Everyone loves a tender juicy steak that’s full of flavor and…easy to chew!
In this article I speak about when to use a meat tenderizing hammer, when NOT to use is and some of the alternatives you should consider.
Let’s get started.
Tenderizing Meat With a Mallet
The process of tenderizing meat is a simple reaction that breaks down protein molecules. Once these molecules are broken into smaller particles, your steak becomes far easier to chew.
Using a mallet is one of the several ways you can break down those molecules.
When To Use Meat Tenderizer Hammer?
Every time you are cooking a tougher steak! These steaks are cheaper cuts like – flat iron, tri tip, brisket, round and so on.
The Pros of Using Meat Tenderizer Hammer
There are not many but here are the main points:
Meat becomes softer, thinner and easier to chew
The cooking time is also diminished
You can save money by buying cheaper steaks
The Cons of Using Meat Mallet
They are quite significant:
Meat mallet is a hardcore way of tenderizing meat which breaks down its structure and affects flavor
A lot of juices and moisture leaves meat during the process so the steak can end up dry and have less flavor
How to Use Meat Tenderizer Hammer?
Spread your steak evenly on a cutting board. Make sure it’s stable and doesn’t move around easily so you a less of a chance of hitting yourself with the meat tenderizer hammer!
Apply a few gentle blows over the entire steak. Then flip it around and repeat the process.
Meat Tenderizer Hammer Alternatives
There are two main alternatives to using a meat mallet.
Second, you can use a marinade to tenderize your steak without using a hammer. Marinades help to add additional flavor and soften the surface of a steak. For best results, first tenderize your steak with the stainless steel blade meat tenderizer and then apply marinade. That way it would sink far deeper enhancing the flavor as much as possible.
This is the review of 4 best gas grills under $1000, which we got for 2017.
Check them out and see how you like them (we need YOUR opinion, so comment on what’s missing below).
4 Best Gas Grills Under 1000 Dollars
[box title=”#1: Napoleon BILEX485PSS Built in Propane Gas Grill” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#eaeaea” border_style=”solid” align=”left”]
The Napoleon BILEX485PSS Built in Propane Gas Grill features Napoleon’s traditional quality and performance. This feature packed grill is built with the best of materials for quality, efficiency and durability.
The Weber 46810001 Spirit E330 Gas Grill is one of the economical and full featured gas grills available. It is well made and comes packed with features to make your grilling experience an awesome one.
As the steak is cooked for a little longer (usually 1 minute per side), the heat from the surface gradually enters inside the beef, cooking it a little further, while making its way towards the very middle of the cut.
When steak is said to be ‘rare’, all it means is that it’s predominantly undercooked.
In other words, more than 50% of the steak is still rare.
Typically, I would order a rare steak in a restaurant (which actually rarely happens, because I am almost always disappointed with steaks in restaurant), simply because they almost always overcook it, turning the thing into medium-rare…to which we arrive now.
As you leave your steak on stove cooking for longer, the heat from the surface would penetrate the cut even further.
As that happens, you will notice that the surface becomes noticeable more brown (you would also notice that with rare and medium-rare doneness levels), whereas the inside of the steak becomes more and more cooked.
As your steak gets more ‘done’, the amount of raw flesh inside decreases.
In fact, medium doneness has utmost a tiny thin line of what used to be a rare middle – it is now pink throughout.
Here we are talking about flavor, which is extremely sophisticated subject, but…
Let’s see what a flavorful steak looks like and what is consists of.
First thing is the browned surface.
A properly browned surface gives an immense amount of flavor and that’s why it is so important, but…that’s not everything.
Then comes the already mentioned juiciness.
Should I say that it adds this delicious something to the steak?
There is also a combination of rare and cooked beef that, by combining together, releases a very spectacular taste.
It so happens that medium-rare doneness level combines all of the above reasons that result in a great steak.[/infobox]
Having said this, I know that there are a lot of objections regarding rare parts of steak and medium-rare is not an exception.
This is why I would like to deal with them…one by one!
Is Medium-Rare Steak Undercooked?
No, it’s not undercooked.
