The answer really comes down to what your plans are for the meal. Is it a party, a quick mid-week dinner or a weekend BBQ? Also, think about what flavours you enjoy.
Like any cooking method, how a steak is cooked will make a difference not only to the flavour but also the nutritional value. The most skilled cooks typically choose between grilling and pan-frying steaks depending on how they want the meat cooked for the occasion, rather than favouring one method over the other.
Depending on what cooking methods you learned, you might use one way more often than the other. Perhaps you have the perfect cast iron frying pan in your kitchen and find this simple to use when preparing to cook steak.
Or perhaps you are more of an outdoor chef and like to grill outside! Whether you use a grill or pan, the result you want is perfectly cooked pork chops, crispy golden chicken breast, or a new york strip steak finished medium rare to your taste every time.
Preparing steak and cooking meat is all about the end result and the experience of eating it, and we will take you through the differences between pan-frying steak and grilling steak.
Firstly, the benefits of grilling steak.
What most people will tell you about grilling your steak is that the flavour is second to none. Steak cooked over a grill has a smokey flavour different from pan-fried steak.
Of course, you can use a grill pan indoors, and it will give you those gorgeous grill marks we are familiar with, but for this example, we are really talking about a grill over direct heat or flame.
Steak lovers love grilled meat because of its distinct flavour. The smokey flavour of grilled meat can change depending on the grill's heat source: charcoal, wood, gas, or electricity and each allows you to produce steak with unique flavours.
While the meat is being cooked, the smoke rising from the grill or BBQ adds to the overall flavour of the meat. Something you cannot recreate in a frying pan.
No excess oil
When you cook meat over a grill, cooking steak requires less oil. Unlike pan-frying, with grilled steak, a little oil is all you need to stop the fresh steaks from sticking to the grill, which is good news if you are watching your cholesterol intake.
You can make a healthy meal by grilling some vegetables with your steaks. Choose vegetables that require the same or less cooking time than your steaks, such as zucchini, sweet corns, capsicum, or onions, and you can finish cooking them together.
Fun and simple - with no washing up!
When you think of outdoor grilling, you likely think of BBQs with family or friends. You can catch up on the news while you cook the steaks, plus you can easily cater for a large group.
Outdoor grilling can be fun because what can be better than enjoying delicious steaks in the sunshine with the family?
And best of all, there are no dishes from the grill. It is always a good idea to wipe down the grill when you have finished cooking, but nothing else is required. Nice and easy.
Simple tips for grilling a steak
Tip #1 Take the steak out of the fridge
Half an hour before grilling, take out the steak from your fridge. A one-inch-thick cut is perfect for cooking grilled steaks, and it should get to room temperature before you grill.
Tip #2 Get your grill heated up
It should go without saying, but remember to pre-heat the grill.
Tip #3 Season and oil the meat.
You can use grapeseed oil or vegetable oil and cover to taste with a generous amount of salt and some freshly ground pepper from your pepper mill.
Tip #4 Do not move the steak too quickly
Place your steak on the grill. Turn it over after three minutes or so depending on how well you like your steak done. It should take around seven to nine minutes for medium, but it also depends on how hot your grill is.
To be sure whether the meat is done, use a digital meat thermometer to determine how well the steak is cooked. The interior temperature of a medium-rare steak should be around 55-60 degrees Celsius.
Tip #4 Rest the steak
When the steak is done, take it off the grill and leave it to rest for around five-seven minutes. Don't slice it until you are ready to eat!
You may want to consider a hot baste when you're grilling food. This allows you to add more flavour to the meat whilst it is cooking on the grill, however, it does require some extra skill. For your first attempt, try the simple method above to really experience the benefits of grilling steak.
Now, the benefits of pan-frying steak
Flavour - again!
Pan-frying steak imparts a different flavour to grilling steak because the steak is sitting in the cooking oil or butter. This is called pan searing and the resulting cook on the steak provides a caramelised, crispy exterior with a juicy centre.
