There are few foods that cause as much controversy as steak does. People just can’t seem to agree on how it should be cooked (medium rare or well-cooked?) and whether or not unsalted butter is better.
In this article, I will answer one of these questions and leave the other up to your personal preferences.
Butter is considered a secret ingredient that helps make every bite of your steak juicy, and I’ll discuss whether that butter should be salted, or unsalted.
Which is Better: Salted or Unsalted Butter for Steak?
It is better to prepare steak with unsalted butter. Although it may depend on your cut of meat, the steak is likely already somewhat salty. With unsalted butter you have more control over how much salt is added throughout the cooking process. Unsalted butter also makes it easy to add other ingredients that also contain salt without making the meat too salty.
Why Put Butter on Steak?
Starting off the cooking of your steak with unsalted makes it possible to add more flavor to the steak as well as prevent it from being too salty.
Not only could the meat already be salty, but every butter brand has its own amount of salt added, so you have little control over saltiness if you use salted butter.
Additionally, when using unsalted butter, you can add more seasonings without overpowering the meat with salt.
On top of that, putting butter on the steak makes it delicious. The butter can enhance the taste of the steak even more if you add flavors like lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and fresh herbs to the butter.
Another great reason to use butter for steak is that it will soften up the meat. Steak can be rather chewy, but if you prepare it with butter, it’s a lot less chewy and much juicier.
How to Use Butter on Steak
Now that you know why unsalted butter is great for steak, let’s look at how to use the butter to make your steak as delicious as possible.
First, note that you don’t use butter to initially cook the steak. For this, you use olive or canola oil. The butter is added towards the end of cooking.
Let your steak rest at room temperature for about half an hour so it’s at room temperature. That way, it will cook more evenly.
Heat roughly one tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. The pre-heat process should take about three minutes. I suggest that you use a cast-iron skillet because it works so much better at preparing steaks and the like.
Season your steak with salt and pepper and place it in the skillet. Press the steak down gently to make sure the entire bottom surface makes direct contact with the oil and skillet. Let the steak cook until browned on the bottom, which should take about three minutes.
Flip the steak and continue to cook until it is about ten degrees from your desired ‘doneness’. This shouldn’t take more than three minutes.
Since there are such diverse tastes when it comes to steak, you can cook your steak a little longer than three minutes so it will be as well-done as you prefer it to be.
Although it’s recommended that you make the steak medium-rare so it absorbs more flavor and tastes less chewy, it’s ultimately up to you how you want the steak to be.
Once you’re done and the steak is nearly at the level of cooked you want, remove it from the skillet and place it on a plate. Let it cool down a little bit and then take the butter and lather it on the meat.
Brush the butter over your steak thoroughly to make sure it soaks into the meat. Don’t apply the butter while the steak is in the skillet, as this can lead to loss of juices.
Preparing The Butter
When you get the butter ready for your steak, you can choose from many different herbs and spices to add. Of course, you can use only butter, but I recommend that you add a few ingredients to kick the taste up a notch.
Some of the most popular ingredient choices include lime or lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and garlic. You can experiment with different ingredients every time you cook steak until you find your favorites.
Mix the ingredients with the unsalted butter that has been softened.
You can also use herbs like basil, rosemary, dill, thyme, sage, parsley, scallions, and cilantro. However, don’t use all these herbs together as they might not taste very good. Use different combinations until you find what works for you.
If you use dried herbs, rub them in your hands before you add them to the butter so all the flavor is released effectively.
Make Perfect Steak With Unsalted Butter
Now you know that unsalted butter is best for steak because it gives you better control over how much salt is added to the meat. You also know how to prepare steak when using butter, so you have no excuse to make flavorless steak in the future!
Frequently Asked Questions to Salted Or Unsalted Butter For Steak?
Which Butter Is Best for Steak?
There isn’t any specific butter that is best suited to steak. As long as you use unsalted butter, it probably won’t matter what kind of butter or which brand of butter you use.
Does Butter Make Steak Tender?
Adding butter at the right time (shortly after cooking and while the meat is resting) can make a difference in how good the steak tastes. You should also use the right ingredients, like salt and coarse ground black pepper to make a nice and tender steak.
How Do You Not Burn Butter When Cooking Steak?
It is best not to use butter while you’re cooking your steak – oil is a far better option. However, if you insist on using butter, use a wooden spoon and keep stirring. Stirring constantly will prevent burning.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.