If you are looking for the best method to make a broiled steak – look no further. This one is it. At least it is for me, and I’ve tried quite a few before I quit broiling steaks on account of unsatisfactory results. I’ll even go as far as to say that this broiled steak beats my stove top steak because of better caramelization, better flavor and those amazing grill marks. Well, it’s at least as good, but so much better than any broiled steak I’ve made in the past.
The key to making best broiled steak
Not too long ago I picked up a cast iron griddle at a local store. It was nothing more than an impulse buy – do I really need another kitchen tool? I have dozens and dozens of them, most of them barely get used. I am sure everyone can relate to that. Still, the price was good, the griddle looked nice and I thought it would be something new to experiment with. Until last weekend, I’ve only used it once and made baked chicken thighs on it, but it impressed me a lot. Cast iron cut the baking time in half and made the skin crispier.
I liked the results so much that I decided to try the new griddle with something I hadn’t done in many years – broiled steak. Broiling steak on a baking sheet results in one sad looking and poorly flavored piece of meat. After trying it a few times, using slightly different methods, I quit. Until now. I thought that a hot cast iron might actually help me get a decent broiled steak. And I am glad I tried it! Finally, a broiled steak that doesn’t suck! As a matter of fact, it rocked!
Other contributing factors
That said, the new broiling method only played a part in making this the best broiled steak I’ve ever had. Nowadays I just love topping my steaks with compound butter, like I did with my filet mignon and pan-seared ribeye steak. There is no better flavoring for a steak than butter and fresh herbs. Butter improves the texture of the steak, making it more ‘buttery’ tender. For this recipe I whipped up some garlic chili compound butter, but you can choose whatever herbs, spices or veggies you like.
And while my broiled steak was resting, I used the griddle and the broiler to cook up some smashed potatoes and tomatoes on the vine. They only took 5 minutes to crisp up and were done just in time for the steak to be served. My family loved the broiled smashed potatoes and the tomatoes just as much as they did the steaks. The whole meal was a huge success, where every piece was gladly eaten and nothing was left on the plate.
Frequent turning of the meat results in a more uniform uniform broiling of the steak. I picked up this trick from a post on Serious Eats that recommends flipping steak multiple times for better results. They suggest flipping the steak every 30 seconds. A popular user post on Genius Kitchen suggests flipping the steak during broiling every three minutes. I went with the three minutes recommendation as 30 seconds make more sense when searing a steak on a pan with unidirectional heat flow. When broiling on a hot cast iron griddle, the heat is bi-directional and the heat flow is much less of an issue, while opening and closing of the oven every 30 seconds would lead to significant heat loss and longer cooking time.
What beef cut to use for broiling?
I like striploin. That and filet mignon are my favorite cuts. But any steak will do. The only thing I would recommend is to avoid broiling overly fatty steaks as the fat will splatter and create excessive smoke in the kitchen. If you are dead set on broiling one of those, trim off as much fast as possible.
When to salt steak before broiling?
Salting steak a few hours before cooking makes it tender and tastier. Yes, salt tenderizes and amps up the flavor. However, it needs time to do its magic. Depending on who you ask, the time varies from 45 minutes to several days. In my own experience, you need at least 2 hours to see the results. When you salt the meat, the salt draws water from the meat to the surface through osmosis process. This makes the surface wet and the meat inside drier. Neither is good for making a great steak. However, over time, the salt will get diluted in the surface water and will get re-absorbed back into the meat along with the water. If you have the luxury of waiting a few hours or salting in advance, this will benefit the steak. Otherwise, salting right before cooking is best as wet surface will impact browning.
Bringing the steak to room temperature before broiling
I used to ignore this advice, thinking that it made no sense. I used to think that a cold steak would allow for a much better browning since it would take longer to cook before the internal temperature would reach the target level. That was absolutely true, but came with one big problem – the steak would be way overcooked closer the surface. Yes, it had awesome caramelization on top, and it was cooked perfectly in the center, but between the surface and the center there was a wide grey ring of overcooked meat. Foolishly, I thought that that’s how it was supposed to be. That was until I tried cooking steaks brought to room temperature and realized what a difference it made, producing a better, more uniformly cooked steak. And that great caramelization was not necessarily about time, but more so about the temperature of the cooking surface.
Temperature of the cooking surface
The temperature of the cooking surface is absolutely key when broiling steak. No oven will provide you with the right cooking surface temperature right off the bat. That’s why there are millions of recipes and mouth-watering pictures of grilled or cast iron pan-seared steaks out there, and only a handful of broiled ones. There is a reason for that – broiling on a baking sheet, even fitted with a cooling rack, yields mediocre results. Those steaks look anemic, pale and unappetizing. That’s why few people broil steaks.
What happens when you drop a piece of meat on a baking sheet under a broiler is water will start to escape the meat, creating a very moist environment in which the meat steams rather than broils. At the bottom, there is a puddle of water, which will keep the meat cooking at less than 212F. You are getting half-boiled, half-steamed, with a few charred spots, awfully looking steak.
Instead, let’s try broiling our steak on a preheated cast iron surface. Cast iron has an enormous heat capacity. It will quickly start releasing the heat to the meat once it touches it. Two things will happen once you put the steak on a cast iron surface – the meat surface will immediately start to caramelize and any water released from the meat will immediately evaporate, creating perfect conditions for further browning of the meat. According to my observations, a lot less water is released using this method and there is absolutely no water pooling at the bottom of a cast iron pan or griddle at any time. This results in a ridiculously good looking and tasting steak.
