take it off the heat before it finishes cooking as you desire because it will continue to cook off the heat. That’s a little thing called “residual cooking”.
  9. Once it’s cooked to slightly less than you want, remove it from the pan and set it on a plate.
  10. Now turn back to your blazin’ hot skillet and pour that wine in there. Quickly stir it around with a fork or whisk to get all the little brown bits of steak and salt and pepper off the skillet and into the wine. This is called deglazing the pan.
  11. When the wine has reduced to about half it’s original volume, add the butter and any herbs you like (thyme, parsley, tarragon) as well as the steak-juice that has accumulated on the plate. Mix it around and pour it over the steak.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

Eat it with some mashed potatoes and salad or something. Win!

[box]T-Shirt by Jane Almirall. Photo by neotakem.[/box]


  1. Great Stone Face on June 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Couldn’t you grill and get a pan sauce going, too, by putting your cast iron pan on the grill?

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

      Oh, dangit! You are totally right. I never think of doing that. Great suggestion, GSF.

  2. Steph on June 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Oh shit, I better go to Whataburger and get some napkins so’s I can make some steak!

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

      It’s a requirement!

  3. Jonathan on June 1, 2011 at 9:04 am

    By cooking your steak on the grill in the cast iron pan you can still have your pan sauce and NOT set off the smoke alarm!

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

      YES! Thank you, Jonathan. I’m going to revise my post. You are so smart!

  4. Jane on June 1, 2011 at 9:35 am


    (I am rendered inarticulate by your beauty and sartorial charms)

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Your t-shirt makes me inarticulate. Did that sound dirty?

  5. Scott on June 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Awesome how Hilah! Gettin just a lil anxious about the book coming up. Can’t Wait.

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Dude, Scott. YOU’RE getting anxious?! I got a whole bucket o’ anxious over here! Eeks! It’s gonna be cool, though.

  6. Jose on June 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Excellent post!

    What kind of red wine do you recommend? How would you recommend I add sauteed onions and mushrooms to the pan sauce?

    • Hilah on June 1, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Thanks, Jose!
      I recommend something dry like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir (my favorite), or a Shiraz. Stay away from anything very sweet. And, of course, don’t use anything that’s not good enough to drink on its own.
      Saute your onions and mushrooms in the pan after you take the steak out, then add the wine once they are cooked to your liking. Great idea, too, by the way!

  7. Randy on June 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Hilah, I’d go so far as to say that if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go buy one right now! Besides pan frying steaks, they are essential for making a roux for gumbo.

    A few years ago, when I discovered that Costco sold USDA Prime beef, I got really exited about showing friends how much better a steak you can cook at home than what you get at those chain steak houses (high-end ones excepted). In order to cook 6 ribeyes at once, I switched from using a cast iron skillet to a 6 quart stainless saute pan. Even though my guests always raved about the steaks, I always wondered why they weren’t as good as I remembered them. I wrote it off as being due to having too much in the pan at once. It was only after trying to make a roux in another stainless steel pan that I realized that there’s just some things that absolutely require a cast iron skillet. Someone probably makes a huge cast iron skillet, but I now think that you should only cook steaks for yourself and one other person 🙂

    BTW, I throw a towel over the smoke detector whenever I’m cooking on high heat.

    BTW 2, I think you look even more gorgeous in this kitchen (I hope I’m forgiven for an occasional dirty old man outburst).

    • Hilah on June 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Hey Randy! I completely agree. I think no kitchen is complete without one. They are incredibly versatile!

      It does seem like more than 2 steaks at a time is too many. Unless you’re using a one-million-BTU commercial stove there’s just not enough heat to properly brown them, I think. Your pan would cool off so much when you dropped in 6 big ol’ steaks that it would never heat back up using a standard stovetop. A grill, however…you could do that.

      Great tip on the smoke detector. How do you get the towel to stay on if it’s mounted to the ceiling?

      And, THANKS! We were sweating that one, but it doesn’t look half bad! And if that’s as dirty as you’re gonna get, you’re clean. 😉

      • Hilah on June 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

        Oh, duh! A rubber band would hold a towel on the smoke detector. I am not as dumb as I am usually. I am totally drunk-commenting on my own website.

