Pan fry up the perfect steak

Usually delicious Alberta steaks make us think of barbecuing, but pan frying can also turn those steaks into an unforgettable meal. The secret to gourmet-at-home cooking using the pan frying method is simply to use the cooking juices from the meat to create a delectable sauce to garnish the steak. Once you are done frying the cut, let it sit so the juices can redistribute – this gives you time to deglaze the pan with dry red wine and soften some shallots for a succulent reduction to accent your steak.

For best results use a pan fry steak that is an inch and a half thick at most to ensure it is tender and juicy all the way through.


The best cuts, just like for grilling steaks, are from the tender rib or loin primal sections. Some good cuts to grab in the store include:

  • Rib eye steak
  • Tenderloin
  • Porterhouse
  • T-bone
  • Skirt steak
  • Top sirloin
  • Filet mignon (taken from the short side of the tenderloin)
  • Round steak (with marinating)
  • Flank steak (with marinating)

Flavour Profile of the Pan Fry Steaks

Just like grilling steaks, pan fry steaks are usually top cuts taken from the tender centre sections. Use seasoning and marinades according to your personal preference and allow the steak to soak in its own juices in the pan to help give it a major flavor boost.

Cooking up a Pan Fry Steak

When you pan fry steak, you may want to first marinade tougher cuts (round or flank steak) in something that has an acidic element. Avoid marinating tender cuts such as the filet mignon, porterhouse, T-bone or even a tender sirloin – it can make them too soft.

Seasoning can be kept at a minimum with these fine cuts; however, cracked pepper and crushed herbs can make a good rub before cooking to enhance flavours.

One tip is to not use salt before cooking as it can deplete moisture. If you really want to add salt, try rubbing in a tablespoon of coarse salt at least an hour before you cook the steak, then rinse it with cool water and pat it dry; this can actually help protect moisture and will work to enhance flavour.

Heat up your pan to medium to high heat and use a cast iron skillet when possible. If you are using herbs and spices, reduce heat to avoid burning them. Be sure to not cover the steak or you’ll end up trapping water and diluting the flavours. If you happen to have a thicker cut, you can always finish it off in the oven to avoid burning the outside – but don’t cover it in the oven either.

Cook the steak to your liking – Health Canada advises medium rare is about 63°C (145°F), medium is about 71°C (160°F), and well done is about 77°C (170°F). Allowing the cut to rest for a few minutes after cooking will allow the juices to redistribute through the meat.

For more cooking ideas, check out our Recipes page.

Back to Cuts of Beef