The Absolute Best Way to Cook Steak in the Air Fryer
Perhaps one of the best things about steak (aside from how juicy and delicious it can be) is the fact that you can use most methods of cooking meat and still get a perfectly cooked steak—as long as you know what to do. You can grill it, bake it, cook it on the stovetop, deep-fry it, and even toss it in an air fryer. That's right, the air fryer—which heats up food by using an air circulation method—is more than just an appliance for warming up vegetables or frozen French fries. If you learn how to cook steak in an air fryer, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy, all while still enjoying a tender filet of red meat.
With any method you use to cook your steak, there will always be unique benefits to each one. While grilling gives your steak a smoky char and the stovetop allows you to cook your meat in plenty of oil and herbs, using an air fryer comes with its own set of benefits.
"One of the main benefits of cooking steak in an air fryer is that it gives you that perfectly juicy interior without the need for excessive oil or fuss, with the circulation of hot air helping to create a crispy crust on the outside while locking in all those mouthwatering flavors inside the steak," says Asim Choudhry, chef and co-founder of The Halal Butchery. "Plus, it's much quicker and easier than using a frying pan, meaning you can enjoy your perfectly cooked steak in no time."
Steve Wald, Executive Director of Culinary for Beef. It's What's For Dinner adds that aside from the juicy texture and quick cooking time, "you also won't have to clean up oil splatter on your counter afterward."
With all of these benefits in mind, you're most likely feeling ready to start cooking your ideal steak, so we talked with chefs and experts about foolproof tips for getting the perfect steak using this popular kitchen appliance. Read on, and for more cooking tips, check out How To Cook Bacon in an Air Fryer the Right Way.
How to use an air fryer to cook your steak
1. Find the right cut of meat
Before any other step, you'll want to make sure you choose your ideal cut of steak to cook.
"The secret to getting a juicy and tender steak in the air fryer lies in choosing the right cut of steak, so opt for cuts like ribeye, striploin, or sirloin, which have a good amount of marbling," says Choudry. "A steak with marbling means it has those beautiful streaks of fat that melt during cooking, which adds flavor and moisture to the steak."
2. Choose seasoning that will stick
When you're cooking steak on the stovetop, you may often opt for some fresh sprigs of rosemary or another fresh herb of your choosing. Unfortunately, because air fryers use hot circulating air to heat your food, you'll have to be a bit pickier about how you season your steak.
"Due to the air circulating around an air fryer, it's best to stick to simple seasonings that won't fly around and ones that will stick to your meat—so nix the sprigs of rosemary unless you anchor them under your steak," says Choudry.
So, what can you season your steak with instead? Choudry suggests "generously seasoning your steak with salt and pepper."
"If you're feeling adventurous, you can add a sprinkle of your favorite spices to elevate the flavors," adds Choudry. Just remember to gently pat the seasonings into your meat to help them stick.
3. Determine your cooking time
The exact cooking times and temperatures are going to vary depending on the cut of steak you choose and how done you prefer your meat. Choudry says, as a general guideline, "to preheat the air fryer to around 400 degrees. For a medium-rare steak, you can cook it for about 8–10 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you prefer it more well-done, you can add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. However, it's always a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure your steak reaches your desired level of doneness."
If you're using a meat thermometer, Isla Zoey, chef and editor at Air Fryer Mag—a place for culinary adventures with air fryers that offers valuable tips, tricks, and insights—says to "aim for a medium-rare internal temperature of about 135 degrees."
Also, when you're cooking your steak in the air fryer, Wald adds that you'll want to avoid crowding the air fryer. "If air can't flow around, your beef won't be crisp or evenly cooked," says Wald. "For best results when cooking beef, use at least an 8-quart air fryer."
4. Pan-sear your steak before putting it in the air fryer (for extra texture)
You can absolutely place your steak directly in the air fryer and still get a deliciously cooked masterpiece. But if you want to take this culinary experience up a notch, Choudry suggests searing it in a pan briefly before placing it in the fryer.
"A perfect sear is the hallmark of a great steak, so to achieve that beautifully caramelized crust, I recommend giving the steak a quick sear on a hot skillet before transferring it to the air fryer," says Choudry. "This extra step helps to lock in the flavors and enhances the visual appeal. Just a couple of minutes on each side should do the trick. Then, pop it into the air fryer and let it work its magic."
5. Let the steak rest
And lastly, once your steak is cooked to your liking and has reached the right internal temperature, Zoey suggests letting it rest like you would any other time you've cooked steak, as "resting is an essential step for any method of cooking the perfect steak."
"Once cooked, let your steak rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. It allows the juices to redistribute all over the steak, making it moist and flavorful," says Zoey.