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Cast Iron Pan Too Hot?

kjonyou Apr 24, 2013 07:52 PM

Can a cast iron pan be too hot to sear a steak?

I use the sear roast method of getting the pan really hot, little oil on the steak then sear both sides about 2 mins then finish in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes. This usually works beautifully in a stainless steel pan.

So I bought my first pre seasoned cast iron pan thinking it would do even a better job but instead, I got so much smoke in the house after 1 minute in the pan I had to move the steaks out. The sear or dark color was just in a few spots not even.

Is it possible that my pan is just too hot? I though cast iron was the best for searing things? I know its supposed to smoke but it was reducibility smokey all the windows and doors had to be open could see a cloud in the next room!

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  1. w
    wyogal RE: kjonyou Apr 24, 2013 08:08 PM

    I don't think the CI pan has to be that hot.
    and yes, I've done that, too. :)

    1. greygarious RE: kjonyou Apr 24, 2013 08:54 PM

      Yes, it can get too hot. There are lots of variables related to your individual stove and pan, but start by preheating for 5 minutes or so on medium. That's all I need on my electric cooktop, which doesn't get all that hot with other pans (I'd need high with my Calphalon nonstick).

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
        kjonyou RE: greygarious Apr 24, 2013 09:49 PM

        Ok, thanks, I do have an electric cook top, 90 percent of the time the setting is on 3. 10 only for boiling water.

        But I read and watch these cooking shows and they all say "make sure the pan is screaming hot"

        1. re: greygarious
          soccermom13 RE: greygarious Apr 25, 2013 05:49 AM

          I'm with Greygarious---yes, it can get too hot. I have an electric ceramic top and I do have to be careful with cast iron pans getting so hot that they burn the meat rather than sear it.

        2. fldhkybnva RE: kjonyou Apr 25, 2013 06:35 AM

          Yes, it can be too hot. To preheat my cast iron pan for searing meat I heat it on medium temperature which provides a more even heating as if it's too high just the center of the pan gets way too hot. I leave it on for 5-10 minutes and know it's ready with either the water test, hold your hand over the pan and if you can't for more than 5 seconds it's good, or if the pan is lightly smoking. If it gets too hot I take it off the burner and let it cool a bit before putting any meat in it.

          1. c
            calumin RE: kjonyou Apr 25, 2013 06:55 AM

            Make sure your oil has a high smoke point. Grapeseed oil is one option.

            Restaurants sear steaks at up to 1000 degrees. You're probably not reaching "too hot" on your cast iron pan at home.

            1. r
              rjbh20 RE: kjonyou Apr 25, 2013 07:38 AM

              Unless you're doing filet, no oil is necessary and it just burns/smokes. Get the pan as hot as before, sprinkle a little coarse salt & toss in the steak. If you insist on using oil, you need lower heat for the reason you discovered.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rjbh20
                kjonyou RE: rjbh20 Apr 29, 2013 10:27 PM

                Well sometimes it is a filet, if I am lucky. But most of the time it is not. I know this is a stupid question, but are you sure it wont stick?

                We are not talking a 20 year old seasoned pan here. Its brand new, maybe been used only a dozen times so far.

                I hear all these great things about how Cast Iron is the original non-stick but I am leery about ruining a good steak.

                1. re: kjonyou
                  jaykayen RE: kjonyou Apr 29, 2013 11:47 PM

                  If it sticks, then it hasn't seared enough. It will release when it dries up enough.

                  I, also, never use oil. Oil is better for cooking evenly and distributing heat, but I hate the spattering.

                  1. re: kjonyou
                    travelerjjm RE: kjonyou Apr 30, 2013 07:14 AM

                    I use about 1/4 teaspoon for a 9" CI pan. I heat the pan until the steak sizzles loudly when I put it in. While my normal pan is seasoned for 50 years so so, I do exactly the same when I use my "other" cast iron pan, too. It never sticks -- filet or any other.

                    BTW, I sear the sides, too.

                2. r
                  Rigmaster RE: kjonyou Apr 25, 2013 07:48 AM

                  The pan's not too hot, but you don't need the oil. I preheat my CI to 500 degrees in the oven, then on a 20k BTU burner for 5 mins. There is some smoke but not much. Creates a great sear. I do 3 mins per side and finish with 4-6 in the oven (temp reduced to 400) depending on thickness of the steak for a good medium finish. Most often I only do 4 mins in oven and let it rest loosely covered for 5 mins outside the oven. I do this with steaks at 1.5-2" thickness though. Don't like thin steaks.

                  1. j
                    jaykayen RE: kjonyou Apr 29, 2013 11:45 PM

                    So turn the heat down.

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