So, being new to cooking, I tried cooking a pan-seared ribeye steak for the first time recently. I'm just getting new cooking utensils, and the idea of flipping the steak is something I'm not sure about.

Last time, I used the same utensil the whole way through. I know, many are likely cringing at the thought. But I was afraid of over-cooking so I was as attentive as possible to the steak.

I'm wondering if this is "safe". I'm guessing most will say it is not, and that's fine. I'd like to do better if it's not safe. I bought a pair of tongs since then (I was using a spatula to flip before!) but I still only have one pair. So, should I be placing the steak in the pan with the spatula, flipping with the tongs, and removing it from the pan with...something else?

Is it safe enough to use the tongs, and rinse them each time they touch meat before it's finished? Should I be scrubbing them with soap each time? Should I simply stick to different utensils? (In which case I might just stop cooking--I don't have that many utensils, don't plan on buying more for this purpose, and quite frankly I don't wish to clean so many utensils when I'm finished cooking)

I know there are other topics, but they haven't been quite as specific as the questions I'm asking here, so I hope I can get a good response on the subject.

  • 4
    I think sometimes we tend to be over-cautious with these things. Wash the utensile at the end (which is what you'd do anyways, even if you just used it for cooked meat) and you're good.
    – nico
    Oct 31, 2011 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


Most chefs will use there fingers to put the meat into the pan, then wash their hands. Turning and lifting out, some will use a spatula, with the utensil touching only the cooked, bottom side of the meat, not the top. Thus only needing to wash the utensil at the end of cooking. I have seen some chefs use tongs, though I can't comment on their practice.

  • I have some concerns regarding splashing oil in my kitchen at home using a single spatula to flip--I had used two spatulas, to lay it down gently, despite what I wrote in my original question. The same concern applies when I'm placing the meat down with my fingers, of course--placing it down too gently = burning my hand with sizzling oil, and plopping it down not gently enough = splashing oil onto the countertop. I'll figure out the single spatula flip, if I can, haha.
    – Tux
    Oct 31, 2011 at 18:51
  • 1
    @Tux - I'd just get tongs...
    – rfusca
    Oct 31, 2011 at 19:55
  • I think you need to be a little braver with the oil. A little splatter isn't going to harm you. Watch this youtube video of Gordon Ramsey cooking a steak. Notice he turns with tongs but he keeps touching the hot meat with his bare hands too. youtube.com/watch?v=MtIiR7DBAqY Nov 1, 2011 at 1:12
  • 2
    When you're placing the meat in the pan, hold it by a corner at the back, thumb on top and fingers below (you need to twist your hand a little but it only takes a second so it's not awkward). Then place it into the pan with the edge closest to you touching first and just let the back edge fall away. The spatter (if any) will then be directed to the back of your pan.
    – KimbaF
    Nov 4, 2011 at 6:48

Personally, cooking for myself, I would only worry about it if were something more likely to be harboring pathogens, such as chicken. When doing steak, I just rinse them in hot water.

If you're worried about it, you could soak the spatula or tongs (the part that came in contact with the raw meat, obviously) in some boiling or near-boiling water for a few seconds, long enough to get them to 160°F+.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.