When it comes to cooking your steak, do you prefer grilling it or pan-frying it? While both methods have their own benefits and disadvantages, the choice largely comes down to personal preference.
With the amount of steak being consumed around the world, it’s no surprise that both grilling and pan-frying are popular cooking methods for steak. However, for those who aren’t familiar with the cooking terms, knowing the differences can be a bit overwhelming.
If you’re looking to branch out and try something new with your steak, we recommend giving one method over the other. Read on to learn more about these two techniques, as well as their differences, before making your decision.
Grilling vs. pan-frying: What’s the difference?
For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to grilling and pan-frying as “grilling” and “pan-frying”, as these terms are more widely known and used.
Grilling was originally intended for cooking large cuts of meat over wood or charcoal fires.
This method of cooking involves cooking food over a direct flame, and can be performed either outdoors or in a backyard Grill-O-Conic using a charcoal grill.
The food is usually lowered onto the grill at an angle and then moved around frequently to caramelize and develop a good crust.
This method of grilling is best for foods that have a high fat content, such as steak, pork chops, and lamb.
One of the most recognizable grilling techniques, the “Mora Method” is named after Brazilian barbecue master, Ruy de Moraes.
In Ruy’s method, the meat is rubbed with a seasoning paste and stuffed into a natural casing.
The casing is then tied off and placed over a direct flame, with the tied off end uppermost.
The technique of grilling stuffed animals over a flame is commonly associated with Mora, but was actually developed by American barbecue legend, “Texas” Jack Chisholm.
Unlike grilling which involves searing and then searing again, pan-frying involves shallow frying in a large, shallow pan.
Unlike grilling which requires high heat, pan-frying can be performed at a lower temperature, which allows the fat in the meat to cook and render more easily.
This is why a good steak house will often pan-fry their steaks before grilling them.
While pan-frying is often performed outdoors, it can also be done indoors using a large, open skillet.
Advantages of grilling your steak
There are many advantages to grilling your steak, which we’ll discuss below. However, one of the biggest advantages is that grilling allows the steak to “rest” for a short period of time.
The steak is often placed on a makeshift “cooling rack” made from a sheet of aluminum foil.
This allows the juices in the meat to flow back into the meat, which can result in a much more tender steak.
Another advantage of grilling is that it allows the steak to “carve” easily, which basically means that you can cut it into much thinner slices.
Some steakhouses will also “carve” their steaks before serving them, which allows you to take much thinner slices.
Advantages of pan-frying your steak
Like grilling, pan-frying your steak can result in a much more tender and flavorful steak.
However, there are a few things you should be careful with when it comes to pan-frying your steak.
The first is that you need a big skillet or shallow pan because you’ll be cooking the steak in a lot of oil or fat.
The second is that you need to make sure that the steak is cooked to the desired doneness, and you can do this by using a meat thermometer.
For medium-rare steaks, you want to bring the temperature to around 125°F-130°F.
For medium steaks, you want to bring the steak to a temperature between 135°F-145°F.
For well-done steaks, you need to bring the steak to a temperature below 145°F.
Disadvantages of grilling your steak
While grilling can produce some delicious steak, there are a couple of disadvantages associated with grilling.
One is that the steak can sometimes “caramelize” on the outside while being raw in the middle, which can make it crispy but not necessarily juicy.
The other is that the steak can sometimes be overcooked, with the juices inside the meat being forced out by the heat.
For these reasons, it’s important to pay attention to the cooking times and temperatures when grilling your steak.
Disadvantages of pan-frying your steak
Like grilling, pan-frying can also produce a delicious steak, though there are a few disadvantages of pan-frying that you need to be aware of.
One is that you need a large, heavy pan to do it properly.
A heavy pan will ensure that the steaks are evenly cooked, but it will also make it more challenging to flip the steak over.
This is why we often see steaks like New York strips and T-bones being cooked in a Pan-fried steak.
The other disadvantage of pan-frying is that you need to be careful when removing the steaks from the pan.
As with other fried foods, if you put a steak in a hot skillet or pan, it will rise up and balloon out, forcing the juices out and making the steak tough.
To prevent this, you need to gently lower the steak into the pan and then carefully flip it over once the other side is cooked.
Which method is better for your steak?
Ultimately, this all comes down to personal preference.
If you like your steak well-done, then frying it is the way to go.
However, if you like your steak medium-rare or medium, then grilling is the way to go.
Not only will the steak be juicier and more flavorful, but it will also be less likely to be tough.
For these reasons, it’s best to stick to the cooking method that you prefer and reach for the steaks that suit your taste buds best.
There are several ways to cook steak, with grilling and pan-frying being two of the most popular.
While grilling is often associated with the taste of charcoal, both techniques produce delicious steaks that can be customized to your liking.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference as to which method you should use for cooking your steak.