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Jun 18, 2010 03:59 PM

Selecting correct cut of steak


So i've just pan fried my first steak, a New York Strip, and it was amazingly juicy. I only bought it cause of name recognition cause I'd had it before in restaurants.

Question is what are the cuts of beef you recommend for pan frying as I don't own a grill. I remember seeing lots of ribeyes and t-bones at the supermarket. Just want to make sure I'm buying good steaks for frying but at the same time I don't want to be spending money if there are cheap alternatives.


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  1. You can pan-fry just about any cut of steak. In many ways, it can be better than grilling.

    Preheat your oven, get your pan smoking hot, then sear the steak on both sides in the pan, then finish off in the oven.

    10 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      If it is not more than about 3/4 inch thick, the oven is unnecessary if you like med/med rare or rare. It will continue cooking off heat. I shut off the heat when the juices start to appear on the second side, and let it rest for several minutes for med rare. There are various factors including how cold the meat was when it hit the pan and the heat-retention ability of said pan.

      1. re: greygarious

        I would never buy any steak less than 1" thick. Less than that, it's simply not thick enough to have the heat from the pan create the nice crusty char without also overcooking the inside of the steak (as you rightly note).

        1. re: ipsedixit

          With a carefully preheated cast iron pan, thinner steaks can be darkly seared while retaining a medium-rare interior. I routinely buy 3/4" or thinner steaks, never thicker (because I am only cooking enough for 2 or 3 servings).

          1. re: greygarious

            I presume it all comes down to the temperature of the pan. The hotter it is (and the shorter the cook time), the easier it is to sear the surface without over cook the interior, no?

            1. re: greygarious

              +1 - But you have to know your heat source and pan (which is one that must be able to take very high heat and conduct that heat evenly).

              Besides the portioning issues, MANY people simply can't / don't want to afford the 1-1/2 - 2" steak.

              1. re: CocoaNut

                When you said "afford", do you mean financial or health? Heh heh heh. :)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  ooooo.... good question! ;) Only last week, my doc gave me an ultimatum to that effect!

              2. re: greygarious


                I'd have to disagree w/r/t to being able to get a nice char on a 3/4" or thinner steak. The only way I've even come close to getting a nice crust on a think steak is to do the "reverse-sear" method, and even then it's touch and go.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Apologies for omitting an important detail. Since for me, using a teriyaki marinade for steak is as natural as breathing, I didn't even think to mention it. The marinade adds moisture and improves tenderness. Although I dry the room-temp meat before searing, there's enough sugar to promote faster browning.

              3. re: ipsedixit

                I agree. To get the nice crusty char on a steak less than an inch thick, you would have to turn the interior into shoe leather. And I'd prefer something in the inch and a half to two inch range to retain the moist, juicy interior.

          2. filet and anything from the sirloin will be good as a pan-fried steak, but my favorites are ribeye (sometimes called Delmonico) first and strip steak second.

            1. It all depends on what you want in a "perfect steak". If you value tenderness above all, go with a filet, but know that it won't be as flavorful as something like a New York strip or ribeye. If cost is an issue (and it is for most of us!), filet is generally expensive, sirloin tends to be less expensive... but is not as tender or flavorful as another cut. If you want a little bit of everything, you can go with a T-bone or Porterhouse (which is similar to a T-bone but has more tenderloin attached). But it can also be much leaner, which may be good if you're watching your fat intake. Every cut has it's own pros and cons, and everyone has their own opinion on what is best. Personally, I'm a NY strip steak gal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chococat

                Thanks for all the advice!
                The "perfect" steak should have flavor but not be tough after cooking. For example, I like skirt steaks but if I cook it myself by frying it ends like a tough mess, but wonderful in say a crock-pot like meal. So I stayed away from skirt steak/flank steak but then wasn't sure how to pick out from the rest!

              2. I'd have to agree with just about everything offered thus far. But I would like to add that pan frying is just one step away from braising so even a relatively tough cut of beef can be tamed using that method - all you need is a pan and some patience.

                1. Since you enjoyed the strip steak (also referred to as a Kansas City (KC) strip) or simply a "strip", you'd definitely enjoy the T-Bone or Porterhouse. Each of those cuts include the "strip" on one side of the bone and a filet on the other - the T-bone has a much smaller portion of the filet, but sometimes, there is a portion that would rival the Porterhouse (about $1/lb more expensive). Either of these give you the best of both worlds, but as someone else has said, the filet, thought outrageously tender, lacks much flavor due to its lack of fat.

                  Because of the bone in either of the above cuts, you will need to increase the cook-time in some fashion to make certain that the bone comes up to heat in order to cook the meat on either side to desired doneness. This really isn't difficult, you just need to be aware of the need. If the steak is under 1", you should be able to accomplish it on the stove top, cooked in the same fashion as you cooked your strip. Any thicker, you'll probably need to sear it on both sides, stove top, and finish it in the oven.

                  Another quality steak is the rib-eye, which is heavily marbled with the most flavor. Personally, because of the fat content, I wouldn't do this in a frying pan. The fat would tend to "puddle" and give the steak a greasy feel to it. With this cut of meat, you'll find it both bone-in and boneless. The bone-in could be considerably less per lb than it's boneless counterpart - just know that the rib-eye bone is quite large, ie heavy, so it may not be the deal that it seems to be. HOWEVER, the bone does impart some additional flavor, so that becomes a personal preference.

                  With any steak, remove it from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or so prior to cooking to get the chill out of the meat and bone. This will help the meat cook more uniformly.

                  Because of the economy being as it is, most all of my local grocery stores - even the very high end ones - usually have at least one cut of steak on sale each weekend. I'd shop those and enjoy whichever cut you find on your plate!

                  As to "grades" I try to buy either Prime or Choice and bypass Select. "Prime" can and is quite expensive, so seek out Choice when possible.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    Choice is my choice for ribeye, and I do NOT want it off the bone, because that's DESSERT, dammit! These can be pan-broiled without excessive greasing in a blazing hot skillet, but I like to use a Lodge grill pan - you can get a big one, about 14", for around $25. Second-best in my estimation is gas or charcoal grilling, but now that my vent fan is dead that's what I'm stuck with.

                    I get steaks out at least an hour before they're to be cooked, salt and pepper them, then drape a clean cotton dish towel over them to keep the bugs off. The salt dry-brines them a bit; they don't come out tasting salty, just beefy.

                    1. re: CocoaNut

                      Rib steak isn't heavily marbled. 'Marbling' is the specks of fat distributed throughout the muscle, not the thick bands of fat you see in a rib steak. Strip generally has better marbling than rib steak.

                      1. re: tommy

                        Actually, the ribeye's marbling IS the determining factor used to "grade" beef.


                        "Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the ribeye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs. Degree of marbling is the primary determination of quality grade."

                        But the marbling would probably not be noticeable in lesser grades. That said, there is a ring of fat (amount can vary) surrounding the "eye".

                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          I know this. And of course the 12/13th ribs are the last ribs and next to the short lion (where the strip is).

                          Regardless, if you look at a rib steak and a strip steak from the same carcass, especially within Prime, you'll see that the strip has more marbling. I notice this in Choice grades as well. And again, those ribbons of fat are not marbling, which was the thrust of my point.