How to cook steak

Learn how to cook steak in a frying pan and find out the cooking timings for rare, medium and well done. Sirloin steak is great for pan-frying, but you can use any cut of meat you like.  

Cooking the perfect steak takes practice, but if you prod the meat with your finger while it's cooking, you can gauge how ‘done’ it is. The meat will feel very soft when raw, slightly soft when rare, firmer when medium and tougher for well done. Practise doing this each time you cook a steak and you will work out exactly how you like it cooked.

Season the meat just before cooking it – any earlier and the salt may draw moisture out of the meat. Try not to move the steak around the pan while it cooks to get good caramelisation.

How to cook perfect steak

  1. Bring your meat up to room temperature.
  2. Heat the oil in the pan so it's really hot and almost smoking. 
  3. Season your meat well on both sides then add the steak to the pan – if it sizzles, you know the pan is hot enough. 
  4. Prod the steak with your finger to see how soft it is so you can get an idea of how ‘done’ you want it. It will tense up as it cooks. Doing this will help you work out your timings. 
  5. Add thyme sprigs and whole garlic cloves to the pan for flavour. 
  6. Press the cooked side of the steak with your finger again to see how firm/cooked it is. When you're happy, finish the steak off by rendering the fatty edge, holding the steak on its side between tongs for a couple of minutes. The fat will melt and add flavour.
  7. Rest your steak for half the cooking time to retain its juices.

How long you cook it for will depend on the size and type of cut. We recommend these timings for a 2cm-thick sirloin steak:

Blue: About 1 min each side
Rare: About 1½ mins per side
Medium rare: About 2 mins per side
Medium: About 2¼ mins per side
Well done: About 4-5 minutes each side.

Read our guide for more information on steak cuts and cooking times. For more tips and serving suggetsions, read up on how to cook the perfect steak and try our best ever steak sauce recipes.

See our recipes for simple sirloin and rib-eye steaks.

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