Nothing is quite as satisfying as a perfectly cooked steak that simply melts in your mouth. Whether pan-seared or grilled, you may be wondering if you should add butter to steak. We have invested our time to scour the internet, and we found the best answer for you regarding cooking steak with butter.
Putting butter on a ribeye or New York strip is actually a matter of opinion, but we think you should add butter to steak. The pros of adding butter to your red meat include:
- Increases flavor and richness
- Gives a glossy finish
- Enhances the texture
- Lends itself as an easy sauce
Alternatively, there are a couple of cons, such as:
- Low smoke point (burns easily)
- Butter is high in saturated fat
Besides this list of pros and cons, there are other factors to consider when you want to add butter to your steak. When should you use butter in the cooking process? What butter is the best to use on steak? Is it better to cook steak in butter or oil? Read on to learn more!
Why It's A Good Idea To Add Butter To Steak
Have you ever wondered why the steaks at steakhouses seem to taste so much better than those you make at home? The secret is butter! When you put a slice of this golden deliciousness on your steak, it enhances the flavor of the meat. If you really want to kick up the taste of your beef, you should use compound butter, which we will discuss a little later on.
Even if you don't see that mound of fat sitting on top of your filet at your favorite restaurant, more than likely, they've smothered your steak with a ladle of clarified butter (melted butter with milk solids and water removed). This has the additional benefit of giving it a nice glossy sheen. Since we first eat with our eyes, food presentation is an important aspect of enjoying a good meal.
Another advantage of using butter on steak is that it gives a creamy texture. While butter does not tenderize steak, it can supply a smooth mouthfeel to the meat's exterior. Be careful when using butter, as it can make the food greasy if you apply too much. Typically a tablespoon of butter is plenty for an eight-ounce steak.
Does Steak Absorb Butter?
Some people would say that adding butter to your steak gives some moisture to it. Which, if you happen to overcook your steak, can somewhat save that dry meat. The truth of the matter is, steak doesn't absorb any fats or sauces into the interior of the meat. On a molecular level, fat is too large to penetrate the cells of the beef. The only way to truly add moisture inside your steak would be to use a meat injector. But that is not necessary if you have a yummy compound butter on top.
Compound butter is butter that is flavored with herbs and aromatics, such as garlic, parsley, or thyme. It serves as an easy sauce that you can mop up with your steak. It is relatively easy to make compound butter. Simply combine butter with your choice of seasonings and fresh herbs, place it on a piece of plastic wrap, roll it into a log and refrigerate for at least an hour. Once it has had time to set, slice the butter into rounds and put it on top of your hot steak. It is a simple way to take your meat to the next level.
When Should You Put Butter On Steak?
Butter should always be used towards the end of the cooking process. The reason for this is because butter has a low smoke point or temperature at which it starts to burn. Steak needs to be cooked at incredibly high temperatures, between 425 and 500 degrees F, to get that nice sear we all love. Unfortunately, butter can start to burn between 300 and 350 degrees. So unless you enjoy the bitter taste of burnt food, save the butter until the end.
If you know anything about cooking steak, the popular advice is to allow the meat to rest after it has been removed from the heat source. This is the perfect time to add butter to the beef! Consider it the cherry on top of a meat sundae.
What Butter Is Best for Steak?
The selection of butter available in the dairy section of the grocery store can almost be overwhelming. There really is one rule for what butter is right for steak. Look for unsalted butter, as that allows you to better control the salt content on the meat.
After that, you get to decide if you want grass-fed, organic, or antibiotic-free butter. Brands like Kerrygold and Land O' Lakes seem to be the most popular. Don't think that simply because the butter is expensive, that means you will get the best flavor.
Let us make the distinction that butter typically comes in stick form. If you're buying butter in a tub, that is most likely margarine. Margarine is a butter substitute made from vegetable oils. This is a good option for those with lactose intolerance, but check the label as some kinds of margarine contain trans fat, which is not good for your health.
Is It Better To Cook Steak In Butter Or Oil?
Unlike butter, many oils have higher smoke points and therefore are better to cook steak in. The lighter color of the oil, the higher the smoke point. On top of that, some oils such as olive oil or grape seed are healthier alternatives to butter.
A tablespoon of Kerrygold salted butter has:
- 100 calories
- eight grams of saturated fat
- 30 milligrams of cholesterol
On the other hand, a tablespoon of Pompeian light olive oil has:
- 120 calories
- two grams of saturated fat
- zero milligrams of cholesterol
According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat can raise the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you have issues with heart health, the AHA recommends that you use butter sparingly. Oils like olive, peanut, safflower, or avocado contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good fats for your heart.
While these oils are better for your heart health, do not expect them to impart the luscious flavor you get from butter. Based on our research, when it comes to flavor, there are no substitutes for butter. Read this article if you're curious about which oil is best for searing steak.
What Oil Does Gordon Ramsay Use For Steak?
As the owner of four steakhouses, in addition to 21 other restaurants, Gordon Ramsay is obviously an expert when it comes to steak. So what fats does he use when making an impeccable piece of meat? We found that he recommends the use of olive oil and butter to create a mouth-watering steak. Watch this short video to see Gordon's top ten tips for cooking the perfect steak.
What Do You Put On Steak Before Grilling?
It seems the most popular method for home cooks to prepare a steak is by pan-searing it. What if you have a grill? Grilling steak gives it that smoky taste you can only achieve by cooking over an open flame. Can you add butter to your steak before grilling? The answer is, no. Remember, butter has a low smoke point, and most grills can get well above 500 degrees.
Instead, we recommend that you use olive oil to grease your grill. Then generously season the steak with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. You can add butter to your steak during the last two minutes of grilling or while the steak is resting.
Some people suggest putting oil directly on the steak so that the spices have something to adhere to. Also, you do not have to stick to only salt and pepper when it comes to seasoning. Get creative with spices like onion powder, cayenne, dried red pepper flakes, sage, or thyme. You don't want to overwhelm your palate with too much, though. If you decide to use extra seasonings, we recommend you use plain butter and not compound butter.
If you know a man in your life that loves grilling, check out some of these luxury BBQ gift ideas for him.
To Butter Or Not To Butter
Whether grilling a burly porterhouse or pan-searing a tender filet mignon, butter can be a great addition to any steak. In moderation, butter with red meat is a decadent flavor combination. If you are concerned about your heart health, skip the butter. Otherwise, enjoy the luxurious taste, texture, and shine that butter imparts to steak.