The Basics: How to Make Basic Steak

From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from something raw to something cooked using simple ingredients, free of measurements and complicated techniques. A method that you can have in your back pocket and whip out whenever you like. We call it recipe-free cooking.

You’ll need:

  • a skillet (or a frying pan and a baking dish)
  • tongs
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • a meat thermometer (optional)
  • a steak


  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (Ovens take at least 20 minutes to warm up.) Let the steak come to room temperature. (In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to rinse the steak.) Season it generously with salt and pepper, and rub it all over with a good amount of olive oil. (Put the oil on the steak, not in the pan.)

  2. Heat a skillet over high heat for a few minutes. If it gets too hot and starts to smoke, take it off the stove to cool a bit. Put the steak in the dry pan. Your steak should sizzle. Don’t move it around, because a nice crust is forming.

  3. After about three minutes, lift the steak up with tongs to check the bottom. It should be golden to dark brown with some gray undertones. You want it to be more brown than gray. You may need a few more minutes to achieve this.

  4. Turn the steak over and put it in the oven to finish cooking. (If you’re not using an oven-safe skillet, transfer the steak to a baking dish first.)
  5. After about two minutes, take the steak out to check it. For medium rare, it will be spongy in the middle if you poke it, or will register 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer. If it’s not there yet, put it back in the oven for two more minutes.

  6. Take the steak out, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes so the juices settle before eating.

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