Searing meat in a cast iron skillet, how do you do it?

Cast iron skillet
Updated on 27 May 2023
Table of Contents

A cast iron skillet has many advantages. I have been using it for making my dishes for a very long time and I really like it. It is a durable pan and you get to experience a whole new flavour sensation! Today I will discuss searing meat with you. This term is used a lot in the kitchen. But can it actually be done?

What is searing meat?

So let’s start with the theoretical part. Searing meat means searing meat on high heat. That means preserving the meat juices. So you sear it that way. That way you preserve maximum flavour and juiciness, and then the meat doesn’t become tough.

But does it work?

There are two ways to answer this question. Let me take you through these:

1. Can you sear meat?

Unfortunately, the short answer is: no. However, this is not the full picture; we will come back to this in a moment. Searing meat at a high temperature creates a crust, but this is not the effective way to actually prevent moisture from leaving the meat. It is very easy to demonstrate that the crust just keeps leaking. If you keep frying it, you will see that the moisture does not stay inside.

You can hear meat sizzling when you leave it in a hot pan. This is the sound of the fat coming into contact with the hot pan. You can fry steak completely black, you will keep hearing that sizzle.

2. Searing as an effective way to cook meat?

So the literal theory of searing is not exactly effective. At least, the promised effect, i.e. moisture absolutely not leaving the meat is not achieved. Yet it is a common kitchen term and you hear a lot about it, so there must be something to it, right? Fortunately, there is. 

In fact, this technique using a cast iron skillet does ensure that meat is crispy on the outside and nice and tender and juicy on the inside. This is the ideal combination for a steak, for example. The reason is quite simple. The inside of the meat hardly needs any cooking. By short frying, it does not get this either. In addition, the short searing time ensures that juices hardly leak out.

However, the high temperature does create a delicious crust. If you fry at a lower temperature, the inside will become tough, overcooked and dry before that beautiful crust has formed on the outside.

Why use a cast iron skillet in particular?

A cast iron skillet is the ideal pan for this technique. You apply the technique exactly as I have just explained to you. But then why is it that a cast iron skillet is just right for this kind of thing?

Well, a cast iron casserole is hugely resistant to heat. Plus, you can use a cast-iron casserole with any heat source. Gas, induction, oven open flame, barbecue, you name it. The fact that you can use it with any heat source and that the pan resists heat well ensures that this pan emerges as the best option for this technique.

In addition, the natural non-stick coating ensures that you experience a whole new taste sensation!

To conclude

So searing meat is frying it at a high temperature for a fairly short time. Real searing of meat, even with a cast iron skillet, is therefore not entirely possible. By this we mean that frying meat in this way without the juices leaving the meat is not possible.

But that is not the whole picture. This is, however, the best way to fry meat when you want a crispy crust on your meat on the outside, and nice juicy meat on the inside that is not ‘overcooked’.

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Cast iron skillet

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