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How to Cook Rib Eye Steak In a Skillet

on March 14, 2016
Beef steaks are synonymous with the average American's culture and diet. However, there was a time when this was not the case. Cattle were mainly raised for their hides and for drafting, and also served as the source for butter and milk before the Civil War. Once the war ended, herds of cattle were moved to the west where there was an abundance of grazing land available. The cattle were given time to fatten up before being transported by train to the mid-west where they were slaughtered. Cattle were then shipped via refrigerator cars to the eastern part of the country. Beef production has evolved considerably from the cattle drives and feedlots of the 19th century. Many of today's consumers are demanding the availability of grass fed and organic beef due to diet and nutritional concerns.  

Steak Culture

  An entire culture has been built around the consumption of beefsteaks. Restaurants that specialize serving beefsteaks are called steakhouses. Moreover, side dishes such as steak tomatoes and steak fries are cut thicker and larger to compliment an ample portion of beef. Steak condiments, such as A-1 sauce and Worchester sauce are typically present on steakhouse tables. Steak knives have either straight or serrated blades and are often designed with sturdy wooden handles. Popular prime steak choices among consumers include the Tenderloin, T-bone, the Strip, and the Ribeye. The famous Philly cheese steak sandwich originated in the city of Philadelphia. It consists of thinly sliced rib eye or other tender cuts cooked on a hot griddle, which is then slightly shredded and served on an Italian-style roll.  

Interesting Steak Facts

  Although steak is the most popular American meat choice, it contains less protein than poultry. Americans cook more steaks on Memorial Day than they do any other time during the year. Steaks can be aged for up to 120 days.  

Dry-Aged Steak

  Dry-aged steak has a more intense flavor than a freshly cut steak. Steaks are put in temperature and humidity controlled refrigeration from three to six weeks. The aroma of dry aged steak is similar to buttered popcorn and has a sharp roast beef-like flavor. The decomposition of the meat causes the collagen that holds the muscle fibers together to break down and become very tender. The diameter of the steak decreases but the fat content of the marbling stays intact. A thin layer of mold develops as well but is trimmed off before it is cooked.  

Rib Eye Steaks

  The most favorite of the prime beef cuts available is the rib eye which is obtained from the sixth to twelfth rib between the loin and the shoulder on the cow. The rib eye steak is naturally flavorful and juicy due to its highly marbled, fat content. Rib eyes are classified as boneless and bone-in. A rib roast is a rib eye steak that has more than one bone in it whereas a bone-in rib eye has only one bone. This cut of meat is so rich that you do not need to highly season or marinate it first.  

Nutritional Value of Steak

  Lean beefsteak is an excellent food source if you're looking to add the essential nutrients and monounsaturated fatty acids to your diet. It's rich in zinc, vitamin B-12, protein. Also, a three-ounce serving of beefsteak contributes more than 10 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin B6, iron, riboflavin, selenium, choline, niacin, and phosphorous.  

How to Select the Best Ribeye in a Store

  Selecting the best rib eye in a store involves a few key factors to make the rib eye steak buying experience worthwhile, and include the following tips:
  1. Select thicker steaks over thinner ones to reduce the chance of overcooking them. Choose a rib-eye steak that is, at least, an inch, or ideally, an inch and a half thick. Steaks will struggle to attain the signature flavor and variations in texture that distinguishes a good ribeye steak.
  2. Abundant veins of fat running through the ribeye is a good visual sign of what to expect from this cut of meat; it will deliver the delectable meaty flavor typical of a great ribeye steak. Avoid buying rib-eye that has very little marbling since it will lack the flavor intensity and texture of highly marbled beef. Avoid buying "Select" ribeye from your supermarket since this is the lowest grade of commercial beef.
  3. The aged rib-eye steak will often taste better than freshly butchered meat. The aging process allows the flavor of the meat to develop and for the flesh to become very tender.
  4. A good ribeye should be an attractive bright red color. Avoid ribeye that looks pale, bloodless or gray.
  5. The top piece around the eye of the steak should be generously proportioned, and there should be a defined, decent-sized fat nugget nestled in this location as well.
  6. It’s also a good idea to ensure you choose a ribeye steak that comes from the middle portion of the ribs since that is typically the most tender cut. Cuts of rib-eye steak that come from another part of the cow other than the middle tend to have a rougher texture.
  7. Consider buying eating rib-eye steaks on the bone (a rib steak). Bone-in steak doesn't shrink and cooks more evenly which allows for the meat to become juicer.
  There is some controversy as to whether it's better to buy meat from a butcher or online store as opposed to your local supermarket. It is possible to find prime ribeye at the supermarket by simply looking for the "USDA Prime" label on the front of the meat's packaging. Prime beef comes from young, well-fed cattle which has an abundance of marbling.  

Side Dishes

  There are many delicious sides you can serve with ribeye steak. Typical starch dishes include baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, steak fries, beans, rice, and pasta. Steaks are often topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms, of which Shitake mushrooms are one of the most popular varieties due to their peppery, meat-like flavor. A garden salad or a small serving of savory cooked vegetables often accompany a ribeye steak, such as corn on the cob, creamed spinach, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, peas, and onion rings. An American steak dinner is also usually served with a slice of seasoned or buttered bread.  

