Steak purists may say you only need a generous sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to season a steak to perfection, but one of the great advantages of cooking a steak at home is that you get to cook to suit your own tastes.
Rubs, marinades and sauces are three methods for adding flavor to your steak at various stages of the cooking process.
Here’s how to season steak with rubs, marinades and sauces.
Rubs can be dry (seasonings or herbs mixed with salt or sugar) or wet (seasonings with added liquid such as oil, mustard or wine that form a paste). Spice things up with one or these flavorful combinations.
- Caribbean Rub: Mix 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice, 1 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon each salt and ground red pepper (cayenne).
- Espresso Steak Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each instant espresso coffee powder, ancho chile pepper powder, paprika and brown sugar with 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Smoke ‘n Spice Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each ground chipotle chile pepper powder, regular chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and brown sugar.
- Southwest Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each regular chili powder or ancho chile pepper, ground cumin, smoked or regular paprika, garlic powder, salt and brown sugar.
- Tandoori Rub: Mix 2 tablespoons each ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, ground turmeric and salt with 1 tablespoon ground red pepper (cayenne).
- Spicy Herb Rub: Mix together 3 tablespoons dried Italian seasonings, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon each salt and garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon each black pepper and ground red pepper (cayenne).
How to Apply Spice Rubs to Steak
- Mix up the spice rub of your choosing, see options above for inspiration.
- To ensure even cooking, let your steak come to room temperature – allow about 30 minutes – then apply the rub generously to all sides of the steak and proceed with your preferred cooking method.
Note: Unused rub mixtures can be store in airtight containers in a cool, dark location for up to six months.
Letting steaks marinate in highly seasoned liquid makes for moist, flavorful meat. Here are some of our favorite marinades for serving up mouth-watering, juicy steaks.
- Ginger-Garlic Marinade: Mix together ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup chili sauce, ¼ cup dry sherry, 2 clovers of garlic finely chopped and 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot.
- Orange Thyme Marinade: Mix together 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, ½ cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 medium green onions finely chopped (2 tablespoons), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
How Marinate Steak
- Mix up a marinade of your choice – see above for inspiration – in a shallow glass dish or plastic bag.
- Add steak; turning to coat with marinade. Cover dish or seal bag; refrigerate. Turn meat occasionally. Refrigerate steak in marinade for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 hours.
- Remove meat from marinade; set marinade aside. Let steak come up to room temperature before cooking – this will take about 30 minutes. Cook steak as desired, brushing occasionally with marinade.
Note: Remaining marinade must be boiled to be served as sauce. Heat marinade in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute. If marinade is not boiled, discard for food safety reasons.
After cooking, you can still add flavor to your steak by serving with a sauce, like one of these.
- Blue Cheese Butter: Mix ½ cup sour cream with ¼ cup creamy horseradish sauce.
- Southwestern Butter: Mix ½ cup butter softened, with ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin and 2 tablespoons salsa.
- Pan sauce can be made by deglazing the pan in which steak was cooked. If you panfry your steak, this is a great way to get as much flavor as possible out of the pan, see instructions below.
How to Make a Pan Sauce
- After cooking steak, remove cooked meat from skillet. Add liquid – such as cooking wine or broth – stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet.
- Simmer uncovered until mixture is slightly thickened.
- Pour pan sauce over steak and serve.