When I fry a thin (1/4") beef steak on a skillet/pan (iron, but not cast iron), I face the following problem:

  • The steak bends, becoming slightly irregular-dome-shaped
  • Because of that, the parts of the steak that are in direct contact with the pan sear well, while the ones that only rest on the air do not
  • When the steak is turned, the same is repeated for the other side, with reverse areas (e.g. if the steak had the edges curved down and seared on side 1, then the center will be curver down and seared on side 2).

How can I prevent this from occurring, short of putting a heavy metal bar on top of the steak while searing; OR using my tongs to press the curved-up parts down to the pan surface?

My method of preparation:

  • Frozen 1/4" steak, ~6-8" in length (chuck boneless shoulder). No thawing
  • Salt lightly right before searing, on both sides.

I tried searching on this question but didn't notice anything.

3 Answers 3


Thin cut meat will curl if there is an outside perimeter of gristle or silverskin (which there usually is). Those things shrink faster than the meat, causing the curling. Take a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife and make tiny cuts (it shouldn't take more than 1/4 inch) every inch or so around the perimeter of the steak, just into the meat itself. That should solve the problem.

  • 2
    "there usually is" - that's correct, it is typical of most of the steaks I have.
    – DVK
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 17:05
  • 3
    Experimentally confirmed that this works perfectly!
    – DVK
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 23:05
  • 1
    @DVK I love comments like that.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 6:16

The unnecessarily complex gastronomic chemistry way: Sous vide the steak to 130F / 54.5 C (perfect medium-rare for beef muscle). Then use your pan (or blowtorch) to add some nice maillard browning.

  • That is a very effective way, but I've found I need a better blow torch, it takes way too long to brown it correctly. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 3:06

Press it down in the pan with a potato masher (ricer). A potato masher is better than other large surface area implements because you can apply vertical force, therefore more of it.

  • 1
    A brick wrapped in aluminum foil works, too ... and you don't have to stand over it the whole time. Or another small (but heavy) pan.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 12:38

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