      • Randy on June 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        Oops, bad writing on my part. I didn’t toss all the ribeyes in at once. The first time I attempted 6 steaks at once, I was flustered by the fact that everyone wanted theirs to be cooked differently. All the way from “just pass the steak in front of a candle on the way to the table” to well-done. So I staggered the tossing on of the steaks (2 was the most I tossed on at once). But I’m sure the temp still dropped. After going through the stress of trying to please 4 or 5 different takes on how a steak ought to be cooked a couple of times, I decided that I wouldn’t ever cook a steak for anyone who wanted their steak cooked beyond medium. There’s two sides to that notion that cooking for others is an act of love. On one hand, cooking for people can be an expression of love. Cooking steaks, however, falls on the other side: love is a prerequisite for even thinking of going to the trouble. But the last time I had someone over for steaks, she wanted hers well-done. By that time, I had discovered the sear-the-hell-out-of-the-steak-on-the-stove-top-then-finish-it-in-the-oven technique. But it’s still a pain in the ass to try to cook one steak medium-rare and another one well-done. If I wasn’t retired from romance, I’d add “how do you like your steak cooked” to the list of critical questions to be asked on the second date.

        Damn. I’ve only been in this apartment for 9 months and I’ve already forgotten that smoke detectors are usually mounted on the ceiling. Mine are mounted high up on the walls so throwing a towel over them is easy. Back when I lived in places where they were mounted on the ceiling, I’d take them down and put them in a drawer. And then forget about them until I needed something out of the drawer.

        • Hilah on June 6, 2011 at 6:47 am

          Retired from romance?! Say it ain’t so, my suave and debonnaire friend.

  8. Robert on June 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Just found your awesome cooking show today, Hilah. Had a quick suggestion for steak cooking. Take a sharp knife and score the strip of fat that’s on the side of the steak. It lets the fat render out and makes everything tastier. If you’re steak is thick enough, you can even stand it up on the fat for a little bit to really cook it out. Cheers, and thanks for making an awesome show!

    • Hilah on June 6, 2011 at 7:01 am

      Hey Robert!
      That’s a great tip, man! Never thought of it but I bet it makes a nice crisp edge. I’ll try it next time.
      I’m really happy you like the show and thank you for writing!

  9. warrk21 on January 17, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    1 more time u need your Dam TV Show

  10. Midori on March 29, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I hun! i have a question of what herb exactly did you use? i am clueless -.- please tell me ty =]

    • Hilah on March 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Hi Midori! I used thyme and parsley I think.

  11. Derek Spencer on June 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Hilah:

    I love your videos.

    I have noticed that on most cooking shows they never show the cook washing up before cooking. That is especially true when it comes to morning talk shows when get the host involved in the cooking process (nobody washes their hands). Why don’t they take twenty seconds to clean up?


    • Hilah on June 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Hey Derek!
      I think it’s just assumed that everyone knows they should wash their hands before cooking and no one needs a tutorial on how to wash their hands. Plus, I guess it’s kind of boring to watch. The morning show thing, though, do they even usually have a sink on the sound stage? It’s been so long, I don’t know if they do.
      Thanks for watching!

  12. Katie on March 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Hilah. DEAR GOD WOMAN. I actually think this might have been the most amazing steak I have ever consumed in my entire life (and I am a BIG fan of steak).

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try the wine sauce, as I find wine to taste pretty nasty on the whole, but I am SO glad I did. I did it a bit out of order since I decided to make it in the heat of the moment (ba-dum-TSS) and was too consumed by the things smoking and sizzling and frying in my pan to go over and look at the recipe on my computer, so I did the butter bit first and then added the wine (after much heated wrestling with the cork). I forgot about adding herbs, but just the salt and pepper was a perfect balance with all the other elements.

    Without question the most delicious thing I’ve ever personally made and quite possibly the most delicious steak I’ve ever eaten in my life.

    • Hilah on March 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      That is FANTASTIC, Katie! I’m so happy. And good for you for trying the sauce even if you don’t like wine itself. Yay!!!

  13. Bill Wallace on February 14, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I just take the smoke alarm down and put it in the frig.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.