Medium-rare steak is cooked to medium-rare doneness level, which has a rare part in it.
This is similar to cooking fried eggs and leaving the yolks slightly rare.
Is Medium-Rare Steak Unhealthy?
Actually, it’s considered to be healthier than medium-well beef that’s been cooking for a while.
The reason is that prolonged high heat is never good, because it does create some unhealthy compounds.
Is Medium-Rare Steak Safe to Eat?
This is the most common objection I hear.
It gets to the stage where I almost have to sit with people, holding their hands, so to make them unscared of eating a steak that’s cooked to medium-rare doneness.
So, medium-rare steaks are totally safe to eat.
The only problem which could possibly arise is foodborne illnesses, which appear from bad things that can get onto the steak’s surface.
Any kind of dangerous foodborne bacteria is killed almost immediately, when your steak touches the pan’s surface.[/infobox]
Searing for 1-2 minutes leaves no chance for anything dangerous to survive on the steak’s surface.
And these bacteria can’t go inside the steak either, which is also a reason why medium-rare steak is totally safe!
Oh yeah, and to answer the ‘blood from steak’ scare.
It’s not blood!
It’s a protein called myoglobin mixed with water, so, no, no blood there.
[box title=”How to Cook Your Steak to Medium-Rare Doneness Level?” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#a50021″ border_style=”solid” align=”left”]
Now that you are convinced that medium-rare steak is a great thing, which is not only tender, juicy and delicious, but also is completely safe, you might wonder…how to actually cook your steak that way?
I am honest with you – this process is rather tricky and includes A LOT of different details, which are so very crucial for the end result.
I know that there are so many people out there that stopped even trying to cook a steak, because it never worked out for them in the past…
Now, if you have my knowledge, passion and skills that help make steaks juicy, tender and delicious, imagine how amazing every single steak of yours would be!
And this is what my upcoming SteakEat Stove Top Method eBook is all about.[infobox color=”#a51c37″]
The method is a combination of 8 carefully chosen illustrated steps that guide you through the entire stove top cooking process.[/infobox]
SteakEat Stove Top Method eBook.
The eBook would also contain some bonus material, which also includes the SteakEat Method of calculating steak cooking times, even if you don’t have meat thermometer.[infobox color=”#a51c37″]
The eBook will go live tomorrow evening (I will of course send another email to let you know about that).[/infobox]
I always say that a great steak is impossible without a great cooking skillet.
While this is not entirely true (there are tricks to make it work more or less in any situation), a great skillet is very sexy to work with and this is why, to a large degree, steaks cooked on those turn out to be simply amazing.
So in this article I guide you through the miraculous world of cooking skillets – the DOs, the DON’Ts and everything in between.
The guide turned out to be massive so I thought it would be nice to have a shorter summary and…here are the main points.
A proper skillet has the following characteristics:
It’s pretty heavy and thick because that’s how it helps to brown your steak
The handle is attached to it with, at least, two pins (and not one screw)
It’s got a great warranty (lifetime is what I always go for)
It should be big enough to fit your steak
I recommend having, at least, 2 different pans (I’ve been using this and this one (both from Le Creuset) for more than 8 years now).
Before we go any further into details, please note that, when it comes to steak cooking, all that we can possibly care about are the above three categories – grill pans, fry pans/skillets & cast iron skillets.
Let’s find out why!
These are pans that are used for just that – grilling.
They can be used for grilling anything, starting from steaks and going all the way to asparagus (yes, that’s what’s on my mind now).
Grill pans for steak cooking come in different sizes and are made from different materials (e.g. cast iron, non-stick aluminum etc).
You might wonder:
Why care about grill pans at all?
The answer is…
Grill pans, unlike other pans, can help you create that grill-like appearance on the steak’s surface.
The main issue with grill pans for steak cooking lies in…cleaning.
It can be tough.
Unlike other types of pans out there grill pans are typically squared-shaped.
Technically all the pans (including Grill Pans from above) are fry pans/skillets.
All that because fry pans are used just for that – quick searing/frying over high heat temperature.
Also called frying pans, these skillets come in all sort of different materials, sizes and appearances.
