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Pan-Roasting, Explained

Pan-roast steak

Meet pan roasting—a cooking method every home cook needs to master and a great kitchen hack to make a delicious dinner on a weeknight.

If you, like me, are a real sucker for seared steak, pork chops, and skin-on chicken breasts with a golden crust, but you like how juicy cuts of meat come out when they’re roasted in the oven, you can have the best of both worlds with a cooking technique called “pan roasting.”

The name of this cooking technique gives up pretty much everything you need to know about it. It’s a combination of searing meat on the stove and roasting it in the oven, and it yields excellent results every single time.

Learn How to Pan-Roast

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Take the meat out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before cooking it so that, by the time it hits the pan, it has already come to room temperature. Give it a good seasoning with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt (or flake sea salt) and freshly cracked black pepper on both sides.

Start off the meat by searing it in a hot pan over medium-high heat on the stove. The best kind of cookware for the job is a cast-iron, carbon-steel, or stainless-steel skillet with thick walls and a heavy bottom. Add a glug of cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil or canola oil, and preheat the pan until the oil starts to glisten and shimmer.

Sear on one side until the meat has a crispy brown crust, for no more than 2-3 minutes, then flip it over and repeat. Then transfer the pan to the oven and let the meat finish cooking for 8-10 minutes without interruption. It’s okay to peek through the window, but try not to keep opening the door; it will cause the temperature inside the oven to fluctuate too much.

It’s a good idea to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat the first few times you try pan-roasting it. (Once you’ve mastered this cooking method, you no longer need to.) As a general rule, cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and venison are ready when their internal temperature is 145°F. Chicken, turkey, duck, and game birds should be cooked to 165°F.

Remove the meat from the oven with a pair of tongs and let it rest for 10 minutes. While the meat is resting, it will continue to cook thanks to carryover cooking, making it even more tender as the fats and juices settle in place.

Why Pan-Roasting Works So Well

Pan-roasted meat is so delicious because the direct, conductive heat of the pan during the sear triggers the Maillard reaction, giving it the perfect sear with crispy skin and deep flavors.

Rather than searing the meat to doneness over high heat on the stovetop, which can dry it out by causing the juice to turn to steam and escape from it, you finish cooking it with the indirect, radiant heat of a hot oven.

In other words, pan-roasting works so well because it gives the meat the best of both cooking methods—the rich aromas and deep flavors of searing married with the tenderness and juiciness of oven-roasting.

For pan-seared meat that turns out perfect every time, use an oven-safe pan that’s large enough to accommodate the cut of meat that you’re cooking. And do take the time to preheat the oven as well as the pan on the stove.

Your Pan-Roasting Questions, Answered

Can’t I salt the steak immediately before searing it?

Yes, you can pan-sear a steak without dry brining it first. Simply salt the meat on both sides immediately before the sear. It won’t come out as succulent and savory, but it will cut 30 minutes from the total cooking time.

Understand why at “Should You Season Meat Before Cooking?”

Can I pan-sear in a ceramic or non-stick frying pan?

Non-stick frying pans are not suitable for high heat cooking—they outgas toxic fumes when heated to 500°F (260°C) and above—and should be avoided. You can use a ceramic frying pan over high heat, but not all of these pans are oven-safe. When in doubt, refer to the use and care instructions for your make and model.

Also, check out our round-up of the best frying pans for high heat.

What cut of beef is best for pan-searing?

Go for a tender cut, such as the T-bone, New York strip, ribeye, outside skirt, or round steak, with a rich marbling and a thickness of 1 to ½ inches. It’s said that bone-in steaks are generally more flavorful than their boneless counterparts, though they are also trickier to cook.

Learn why with our guide to cooking meat to safety and tenderness.


Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.

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