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How to Cook the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

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.

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

How to Pan Fry the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

10 min

15 min



  • 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

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.

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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.

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

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

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.

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

Grilling a Ribeye Steak on Cast-Iron

Questions & Answers

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

Answer: 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

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