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Danilo Alfaro

Would You Deep-Fry a Steak?

By August 27, 2009

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On a recent episode of one of those cooking reality shows that I know we all watch, one of the contestants was criticized for cooking a rib-eye steak in the deep fryer. The judges made a lot of indignant noises, but none of them could quite explain why they had a problem with it — they just acted like it was some sort of crime against meat.
Deep frying: dry-heat cooking method
Deep frying: dry-heat cooking.
Photo © James Ellsworth

Now, if the steak was overcooked, that would be one thing. But it wasn't — at least, no one said anything about it being overcooked. Instead, they simply dismissed the very idea of it, as if no one in their right mind would ever do such a thing.

But let's think about this for a moment. Deep-frying is a form of dry-heat cooking, just like grilling and broiling. And dry-heat is indeed the appropriate technique for preparing a tender cut of beef like a rib-eye steak. Deep-frying cooks hot and fast, creating a flavorful brown crust on the exterior of the meat. As long as you don't leave the steak in the hot fat for too long, it'll come out juicy and medium rare.

What about you? Would you cook a steak in the deep fryer?

Update: The comments below confirm what I suspected, which is that those judges were just blowing hot air.

Also see:


August 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm
(1) kathy b says:

You made me long for the fall and some delicious butternut squash soup. That is my absolute favorite pureed soup. I may try some fresh tomato soup soon though. Thank you for the terrific instructions :)
Kathy b

August 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm
(2) Kathy b says:

oh and by the way I saw that episode as well.
I think they thought it was sacrilegious to deep fry a tender cut of meat like that. I think it was “uppity” of them. People need to be open minded.

August 31, 2009 at 8:08 pm
(3) G. Waite says:

I grew up cooking in my dad’s restaurant–started when I was 12. Occasionally, during a busy period, I would forget a steak order. So, out of desperation, I had to cook a few in the hot oil. They turned out great, and I even received a tip for the COOK a time or two!

August 31, 2009 at 10:13 pm
(4) culinaryarts says:

Just as I suspected: deep-fried steaks are the best-kept secret in the culinary world! Which of course those judges would never know because they’re too busy being snooty.

September 2, 2009 at 9:50 am
(5) Halidom says:

Must admit I’ve never tried a whole steak. I have cut a steak up an done it. Even with 1″ cubes it comes out crusty on the outside, rare on the inside.

September 2, 2009 at 10:31 am
(6) Sandra says:

I’m tempted to deep-fry a steak right now, mmm! (This is why it’s important not to read cooking sites when I’m hungry!)

September 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm
(7) culinaryarts says:

Next year when deep-fried rib-eye steaks are all the rage, just remember that you read about it here first. :)

September 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm
(8) OwlOak says:

Hi Danilo,

Personally, I have deep fried a steak on a few occassions and it always came out excellent. The hot oil completely sears the outside and locks in the juices resulting in a very tender and tasty steak. The only drawbacks would be if the oil was not hot enough (resulting in a greasy taste), an improper cut of meat, or that it was left to cook for too long. :-)

You mentioned the narrowness of mind of the judges and I agree….I wonder if they have ever heard of “Chicken Fried Steak” or deep fried turkey (both very popular in the South).

As for the judges on some of these programs, I have mentioned to the “Powers to Be” on the Food Network that they need to get some judges who are not such food snobs and stuck on themselves; ones who have more respect for the chefs and their creativity.

September 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm
(9) Gordon says:

Danillo: Do you tent the steak to cool it down after deep-frying it? And, if you let it tented for say 10 minutes or so, what should the instant read thermometer register? I like my steak medium rare but I don’t like it to move at first bite! Heh Heh! Gordon

September 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm
(10) culinaryarts says:

Gordon, medium rare is about 135F. And 10 minutes of resting (tented in foil) should be adequate for a relatively thick steak the purpose of which is to keep the meat nice and juicy. Otherwise, the first time you slice into it, all those juices will come pouring out onto your plate or cutting board.

September 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm
(11) culinaryarts says:

Halidom, your comment reminds me that there is a long tradition of cooking chunks of steak in hot oil. It’s called “fondue bourguignonne,” and is really quite tasty. :)

September 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm
(12) Nate says:

One reason I enjoy your site is that you make absolute sense. I saw the show and I felt the chef tried to explain that this was very acceptable in his native style of cooking. They immediately shot him down, which, I felt, was somewhat arrogant and dismissive. These judges all want to be Simon Cowells and be insulting and demeaning. Now I have to deep fry a steak.

September 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm
(13) Sonny Edmonds says:

Well, one of my favorites is a Chicken Fried steak dinner.
Let’s see here. Chicken comes out really good in my deep fryer.
Stands to reason cow would as well.
Not too hard to figure that one out.
(I used to love chopping and flouring the round steak for Mom to fry when I was a kid. No wonder I love Chicken Fried Steak!)

September 28, 2009 at 10:54 am
(14) Nate says:

Danillo ; Is it reasonable to deep fry a frozen steak or hamburger? Will the fact it’s frozen affect the quality, or will it add moisture? Thanks for all your help. Your Culinary Arts site is as good as any on the Net. Any thoughts about doing a DVD showing your info?

