If you're using the oven to cook a steak, it can be tricky to know the exact cooking time needed for your preferred doneness. Whether broiling or roasting, use these guidelines for a perfect steak every time.
Factors to Consider When Oven-Cooking Steak
The length of time required to cook a steak in the oven varies depending on a number of factors, including:
- The desired doneness
- The thickness of the steak
- The size of the steak
- The cooking temperature
For many, using the oven is a last resort when grilling isn't an option, but steaks cooked in the oven don't have to be flavorless or uninteresting. Cooking steak in the oven is a balancing act. You'd like a juicy, flavorful steak while still making sure that all the bacteria have been killed so that you aren't risking food-borne illnesses.
Broiling is an excellent option that cooks thin steaks relatively quickly and retains the tenderness of the meat. Thicker steaks respond better to oven roasting than broiling. Thicker steaks, about 1-1/2" to 2" thick, should be roasted in the oven.
If you're bringing the steak to room temp before cooking it, which is always a good idea, season it and then let it sit on the counter for 30 to 45 minutes prior to putting it in the oven. Don't let the steak stand at room temperature longer than 2 hours or bacteria can start to grow.
Guidelines for Time in the Oven
There are two main ways to cook steak in the oven - broiling and roasting. There's some leeway when it comes to steak doneness; experts vary a little when it comes to their recommendations for temperature. How you cook your steak is a matter of personal preference, but you should keep food safety in mind. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that all cuts of meat be cooked to a final internal temperature of 145°F, with a rest time of 3 minutes, to kill pathogenic bacteria.
|Rare - 120°F||10 minutes||2 minutes per side|
|Medium Rare - 130°F||12 minutes||3 minutes per side|
|Medium - 145°F||14 minutes||4 minutes per side|
|Medium Well - 150°F||16 minutes||5 minutes per side|
|Well Done - 155°F+||18 minutes||6 minutes per side|
To broil steak, season both sides and pop under a pre-heated broiler on a broiling pan or rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. The steak should be about 6" from the heat source. Broil the steak on each side for about eight minutes, turning once.
When roasting a steak in the oven, it should be seared in a hot skillet first to add flavor and color. The USDA recommends that meats should not be cooked using an oven temperature below 325°F. To roast a steak:
- Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. Season the steak with salt and pepper.
- Sear steak in a hot skillet for just a minute on each side.
- Transfer steak to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.
- Roast for 10 to 20 minutes until desired doneness is achieved. To test for doneness, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the steak.
Testing for Doneness
Insert a reliable food thermometer into the steak so the probe goes at least 1" into the meat. Remember that the temperature of the steak will rise by about 5°F as it rests. All meat should rest, covered, after it is removed from the heat source so the juices will redistribute and every bite will be tender and juicy.
Give this oven-roasted steak recipe a try to see how well this cooking method can work. It works best for very thick, tender cuts of steaks like baseball cut rib-eyes or thick-cut tenderloins such as filet mignon. Choose a steak with a minimum one-inch thickness.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Season the steaks on both sides with sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper.
- Place steak on a rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet and put in the preheated oven.
- Cook the steaks in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The steak will still look fairly uncooked when you remove it from the oven. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak will reveal a cooking temperature five to ten degrees lower than the desired doneness.
- In the last three to four minutes that the steaks are in the oven, coat the bottom of a large sauté or grill pan with an oil that has a high smoke point, such as clarified butter or grapeseed oil. Bacon fat also works well for this and adds excellent flavor.
- Preheat the sauté pan over high heat until the oil is shimmering in the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the steaks from the oven and put them in the sauté pan, cooking until the steaks are well-seared on each side, about two minutes per side. Don't move the steaks while they are cooking so that the steak can develop a nice, caramelized crust.
- Sear off the edges of the steak, about thirty seconds per side.
- Let the steaks rest, covered with foil, for about 3 minutes so the juices can redistribute.
This is a delicious way to cook steaks that leaves them brown and crispy on the outside and pink and tender on the inside. You can serve the steaks plain, with a pat of compound butter, or use the drippings in the sauté pan to make a delicious pan sauce with herbs and some wine or stock.
Tarragon Port Pan Sauce
Add a delicious pan sauce to your steak before serving.
- 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh tarragon
- ½ cup tawny port
- 1 medium shallot, finely minced
- 4 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- Remove your steaks from the sauté pan and set aside on a plate, tented with foil.
- Pour off all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan.
- Return the pan to the heat. Pour in the port wine, scraping up the brown bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Add shallots to the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the liquid in the pan until it is reduced by half.
- Whisking constantly, add the butter to the pan, one piece at a time. Don't add the next piece of butter until the first piece has completely melted. After four or five pieces of butter, you can start adding butter a few pieces at a time, whisking constantly, until all the butter is incorporated and the sauce is emulsified.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in the tarragon. Spoon a little sauce over each of the steaks.
Trial and Error
Cooking a steak can be an art form, and the only way to perfect your skills is to try a variety of methods with different cuts to find out which one works best for you. Check the temperature of your steak a minute or two before you believe it's done to make sure that you don't overcook, and experiment with different seasonings and sauces to expand your steak repertoire.