These can obviously be found in any kitchen and are the most used types of pans out there.
The price range for these skillets is also quite extraordinary, ranging from a couple of bucks all the way to hundreds of dollars!
Cast Iron Skillets
Cast iron are just the same frying skillets with one small, but essential difference…
Cast iron is a very special material that very few people know how to properly handle (this is why cooking steak on a cast iron skillet is another story).
The main difference between cast iron pans and the rest is the weight.
Cast iron is heavy and…despite what many people think about it, is really poor at even heating, which is essential for steak cooking.
The main advantage of cast iron skillets is their volumetric capacity.
Yeah, volumetric capacity!
Basically, it’s hard to warm it up and it takes a lot of time, but…once it’s hot, it stays hot.
And that’s perfect for a perfect steak.
Woks and stir fries got together like…horse and carrots?
Yes, they do.
And that’s the only thing you can use Wok pans for.
Searing a proper steak on a Wok?
Woks can hardly generate the amount of heat required for a proper steak to get seared.
This is why all pieces of meat and veggies that are used in Woks are cut into tiny slices.
Have you ever used a crepe pan to cook a steak on it?
I have and…it worked out pretty well (I am sure that you thought exactly the opposite).
While cooking steaks on a crepe pan is not ideal it still worked pretty well in my case.
All because my crepe pan was made of cast iron!
And, as you know already, cast iron can accumulate a lot of heat while staying hot for quite a while.
Do I recommend using crepe pans for stove top steak cooking?
Not at all.
What’s the difference between saute pans and other types of pans?
Sides, my friends!
Frying pans have rounded edges and saute pans…well, they have theme straight.
All that because saute pans are used for searing food while quickly moving it around with the lid on.
Saute pans can also be used for braising (which is a moist heat cooking method), sauce creation, basic frying and some other things.
Are saute and frying pans interchangeable?
Yes they are!
Would I use one for stove top steak cooking?
No, I wouldn’t.
Now that we ran through these 6 different types of skillets, let’s summarize the main idea:
Grills pans, frying pans/skillets and cast iron skillets are all great for stove top steak cooking, which can also be supplemented by oven cooking before/afterwards.
Woks, crepe pans and saute pans are not ideal for cooking steak. I don’t recommend them.
Steak Pans Materials
A material that your steak pan is made of is central to the success of your steak cooking endeavor.
Yes, it’s that important.
This is why we are going to look at the 7 most common cooking pans materials, as well as their advantages and disadvantages…right below.
Copper has a number of remarkable advantages, when compared to other materials used for manufacturing of cookware.
Great Heat Conductor
Heat is really important when cooking food and steak is no exception.
Copper, to its main advantage, is an excellent heat conductor.
Okay, that’s awesome, but what does it really mean?
Imagine that you change the temperature of your stove top.
What happens to your copper skillet?
Its temperature also changes almost immediately, adjusting to that change on stove top.
That’s important, if you see that your steak is burning (doesn’t happen with SteakEat’s Stove Top Method) and you want to decrease your temperature OR vice versa, when you see that you need to power up the whole thing.
Weight is Good
A proper frying skillet can’t be light and copper skillets tend to have good weight, which also prevents the skillet from heat deformation (a very common thing when it comes to cheap light pans).
It is also not heavy to lift, meaning that you don’t have to be a strongman like with some of the best cast iron skillets out there.
Copper shines and this is easily noticed.
So, if you like beautiful things (or just want to show off), copper pots and pans is what you need to get.
Disadvantages of Copper Pans
We don’t live in a perfect world and that’s why copper pans are not perfect either (I am sure, that’s the main reason).
There are 3 main issues with copper cookware:
Copper can get quite pricey. Don’t get carried away by cheap options out there – it’s likely they don’t have any quality there.
Copper is toxic and reactive with food. That’s why it comes lined with either tin or steel. Tin is a cheaper option, but it wears off. Stainless steel is the choice I recommend for the long-term usage, but it is also more expensive.
