How to Cook the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Updated on February 19, 2020
Anthony Altorenna profile image

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, the kitchen, the yard and out fishing. He writes from his personal experience.

Rib-eye isn't always easy to cook, but this technique will help you cook it right every time.
Rib-eye isn't always easy to cook, but this technique will help you cook it right every time. | Source

Cook a Great Rib-Eye Steak Every Time!

The rib-eye steak is a prime cut of beef. And it also one of the most expensive. Make the most of your investment with this straightforward method to preparing a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak—indoors and in a pan.

Grilling is great but there are times when it just isn't convenient to go outside to fire up the grill. Just because you're not grilling outdoors doesn't mean that you can't cook up a great tasting steak. Simply follow a few easy steps and you can cook the perfect rib-eye in a pan, complete with a tasty crust and a juicy pink center. Then use all of those tasty brown bits left on the bottom of the pan to make a scrumptious sauce. So pick up a quality cut of meat and head into the kitchen.

There are lots of cookbooks and online articles outlining the basic technique for pan frying a great tasting steak: heat up a skillet and drop the beef into the pan before finishing in the oven. What makes this a little different are the finishing steps: add another layer of flavor with a buttery jus or a creamy cognac sauce.

The Best Cut of Meat: Rib-Eye Steak
The Best Cut of Meat: Rib-Eye Steak | Source

How to Pan Fry the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 1


  • 1-1/2 inch thick Rib Eye Steak
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • Butter
This prime cut is about 1-1/4" thick and weighs almost a pound
This prime cut is about 1-1/4" thick and weighs almost a pound | Source

Step 1: Preparation

About an hour before you're ready to cook, take the steak out of the frig and let it warm up to room temperature. Leave the meat wrapped in the butcher's paper. A steak at room temperature will cook more evenly (and create a better crust) than a cold cut of beef taken directly from the refrigerator thrown into the heat.

Rub on a little oil on both sides of the steak, then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. I prefer canola or vegetable oil rather than the more expensive olive oil for this application; the hot pan can cause the olive oil to smoke.

The Equipment

  • Oven-proof Pan or Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Oven Mitt
  • Aluminum Foil

Step 2: The Technique

On the stovetop, preheat a well seasoned cast iron skillet or heavy copper/stainless steel, ovenproof pan. To get that nice sear on the outside of the steak, make sure the pan is hot. Also, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Add a tablespoon or two of canola oil into the pan, along with a tablespoon of butter. The canola oil raises the smoke point of the butter, and helps to prevent the butter from burning.

Drop the steak right into the middle of the hot skillet. If your rib-eye is about 1-1/2" thick, let it sear for two minutes. Don't move it around; just let it sit and sear in the hot pan. If your steak is a thinner cut (an 1" or less), the steak should only sear for about 90 seconds.

You might need to adjust the sear time based upon your cook top and the pan that you use. The goal is to get a nice golden brown sear on the surface of the steak, but without letting the meat burn. On my glass top electric range turned up to medium-high heat and using a heavy professional grade copper pan, it takes just about two minutes to reach the sear point on a thick cut rib-eye steak.

Step 3: Turning the Steak

After two minutes, use a set of tongs to flip the steak over and sear the other side. Again, don't move the steak around in the pan. Just let it sit in the skillet to sear the second side to seal in the juices. A tasty crust will form after searing nicely on each side for a couple of minutes but a thick cut of meat will not be cooked all of the through yet. The cooking will finish in the oven.

Use Tongs to Turn the Steak

Never use a fork to turn a steak. The tines of the fork will pierce the meat, allowing all of those tasty juices to run out of the steak and into the pan.

Step 4: Off the Stove and into the Hot Box

Using an oven mitt to protect your hand from the hot handle, remove the skillet from the stovetop and place it into the center of the pre-heated oven. Let the steak cook for one to two minutes and then flip the steak over and cook on the other side for another one to two minutes. Again, the exact time depends on your oven and the thickness of the cut of your rib-eye. With my oven, just about 90 seconds on each side delivers a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak.

Rib-eye steak
Rib-eye steak | Source

The Big Finish: Choose Your Sauce

Step 5A: The Buttery Jus

Let It Rest

Retrieve the skillet from the oven (don't forget to use the oven mitt) and transfer the steak to a plate. Let the rib-eye rest for at least five minutes before serving. The resting step is critical: cut into the steak too quickly and the tasty juices will run out of the steak and on to the plate, leaving a dry hunk of meat. Resting before serving allows the steak to re-absorb all of those flavorful juices. Enjoy!


While the pan is still piping hot, add a tablespoon or two of butter to the pan. Stir the butter around in the hot pan, loosening any of the little brown bits from the bottom of the pan. The butter may foam up and will start to brown quickly, so work fast and keep the butter moving.

