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I'd love to try butter-basting a steak but the method involves tipping the skillet to one side so that you can scoop up the melted butter and pour it onto the steak. I have an electric stove and if I tip my skillet, it stops making contact with the heating element. A gas stove doesn't really have this problem because the flames still heat the skillet (albeit unevenly, but it's better than nothing). I'm concerned that if I tip my skillet off my electric stove, it won't cook correctly since heat isn't constantly being applied.

Am I overestimating the impact of the type of heating here? Is it still possible to reasonably butter-baste a steak with an electric stove if the cast iron is preheated sufficiently?

  • Can you be more specific about the type of electric hob? Induction hobs which require a specific type of pan to work on them will have a different answer to a 'normal' electric hob where any sort of pan rests on heating elements. – Phil Feb 10 at 10:22
  • Mine is a glass-top electric stove, not induction. I suspect coil, glass-top, and induction would all suffer from lack of heat application when tilting the skillet away from the heating element, though for induction it might depend on the size of the magnetic field generated. I don't have a lot of experience with induction to know for sure. – Ben Torell Feb 10 at 11:47
  • I used an induction hob for a week and my (admittedly limited) experience with induction hobs is that it instantly lost all heat when the pan lost contact with the hob, so I suspect that induction pans don't retain heat very well. But sounds like you will be fine. – Phil Feb 10 at 13:06
  • With an electric stove, this should work just fine. An induction stove though could have problems if there's a very strict pan-detection (or auto-sizing) system in place shutting off the stove the moment the pan leaves the stove. A tipped pan could just be enough to trip that. – Mast Feb 11 at 10:32
  • I think you're overestimating the impact but I notice that adding loads of cold butter straight from the fridge has a greater impact and that affects the sear. In that case, I microwave my butter until it's hot and melted – burnt1ce Feb 19 at 22:17
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The couple of seconds it takes to scoop up the butter won't have any significant effect on your pan's temperature, especially if you use something that retains heat well, like cast iron.

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    And even with a regular pan, it's not going to make a difference unless you're holding it at an angle for a long time. – Graham Feb 10 at 14:54
  • Just butter-basted a steak tonight on my electric stove and it came out great! Thanks! – Ben Torell Feb 19 at 1:18
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You definitely can.

Use a thick, heavy cast iron skillet and you won't have any problems at all - lifting the skillet off the heat for a couple of seconds won't affect the cooking because of the skillet's thermal mass.

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I use this method with both steak and burgers and - although I do use gas - it doesn't involve tipping your pan so should work.

  • Sear the meat both sides in a hot pan (depending on thickness and how you want it cooked)
  • Sit a large knob of butter on top on the centre of meat
  • Put the whole pan in a warm oven (~100C) for around the same amount of time as the total time you seared it for
  • Serve (the oven serves as resting time!)

I also like to mash the butter up with herbs and spices in advance - such as garlic and thyme - and roll it into a sausage shape in some parchment and chill. You can then just cut off a couple of slices whenever you're making the steak.

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