Dishwasher Unfriendly. Corrosion is a big thing for copper and that’s why copper skillets need to be polished, even when you don’t use them. For the same reason copper skillets can only be hand-washed and thoroughly dried with cloth right after. However stainless steel can alleviate some of that, you still need to maintain it.
On the final note it’s worth mentioning that some manufacturers combine layers of copper with materials like aluminum and stainless steel, which improves frying pan’s heat conductivity without any major disadvantages of copper cookware.
#2: Cast Iron – Advantages
The already mentioned cast iron.
The frying pans that are made from cast iron are considered to be rather traditional, old-school things.
Nevertheless, they are very common and show no sign of disappearing!
All that happens because of these main advantages.
Cast iron skillets are pretty much indestructible and last forever.
Many people inherit cast iron skillets from their grandparents and these still serve them well (sometimes even better than contemporary options).
Cast iron is therefore a good investment, especially given its fairly low price.
Cast iron is an amazing material.
First of all, warming it up takes ages and, unlike copper cookware, it’s terrible at heat conductivity (i.e. if you decide to reduce the heat of your stove top, don’t expect your cast iron pan react any time soon), but…
…once it gets hot, it stays hot.
This simple fact makes it pretty much ideal for searing steak and developing its surface browning.
Cast iron pans, when seasoned correctly, are non-stick and that, as you might expect, is a huge benefit on its own, but it’s even better because, unlike other non-stick pans cast iron doesn’t deteriorate with time (again, it lasts forever).
You can also use cast iron on both, stove top and oven, which is perfect for when you decide to cook a steak on stove top and finish it in oven.
Cast iron also doesn’t deform because of high heat (many cheap pans have that happen to them), which is annoying on its own, but it also reduces a pan’s ability to absorb heat from the stove top.
Disadvantages of Cast Iron Pans
Even though cast iron is an amazing investment into a pro-style steak cooking, it has one BIG (and heavy) disadvantage…
Cast iron is cast iron for a reason. It’s heavy and not every man in the Wild West…kidding! Cast iron pans are bulky and heavy to lift, so operating them requires quite a lot of crude strength.
Even though cast iron skillets are not that ‘picky’, when it comes to maintenance (unlike copper cookware), they still need to be taken care of. Every time you use your cast iron skillet, you need to wash it with hands, use some Kosher salt to scrape it, dry and re-season it right away.
Must be Used. You need to use your cast iron pan frequently so to maintain its seasoning, which helps to create that non-sticky surface. This is not ideal for occasional cooks.
#3: Aluminum – Advantages
Most popular material that is used for pans production is aluminum.
Aluminum is great for many reasons and here are some of them.
Even though aluminum is not the best heat conductor (copper is the best), it is still fairly amazing.
Good heat conductivity means that your aluminum cooking pan is quick to respond to any changes that you make with your stove top.
Heat it up and the pan will heat up fast; reduce the stove top heat, the pan also gets cooler quickly.
Yes, aluminum pans are, indeed, quite durable.
Especially if they are anodized and forged.
Anodizing and forging are two separate processes, which both build up the pan’s durability.
The vast majority of aluminum pans are dish-washer safe and are easy to clean.
Aluminum pans are generally quite affordable.
Of course, there are more expensive brands, which offer premium quality products, but, all in all, these pans are rather inexpensive.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Cooking Pans
Even though I personally use hard-anodized forged aluminum pans when I cook my steak on stove, I am aware of the following disadvantages connected with this material.
Okay, aluminum is aluminum, but it’s not the same. “Artem, what do you actually mean?”, – you remark. Well, there are dozens of manufacturers there and their materials and manufacturing methods differ. This is why there are many poor quality aluminum pans out there. I advise you look for quality things and consider your cooking pan as a long-term investment (check my resources page to learn more).
Raw aluminum is very similar to copper, which means it’s very reactive. Hence, if you want to avoid consuming aluminum (I do), you need to get anodized (or better still hard-anodized) aluminum cooking pan. It’s also superior for cooking than raw aluminum.
This actually is a part of Quality part above, but I want to make it stand out. Cheap aluminum pans are very thin and easily warp (i.e. deform) when heated to high heat. Once again, hard-anodized and even forged aluminum pans are your solution here (check my resources page to see what I use).
