The Secret to Perfect Steak Seasoning

Posted by bennett on January 27th, 2021

Photo credit: The Pioneer Woman

Did you know that Ree Drummond’s very first blog post was “How to Cook a Steak”? Ree truly loves steak in any form: grilled steak, pan-fried steak, and, of course, steak wrapped in bacon (she even tops it with butter!). Ladd has his own steak secrets, too—check out his favorite way to make grilled tenderloin. You really can't go wrong—as long as you know how to properly season your steak!

One of the most common mistakes people make when cooking steak is not seasoning the meat. There's not much to it, but it's a super important step—and you can't skimp on it. Ree seasoned the ribeye in her first blog post with seasoned salt and lemon-pepper seasoning (it's a great combo!), but you can really use anything you like, as long as there's some salt in the mix. One of the best things about steak is that it can take on all kinds of flavors—and you can turn it into all sorts of dishes. Think steak sandwiches, steak wraps, or even mashed potato bowls!

Ree has some words of wisdom for anyone who wants to make a great steak: “Don’t be intimidated; it’s one of the easiest things in the world to cook, and it’ll make your soul sing.” Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to season a steak properly before you get cooking!

What spices go best with steak?
There’s really just one main thing you need to season steak: good old reliable kosher salt! Don’t be tempted to use table salt—it’s very fine and will dissolve too quickly once it hits the meat. You can add other spices too (like Ree's favorite lemon-pepper seasoning, Cajun seasoning or chili powder), or you can you can use seasoned salt for extra flavor. But if you want to keep it simple, just go with kosher salt. Add a little freshly ground pepper or cayenne, if you like.

When should you season steak?
There are a lot of opinions about this! Some people like to season steak ahead of time (way ahead—up to a day before cooking). Others prefer to season it just before cooking. And some cooks fall somewhere in the middle and do it a few hours ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know: salt pulls water out of everything it touches. Once it hits your steak, it’s going to start drawing moisture out of the meat. Seasoning early means more flavor, but a slight loss of moisture—but neither way is wrong!

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If you’re starting early, pat the meat dry with a paper towel, season (see below), then transfer the steak to a rack set over a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge. When you're ready to cook, let your steak rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, then pat it dry again. Don’t worry, you’re not wiping the flavor off—the salt has already done its job. Patting it dry removes excess moisture and will give you a browner crust. If you’re seasoning just before cooking, just pat the steaks dry, season with salt, and let rest at room temperature before you cook. (Don’t pat them dry again or you will lose some of the flavor—the salt won't have had a chance to soak in yet.)

How do you season steak?
Steak should always be seasoned generously—really generously. You’re going to need to sprinkle on more salt than you think is appropriate because you want it to completely cover the steak. Sprinkle the salt from above for more even coverage. It’s going to seem like overkill, but seriously… just keep salting. Once you’ve salted your steak, gently press the crystals into the meat with your hands to help them adhere. If you’re making a really thin cut of steak, like skirt steak, don’t salt as heavily, but if you’re making a 2-inch-thick, bone-in porterhouse (lucky you!), then keep salting. You want the salt to flavor the whole thing.

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Joined: January 27th, 2021
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