Pour the buttery sauce over the top of the steak, then cover it with a tent of aluminum foil while it rests.

A perfectly cooked rib-eye steak with cognac cream sauce
A perfectly cooked rib-eye steak with cognac cream sauce | Source

Step 5B: The Cognac Cream Sauce

The buttery sauce is delicious and serves the rib-eye well. But for an exceptionally special dish, those tasty bits in the bottom of the fry pan are the perfect foundation for making a cognac cream sauce. And it only takes a few minutes!

While the steak rests on the plate under foil, move the pan away from stove. When the pan is safely away from the flame, pour in a few ounces of cognac and whisk to loosen all of the little brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the stovetop, turn up the heat to medium and whisk in about 1/2 cup of heavy cream. The exact amount will vary and can be adjusted to suit your taste. Keep whisking; the sauce will thicken as it simmers. Grind in some pepper and taste. If needed, add a bit of salt.

The sauce is ready when it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in another splash of cognac (just to liven up the flavor) and pour the finished sauce over the steak. Reserve a little of sauce for dipping.

Just about any liquid can be used to deglaze the pan. Cognac is my personal favorite and adds a lot of flavor to sauce. Bourbon or wine works well too.

Be Careful: Alcohol vapors are flammable, so be sure move the pan away from the stove before pouring in the cognac.

When Is Your Rib-Eye Steak Cooked Perfectly?

Rare: very red and cool center

Medium Rare: red and warm center

Medium: pink and hot center

Medium Well: hint of pink with hot center

Well Done: no pink and hot center

How Do You Like Your Steak Cooked?

See results

The Right Pan for the Job

Every cook needs at least one heavy-duty pan that works double-duty from the sear on the stove top into the heat of the oven. My favorite pan features a thick copper exterior to heat up quickly and evenly, with a non-reactive stainless steel lining. The oven-proof handle is reinforced with rivets, making this the perfect workhorse for the kitchen—and for cooking the perfect rib-eye steak.

My copper plated sauce pan gets lots of use
My copper plated sauce pan gets lots of use | Source

Grilling a Ribeye Steak on Cast-Iron

Questions & Answers

  • At what temperature should the oven be set to finish cooking a thick ribeye steak?

    I pre-heat my oven to 450 degrees. Oven temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit, so you may need to adjust the heat or vary the cook time. With my oven, just about 90 seconds on each side delivers a medium-rare rib-eye steak.

© 2011 Anthony Altorenna

How Do You Cook Your Rib-Eye Steak?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image 

      2 months ago

      Can't wait to try. Thanks

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Never cooked a 2” rib eye ( or any other, lol) in the bone. Please help!

    • profile image

      Daniel Carey 

      21 months ago

      Always learning!

    • iwrite100 profile image

      Maribel Forayo 

      7 years ago from Philippines


    • Bonfire Designs profile image

      Bonfire Designs 

      7 years ago

      Oh baby, now this is real food! Never use a fork to turn the steak - time to buy some tongs I'm on it!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I deglaze the pan with a little red wine to make a delicious purple sauce. Takes only seconds.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks a great recipe.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never cooked one that way, but I'll have to give it a try once it gets to cold to grill. Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I always wondered how to make a steak this way. Last time I tried...yeah haha. great work. Please check out my lenses if you have a moment, I'm pretty new around here. :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am craving for a steak now.

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 

      8 years ago

      ok, this is the third food lens of yours that I've visited, and now I'm hungry. Also, I love steak. Medium-rare to rare, with pepper sauce and fries.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Its just been too long since I've had a rib eye steak, talk about tender and delicious!

    • gatornic15 profile image


      8 years ago

      I have never cooked rib eyes this way...I will have to give it a try.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      A great recipe. Thanks

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Mmmm.... love rib eyes! I normally cook mine on a BBQ grill over charcoal, but this sounds great! I'll have to try it. Thanks!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Rib eye steak is also our favorite. Will have to try the cast iron method on the BBQ grill. We have our BBQ on the back patio (that has a roof) but haven't had a steak yet this year! Sun's out so maybe this weekend.

    • canoz profile image

      Heather Bradford 

      8 years ago from Canada

      YUM! Luckily, living in Australia, the BBQ is a staple of many evening meal. Quick and easy clean. I use my cast iron frying pan on gas most days so this is a great way to cook and I look forward to trying your technique using it. Learnt some great pointers.

    • profile image

      TheLastResort LM 

      8 years ago

      I tried making a pot roast yesterday and the result was quite chewy, so I'm going to pay more attention to the details next time - surely I will try this recipe, it sounds simple enough that I won't mess it up :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds simple and delightful! Gonna try one soon!

    • chrisstapper profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds good!


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