#4: Stainless Steel
Pretty high quality general cookware, which is good for cooking many different things.
The main advantages of stainless steel pans are:
Durable & Easy-to-Clean
Stainless steel pans can be both, lightweight and heavy, which does affect their durability.
For example, pure stainless steel skillet can easily warp when treated with used for cooking at high heat (and it would be the case, when you cook a steak on stove top).
This is when the already mentioned processes, anodizing and forging, come into play. These two seriously strengthen up stainless steel, making it so much more durable.
Stainless steel is also easy to clean, especially if it has a kind of non-stick interior, which also helps with cooking foods with less fat.
Stainless steel is stainless for a reason.
Unlike other materials (e.g. raw copper and aluminum) stainless steel doesn’t react with food, which makes it safe for long-term use. That’s why spoons, forks and kitchen knives are primarily made of it.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless steel skillets have one major disadvantage, and that is…
Poor Heat Conductor. Just like cast iron, stainless steel is not great with heat conductivity, which means that it’s slow to react to any stove top temperature changes. This is why some stainless steel pans might have copper-bottoms – all that to improve the mentioned heat conductivity. These are obviously more expensive.
#5: Carbon Steel – Advantages
Also a very commonly used material, which can be found in both, more expensive and cheaper cooking pans.
Carbon steel is fairly similar to cast iron and therefore their advantages and disadvantages are quite the same.
Carbon steel pans are quite good at retaining heat, which is great for proper steak searing.
In other words, as soon as it heats up, it stays warm for a good while.
Just like cast iron, proper carbon steel works forever.
It’s a good investment from that perspective.
Non-stick…With a Twist
Carbon steel is not non-stick (just like cast iron), but…
Proper seasoning, which is all about heating the skillet with a thin layer of oil until it gradually builds up in the surface of the pan (it might easily take a month of continuous use), will make your carbon steel pan practically non-stick.
It’s worth to mention that, after this procedure carbon steel has a better non-stick features than cast iron, which makes it a better option from that perspective.
Finally, carbon steel pans have a more saute-oriented shape than cast iron skillets.
Given the fact that carbon steel is lighter, it is no surprise that it is used for Woks and Stri-Fry pans.
Disadvantages of Carbon Steel Pans
Their advantages become their disadvantages…
Poor Heat Conductor. Same as cast iron, carbon steel is a poor heat conductor, which makes any manipulations with stove top temperature quite useless, simply because carbon steel pan won’t quickly change its temperature.
Reactive With Food. Just like cast iron, carbon steel pans are not ideal for cooking acidic or alkaline foods. Therefore, I don’t recommend you try preparing a wine-based steak sauce or a tomato soup in it.
Tricky Cleaning. Not safe for dishwasher, carbon steel pans should be handwashed, dried out and re-seasoned after every time you cook something with them. While the whole procedure doesn’t take long, it still requires extra effort.
Cladding, as stated by Wiki, is a process of bonding together of dissimilar metals.
When it comes to cooking, the idea of cladding lies in combining the best features of different materials…ideally without any of their disadvantages.
Most commonly, aluminum is clad with stainless steel.
Aluminum then provides excellent heat conductivity and nice thickness, whereas stainless steel prevents aluminum from reacting with food and corrosion, making it very simple to maintain (and dish-washer safe).
Advantages and disadvantages would therefore be the same for the materials that were bonded (clad) together.
Advantages for aluminum would then be great heat conductivity, durability and affordability. Stainless steel would then also be durable, easy-to-clean and non-reactive.
When put together, possible disadvantages of these two materials would include poor heat conductivity for stainless steel (negated by aluminum layer), reactivity with food for aluminum (negated by stainless steel layer) and possible warping of aluminum, when its quality is low (negated by using hard-anodized and/or forged aluminum).
#7: Ceramic – Advantages
Ceramic pans are not a recent invention and have been out there for a while.
Typically porcelain and stoneware are used for cooking, whereas earthernware is used as serveware.
Quality ceramic pans are also free of lead and cadmium.
