How to Cook a Rare Steak (with Video)

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While I personally prefer a perfect medium-rare steak, my daughter prefers a buttery rare steak so today’s post shares How to Cook the Perfect Rare Steak – hitting that perfect level of juicy perfection!

Craving a perfect rare steak? This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to cook a perfect buttery, rare steaks with the perfect amount of charred smokiness on the outside

Perfect Rare Steak with a Cast Iron Skillet

Let’s start by clearing up a common misconception – rare steak is not raw steak.

Rare steak is cooked until at least 125ºF. It should be browned all around the outside of the steak and still have a bit of char to it. 

Rare steak should still be slightly warm through the center, though some people will find it cool (especially in comparison with more well-done cooking preparations or if you’re waiting for it to get served at a restaurant). In comparison to more well-cooked steaks which will take on somewhat of a smoky, charred flavor, rare steak will stay true to the steak’s original flavor and will have a chewier texture.

For this reason, I highly recommend if you’re going to cook your steak rare that you choose a great quality steak with very thin lines of fat throughout (since large distributions of fat won’t have a lot of time to melt and add to the flavor and juiciness of the steak).

My preferred way of cooking steak for my family is using a cast iron skillet. You can use these same directions for cooking on a grill, as long as the steak you are cooking is about 1″ in thickness. I prefer the skillet because I can control the heat, it helps develop that amazing caramelized bark, and also, I’m usually preparing our side dishes as I go so I prefer to cook in the kitchen.

Cooking Temperatures for Steak

  • Below 125ºF – Blue
  • 125ºF to 130ºF – Rare Steak Temperature
  • 130ºF to 135ºF – Medium Rare
  • 136ºF to 145ºF – Medium
  • 146ºF to 155ºF – Medium Well
  • 160ºF – Well Done

Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook about 5 additional degrees while resting, so remove it from the pan or grill when it’s 5 degrees less than your desired level of doneness.

How to tell when steak is rare? The most foolproof way to know the “level of doneness” for your steak is to use a meat thermometer. This is the meat thermometer I have been using for the past 6 years – I’ve never had to change a battery and it’s super sturdy and reliable. It was a bit pricey, but unlike the $15 models that you can buy, this one isn’t going to need replacement. It is waterproof and comes with a two-year warranty. (Thermoworks also has a $15 pocket-sized model if you want to try that out first before investing in the MK4.)

Insert the meat thermometer into the center of the steak, away from any bones and being careful not to go through the steak to the pan.

You can also use a touch test. The feel of a rare steak is comparable to the fleshy part of your hand at the base of your thumb and forefinger when you make a loose fist (like when you’re holding something lightly).

Is rare steak safe? Officially, most food safety organizations recommend a minimum internal cooked temperature of 145ºF for a steak to be considered “safe.” There are things you can do to control risk, like getting your steaks from a reputable source, practicing safe food handling yourself, and thoroughly inspecting your meat before and after preparation for any visual or olfactory cues that it may not be fresh. This study recommends cleaning or changing the meat tongs that you use throughout the cooking process to avoid re-introducing any potentially harmful bacteria that may have existed on the uncooked steak.

Best Cuts of Steak to Enjoy Rare

While I prefer rib-eye for medium-rare steaks, they can be hit or miss when preparing rare steak as the marbling can vary greatly.

Sirloin: lean, juicy and tender, sirloin has more flavor than a fillet and is less expensive.

Fillet: a lean, tender cut of steak – but usually one of the most expensive. The low amount of fat in this steak means that it cannot be overcooked or it will be dry.

How to Serve Your Rare Steak

Or, if you’d prefer to just enjoy as-is with some delicious side dishes, check out:

Check out our quick video to see how easy it is to make the perfect rare steak at home – and then don’t forget to scroll down to grab your free printable recipe card:

Rare Steak Ingredients

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tip: you can swap out the salt and pepper for your own preferred seasonings or marinades.

Second tip: you can also use a cooking oil with a high smoke point, either with the butter or in its place.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

  • Cast Iron Skillet <– I love the versatility of a good cast-iron pan – you can make everything from eggs to dessert in them and they transition easily from the stove to the oven. This one is pre-seasoned and great for even heating
  • Meat Thermometer <– this is the one I use and it’s been awesome. Sturdy, accurate, batteries last forever, and super easy to clean.
  • Tongs

How to Cook a Medium Rare Steak in a Cast-Iron Skillet

To cook your steak, dry the outside by pressing a paper towel or napkin onto it to absorb moisture. Let the steak sit out until it reaches room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, or your preferred seasonings.

Place your cast iron skillet in your oven at 400ºF to warm it fully.

Remove and place over medium-high heat. Add your butter and when it starts to sizzle, add your steak.

Place the steak in the pan away from you to prevent splatter. Do not overcrowd the pan or the steak will not develop that caramelized sear.

If just using the stovetop, cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side to sear it, and then continue cooking, until your meat thermometer reaches your desired temperature for doneness.

If using the combined stovetop-oven method, cook the steak for 2 minutes on one side to sear it, and then flip over and sear for 30 seconds before carefully moving the skillet into the oven to continue cooking, until your meat thermometer reaches your desired temperature for doneness. It will be approximately 3 minutes, but keep checking it.

Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook about 3-5ºF as it rests, so remove it when its slightly lower than what you want.

Remove the steak from your heat source and cover with tin foil for 5-10 minutes before slicing. (Ideally, form a little “foil tent” over the steak.)

 

 

Pin this Step-by-Step Tutorial for how to cook the perfect rare steak at home:

Just the right amount of smoky sear while staying juicy and chewy on the inside, this is your step-by-step guide to the perfect rare steak

Grab our free printable for how to cook a perfect rare steak:

Yield: 1 Steak

How to Cook a Rare Steak

How to Cook a Rare Steak

A buttery, rare steak with just the right amount of smoky sear while staying juicy and chewy on the inside, this is your step-by-step guide to the perfect rare steak.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes

Ingredients

  • Steak
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Butter

Instructions

  1. To cook your steak, dry the outside by pressing a paper towel or napkin onto it to absorb moisture. Let the steak sit out until it reaches room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, or your preferred seasonings.
  3. Place your cast iron skillet in your oven at 400ºF to warm it fully.
  4. Remove and place over medium-high heat. Add your butter and when it starts to sizzle, add your steak.
  5. Place the steak in the pan away from you to prevent splatter. Do not overcrowd the pan or the steak will not develop that caramelized sear.
  6. If just using the stovetop, cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side to sear it, and then continue cooking, until your meat thermometer reaches your desired temperature for doneness.
  7. If using the combined stovetop-oven method, cook the steak for 2 minutes on one side to sear it, and then flip over and sear for 30 seconds before carefully moving the skillet into the oven to continue cooking, until your meat thermometer reaches your desired temperature for doneness. It will be approximately 3 minutes, but keep checking it.
  8. Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook about 3-5ºF as it rests, so remove it when its slightly lower than what you want.
  9. Remove the steak from your heat source and cover with tin foil for 5-10 minutes before slicing. (Ideally, form a little "foil tent" over the steak.)

Pin this Recipe for Later

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I hope your family loves this delicious homemade steak recipe! I love that I can now cook the perfect steak at home and steakhouses have completely lost their appeal to me.

For more delicious steak recipes, check out our Blue Cheese Steak recipe or Steak Oscar with Bearnaise Sauce recipe.

For more ways to serve beef, check out our full beef recipe collection here:

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