Skip to Content

How to pan fry steak without smoke? (Explained)

We strive to provide you with authoritative, trustworthy, and expert advice. In doing so, the staff at performs extensive research, editing, and fact checking to every post on this webiste. If you feel that this article can improve, please feel free to reach us at

Before continuing this article, I wanted to let you know that I have a YouTube channel where I showcase all sorts of video content related to BBQ. Subscribing would mean a lot to me, and I very much appreicate all the support!

Steak is a favorite meat for many people, with plenty of ways to prepare it.

While grilling is the favorite cooking style for people all over, pan frying is also an excellent method to cook steak if you don’t have access to a grill or prefer the pan frying method for convenience.

However, one problem many people have with pan frying is smoking while cooking.

Keep reading to learn how to pan-fry without the hassle of smoke. 

Choosing a Cut of Steak

The first step for pan-searing or frying a steak is to choose a tender cut of meat so the steak won’t become tough to eat.

Some excellent choices include ribeye, strip, filet, or sirloin.

Choose a cut of meat with enough fat to keep the meat tender and prevent drying.

Looking for a good marble on the meat is a good way to find a good steak for pan frying. 

Steak Preparation

Steak doesn’t need a complex preparation process.

There’s no need to marinade it in advance. In most cases, the steak only needs salt, pepper, and perhaps some herbs added to the pan while cooking.

Some people enjoy adding rosemary or thyme to their pan during searing. 

Gather Ingredients

Be sure to decide on a good pan, preferably a cast iron skillet.

If you don’t have cast iron, try to use a good steel pan if you have one.

You’ll also need butter, oil, and the herbs of your choice if you decide to use them.

It helps if your steak is slightly chilled before you plan to cook it.

Season it with salt and pepper, and then refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Cooking the Steak

The first step in steak preparation to prevent it from smoking is ensuring you have the proper pan and the right temperature settings.

You’ll want to use high enough heat to sear the outside and not cook the inside too quickly. Add half the butter and half the oil when the pan starts to heat up.

You can use olive oil or avocado oil to help prevent the butter from burning and smoking. 

As soon as the oil and the butter are melted, add the steak and leave it to cook for four minutes for medium rare or five minutes for medium-well doneness.

Keep in mind this is cooking time for thick-cut steak.

The thin-cut steak only requires about two minutes on each side.

Baste the meat with the butter and oil mixture and add herbs. Flip the steak and continue to baste.

Remove the steak from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. 

Tips to Prevent Smoking

The best way to prevent your steak from smoking when you pan fry is to make sure to temper the butter with an oil with a high smoking point.

Avocado oil is usually a great choice, but if you don’t have one or prefer olive oil, it makes a suitable substation, but caution is merited to avoid smoking at a higher heat.

Medium-high to high heat works in most cases, depending on your stove. Be sure to pay attention to your steak and, when in doubt, remove it from the heat and let it rest.

You can always cook it a little longer if necessary.