Can a pan be too hot for steak?
You will still need your frying pan to be hot, but at more of a medium heat. There should still be a sizzle when you place your piece of steak down, but it will not be as dramatic. If you pan is too hot, the outside will cook too quickly, or even burn, before the middle has a chance to cook.
An easy way to tell when the pan is hot enough, is to take a look at the oil. Pick up the pan and give it a little swirl. If the slowly drifts around the pan, it's not hot enough. If it moves as fast as water would, and shimmers, or leaves behind “fingers” then it's ready to go!
Temperature and Timing for Pan Searing and Cooking Steaks
Sear each surface for 2 minutes at 425°F (218°C), then reduce the temperature to 375°F (190°C) and continue cooking for the recommended times defined by your steak's thickness and your desired doneness.
The searing process (also known as the Maillard reaction and carmelization) begins at temperatures as low as 300°F, and the effective searing range is about 300°F to 500°F. Searing at temperatures beyond 500°F can dry out food excessively fast, and usually result in disappointing, burnt food.
Heat a very little oil in a frying pan (it should just barely cover the surface of the pan) until hot and almost smoking. Brown the steaks quickly on one side, then turn the heat down to medium and cook for the required length of time, determined by how you like your steak cooked (see above).
Most stainless-steel pots and pans are meant to be used at moderate heat and technically can withstand up to 500 or 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooking steak in a cast-iron pan is ideal because cast-iron heats very evenly and retains heat extremely well. A pre-heated cast-iron skillet provides the intense heat needed to sear the exterior of a steak to a crispy, flavorful golden-brown, while also cooking the interior to perfection.
What that means is that the oil is starting to chemically break down and if you attempt to cook with the oil in that state, your food will have an unpleasant bitter burnt taste. The oil will also become sticky and make it hard to manipulate the food while it cooks in the pan.
Frying pans can easily hit 300° in normal use, though you should avoid this kind of temperature with anti-stick coatings, which can't really handle the temperatures. But 250° is quite useful for frying meat. As Thomas Kendrick says: get an IR thermometer and measure for yourself.
Most stainless-steel pots and pans are meant to be used at moderate heat and technically can withstand up to 500 or 600 degrees Fahrenheit. A grill has the potential to get much hotter, which can damage and warp the metal.
Can a pan get too hot?
If you 'overheat' for a long period of time, the fat will burn to the base of the pan and will, over time, destroy the coating, which becomes discoloured both inside and out," Hansen explains.