Can You Cook Steak In A Non-Stick Pan?

Since non-stick pans are one of the most common cookware in kitchens, many people wonder whether they can cook steak in a non-stick pan or not.

In this article, we look at this question and also cover some tips on how to best cook steak.

Can You Cook Steak In A Non-Stick Pan?

You can cook a steak in a non-stick pan, but that doesn’t mean that you should. A non-stick pan cannot get hot enough to sear the meat well enough to add flavor.

If you place the steak in the pan, it will cool it down. The meat will then stew in its juices and become dry.

Most people who use a non-stick pan leave the meat in for a while. The aim is to get a sear.

The result?

An inedible piece of meat that is chewy and unpleasant in taste.

This is why professional chefs use cast iron skillets for cooking steaks.

How To Cook Steak In A Cast Iron Skillet

A cast-iron skillet can give your steak a flavorful and crisp crust.

Plus, you can also pop it in the oven to ensure the steak is cooked perfectly. Using a cast-iron skillet is an art, though.

Here are some tips on how you can use one to cook the perfect steak:

Choose The Ideal Steak

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use a thick steak. Use a thinner cut that is about an inch thick at most.

That way, you can cook both sides equally well. The steak will also turn out better in terms of taste. Some good cuts you can get include New York strip or filet mignon.

Before placing the steak on the hot skillet, make sure it is dry. Pay it dry before you do that, or you will get a lot of smoke.

Marinate The Steak In Advance

For the best taste, marinate the steak overnight. Place the marinated meat in a container or sealed bag and place it in the refrigerator. If you are in a hurry, marinate the meat for two hours only.

If the marinade has alcohol or salt, do not marinate if for more than four hours. The ingredients will alter the natural qualities of the steak, otherwise.

Similarly, if the marinade has acid i.e., citrus, such as lemon juice, don’t marinate it for more than two hours. The color of the meat will change otherwise.

Use Salt if you Aren’t Using Marinade

If you don’t want to use a marinade, you can use kosher salt to season the steak instead. It will bring out the natural flavor of the meat and help it brown. Do this overnight to increase the flavor.

You can also season the meat with salt for 40 minutes before cooking it. It will mildly enhance the flavor. However, the steak will not be as tender as you want it to be.

Soak it overnight in a salt brine to make it melt in your mouth later. Add extra flavor by adding thyme, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Allow The Steak To Come To Room Temperature

If you marinate the steak overnight in the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature.

Then, cook it. Allow it to sit for an hour or half an hour outside, especially if the steak is thick. The meat will cook evenly then.

Prepare the Cast Iron Skillet

Add vegetable oil or olive oil to the cast iron skillet. The oil should coat the bottom of the pan evenly to prevent burning.

Heat the pan for a minute on high heat. Once the smoke starts to rise, place the steak in the skillet.

A cast-iron skillet retains heat even after the meat is placed on it. This is one of the main reasons why they are great for cooking steak.

Cooking the Steak

When the oil starts to smoke, place the steak in the center of the skillet. At that point, it is hot enough to cook and sear the meat evenly.

Be careful if you are using your hands to place the meat in. You can burn yourself, otherwise!

Both sides of the steak should be cooked for five to six minutes each. The time you take to cook the meat depends on the cut of the steak and the temperature you want to cook it in.

As a general rule of thumb, each side should be allowed to brown for five minutes.

If you prefer a medium-rare steak, reduce the cooking time. If you want a well-done steak, make sure that the surface is seared and brown before you flip it.

You can also flip the steak every 30 seconds to cook it faster if you are in a hurry.

Determining Doneness

Once one side of the meat turns nice and brown, use your fingers or a pair of tongs to flip it.

If you flip it only once, the steak will retain its juices and remain pink in the middle.

Place the tip of a meat thermometer into the center of the steak to check the temperature. Here is what you should be looking for:

  • Medium – 140° F
  • Medium well – 150°F
  • Medium-rare – 130° F
  • Rare – 120°F
  • Well done – 160° F

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, use the finger test. Touch your middle finger to your thumb and use your other hand to feel the fleshy part under the thumb.

Use the same finger to feel the steak to compare. If the meat and the fleshy part of the thumb feel the same, your steak is medium-rare.

To check if it is rare, touch your index finger to your thumb.

If you want medium, touch your ring finger to your thumb. If you want well-done, touch your pinkie finger to your thumb.

Tips When Cooking Steak on a Non-Stick Pan

If you don’t have a choice and have to cook steak on a non-stick pan, be cautious.

Here are some top rules for using this pan you should adhere to:

Don’t use Metal on the Pan

Metal utensils can leave scratches on non-stick pans and can ruin its surface entirely with prolonged use.

So rather than using a metal tong to flip your steaks, use scratch-free utensils instead. These should be made from either wood, plastic, silicone or rubber.

Avoid Major Temperature Changes

Don’t place a hot non-stick pan under running water! The rapid change in temperature can warp the material.

While this is common in cheaper pans, you shouldn’t risk an industrial-strength one by placing it under cold water. Those can be quite expensive.

Allow your non-stick pan to cool down for a couple of minutes before washing it.

If it gets warped, the pan will not distribute heat evenly. The result? Steaks that are either undercooked or burn fast.

Clean Non-Stick Pans Carefully

As mentioned before, non-stick pans can get scratched easily. So after the pan cools down once you have cooked the steak, clean it with a soft scouring pad.

Do not use rough ones and harsh cleaning agents. A metal scouring pad will wear off the coating with time.

Plus, if the pan is crusty, soak it in water for half an hour, then clean it. The crusted bits will slough off quickly then even if you are using a non-abrasive scouring pad.

Don’t Cook Acidic Food In The Pan

Don’t cook the sauce for your steak in a non-stick pan. It will have acidic ingredients that can promote flaking.

Tomatoes and lemons can bond and create an agent that can dissolve the shallow non-stick coating.

Some pans can also get ruined after they are used for cooking acidic food for the first time.

Wash The Non-Stick Pan Before Using It

Don’t use your non-stick pan straight out of its packaging.

Wash it first with hot, soapy water to remove residual oil and dirt. Rinse and dry the pan completely before placing it on the stove.

Unlike a cast iron skillet, you don’t need to cure the pan before use. It can be used right after it is washed and dried.

Add Oil if Needed

Even if your non-stick pan does not require oil to prevent food from sticking, add some anyway. Use a small bit of oil or margarine rather than a cooking spray. These have additives that can be harmful to the coating.

If you don’t want to use oil at all, purchase high-end non-stick pans. These are usually made of ceramic and have more durable coatings.

However, with time, you may have to use oil on them as well. Even the best pans can lose their non-stick coating with time and use.

Don’t use High Heat

Unlike cast iron skillets, non-stick pans heat up quickly. Most coatings are not made to withstand high heat. Some non-stick ceramic pans can take higher temperatures but not for prolonged periods.

So make sure you use low to moderate heat to heat the pan. You can check the temperature by adding butter. If it starts to burn, the pan is too hot.

A non-stick skillet is ideal when it comes to cooking steak. Besides retaining the flavor of the meat, it can also add a nice sear. Use a non-stick pan only if you don’t have a skillet handy.

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