This was finally the summer you nailed grilled steak. Props to you. But what about when the weather gets cold again and you’re craving a medium-rare filet? Don’t be intimidated. It turns out you don’t even need to use the stove to pull it off. Here’s how to cook steak in the oven (and only the oven).
What You’ll Need
Here are the basics you’ll need to cook a killer cut of beef in the oven or under the broiler:
- A skillet (ideally cast-iron) for thick steak or a baking sheet for thinner cuts
- Oil or butter
- Salt and fresh-cracked pepper
- Meat thermometer
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you’re so not alone. Before you prematurely cut the steak to check its doneness and lose all of its tasty juices (seriously, don’t do that!), consider these alternatives. You can watch the clock (we like using Omaha Steaks’ cooking charts, which break cooking times down by steak thickness, cooking method and desired doneness) or rely on the age-old touch test. This involves using your hand to check how cooked through the steak is.
Rare steak will feel wobbly, soft and a little squishy when pressed with your index finger. Medium steak feels firm yet springy and will give a little under your finger. When steak is well-done, it’ll feel totally firm.
Still confused? Use the fleshy area under your thumb on one hand as a gauge for doneness. The way the fleshy area feels when your palm is open and relaxed is comparable to the feel of rare steak. Bring your thumb and index finger together and that fleshy part of your hand l will get a little firmer—that’s what medium-rare steak feels like. Touch your middle finger and thumb together for the feeling of medium steak. Use your ring finger and thumb to test for medium-well and your pinky for well-done. (This blog post offers a photo breakdown of what we mean.) Handy, huh?
How to Cook a Thin Steak in the Oven
When it comes to thin cuts of meat, like skirt or flank steak, the broiler is your best bet. Because it gets so hot, thin steaks don’t even need to be deliberately seared to develop a crusty char on both sides. It’ll also only take you a few minutes; if you like your steak rare, you’ll essentially only be cooking the outside of the steak to prevent the inside from rapidly becoming gray and chewy. Here’s what to do:
- Preheat the broiler. While it’s preheating, take the steak out of the fridge and let it come down to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. This helps the steak cook evenly later.
- Season the steak on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pat it dry first. The simplest combo is olive oil, salt and fresh-ground black pepper, but feel free to add more herbs and spices.
- Once the broiler is hot, place the baking sheet under the broiler as close to the heating element as possible, or no further than four inches below it. After about 5 to 6 minutes, flip the steak over and let it continue cooking.
- Remove the steak from the oven when it’s about five degrees less than the internal temperature of your desired doneness: 120°-130°F for rare, 140°-150°F for medium or 160°-170°F for well done (if you insist). If you don’t have a meat thermometer, remove the steak after 3 or 4 minutes if you like it rare or 5 minutes if you prefer medium. You can also lean on the touch test in a pinch.
- Place the steak on a cutting board, plate or serving platter. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving or slicing against the grain. Cutting it too soon = chewy, tough meat. Letting it sit allows its juices to redistribute, making for a super flavorful steak.
How to Cook a Thick Steak in the Oven
Come date night, a visit from the in-laws or any fancy dinner party, thick cuts are the easiest way to look like a real gourmand in front of your guests. Think ribeye, porterhouse, filet mignon and the like. Since you’re likely spending a bit more on these cuts at the grocery store, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overcook all those extra dollars.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. While it’s preheating, take the steak out of the fridge and let it come down to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. This helps the steak cook evenly.
- Place the skillet you’re going to cook with in the oven while it preheats so it gets hot. This is the key to getting a nice, crusty sear on both sides of a thick steak without having to turn on the stove.
- Season the steak. Pat it dry first. The simplest combo is olive oil, salt and fresh-ground black pepper, but feel free to add more herbs and spices.
- Once the oven is heated and the steak is at room temperature, it’s time to sear. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and add the steak to it. Let it sear until the bottom is dark and charred, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip the steak over to sear the other side. Return the skillet to the oven. Feel free to top the steak with a pat or two of butter.
- Remove the steak from the oven when it’s about five degrees less than the internal temperature of your desired doneness: 120°-130°F for rare, 140°-150°F for medium or 160°-170°F for well done (if you insist). If you don’t have a meat thermometer, remove it after 9 to 11 minutes if you like your steak rare, 13 to 16 minutes for medium or 20 to 24 minutes for well done, assuming your steak is 1½ inches thick. It’ll take a few minutes longer if your steak is thicker (see this cheat sheet for help). You can also use the aforementioned touch test.
- Place the steak on a cutting board, plate or serving platter. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving or slicing against the grain, so it doesn’t get too chewy or tough. Letting it sit allows its juices to redistribute, making for a super flavorful steak.
What About the Stove?
We always want to go from zero to steak in as few steps (and dishes) as possible. But if you’re a stovetop diehard and searing it in a preheated skillet in the oven doesn’t cut it for you, feel free to sear the steak as you normally would on the stove. If you want to sear it before it goes in the oven, preheat the skillet over medium-high heat with a minimal coating of oil and sear the steak on every side (even the thin sides that otherwise won’t get direct contact with the skillet). But before you do that, let us try to convince you to sear the steak *after* it comes out of the oven instead.
Hear us out: The reverse-sear method works best for steaks that are at least 1½ to 2 inches thick, or fatty steaks like ribeye or wagyu beef. Because it brings the meat’s temperature up slowly by roasting it in the oven prior to searing, you have total control over the temperature and doneness of the meat. Finishing with a pan-sear creates a drool-worthy charred crust.
To pull this off, start by preheating the oven to 250°F. Cook the steak until its internal temperature is 10 degrees lower than what you’re aiming for. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Once it’s just short of smoking, sear the steaks in the skillet for about 1 minute per side. Once the steak has rested, it’s ready to devour.
Ready to cook? Here are seven steak recipes we love to prep in the oven, on the grill and beyond.
- 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak
- Grilled Flank Steak with Lemon-Herb Sauce
- Skillet Steak with Asparagus and Potatoes
- Steak Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce
- Keto Steak and Blue Cheese Salad for One
- Flank Steak Tacos with Cucumber Salsa
- One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale
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