The Habitat
How to Cook the Perfect Steak
How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Steak is a high-quality slice of meat cut from the hindquarters of a cow. According to cave paintings, humans have been consuming beef since pre-historic times. Cooking a tender, juicy, perfectly done steak is an essential life skill. Everyone from professional chefs to home-cooks should know how to make and serve this delicious food. Learning how to perfectly cook a steak begins before the meat even touches the pan.


Grades of Beef

steak grades Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

In the United States beef comes in five grades.

  • Prime Grade: the highest grade, heavy marbling.
  • Choice Grade: high quality but has less marbling than prime.
  • Select Grade: generally leaner leading to less flavor and juiciness due to lower fat content.
  • Standard Grade: usually sold as a store brand, it is lower quality than the previous grades of beef.
  • Utility Grade: used for ground beef and canning products, too low quality to use for steak or retail.

Crazy for Cuts

cuts of steak Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

There are eight main types of beef cuts; rib, round, chuck, flank, short plate, loin, brisket, & shank. The quality of the cut is higher the closer they are to the center of the cow. This makes the two center-most sections, the loin, and rib, the most delicious and also the most expensive. Cuts like filet mignon and rib eye come from these two sections.


How Steak Can Benefit Your Diet

benefits of steak Tom White / Getty Images

Eating steak as part of a well-balanced diet can benefit your body in several ways.

  • Protein: steak is high in protein which your body uses to build and repair muscles and other types of tissue.
  • Vitamin B12: steak is a great source of b12, an essential vitamin for your bodies nerve function and formation of red blood cells. B12 is also involved in the formation of DNA.
  • Iron: steak provides iron, a vital nutrient which is involved in transporting oxygen throughout your body.
  • Zinc: steak contains zinc which supports the proper functioning of your immune system.

Historical Beginnings of Steak

history steak Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

Humans began domesticating cattle around 8000 BC, although there are cave paintings implying human consumption of beef all the way back in pre-historic times. The first Longhorn cattle were brought to America by Spanish explorers in 1534. Since then several other breeds were brought over for their various attributes. The most well know is the Black Angus which is a cross between Texas Longhorns and Scottish Aberdeen Angus steer. Black Angus is presently the most popular breed in the United States valued for the delicious beef it produces.


Delicious Ways to Use Steak

beef steak Carsten Koall / Getty Images

There are many delicious, wonderful uses for beef. Here is a list of some of our favorites:

  • Beef Quesadillas: cut up some steak, add some cheese, put it between some tortillas and fry for a yummy Mexican dish.
  • Pasta with Beef: combine diced beef with your favorite pasta, marinara sauce, and some Parmesan for a decadent Italian meal.
  • Fancy Philly Cheesesteak: combine thinly sliced beef with provolone and sauteed onions and peppers on a sub roll for a mouth-watering treat.

Reasons to Use Steak

use steak Carsten Koall / Getty Images

Half of the fat in beef is monounsaturated, the same as the heart-healthy fat in olive oil. There are also essential vitamins and minerals in beef that can be difficult to get from anything else. Though there is iron in foods like spinach and broccoli, the amount your body can absorb from red meant cannot be beaten!


Common Steak Mistakes

cooking steak Carsten Koall / Getty Images

One common mis(steak) is not letting it rest at room temp before cooking. It is important that the cut is around room temperature when you cook it or the center won't heat up at the correct rate.

Another common mistake is not preheating the pan long enough. You must have a very hot pan when you place a steak inside in order to sear the outside locking in the juices.

Along those lines, it is important not to use the wrong pan. Cast iron and stainless steel pans are suitable for use in the oven as well as the stove.


What you Need to Make That Steak

how to cook steak Carsten Koall / Getty Images


  • Cast iron or stainless steel frying pan
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Metal Tongs
  • Kitchen Thermometer


  • A high-quality cut of steak which has sat for at least 30 minutes at room temp
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees f. Season all sides well with salt and pepper. Preheat pan over medium-high to high heat for 5-10 minutes until well heated. Sear the steak on each side for 2-3 minutes. Place the pan inside the oven and cook periodically checking with a thermometer until internal temperature of steak is 5 degrees lower than the desired doneness. For a rare steak, it should read 120 degrees f. For medium rare, it should read 130 degrees f, and medium should read 135 degrees f. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.


Other Cooking Methods

steak recipe John Moore / Getty Images

There are many variations on how to cook a steak. Some ways other than the method described in this article include grilling over gas or charcoal, slowly smoking over flavorful woods, broiling in an oven, roasting over an open fire, and sous vide. Try some of these methods as an exciting alternative.


Fun Facts

  • Filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef
  • Average Americans consume 50 lbs of beef yearly
  • Medium rare is the most popular doneness
  • Kobe beef is the most expensive type of beef in the world
  • The juice that flows out of a steak when it's cut is not blood but a mixture of mostly water with a little fat and protein


Make a habit out of it.

Get daily tips and tricks for living your best life.