September 28, 2009 at 1:37 pm
(15) culinaryarts says:

Thanks, Nate. :) I would encourage you to use caution when submerging anything frozen into hot fat, especially a large item like a steak. Any ice crystals on the outside should be wiped off so that they don’t cause a mini-explosion when it hits the fat. The same goes for deep-frying any foods: dry the item off with a paper towel as much as possible before submerging it in the hot fat.

December 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm
(16) Dean says:

I deep fried a T-bone in the turkey fryer the other day and was pleasantly surprised at the result. It was juicy, tender, tasty, and fast!
How about giving us some ideas for a marinade or a recommended seasoning?

March 2, 2011 at 6:45 am
(17) Norman Scouler says:

A guy i worked with and who i have huge respect for in the kitchen told me that was his way of doing a blue steak, i must say i’ve never tried it myself but if he says it works, it works.

August 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm
(18) Tipmoses says:

Well, I have to say, I did deep fry a steak…Ribeye. It was one of the best steaks I ever ate. The trick is to infuse favor in it though. So. I marinated it over nite…..You have to try it. Soooooooo juicy…..Yummy !!!

August 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm
(19) culinaryarts says:

That sounds great! Can you share the details? What type of marinade? How thick was the steak? What temperature oil? How long in the oil?

August 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm
(20) furlonium says:

I read this article when I was Googling “Deep fried *word*” and I put in “steak”. I have some strip steaks defrosting and my deep fryer heating up. Gonna see how it turns out.

October 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm
(21) Dutch says:

Medora in ND deep fries steaks on pitchforks in huge vats of oil, feeding groups of up to 400 people. The cooks do about ten steaks at a time on the pitchfork, primarily Rib Eye and by all accounts they’re unbelievably good. Here’s their web site and a short video.


November 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm
(22) gmail.comichael Dombrowski says:

I remember reading an article in Midwest Living magazine about a cowboy festival in North Dakota where they deep fried porterhouse steaks in barrels of hot grease ( heated with propane). The steaks were cooked 2 or 3 at a time on the end of pitchforks. People said they had never had a better tasting piece of meat. I always wanted to try it. Now that they have these new indoor electric turkey fryers I might just have to try it.

December 15, 2011 at 2:03 am
(23) Steve A says:

ive got a T-Bone marinating in the fridge in Dale’s and Worcestershire sauce and was plan on cooking it in the skillet because its 2am here and way too cold to grill. Deep frying seems like abuse to a good cut of meat but im second guessing it now. i might try it.

January 27, 2012 at 10:46 am
(24) John&Sheana says:

We tried for the 1st time last nite. The first bite was amazing! This was right after we “tented” the steak for 10min. But, very soon after we plateed the steak it became very dry….. Any ideas?

May 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm
(25) Slickvik says:

I just deep fried and minus the fire was a great great expereince. Crusty and crispy outside and soft tender and rare but cooked inside. Amazing.

July 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(26) Dave says:

Try injecting franks hot sauce…works with turkeys

August 19, 2012 at 1:09 am
(27) Eddie says:

Although I agree that deep fried rib eye steak can be very juicy and tender. However you cannot get as good a crust because of the lower frying temperatures. Most oil will smoke before getting hot enough to sear well. Some people throw deep fry fondue parties. The beef is very good, but the crust is lacking. Not to mention the fact that most of the spice rub gets lost in the oil unless a seasoned batter is applied.

September 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm
(28) Donna says:

This is nothing new. People have been deep frying steaks for years, at least in the western half of the U.S. It’s called a pitchfork fondue in many places. Some actually still do it with a pitchfork and a big vat, but you can use a turkey fryer. You can even buy a special tool. Delicious!

December 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm
(29) GeoHvl says:

As a teen I worked for a local family owned meat house. Wed was the day pork was renderd into lard. I would buy a porterhouse at my employee discount, with Hienz Katcup and loaf of Maritta bread. I would drop the steak into that hot vat of 300 gallons of boiling pig fat and fry for about 3 mins then remove. Those steaks were out of this world good. 2 sandwiches every time with katchup. So good.

August 20, 2013 at 12:56 am
(30) james mono says:

I do it all the time but usually not ribeye but i have on a few ocassions.we usually do it with fresh beef or cheap cuts. Any ways i marinate with apple cider vinegar, salt,pepper,garlic. An pan fry it ends up lookin like beef jerkey but. Beefs version of chicharoon.

September 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm
(31) gary says:

At an outdoor theater here in western North Dakota, they have what is called a “pitchfork fondue”, and that is deep fried steak and folks go crazy over it.

October 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm
(32) Digger says:

I’ve been deep frying Ribeye Steaks for many years , it’s actually my favorite method. I buy whole boneless Ribeyes and cut my own steaks about an inch thick, let them come up to room temperature and deep fry for 3-1/2 minutes for med. rare . Let them rest for 5-10 minutes. I’ts the BOMB!

November 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm
(33) Rib Man says:

Go to Atlanta’s Fox Brothers and try their deep fried ribs then make a decision my taste buds say they are great.

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