How to season steak and why?

Seasoning steak
Seasoning steak

Knowing how to season steak is essential whether you’re a home cook, chef, or grill master. Without seasoning, preparing a delicious and flavorful piece of meat is hard. Seasoning is a simple yet very effective way to enhance meat’s natural flavors or add an extra layer of flavor. Sometimes all you need is just a bit of kosher salt to make a well-marbled steak incredibly tasty.

However, most home cooks assume that all steaks are equal no matter where it’s carved from. Well, that’s not entirely true. What I mean about that is that different steak cuts require different seasonings. For instance, a well-marbled ribeye steak is best when seasoned with some salt and pepper. In contrast, a skirt goes well with salt and pepper; however, since it’s a tough and lean cut, it benefits from marinades. Click here if you want to check a versatile steak seasoning pack.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about steak seasoning, from the basic ingredients to the steak rubs and marinades. I’ll explain the best time to season steak, how much seasoning to use, and how to make your own steak seasoning blend at home.

The benefits of seasoning steak

The benefits of seasoning steak
The benefits of seasoning steak

Seasoning steak has many benefits. First of all, it impacts the flavor and texture of the meat. For example, salt helps to enhance the natural flavors of the steak and, at the same time, can tenderize it.

Different seasonings can be used to add depth and complexity to the flavor of the steak. Herbs can be used to add earthy flavors to the meat. Often for that, you need to use fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary. At the same time, spices can be used to add more complex flavors from around the world. It can be Asian inspired spice blend or something else you prefer.

However, there are more benefits to seasoning. Not only does it help to enhance the flavor of the steak it also helps to improve the texture of the meat. A dry rub or marinade can help to tenderize the steak, making it juicy and tender. Seasoning is especially important for tougher cuts of steak as the seasoning can help to break down the tough connective tissue and make the meat less chewy.

Furthermore, steak seasoning can also have a preserving effect on the steak. For example, using salt as a seasoning can help prevent bacteria growth and prolong the shelf life of the steak.

How to season a steak

As you may already know, there are plenty of ways to season the steak. Below you’ll find a few different methods and detailed explanations of why and how to season steak properly:

Classic seasoning with salt and pepper

Steak seasoned with salt and pepper
Steak seasoned with salt and pepper

A classic seasoning with kosher salt and pepper is an extremely simple but highly effective way to add flavor to the steak. It’s suitable for all types of steak, from tender cuts to cheaper and tougher ones. Salt helps to bring out the flavor of the steak, while pepper adds a bit of spiciness to the meat. However, nowadays, chefs use less or no pepper at all as it changes the flavor profile of the steak slightly. Keep in mind that I’m mentioning kosher salt and not table salt. Table salt is too fine for seasoning steak.

When seasoning the steak, there’s no strict rule on how much seasoning to use. It all comes down to personal preference. However, 1 teaspoon of salt for every pound of steak is enough to give the steak a good balance of flavor without being overly seasoned. When it comes to pepper, use only a touch to taste or skip it entirely.

Make sure to season the steak for at least 30 minutes before cooking it. If you season too late, the steak may not have enough time to absorb the flavors. Often Michelin star chefs season steaks with salt overnight. It helps the steak develop a crispy crust on its exterior and gives it enough time for the salt to penetrate the steak, adding flavor and tenderizing it.

Seasoning steak with dry rubs

Steak in a dry rub
Steak in a dry rub

Dry rubs are a fun and delicious way to add a whole new dimension of flavor to your favorite cut of beef. It’s a mixture of spices and seasonings rubbed directly onto the surface of the steak before cooking. Dry rubs are great for grilled steak or pan-fried steak.

What I like as a chef and steak lover is that I can get creative and mix and match spices to find the perfect flavor combination. When scrolling through dry rub recipes, you’ll notice that many steak rub ingredients include chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and dried herbs like rosemary and thyme.

I can’t stress enough how important it’s to use the right amount, especially when dealing with more premium steak cuts. A general rule of thumb is to use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dry rub for every pound of steak. Make sure to massage the rub into the steak, covering every inch so that every bite is flavorful. The spices work together to create a layer of flavor that complements the steak’s natural flavor.

Now, the real question is, when is the best time to use a dry rub? The answer is simple – the night before, or at least a few hours before cooking. This gives the flavors of the dry rub a chance to penetrate the steak and mingle together, creating a mouth-watering masterpiece.

Seasoning steak with pre-made seasonings

Steak seasoning blend
Steak seasoning blend

Using pre-made seasonings for steak is a quick and easy way to add some serious flavor to your chosen steak cut. They come in various flavors, from spicy to savory, and they can transform a simple steak into a flavor-packed powerhouse.

Think of pre-made seasonings as a secret ingredient, like a flavor bomb waiting to explode in your mouth. You can find pre-made seasonings at your local grocery store or online, and they come in all sorts of varieties, from classic steak seasoning blends to more exotic blends from all over the world.

Using pre-made seasonings is as easy as using a dry rub or traditional steak seasoning. Simply sprinkle the seasoning onto the surface of the steak, making sure to cover every inch. How much you use depends on the flavor of the seasoning, but a general rule of thumb is to use about 1 to 2 teaspoons of pre-made seasoning for every pound of steak.

The real magic happens when you let the seasoning do its thing. For best results, season the steak a few hours before cooking or even the night before, giving the flavors a chance to penetrate the steak.

