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If you look at recommendations on how to prepare a quality steak there are usually three steps to it.

  1. Sear on both sides with very high heat until the outside is done to your liking
  2. Put into the oven at 50-80°C until the center is almost cooked to your liking
  3. Let the steak rest for a few minutes

If your steak cut is relatively thin, around 1 inch/ 3 cm one can skip step 2 and just use a 10 min rest on a preheated plate. If you have a thicker cut, 2 inches/ 5cm or more this doesn't work and you do need some intermediate step if you don't want the inside of the steak to be cold.

So I was wondering if I do steps 1 and 3 as normal but for step 2 I just put the steak in the microwave for one minute or so, how will that affect the quality of the steak?

If you have a thick cut, the oven time required can easily be 20 or 30 minutes because the oven temperature is only slightly higher than the desired internal temperature of the meat and you are still heating the meat from the outside which is already done. A microwave on the other hand heats the meat everywhere at once so should be much more suitable for that purpose. I'm wondering whether there are any other aspects where 1 min of microwave is much worse than 20 min oven time.

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  • I have no idea how well it would work, but a microwave crisper pan might be worth trying. It is a microwave-absorbent plate that will give some conducted heat to the food, which should help with even heating of the surface of the steak. It also reduces hot spots by absorbing some of the microwaves that otherwise bounce around.
    – jpa
    Mar 1 at 9:20
  • When I cook ribeyes I do normal sear and then bake. But I've found very good results when cooking strip steaks (less fatty cuts, etc.) by using a reverse-sear. Bake until slightly under desired internal temperature, then sear the outside.
    – RIanGillis
    Mar 1 at 15:01
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    3 cm is thin? Mar 2 at 15:54
  • @JanusBahsJacquet For a good steak? Yes :-)
    – quarague
    Mar 2 at 18:08

1 Answer 1

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Microwaves don't cook as evenly as you might think. Even with a turntable, I would worry about hotspots and uneven cooking, particularly with thicker steaks. Also, they cook fast. Medium-rare versus medium-well could be a matter of seconds, depending on the size of the steak and the power of the microwave.

Nevertheless, I don't see any fundamental reason this couldn't work. You'd likely ruin a few steaks getting the timing down but then you'd be golden (at least for steaks of a very specific weight and thickness). As I recall, this is exactly how steaks are prepared on airplanes: Seared and cooked to medium rare on the ground, flash chilled, and then reheated/cooked to desired doneness in a microwave in the air.

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  • It also doesn’t help that microwaves in many countries have a concept of ‘power level’ as a percentage of power level… but most people have no idea what the original wattage is. So ‘microwave at 600W for 20 sec’ is what you would need to be accurate in your instructions but difficult for people to follow
    – Joe
    Mar 1 at 2:46
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    @Joe power levels are just duty cycles. A 500W on a 1kW microwave means "on for X seconds, off for X seconds so the heat can even out". You can even hear when the magnetron turns on and off.
    – Davidmh
    Mar 1 at 13:37
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    @Joe Most microwaves today will list the original wattage on them somewhere. Mine is on top just inside the door.
    – trlkly
    Mar 1 at 14:01
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    @trlkly I think it is most often only on the rear side, sometimes hard to access. Mar 1 at 14:04
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    @Joe yes, but the "microwave at 50% for 20 seconds" are particularly egregious, because that means 20s at full power, whatever that means in your machine.
    – Davidmh
    Mar 4 at 8:23

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