Purely ceramic pans can also be used in the microwave (given that there are no metal parts in it).
Given its naturally non-stick properties, pans made of ceramic are simple to clean and dishwasher safe.
When compared with cast iron, ceramic pans are less heavy and are easier to manage during the cooking process.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Frying Pans
Ceramic pans (and other ceramic cookware) are prone to cracking and breaking. Quick and extreme temperature changes (i.e. from hot to cold) can damage pans made from this material.
Not a great heat conductor. Ceramic pans do not conduct heat really well, that’s why some aluminum is sometimes used in order to help resolve that problem.
Ceramic pans can get discolored, meaning that their usually white surface becomes yellowy with time. It doesn’t look great.
Okay, now that you have a good (or, at least, some?) idea regarding the most common materials that steak pans are made of…
…lets quickly list them once again here:
Copper. It’s a great heat conductor, very stylish and is not heavy. Quality copper is expensive and it itself is reactive with food, which means you need to get it lined with tin or steel (a better option for long-term). Can be dishwasher-friendly.
Cast Iron. These steak pans last forever and are able to accumulate a tremendous amount of heat. Cast iron has a pretty much universal use, but these skillets are poor heat conductors, require extra maintenance and weight a lot.
Aluminum. Amazing heat conductor, which means it adjusts quickly to the changes in the stove top temperature. Quality aluminum pans are durable and affordable. However aluminum is a highly-reactive material, which means you need to get a hard-anodized aluminum pan, if you don’t want extra aluminum in your diet. I also recommend you shoot for forged aluminum as your pan’s material, because it is extra strong and would definitely prevent warping (that’s quite common in cheap aluminum pans).
Stainless steel. Durable and easy-to-clean, stainless steel is also non-reactive with food. However, it is a poor heat conductor, which also requires forging for extra strength, so to avoid a chance of wrapping.
Carbon steel. Very similar to cast iron, but is much lighter. Heat retention is a big advantage of these two materials. Durability and non-stickiness (if seasoned and maintained properly) is also within the benefits of carbon steel. Poor heat conductivity, reactiveness with food and tricky cleaning procedure (not that time-consuming though) are the main disadvantages of steak pans made from this material.
Clad. Bonding of the two materials with dissimilar properties. When it comes to steak pans, most frequently aluminum is clad with stainless steel. This formation creates a material that has the benefits of both of these materials, which, at the same time, cancel their individual disadvantages (e.g. stainless steel’s poor heat conductivity vs aluminum’s excellent heat conductivity etc)
Ceramic. Environmentally-friendly, safe with high temperatures, easy to clean and fairly light weight. Ceramic pans can, however, be quite fragile and discolor with time. They are not good heat conductors.
Now is the time to make use of all this knowledge!
6 Must Have Properties of the Best Steak Pan
As I said at the very beginning – a great steak is impossible without a great cooking skillet.
Obviously, my opinion hasn’t changed since…
What are the must have properties of the best steak pan?
#1. Must Be Able to Accumulate Heat
Here is the truth.
Absolute majority of pans are crap at accumulating heat (they are crap overall, but the heat part is focal).
What happens a steak pan can’t accumulate heat?
Your steak doesn’t get seared.
And…if it doesn’t get seared, it doesn’t develop surface browning.
We can’t afford the best steak to NOT have an amazing surface browning.
#2. Must Not Warp
Cheap pans and many pans that are more expensive have this nasty feature…
Warping is basically deforming of the skillet as a result of high heat.
Warping causes the bottom of the pan become uneven, which results in its inability to fully contact with the stove top (especially important for electric stove tops).
This is when heat distribution becomes worse (talking of hot spots on your pan).
What’s the consequence?
Uneven cooking and surface browning.
I don’t like that and I don’t want that ever happen to you.
#3. Must Be Overall Good Quality
Those amazing steak lovers that bought my SteakEat Method for Stove Top Cooking know what my mom says…
I won’t keep that as a secret:
We are not that rich, to buy cheap things.
Yes…miser pays twice.
This is 100% true for steak pans.
A quality pan can’t be cheap.