Important tips for seasoning steak

If you aim for a perfectly cooked steak that has the right balance of flavor and good texture, make sure to follow the steak seasoning tips below:

1. Timing

Timing is critical when it comes to seasoning your steak. Knowing when to season your steak and for how long can make all the difference between a dry and flavorless steak or a juicy and delicious one.

Salt is a key ingredient in steak seasoning. It’s important to understand its role and why it’s so important. First, salt helps break down the proteins in the steak, making it more tender. While working alongside Michelin star chefs, I’ve learned to season the steak the night before and leave them in the fridge uncovered. Not only does it help to intensify the flavors of the meat, but it makes it more tender. Another benefit of seasoning steak overnight is that exterior of the steak gets extremely crispy when searing the meat. However, if you’re short on time, season the steak at least 20-30 minutes before cooking steak.

2. Quantity

How much steak seasoning you use can make all the difference between a bland and delicious steal. While too much seasoning can overpower the steak’s natural flavor, using too little can result in a bland and tasteless steak.

So, how much seasoning should you use? A general rule of thumb is to use about 1 to 2 teaspoons of steak seasoning per pound of steak. It’s enough to ensure a good balance of flavors.

However, keep in mind that different seasonings have different strengths and flavors, so you may need to adjust the quantity based on your personal preferences. For example, a salt-based seasoning may need to be used in smaller quantities than a herb-based seasoning, as salt can be overpowering.

3. Season on both sides

Seasoning both sides of the steak is essential to ensure that every bite of your steak is packed with flavor. If you only season one side, the unseasoned side will lack flavor. While seasoning steak on both sides may seem unimportant, well, think again.

Seasoning both sides of your steak generously allows the seasoning to penetrate the steak and work its magic, making it succulent and tender.

What spices go well with steak?

There are many spices that pair well with steak; here are some popular choices:

  • Garlic: Adds a rich and savory flavor to the steak.
  • Thyme: Is excellent for providing a fresh, herbal taste to the meat.
  • Rosemary: Adds a woody, earthy flavor and complements the meaty taste of steak.
  • Paprika: Adds a mild heat and smoky flavor to the steak.
  • Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy flavor to the steak.
  • Oregano: Adds a bold, pungent flavor to the steak.
  • Black pepper: adds a bit of heat to the steak; however, make sure to use it in small amounts.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Adds a spicy kick to the steak.
  • Sage: Adds an earthy, slightly bitter flavor to the steak.

How to make a simple steak seasoning blend at home?

Home made steak seasoning
Home made steak seasoning

Making your own steak seasoning blend at home is a great way to experiment with flavors. At the same time, you can create a seasoning blend that is perfectly tailored to your taste buds! Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your own steak seasoning blend at home:

  1. Gather your ingredients: For a classic steak seasoning blend, you will need salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs such as thyme or rosemary. You can adjust the quantities of each ingredient based on your personal preferences.
  2. Mix it up: In a small bowl, mix together your desired quantities of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs. Use a fork to ensure that the ingredients are well-combined.
  3. Store it: Transfer your steak seasoning blend to an airtight container and store it in a cool, dry place.
  4. Get seasoning: When you’re ready to season your steak, grab your homemade seasoning blend and sprinkle it generously on both sides of your steak. Make sure to season evenly and pat the seasoning onto the steak, so it sticks.

Dry rub vs. marinade: What is the difference

Dry rubs and steak marinades are two popular methods of seasoning steaks, but they have different uses and impact the flavor and texture of steak differently. Dry rubs are a blend of herbs, spices, and seasonings that are rubbed directly onto the steak. On the other hand, steak marinades are liquid mixtures in that the steak is soaked in for an extended period before cooking. Depending on the steak cut, it can take 2-48 hours to marinate.

When it comes to dry rubs, think of them as flavor bombshells that pack a punch. They create a delicious crust on the outside of the steak and give the meat a bold flavor. Dry rubs are best used when grilling steak on a charcoal or gas grill or pan-frying steaks.

Marinades, on the other hand, are like a flavor spa day for your steak. The liquid mixture penetrates the steak, infusing it with many flavors. Not only do marinades add flavor, but they can also help to tenderize the steak, making it juicy and succulent. However, use marinades for tougher cuts such as skirt steak or flank steak. If you’re looking for a more subtle flavor, a marinade is a way to go.


To wrap it up, I must say that seasoning steak is an essential part of making it delicious and flavorful. There’s no other way around it. Whether using simple salt and pepper, a dry rub, or a pre-made seasoning blend, the key is finding the right balance that complements the steak’s natural flavor and your taste pallet. Seasoning can enhance the flavor, improve the texture, and even extend the shelf life of the steak. So go ahead, be creative, and experiment with different seasonings to find your perfect blend! Remember, there’s no such thing as over-seasoning a steak, but there is such a thing as under-seasoning it. So don’t be afraid to get a little spicy, earthy, or funky with your seasonings. Just be sure to season the steak properly, whether 30 minutes before cooking or the night before, and you’re guaranteed to have a juicy, tender, and flavorful steak every time. Oh, and please make sure not to overcook your steak. The steak’s internal temperature can be extremely important if you want a juicy and tender interior.


How do I know if I’ve seasoned the steak enough?

A good way to test if your steak has enough seasoning is to sprinkle a small amount of the rub or seasoning mixture onto a separate piece of meat and cook it. Taste the test piece and see if it has enough seasoning for your liking. If it needs more, add more seasoning and repeat the test until you’re satisfied with the flavor. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to tell whether you seasoned your steak enough without using this testing method. However, with time you’ll find the right balance, and steak seasoning will become second nature to you.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
Table of Contents