If you’re new to the world of cooking steak, chances are you’ve felt overwhelmed at some point because of the process. Maybe you’ve spent a pretty penny on a nice cut of steak at the store, only to bring it home and accidentally overcook it. Or maybe you’ve gone through all the right steps but still don’t get those bold flavors you’re used to at a steakhouse.
Even though you’re probably an amazing at-home chef, there may be one or two pivotal mistakes you’re making when you cook your steak without even realizing it.
Here are five mistakes chefs say that people commonly make when they’re cooking steak. And if you need help deciding which cut of steak you should buy, check out The Best & Worst Cuts of Steak.
Cooking steak straight from the fridge
If you’re cooking your steak after pulling it straight our of the fridge, you could be setting yourself up for an uphill battle while standing over a hot stove.
“The heat from the pan takes longer to penetrate the meat and therefore takes longer to cook, resulting in an undercooked interior and an overdone exterior,” says Deborah Rainford, a Cordon Bleu graduate with 10 years of experience in Michelin-star kitchens throughout Europe. Instead, Rainford suggests “letting your steak come to room temperature for up to an hour before cooking to combat this.”
Dropping your steak into your pan before the oil is hot enough
If you choose to cook your steak on the stovetop, you’ll want to make sure you’re cooking it at a high enough temperature.
Misfiring on your steak seasoning strategy
“When cooking steak, you want good contact between the pan and meat to create the Maillard effect, which creates the searing on your steak responsible for the flavor,” says Rainford.
Rainford claims that the key to benefitting from the delicious byproduct of a Maillard reaction is choosing the right skillet to cook your steak in.
“Using a heavy bottom—cast-iron is great—over medium-high heat and letting the oil get hot, just below the smoking point. Then, place the steak into the hot oil, and press it down so it makes end-to-end contact with the pan,” Rainford suggests.
Though this may not naturally occur to you when preparing your steak, but when cooking steak, you might want to avoid cooking with dried herbs because of how easily they can burn.
“If I want an herbal touch, instead of adding dry herbs to the seasoning salt—which can burn—I’ll incorporate herbs by basting or sprinkling some fresh rosemary or thyme in the juices released when the meat is cooked and pouring it over top,” says Chris McDade, chef and co-owner of Gus’s Chop House.
Another thing to consider when seasoning your steak is to make sure you’re not putting salt seasoning on the steak too soon.