Steak 101: Grilling vs Searing

April 11, 2021

Here in Texas, everyone agrees that steak is king. But when it comes to cooking one, there’s a debate. Some love to fire grill their beef, and others prefer to sear it in cast iron. Grilling vs searing: which side are you on?

Both methods of cooking beef have their pros and cons. Deciding your favorite will depend on a few different factors. For example, searing provides a more even caramelization but requires the addition of oils to achieve this. In comparison, grilling doesn’t give the crispy crust but uses less oil and is considered more healthy. 

To know which option you should choose next time steaks are on the menu, it helps to understand the details of both cooking methods. Let’s dig in!

Why You Should Grill Steak

Lighting up the barbeque is a classic summer activity that taps into something very primal. Let’s face it, being outside and cooking on a fire is about as primitive as it gets. But don’t be fooled when deciding between grilling vs. searing. Just because preparing food on an open flame is old-school doesn’t mean it’s the lesser option. Grilling has two advantages over searing: smokey flavor and lower calories. 

Grilled meat has a distinct flavor that people love. Whether you use gas, wood, or charcoal, this cooking method imparts a charred, smokey taste to your steak. And if you add natural wood to the process, it results in even deeper smokey flavors. Pecan and mesquite are the most popular species used in Texas. Bags of chips are widely available online. 

But the benefits don’t stop there. Not only does grilling add complex flavors to your steaks, but it is also a more healthy cooking method than searing. This is because you do not need to add additional oil to the cooking process. Once the grill is hot, you just throw on the beef. By reducing the extra fats, you cut out a lot of unnecessary calories.

Here are some of our best steak grilling tips:

  1. Make sure the grill is VERY hot before placing the steaks on it. That way, you’ll have evenly distributed heat. This will also reduce flare-ups as juices are rendered from the meat.
  1. No matter if you’re using gas or charcoal for your grill, try adding some wood chips right before you start cooking. This will impart additional smokey flavors.

Grilling might be a healthier alternative to searing. However, the benefits you get from it will depend on the choices you make. For example, when picking your steaks, we always recommend Premium Quality Texas Beef. It’s grass-fed, grain-finished, and always hormone and steroid-free.

Why You Should Sear Steak

Cooking a steak on your stove may lack caveman appeal and health benefits, but when it comes to grilling vs. searing, there is no denying the popularity of searing in many Texas restaurants.

Unlike grilling, searing doesn’t impart smokey flavors. But what is lost in rustic charm is made up for by a sophisticated finished product. To sear, you use a very hot, flat surface like a pan or griddle. This ensures an even crust across your entire steak resulting in deep browning of the meat. Browning creates a lot of delicious flavors and helps to lock in moisture. 

Unfortunately, searing falls short with health experts. When compared to grilling, searing requires additional oils to produce its signature brown crust. Therefore it is not considered as healthy as grilling.

Although doctors do not favor searing, it indeed produces steaks that are melt in your mouth delicious. You should try it before making a final decision on grilling vs. searing. Here are a few tips to remember when you do:

Pan Frying Tips:

  • You need to cook your steak at a high temperature. So use the heaviest pan you have. Cast iron works well as its mass retains a lot of heat. 
  • When it’s time to cook, preheat your pan on high heat. Look for it to be almost smoking. Next, add oil and then your steak. High heat is what creates the beautiful brown crust that seared steaks are known for.
  • Keep the steak moving in the pan. Only flip it once, but rotate it every 20 seconds or so. This will ensure that the meat is cooked evenly. 

Pro Tip: Add butter and fresh herbs to the pan about a minute before your steak is done. When the butter is melted, and the herbs are sizzling, use a large spoon to baste the beef by repeatedly pouring the butter and herb mixture over the top.

And the Winner Is…

Here on the ranch, we always debate between grilling vs. searing. But at the end of the day, both techniques are winners. Each is used in different situations, and everyone has their personal preference. It just comes down to what you’re in the mood for.  What’s your favorite?

Check us out! We offer grass-fed, grain-finished, sustainably raised bulk beef and Premium Quality custom beef boxes. Each one is chock-full of all your favorite cuts. We also have tons of Texas Beef Company merchandise. Show the world that you Eat Better Beef!

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