If you have watched any cooking shows, you have probably noticed how the chefs gently press down on the steak so that the entire surface comes into contact with the hot pan. This results in a pan-sear, and a steak seared in a frying pan develops a rich, caramelised brown exterior.
But it is important not to mistake pan-frying for deep frying. Deep frying involves immersing the meat fully in cooking oils, whereas a pan-fry has just enough oil to cover the base of the frying pan.
Unlike grilling steak which takes time to prepare your grill, the best way to quickly cook a steak is by pan-frying. The meat ought to be done with just some six to eight minutes of pan-searing.
Depending on how well cooked you like your meat. Just take your steak out of the refrigerator half an hour before cooking. Add some oil to the pan, and cook.
Tips for pan-frying steak
The first tip is to buy the best steak
Boneless steaks that are about an inch or an inch and a half thick are the best. You can use New York strip steak or a boneless rib-eye. If you use the leanest beef, you might find that the flavour is not as good. If the steak shows good marbling (the white fats in the meat) throughout, your steak will have a juicy centre.
If you are watching your cholesterol intake, you can trim all the fat from the steak's exterior, which will increase the nutritional value by removing excess fats. You can also use less oil; however, do not reduce the oil so much that the steak comes into contact dry with the frying pan.
Tip #2 Pan-frying requires high heat
To get a good pan-sear and obtain the perfect steak with a juicy centre, pan-frying has to be done quickly. Try not to take your attention away from the cooking steak because you can easily overcook it.
To pan-sear steak perfectly, it is best to use a heavy pan like a cast iron skillet, which helps to distribute the heat more evenly and give the surface an even cook.
Tip #3 Season the steak well
One of the benefits of pan-frying is when you pre-season the steak, you cook the flavours into the surface of the steak. For well-seasoned steak, rub it with an oil of your choice and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Tip #4 Keeping the steak moving
As mentioned earlier, pan-frying steak is fast! You are cooking the meat on high heat, and by moving the steak around - turning it every minute or so - you will ensure the outside crust of the steak is evenly cooked.
Tip #5 Undercook rather than overcook
Resting meat continues to cook, so if you are unsure if your meat is done, but it looks close, take it off the heat and allow it to rest. To be perfectly sure, you will need a meat thermometer to check the temperature if you are particular about the cook of your steak.
Tip #6 Hot baste
Add some butter and herbs of your choice at the end of your cook to make a hot baste. Finish the meat by basting it with a large spoon, and the flavours will be mouth-watering.
So which one is better? Pan-fry steak or grilled steak?
It really comes down to personal preference. But here are the factors that might help you choose when deciding which method to use for a delicious meal.
We mentioned earlier in this article the distinctive flavour of smoke that grilling steak imparts, plus how much fun it is to set up the grill outside and spend time with friends or family.
Grilling also uses less oil and butter than pan-frying, but the downside is it can be challenging to master, and you may get different results from grilling steak outdoors versus pan-frying.
One way to get around this is to use a grill pan indoors. There are hundreds of options for grill pans that produce a medium-high heat like an outdoor grill but also allow excess fats and oils to drip away from the meat.
You may not get that smokey flavour, but you will still get the grilled steak with fewer oils, meaning it will be much healthier for you.
One of the main positives of pan-frying steak is how fast it is. Arriving home after a busy day, you can easily have a delicious and nutritious meal ready in just over half an hour.
Pan-frying does use more oils and fats than grilling, but if you are making sure that you have a balanced diet and are not eating steak for every meal, this is okay, it is just something to be aware of. And enjoying a steak that has been basted every now and again can be one of life's little indulgences.
Pan-fry vs grill steak - the choice is yours.
Pan-frying or grilling both deliver delicious taste, so now you know the benefits and aspects of each cooking method, you can choose which suits the occasion you have in mind.
If you are pressed for time and want a steak with an excellent outside finish and texture without sacrificing the inside juiciness, then pan-frying is a great option.
But if you prefer to cook outdoors or if using fewer oils in your cooking is important, then grilling your steak is the choice for you.
Delidoor has a great range of steak and marinated meat to make your next BBQ event a success. Discover our range here.