I am on a quest to make the perfect steak on a stovetop. Today I took my first step and frankly there were a few things that were really concerning.

I am using an induction cooktop and a stainless steel pan and no oil. All the instructions said to put the steak on high heat so I cranked the stove up to 9/10 and was surprised when smoke started billowing off of the pan. I took the pan outside to cool and avoid setting off the fire alarm. Then I brought it back in setting it at 6/10 which is about where I cook my chicken breast.

After leaving it there for 5 minutes still a Heft amount of smoke was generated and I eventually turned it down to 5/10. When I flipped the steak that side was still over cooked. I had hardly reached what I would consider “high” temperatures (especially compared to how I cook chicken) and the steak was already smoking and burnt.

So I guess my question here is how much smoke is normal when cooking steak in this matter? What is that “high” temperature that will lock in some amazing flavor without creating too much smoke or burn? Surely it cannot be at a 5/10 on my stovetop.

Is induction cookware effecting anything here?

  • dials on stoves are notoriously unreliable
    – CobaltHex
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 18:08
  • Is there any sort of a coating on the pan? What you describe sounds like when I heat up a cast iron pan too high and cook off the seasoning. If you don't have a thermometer that can measure the pan, there are still a few ways to gauge temperatures
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


in my experience, a carbon steel pan is highly reactive in term of temperature, especially on an induction cooktop; it will quickly overheat and burn your food.

Steak will smoke a lot, especially if the fat content is high.

Try lowering the temperature, use a thermometer and continue on your quest for the "perfect" steak.


Unless the meat is extremely fatty itself (a hamburger) I would recommend always cooking with some oil or fat. The oil helps moderate and distribute temperature (esp into all the cracks of your meat). You don't need a lot.
You will get a certain amount of smoking as the oil heats up and eventually smokes. Same thing with meat fats.

Something I do is once the oil starts to smoke is to dump out the excess and adjust whats in the pan so its over the oil.

Also, given the thickness of the meat, you don't necessarily want to sear as hot as the stove will go, it will end up black and blue. You'll have to experiment and find what works


Slightly unrelated answer here, as it particularly doesn't deal with steak.

  • The issue with most induction cook tops is - They heat up too fast, faster than conventional convection based methods e.g. gas burners or oven (not microwave).
  • And as @Max pointed out, it also depends on the kind of utensil
    • thinner the steel, faster it heats.
    • thicker the pan, slower it heats & slower it cools down. It also means it'll cook your food more uniformly. Therefore, it's recommended that you use a pan with thick bottom.
  • The smoke is generally is a result of an overheated pan evaporating a mix of oil and water and excess smoke'd mean
    • burnt or overcooked food
    • or, just over-cooked-sides while inner portion remains still raw
    • and burnt cooking oil, which isn't good for health


  • Keep it temperature controlled - The machine will turn off automatically when the pan's bottom heats up beyond that point & will save your steak from burning. Depending on the kind of cook top you use, it may offer features where you can set the temperature to say 160°C / 320°F.
    • Frying / Sautéing activities are usually done at ~350°F.
    • If your cooking procedure involves covering the pan, then 320°F should be good enough (but it may require a longer cooking time).
    • If you're cooking with an open pan, then you may want to increase it a bit, but not beyond ~400°F because that's where most of the edible oil, including fat, begin to evaporate / burn.

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