The Best Pans for Cooking Steak in 2021

the best pans for cooking steak

If you’re craving a great steak but don’t want to venture out in the middle of winter to cook one on the grill you’ll be happy to know that you can still cook a perfect steak on the stove. All you really need is a high-quality cut of meat, the proper cooking technique, and one of the best pans for cooking steak.

Choosing the Best Pans for Cooking Steak

In order to sear a steak, you need a pan that’s capable of retaining heat and reaching high temperatures. This means that the best pans to cook steak are typically constructed of cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel – these materials are all designed for cooking at high heat.

The Top 6 Pans for Cooking Steak

Check out our 6 favorite pans to cook a great steak below.

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Lodge’s Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet is the best cast iron frying pan to cook a steak. Lodge cast iron pans are known for their performance and durability and backed by a lifetime warranty.

This set comes with a shallow cast iron skillet and a deeper cast iron frying pan. Cast iron has excellent heat retention needed to cook a perfect steak.

Each pan in the set has been pre-seasoned, so you can just start cooking right away.

The set does not come with lids or handle covers.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About Lodge Cast Iron

Lodge cast iron pans are among the best pans for cooking steak
A Lodge cast iron skillet will just get better with each use

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Cuisinel’s Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet (10-Inch) with Glass Lid and Handle Cover is another great cast iron frying pan for to cook a steak in.

This cast iron frying pan has excellent heat retention and is offered at a very reasonable price point.

It comes pre-seasoned so you can start cooking immediately. It also comes with a glass lid and a handle cover so you won’t need to worry about the handles of the pan burning your hands at high heat.

The downside of this pan is that since it’s cast iron it’s very heavy, but you’ll never find a light cast iron pan.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About Cuisinel

The Cuisinel cast iron pan is perfect for searing steak

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Our favorite stainless steel pan is the Cuisinart 422-24 Contour Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet.

This is a mid-range stainless steel pan that promises quick and even heat distribution, both vital attributes if you want to cook a great steak.

The handles on the Cuisinart 422-24 Contour Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet are double riveted for durability and designed to stay cool while cooking. The pan itself is also oven and induction safe.

Finally, stainless steel pans are dishwasher safe, meaning it’s easy to clean.

Cuisinart backs their products with a lifetime warranty, so if you’re not thrilled with how this pan cooks steak you can easily return it.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About Cuisinart

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Carbon steel pans heat quickly and are capable of achieving higher temperatures than stainless steel, making them a great choice for searing steak.

Lodge’s 10-inch Carbon Steel Skillet is our favorite carbon steel pan in our roundup because it requires no seasoning and comes with helpful extras.

The pan is constructed of heavy-duty 12 gauge carbon steel with silicone-coated steel handles that are designed to stay cool while you cook.

It’s suitable for all stovetops, is dishwasher safe, and is covered by a lifetime warranty.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About Lodge

Lodge carbon steel pans reach high temperatures very quickly

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The All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 10-Inch Pan is a little spendy, but it’s a high-quality piece of cookware that will sear a steak perfectly for years to come. It’s hands down one of the best stainless steel pans to cook steak in.

The All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 10-Inch Pan features a triple-ply construction. An aluminum core in the center of the pan distributes heat evenly while the stainless steel interior and exterior enhance the heat distribution.

This pan is suitable for all stovetops and can be washed in the dishwasher, making it easy to clean up after you’ve finished making the perfect steak.

All-Clad pans are lovingly crafted in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About the All-Clad D3 Pan

All Clad D3 pan cooking an entire chicken
Why yes you could cook an entire chicken in All-Clad's D3 pan

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Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Frying Pan is our favorite cheap stainless steel frying pan in our roundup. We aren’t sure how well this pan will hold up over multiple years, but it is capable of reaching the high temperatures necessary to achieve a perfect sear.

The pan has an aluminum core surrounded by layers of stainless steel for excellent heat conductivity and retention.

Stainless steel handles are designed to stay cool while cooking and the dual-rivet design adds to the pan’s durability.

Our only concern with this pan is that we really don’t know enough about the Cook’s Standard brand to evaluate how well it will hold up after vigorous use. However, the pan is backed with a lifetime warranty that covers any defects in material or craftsmanship.

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What Other Experts Are Saying About Cooks Standard

Cook's Standard 10-inch pan sitting on beige carpet
Cook's Standard 10-inch pan is functional and affordable

What to Look for When Buying Pans for Cooking Steak

Not all pans are designed to cook steak on the stovetop.

Cooking a great steak on the stovetop requires the ability to sear the meat. Searing is a cooking technique that requires cooking food in a pan at high temperatures until a brown crust forms.

A pan that’s designed to cook a steak is capable of reaching high temperatures and able to retain high heat.

Pans with a non-stick coating should never be considered because the non-stick coating is only intended for cooking at low or medium heat.

The Material of the Pan

Try to sear a steak at low temperatures and you’re going to be left with a steak that’s overcooked on the inside and not seared on the outside. The material of the pan is one of the most important things to consider when choosing the best pan for steak.

Look for materials like cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel. We do not recommend a Teflon or ceramic non-stick pan because non-stick pans are only suitable for low or medium heat.

Our favorite material is cast iron. Cast iron pans take longer to heat but they heat more evenly and retain heat better, so your steak cooks evenly and tastes amazing.

Stainless steel and carbon steel are also good choices. Both types of pans are capable of searing meat at high temperatures, making them equally good choices. The difference between stainless and carbon steel is that the carbon steel heats up more quickly.

The Size of the Pan

Less important, but still something to consider is the size of the pan. Buy a pan that’s too large for your stove and you risk uneven heat distribution, which is going to impact the quality of your steak.

Our recommendation is to choose a pan that’s about 10-inches in diameter. These pans are the perfect size to sear an average-sized steak.

Frequently Asked Questions

What pans do chefs recommend to cook steak?

Chef Gordon Ramsay recommends using a cast iron pan to cook steak.

Why are cast iron pans the best to cook steak?

Cast iron pans have better heat retention than stainless steel or carbon steel pans, making them a better choice for searing steak.

Why shouldn’t you cook a steak in a non-stick pan?

Non-stick pans are only designed to be used at low or medium heat so they are not suitable for the high-temperature searing technique used to cook steak.

Do I need to season my cast iron pan before I cook steak?

It depends on whether or not you purchased a pre-seasoned cast iron pan. The pan we recommend in our review is pre-seasoned, meaning you don’t need to season it before cooking.

Where can I learn how to sear a steak?

Joanne over at fifteenspatulas.com has a wonderful illustrated tutorial on how to sear a steak.

A perfect sear isn't hard to achieve with the right pan

Final Thoughts on the Best Pan for Cooking Steak

Steak is delicious, and it’s not really that difficult to cook steak on the stovetop provided you have a great cast iron or steel pan.

Now that you know what pan to choose, it’s time to practice your searing!

Let us know which pan you chose and how your steak turns out in the comments!

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