Is there anything better than a good steak to improve your day? There are so many great ways to cook steak, and now there’s one more. For those days when you don’t have time and energy, air fryer steak is the perfect answer.
Steak in an air fryer?
Why make steak in an air fryer when you have cast iron, reverse seared, or flame grilled steak? While all of those are excellent ways to make steak, an air fryer can have your steaks from raw to less raw (aka, perfectly cooked) in under 10 minutes, with almost zero cleanup. After a long work day, this seems way better to me than hand scrubbing a cast iron skillet with kosher salt or preheating your grill, oiling your grill, scrubbing your grill, etc.
How to get a good sear
Air frying with its fan and high-ish temps can replicate the same kind of sear you get on a grill or cast iron pan. The trick is getting the steak as close to the heating element as possible. For these photos, I used air fryer racks to lift the steaks right up to the heating element, and the resulting crust is pretty darn decent.
Air fryer racks
Air fryers are great, but air fryers with racks are a game changer. Racks allow you to lift the steaks up closer to the heating elements, cook more steaks at once, and prevent any weird grill patterns from the air fryer’s basket. You can use any racks that stack, and fit inside your air fryer. This is the one I’m using, but be sure to measure your air fryer and make sure the rack fits inside before buying.
Ideally you want to get your steak as close as possible to the heating element while leaving an inch of airspace to be sure nothing spontaneously combusts. Don’t walk away for the 7 minutes the steaks are cooking just in case.
There will be lots of smoke. Butter basted steaks cooked an inch from a 400ºF heating element are going to get smoky. I put our air fryer right under our hood fan on high and it did the trick. There’s not really a way around the smoke if you want a good crust. It might even be worth it to take your air fryer outside.
The best cut for air fryer steak
Honestly, this isn’t a high dollar steak kind of recipe. There are better ways to cook expensive steaks. This is more of a weeknight pick-up-on-the-way-home grocery store steak kind of recipe.
I tried this with a striploin and a sirloin, for science. Both were about 1.25” thick or so and both came out perfect. The fat cap on the striploin rendered out enough not to be chewy and unappetizing, which is always a risk when making striploin medium rare. The sirloin was still tender and juicy and not at all tough or tasteless, which is always a risk with sirloin.
There’s a Gordon Ramsay recipe going around right now that suggests a 2″ steak that’s going to cost a lot more. I’m not sure about that one. Personally, I’ll stick to supermarket steaks for my air fryer steaks.
Preheating your air fryer
Preheating an air fryer can seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s really helpful for a fast cooking recipe like steak by reducing the time it takes to get your air fryer up to temp. I threw some oil coated garlic cloves into the basket while preheating (and cooking the steak) and they came out roasted and gooey.
Air Fryer Steak temps
For a quick and easy reference, steaks are roughly done at:
Well done: ?♂️
Dry Rubs & Marinades
A steak is pretty good all by itself, but if you are so inclined, here’s that Gordon Ramsay recipe I mentioned earlier. I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems to be popular. I also like cajun butter steak and steak diane, when we’re talking about flavored steaks.
Check out this post for our best steak sauces such as classic peppercorn, mustard cream, garlic mushroom, coconut curry, or Japanese chimichurri.
And of course you need potatoes!
Perfect Butter Basted Air Fryer Steak
Juicy, deeply crusted, perfectly cooked steak in under 10 minutes for those days you don’t have time or energy.
- 2 8~10oz steaks of choice, striploin or ribeye preferred
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp butter or high heat oil
- 4 cloves garlic unpeeled, optional
Rare: 5 min
Med Rare: 7 min
Med: 9 min
Med well: 11 min
Perfect Butter Basted Air Fryer Steak
Amount Per Serving (8 oz)
Calories from Fat 206
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 11.2g70%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.