Something would inevitably go wrong.
Perhaps it would be nonstick coating that would fall off or the handle would untie or the whole thing would warp.
Also cheaper pans tend to leach potentially hazardous fumes when heated up to high temperature.
Quality, my friends, costs money.
#4. Ideally Oven-Safe
When it comes to basic cooking steak on stove (with or without SteakEat Stove Top Method), you don’t usually bother with finishing it in oven.
However, when you steak is big and thick (over 2 inches in thickness), the ability to finish cooking that same steak in that same pan is quite useful.
If you cook massive steaks on stove top, then choose oven-safe pans.
How to know they are oven-safe? Look at the handle. These are usually made of stainless steel or cast iron.
#5. Must Be Durable
Stove top steak cooking is a really demanding, harsh process.
This is why your steak pan must be super durable and able to withstand continuous temperature changes and high heat treatment.
It also mustn’t break (literally) and warp, because…it must not!
Lifetime warranty is then a basic feature, which signals the manufacturer’s attitude.
#6. Safe for Health
Yes, those fumes that evaporate from nonstick pans (talking of PTFE and PFOA), when those are heated to high heat, are not good for health.
This is I recommend you get steak pans that are made of quality materials that are guaranteed PTFE/PFOA-free.
Again, this is usually true in high quality pans.
…a steak pan that’s able to accumulate heat, doesn’t warp, is of overall good quality, ideally oven-safe and durable is the one to look for.
Please note that I didn’t mention you need a skillet that has a good heat conductivity, because it’s not important for a steak that just needs to be cooked at high heat to develop that browning on the surface.
How to Choose the Best Steak Skillet in 5 Steps
Now we are finally going back to the original question/promise of this article…
…how to choose the best steak pan.
Here are the 5 steps to help you choose the right one for you.
Step #1: Think
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln once said…
I see no reason why you are worse than Lincoln.
Before going to Amazon (or your local store) to buy a steak pan, you need to think and understand the following:
How many people are you going to cook for?
How big are the steaks you will be cooking?
How frequently you will be cooking steaks?
Are you going to use oven for finishing steaks?
What’s your budget?
Once you know the answers to these, go to the next step.
Step #2: Decide on the Size
Here is a fact.
Mismatching the size of pan with the size of steak will spoil it.
A small skillet with a disproportionally large steak on it, would not be able to sear it (i.e. it would simply boil there).
A large skillet, even though it’s less of a problem, can potentially burn the steak’s surface while not giving it enough time to cook inside.
What’s the ideal steak pan size?
It really depends on the steak you plan to cook.
For example, one of my pan sets includes pans of three different sizes: 8, 9.5 and 12 inches.
I almost never use the smallest one for steaks, because it’s too small (unless the steak itself is also small).
The largest one, 12-inch pan, is good when I need to cook 2 steaks at the same time.
-> I use the average-size pan (9.5 inches) most of the time.
Step #3: Choose the Pan Type
Which steak pan do you think you need?
Is it a grill pan that you can use to get grill marks?
Is it a cast iron pan or a pan that’s made of carbon steel?
Or is it a simple fry pan/skillet?
Your final decision will depend on many factors, including other things that you also cook.
Personally I own frying pans, which I use for steaks most frequently.
However I do have a grill cast iron pan that makes it possible for me to create those grill marks, when I need that when cooking my steaks on stove.
Step #4: Decide on the Material
We already talked about the materials above and how they have different/similar features.
Some of them are more expensive than the others.
If you were to ask what I was to pick, I would say forged and hard-anodized aluminum or stainless steel.
I would certainly look for cast iron as well.
Step #5: Pick a Legit Manufacturer
It’s almost self-evident that, when people buy smartphone, they always choose a known, quality manufacturer (e.g. that fruit company everyone buys from).
However, when it comes to things like steak pans (and many other things tbh), it somehow doesn’t work anymore.
What are the legitimate manufacturers?
There is a few.
Lodge for Cast Iron Skillets
All-Clad for Clad Cookware (most frequently aluminum clad with stainless steel)
Le Creuset for hard-anodized forged stainless steel and aluminum
There more, but here is an important point – a legit thing can’t be cheap.
