The Best Cut Of Steak To Cook In The Air Fryer

There are many techniques for cooking a great steak, from barbecuing to frying in a screaming-hot skillet to perfectly reverse searing the beef for crispy, juicy results. Compared to these methods, the air fryer might seem weak or gimmicky, but this appliance really is a stress-free way to get an expertly-cooked steak that's juicy on the inside and seared on the outside. You won't even have to fire up the grill or fill your kitchen with smoke from the stove.

While the air fryer is easy to use, it's not the best choice for every cut. Learning how to properly cook cuts of steak involves coordinating a piece of beef's unique attributes to a cooking method that suits them. An air fryer works like a mini convection oven, using dry, hot air to cook food. While leaner cuts could easily dry out in these conditions, a piece of beef that's well-marbled with a higher fat content will remain juicy. This makes ribeye steak your best bet.

Ribeye is best cooked to at least medium-rare. Its plentiful fat needs to get hot enough to render, or it could come across as greasy or gristly. The air fryer offers control over temperature and time, ensuring that your ribeye can cook to perfection, and all that fat won't splatter all over your stove (or your arms!) when cooked in this contained appliance. It's a win-win for both you and your meal.

Air-frying ribeye creates a juicy steak with a good crust

A large ribeye is a great choice for the air fryer, thanks to its size and thickness. Smaller, thinner pieces of meat can overcook in this appliance before they get a nice crust, but a thick slab of ribeye can retain a more rare center. It contains plenty of fat that keeps it extra-juicy, tender, and flavorsome, even when cooked in the high, dry heat of the air fryer. 

Look for a steak that's at least an inch thick, and preferably around 1 ½ inches. Don't go too thick, or the steak can take much longer to cook past rare, and the exterior may dry out too much. While some fat on the beef is a good thing, an excess amount may not properly render in time, even under high heat. If your ribeye comes with a very thick layer of fat on the outside, trim it to about ¼ inch thick before cooking.

When air fried at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a ribeye that's around 1 ½ inches thick and 1 ½ pounds will take about 10 to 12 minutes  to reach medium-rare. If it's still not done to your liking, give it a couple extra minutes and check it again. Whether or not you flip the steak halfway through depends on your personal preference. Not turning it will result in an impressive crust on one side, whereas flipping it will produce a more evenly-cooked result.

Extra steps to take air fryer steak to the next level

Ribeye is not the only cut that can turn out delicious in the air fryer. New York strip also works well, as do tri-tip, flank steak, or top round cuts. If you're using a leaner or tougher cut of steak, try marinating it first so it doesn't dry out. No matter which cut you use, there are a few other important steps to take for best results.

Just like you would for any cooking method, take the beef out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before it goes into the pre-heated air fryer. Let it sit out of the fridge for half an hour to help it cook more evenly. Right before cooking, pat the exterior of the meat dry, rub it with oil so it doesn't stick to the grate, and coat with salt to encourage a well-browned and tasty crust.

All steaks need time to rest after cooking and before they're sliced, so all the juices won't spill out. How long meat needs to rest after cooking depends on the cut's size, but letting it sit for half the time you cooked it for is a good rule of thumb. If you use that time to air fry some frozen fries to go with the steak, try tossing them in the beef fat and juices left in the basket for a deeply delicious side dish.