A delicious, thick steak is impossible to refuse. Nothing compares to a tender piece of beef grilled until it is golden brown and marbled with fat.

In addition to how to cook meat, one of the more controversial issues when discussing steak is whether to use butter or oil. There is no right response because everyone has different tastes, but I was frequently astounded by the truthfulness of some people’s justifications for or against a specific method.

Which is healthier while cooking steak: Butter or oil?

Use clarified butter or cooking oil with a high smoke point when pan-searing steak for the best results. Canola oil, soybean oil, and avocado oil have high smoke points (520°F, 450°F, and 400°F, respectively). Clarified butter has a 450°F smoke point.

A cooking oil’s or animal fat’s smoke point is the temperature at which it stops shimmering and begins to decompose and smoke. When this occurs, poisonous vapors are discharged into the atmosphere, and your food becomes contaminated with free radicals that are bad for your health.

At 350°F and higher, butter burns fast and readily. Because searing needs high heat, which burns butter, it is a bad fat for cooking meat.

Butter on steak

A delicious, thick steak is impossible to resist. The tender piece of beef, grilled to golden brown perfection and marbled with fat, is a culinary delight. One of the most debated topics when it comes to steak is whether to use butter or oil for cooking. While there is no definitive answer since everyone has different preferences, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each method.

Butter or Oil: Which Is Healthier for Cooking Steak?

When pan-searing steak, it’s best to use clarified butter or cooking oil with a high smoke point. Canola oil, soybean oil, and avocado oil are great options, with high smoke points of 520°F, 450°F, and 400°F, respectively. Clarified butter has a smoke point of 450°F.

The smoke point of cooking oil or animal fat is the temperature at which it stops shimmering and starts to break down and smoke. At this point, harmful fumes are released, and your food becomes contaminated with unhealthy free radicals.

Butter burns easily and quickly at 350°F and higher. Since searing requires high heat, which can cause the butter to burn, it’s not the best fat for cooking steak.

close up of cooking steak with butter basting motion blur

Cooking Steak with Butter

Butter is high in flavor but has a low smoke point. Some people prefer their steak to have a more natural taste and don’t want the added flavor from butter.

For certain cuts of meat and those who enjoy being present during the cooking process, butter is excellent for basting a steak frequently. When someone is around and basting often, the butter is less likely to burn and lose its flavor.

The downside of using butter is that you can’t leave it unattended while you attend to other tasks. While grilling steak is a pleasurable activity, butter may not be the best choice if you’re also cooking other dishes and could forget about the steak.

Cooking Steak with Oil

Just as there are various cuts of steak, there are many types of oil. From olive to groundnut, vegetable to peanut, there’s an oil for every preference. Neutral oils, such as canola, rapeseed, and vegetable oils, provide moisture without added flavor. These oils are ideal for those who want to enjoy their steak in its most natural state.

Flavored oils, like olive, peanut, and other specialty oils, are also available. Different oils may work better in specific situations since they have varying smoke points.

cook pouring boiling oil on fried steak. Oil flows down on a hot frying pan. Fragrant pepper is in oil and fried. The oil boils and gurgles. Oil spray and steam in the pan. Slow motion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which oil is best for cooking steak?

Avocado, sunflower, soybean, and canola oil are the best oils for high-heat cooking due to their high smoke points and neutral flavor. These oils can be found in the cooking oils section of any supermarket or grocery store.

How should a steak be seasoned?

Generously sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and salt on all sides of the steak, ensuring a visible seasoning coating on each surface. The meat should be covered in salt, but not piled up. Enjoying a steak should be like wearing a light layer of salt and pepper.


To sear a steak, use cooking oil rather than butter. Butter burns easily and quickly, turning black and imparting an unpleasant taste to the meat. Cooking oil maintains its consistency at high temperatures, especially in those with high smoke points.

If you love the nutty and sweet flavor of butter, you can still finish your steak with it after searing. Reduce the heat to medium, add a knob of butter, and start basting the steak with the melted butter. During this process, you can also add thyme and a clove of garlic to the pan for that extra steakhouse flavor.