I will get back to it below.
The 3 Pitfalls of Buying a Steak Pan
Want a steak pan that lasts?
Pitfall #1: Cheap Doesn’t Last
If you find a steak pan on Amazon that costs under $30, chances are, it won’t last.
Even though it might have many 5-star reviews, don’t trust them entirely – dig deeper and you will almost always find some 1-star reviews that actually tell what happens with these pans after some use.
I am not that rich to buy cheap things, that’s why I own Le Creuset.
Pitfall #2: Don’t Fall for Marketing
Manufacturers are smart when it comes to selling things, but I advise you to do some proper research before buying anything.
For example, GreenPan advertises some thermolon healthy ceramic non-stick coating, which is PFOA-free and overall healthy.
However, as one of the long-term reviewers points out (his review is called ‘Part Gimmick, Part Good Pan’), it starts disappearing after 10 first uses and only gets worse with time. This is important to consider, when you buy things like this.
He also points out that it is possible to restore that pans non-stickiness by using a baking soda solution.
Hence, whenever possible, read thoroughly what other people say and only then proceed with the purchase.
Pitfall #3: Material is a Material, But They Are Not the Same
This is really the same as the quality thing I keep mentioning all the time, but it’s worth another mention.
Here is the point.
Even though two different manufacturers might be using the same thing (say, hard-anodized aluminum), their steak pans would still be very different quality.
Therefore, once again, pay attention to the manufacturers.
3 More Tips for a Quality Steak Pan
These are small things that are quite important, when it comes to choosing the best steak pan.
The heavier, the better.
Light pans tend to warm and become uneven.
They are poor quality.
#2: Handle Attachment
I found this to be surprisingly accurate at predicting the overall skillet quality.
I discovered that, if a handle is attached to the pan with just one screw, it’s very likely that the pan itself is of poor quality (that screw tends to always untie).
I recommend you pick those pans that have a double-pin attachment (can’t unscrew).
#3: Lifetime Warranty
Look for pans with lifetime warranty.
They are more expensive, but they are the most quality things out there.
For example, Le Creuset that I use, has lifetime warranty.
I have them for already 5 years, use them frequently and have NO problem.
That would be the end of my steak pan exploration this time.
I really hope that THIS will help you choose the best steak pan out there.
If it was helpful, please share this article around. 😉
I am also happy to reply back to your comments and questions, which you can post in the comment section below…
Happy Steaks, my friends!
P.S. If you wonder, which instruments I use for steak cooking, you can check them out at my resources page.
Grass Fed Solutions , for example, has maintained that while a type of fat determines the quality of the beef, it is not the fat that can be seen with the naked eye, but the microscopic fat cells within the meat fibers, hidden within the red muscle tissue.
“Without these microscopic fat cells, beef will be tough and flavorless,” according to Grass Fed Solutions.
The microscopic fat cells are present in all breeds, whether the cattle is fed purely grass, or whether it eats other feeds, such as hay and grain.
The visible fat known as can’t be found in all cattle breeds, however.
Why Marbling Has Become an Indication of Steaks’ Quality?
Aside from the fact that marbling, or visible streaks of fat between the muscle fibers of the steak is not present in some cattle breeds, its abundance in cows who have them also depends on feed source.
The kind of measurement is quick and does not require laboratory testing. You can’t expect butchers to inspect each cut of steak with a microscope.
Questioning Marbling as a Standard for Measurement
The problem with using marbling as a “handy quick visual gauge” of the quality of steaks is that while it is practical and accurate in grain fed beef, it does not apply to steaks that do not have the visible streaks of fat called marbling in spite of being as tender as the beef that has excellent marbling, according to Grass Fed Solutions.
Judging the quality of the beef by its marbling is only effective as long as the beef comes from cattle that marble and were fed with grains.
But the rise in popularity of grass fed beef in North America and Europe could lead to a new (or separate?) grading system that focuses on the cattle’s feed source and lifestyle.
The new grading system hopefully would also take into account how much fat is stored within the microscopic fat cells.