Serving Wines for Ribeye Steak

  Many steak lovers enjoy eating their ribeye steak with a glass of red wine. However, red wines vary in flavor and aroma depending on the region where they are made. Since the ribeye offers flavor, juice content, and tenderness often lacking in other cuts of red meat, it is important to match the intensity of the meat's flavor with wine that possesses similar flavor characteristics. One of the most popular wines to serve with ribeye steak is Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Cabernet Sauvignon

  Cabernet Sauvignon has a gently tannic, ripe, fruity flavor that can be paired with grilled, broiled, or fried ribeye steak. The tannins contained in Cabernet Sauvignon work to cut through the fat and juices of the steak to create a great combination of flavors all in one sitting.  

Red Wine Blends

  Choosing red wine blends is another option worth consideration. For example, Chilean winemakers have mastered the art of blending local grapes in just the right percentages to deliver complex, intense-flavored red wines. Chilean Bordeaux blends combine Cabernet, Merlot, and other Bordeaux grapes. The Balduzzi Grand Reserve is made of a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carménère, 25% Merlot, and 3% Lagrima Christi.  

Chilean Carmenère

  Steak cuts that contain abundant marbling, such as ribeye, can handle a more robust wine. Chilean Carmenère features very smooth tannins, notes of blackberry and brambly fruit as well as a very subtle spice flavor. Chilean Carmenère is the perfect wine selection when serving rare ribeye.  

How to Cook Ribeye Steak in a Skillet

  There is some essential prep work that has to be done to the ribeye steak before it is finally placed in the skillet. The following steps are for cooking a 14oz.(400g) 1-inch thick ribeye steak, preferably one that is organic grass-fed and matured.  

Bring the Steak to Room Temperature

  First, bring the steak to room temperature. This process may take from 40 minutes to an hour depending on the ribeye's size. This first step is crucial to maintaining a uniform heating surface within your skillet. It also reduces your overall cooking time and ensures that a ribeye’s core cooks at the proper temperature; this is especially important when cooking meat within rare ranges. The tools needed to cook a ribeye in a skillet include the following:
  • Thick-walled heavy 10-12 inch skillet (forged aluminum is a great non-stick alternative)
  • Sturdy medium/large tongs for flipping the steak
  • Instant meat thermometer
  • Paper towels

Remove Excess Moisture From Your Ribeye

  Remove excess moisture from your ribeye by patting each side of the meat's surface with a paper towel just before cooking. This step will help you achieve a ribeye steak that has a perfectly seared, brown texture.  

Heat Up the Skillet

  Season both sides of your steak with Kosher salt while waiting for the skillet to heat up. Kosher salt has a low-density, less sharp flavor per pinch than regular table salt which allows you the ability to season your steak more if need be. For maximum flavor here, add pepper after you’ve almost fully cooked the ribeye.   It's essential for the skillet to reach a very high heat to ensure that the ribeye steak will sear properly. Coat the skillet with a teaspoon of either ghee or coconut oil and wait for it to evaporate into white smoke. This is an indicator that the skillet is now hot enough. Allow the skillet to heat for another 10 seconds before quickly placing the meat inside the center of the skillet. Remember, heating a skillet to the proper searing temperature can take up to 10 minutes. When cooking multiple steaks, only place an amount that can comfortably fit side by side (with room in between) inside the skillet; this will ensure that they will sear properly and form a nice crust.  

The Perfect Medium-Rare Ribeye

  You'll hear a fast sizzle as the remaining moisture on the meat's surface is cooked away once it is placed in the skillet. If you prefer to cook your ribeye medium rare, leave the meat undisturbed for three minutes on each side. Six minutes is typically the time needed to achieve a medium-rare steak. However, this cooking time may vary depending on the thickness and surface temperature of the skillet plus the type of stove you'll be using to cook the meat. Always use tongs to handle and turn a steak. Using a fork will puncture the steak and let out its natural juices. The less a steak is poked, the better.   Use a meat thermometer about 30 seconds before finishing cooking the second side, with a range for medium-rare around 55-57C / 130-135F. Add an extra 30-60 seconds per side if needed.  

Allow the Ribeye to Rest

  The resting stage helps seal up the ribeye's flavors. Let your ribeye sit for 5 minutes under a strip of foil after you’ve peppered it. Cut the steak perpendicular to its muscle fibers to stop the flavor from escaping from the steak too early. Add a tasteful garnish such as sprigs of rosemary and serve. You can also add steak sauce or any condiment that suits your taste.  


  The three classifications of beef are prime, choice and select. The classifications are based on the amount of marbling or white veins of fat running through the cut of meat. A steak's marble score ranges from 1 to 12. The higher the marble score, the fattier the meat. The texture of the steak is elegantly tender, and a good portion of its soft fat will melt at the slightest heat when it has a high marbling score."Prime" beef rib-eye is the most expensive grade to buy and is often chosen when entertaining guests, as it has the highest amount of marbling.   The best cooking recommendation for ribeye is around 135°F. Rely on a kitchen timer for precision cooking and remember to use tongs to handle the steaks. A long cooking time will bring out the juicy beef flavor which most steak eaters prefer. It's important that you not cut corners on the cooking time since cooking steaks on too high heat will cause the ribeye to become rubbery. An undercooked ribeye steak will not have the desired texture or flavor. Lastly, it's important to choose side dishes and red wines that complement and enhance the flavor of a ribeye steak best.