How to pan sear a thin steak?

  • I'm doing something really simple right now, sprinkling pepper over one side of a half-inch thick steak and throwing it in a pan of butter.

    But by the time it's cooked through (I want medium rare), the outside is just a sickly grey.

    How can I get the steak to look good?


    They're actually even thinner, maybe less than half an inch. And they keep cooking through to well done and grey on the inside almost immediately!

    Use a hotter pan?

    Found old answers to a similar question How do you properly cook a steak?

    how thick are these items, actually? Do you perhaps have cutlets instead of steaks? If not, do you know what actual cut the steaks are?

    *VERY* thin. They vary between a quarter inch and half an inch. spiceyokokoo's tips worked reasonably well, although the steaks are still largely grey when they're done.

    We (in the UK) would call the 1/4 inch ones Minute Steaks, because they only take minutes to cook - But they're still coming out grey? What kind of pan and oil are you using?

  • Brendan

    Brendan Correct answer

    8 years ago

    I would actually recommend the opposite of what was said above. Since the meat is so thin you may have much better results pan searing it in an extremely hot pan from slightly frozen. This way the outermost layer will start to undergo the maillard reaction long before the inside of the steak reaches a medium-rare temp and will give you a better chance of preventing it from overcooking.

    This link provides an overview of the process for a much larger piece of meat then your using but the searing process is what your concerned most with since your steaks are so thin. You will likely have to play with the timing a little bit with regards to how frozen the steak needs to start out but I figure erring on the side of too frozen is best since you can then heat them in the oven to the internal temp your looking for.

    That should work if you are prepared to freeze the steak, but how do I get the steak flat enough to be heated, I need to press it when freezing? Think you need a blow torch to make it work?

    @Stefan A 650°F (~350°C) cast iron pan will do fine. Sear will be done in well under a minute per side (I'd check after 15s or so). No need for a torch. (And you'll probably have to put the butter on afterwards, it'll burn...)

    A torch would work but isn't the most efficient option. I reccomend freezing the steak between two sheet pans with a sturdy weight on top to create a nice flat surface.

    I wish I had that much space in my freezer :-)

    I would add flipping it over quite often. You won't be able to flip it that much, because of the short time overall, but it will distribute the heat a little more evenly.

    @Hanno Fietz, Here the flipping technique works against this technique. You use flipping every 15-30 sec to get the inside to heat more evenly and reduce the total cooking time, with this technique, you want to maximize the outside heating so it is probably better to not flip.

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