Cast iron pan vs cast iron griddle for broiling steak
Either one will work just fine, but you won’t get those gorgeous ‘grill marks’ from a cast iron pan, unless it has a ribbed bottom. I suppose now is a good time to elaborate on those grill marks. After preheating the oven with the griddle inside on high for 20 minutes, the temperature of the griddle’s surface reaches close to 500F. That’s as good as it gets for obtaining perfect grill marks. However, once the meat touches the griddle, the surface temperature immediately starts to drop, and drop fast. And because there is no intense heat source underneath, like a fire pit, the temperature of the cast iron griddle never fully recovers.
What this means is that you will only get one set of perfectly looking grill marks, but no more. Flip the meat and the next set of grill marks will be faint and barely visible. More like indentations than actual caramelization. I suppose if you only grill one steak, and start on one far side of the griddle, then flip and place it on the other far side – you may get a second set of good looking grill marks. But really, who cares what the surface that you can’t see looks like? Just serve the steak with the good looking side up.
Oh, one more things, a griddle, depending on size, can fit more steaks. A round 10-12-inch pan may be less accommodating, depending on how many steaks you want to broil at the same time.
Resting is important for any steak, and broiled steak is no exception. I recommend a 5 minute rest time. This is enough for the meat fibers to relax and reabsorb some of the juices released during cooking. While your oven and the griddle are still hot and the steak is resting, prepare some smashed potatoes. They are a match made in heaven for this broiled steak. Just make sure to parboil some potatoes before broiling the steak.
Looking for more great broiling recipes? Check these out:
- Broiled Chicken Thighs
- Heavenly Broiled Chicken Breast
- Broiled Pork Chops
- Perfectly Broiled Salmon
- Perfectly Broiled Chicken Wings
- Broiled Steelhead Trout
- Broiled Asparagus
Succulent Broiled Steak RecipePrint Pin Rate
For the steaks
- 2-4 steaks of your choice (striploin, sirloin, etc.)
- salt and coarsely ground pepper (to taste)
- olive oil for brushing (about 1-2 tablespoons)
For the chili garlic compound butter
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper (or serrano pepper)
- A dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh cilantro (I used 3 tablespoons as I love cilantro)
- Kosher salt (to taste, if needed. I don't add)
Salt the steak for tenderness and better flavor
- To get the best out of your steak, it's best salt it at least a few hours before broiling. Apply salt all over the steaks. You can add pepper at this point as well. Place on a platter or a tray fitted with a small cooling rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. I simply use the packaging tray steak come in, lined with a piece of parchment paper and a few long wooden skewers placed on top to prevent the meat soaking in own juices. You want the surface to be dry to achieve best browning.
To prepare chili garlic butter for the broiled steak
- Take a sheet of parchment paper, at least 12 by 12 inches. Place the butter on one side the parchement paper, fold the other side over the butter and press down to flatten it to about a 4x4-inch piece. Evenly sprinkle the minced cilantro and the rest of the ingredients over the butter. Now, fold the paper with the butter in half. Press down to flatten. Repeat several times. Using your hands, shape the butter into a 1 1/2 inch long long. Wrap with the parchment paper and refrigerate.Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to using and cut into 2-4 disks, depending on how many steaks you are broiling, and leave at room temperature.
Prepare steak and oven for broiling
- Remove the steaks from the fridge 45 minutes to one hour before broiling, to let them come up to room temperature. Room temperature steaks cook faster and more uniformly, giving you best results.
- Place the cast iron griddle, or a cast iron pan, on the rack located in the second position from the top, about 5 inches from the broiler element. Preheat the oven for at least 20 minutes on high broil.
Broil the steak as follows:
- Once the oven and the griddle are preheated, it's time to load the steaks. If the steak surface is slightly wet, pat it dry with paper towels to remove the moisture. Using a really good oven mitt (the oven will be very hot), open the oven and slide the rack with the griddle out. Spray of brush a little bit of oil on each side of the steaks to prevent sticking.Drop the steaks on the griddle and slide the rack back in. Close the oven.
- Broil on high for exactly 3 minutes.
- Flip using long tongs, and broil for another 3 minutes.
- Flip again and broil for another 3 minutes. If your steak is thin, e.g. 1 inch or thinner, this is the time to start checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer. I like having a BBQ thermometer probe inserted in one steak, this gives me an idea of where my temps are at any point, without any stress.
- Then flip again, and, you may have guessed it, broil for another 3 minutes. If your steak is thicker, e.g. 1 1/4 inch or thicker, this is the time to start checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer.
- Now, turn the steak on the side and broil for 3 minutes. A thicker steak will stand on its side without a problem, but a thin won't. If you are using thinner steaks, just flip them again. Check for doneness.
- Turn the steak to the other side, or just flip it again. Cook for 3 minutes. A thicker steak should hit about 130F now, at least in my oven, which is when you want to take it out if you are after medium rare doneness.
- Keep going, using the same method, until the desired doneness is achieved (see notes).
Resting the steak and serving
- Remove the steaks from the oven and immediately transfer to a serving platter to stop cooking. Immediately top with compound butter to let it melt a little. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes and serve with your favorite side dish. Smashed potatoes go so well with this broiled steak!
|Steak Doneness||Remove from Oven at this Temp||Final Cooked Temp|