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The Four Best Pans for Cooking Steak

A great steak deserves a great pan: here are four we recommend.

By Rachel Baron
Jun 13, 2023
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One of the defining traits of a good steak is undeniably the outside crust. A buttery, salty char is irresistible, particularly when contrasted with a meltingly tender, juicy interior. To make a steak like this at home, you’ll want to have the proper pan, especially when cooking a high-quality cut.

While you’ve got a few options, to achieve a  perfectly seared steak with an ideal temperature gradient—i.e., rarer in the center and less rare near the edges—you’ll need a pan that can get and stay ripping hot. Here are four of our favorite pans for cooking steaks.

Our Favorite: Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Our absolute favorite kind of pan for cooking steaks is a Carbon Steel Frying Pan. Lightweight like a Stainless Clad Frying Pan with the stellar heat retention of a cast iron skillet, our Carbon Steel pan also has excellent heat control, meaning you can easily lower the flame to avoid burning once you’ve gotten that perfect sear. Since it’s oven-safe, you can also use it to reverse sear or finish your steak in the oven.

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For Perfect Sears: Stainless Clad Frying Pan

The Stainless Clad Frying Pan is another excellent  option for cooking steaks on the stove. Similar to the Carbon Steel Frying Pan, our Stainless Clad Frying Pan is lightweight and lends a deep, even sear to your steak, while allowing you to easily adjust the pan’s temperature.

One added benefit of the Stainless Clad Pan is that it’s non-reactive. This means that you can add acidic ingredients like wine to the pan to make a pan sauce when your steak is finished cooking, something that would strip the seasoning on a Carbon Steel or cast iron pan.

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For Outdoor Cooking: Carbon Steel Grill Frying Pan

If you prefer to cook your steak on the grill, you might consider upping your game with a Grill Frying Pan. Our Carbon Steel Grill Frying Pan offers the same excellent heat conductivity and lightweight feel as a regular Carbon Steel pan, but with a perforated bottom that allows your steak to make direct contact with the flames of the grill. Easy to maneuver, and giving you the smoky char you crave, the Carbon Steel Grill Pan is a win-win.

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For Varied Uses: Carbon Steel Griddle

By now, you already know how much we love Carbon Steel for cooking steak. But not only can our Carbon Steel Griddle do everything the Carbon Steel Frying Pan and Grill Frying Pan can do, it can also be used for cooking on the stove, the grill, or over an open flame.

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What to Look For When Cooking Steaks

For steaks that are consistently excellent every time you cook them, make sure to look for a pan that not only gets roaring hot, but also responds well to adjustments in temperature.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Quality 1: Heat Control

Steaks are deceptively finicky when it comes to cooking them to the right temperature. While some pans, like cast iron, are known for giving steak that sought-after crust, they’re almost too good at retaining heat, meaning it’s harder to reduce the temperature of the pan. If you’re not careful, you could wind up with a steak that’s raw on the inside and fully cooked—or even burned—on the outside, something that’s easier to avoid with a Stainless Clad or Carbon Steel pan.

Quality 2: Temperature Maximums

Not all pans can be used interchangeably, and that especially goes for the high-heat cooking used for steaks. If you plan to cook your steak on the grill or finish it in the oven, make sure your pan is designed to hold up to cooking using those methods—otherwise, it may degrade the pan (and probably ruin your dinner).  The Stainless Clad Frying Pan can luckily withstand temperatures of up to 800F, while the Carbon Steel Frying Pan and Carbon Steel Grill Frying Pan can both withstand up to 1200F.

Ready to Cook?

After you've landed on then best pan, the next step for cooking a great steak is a high-quality cut of meat—we recommend a filet mignon, New York Strip, or a bone-in ribeye from our friends at Porter Road.

Once you’ve got everything you need, treat yourself to one of our steak recipes—like Grilled Steak with a sweet and spicy baked potato salad on the side, courtesy of Mike and Mark Black of Terry Black’s BBQ in Austin, Texas. The steak is seasoned with salt and pepper, then seared in a Carbon Steel Frying Pan to create that perfect crust.

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