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How to Season Steak: 4 Amazing Ways

How to Season Steak

When it comes to seasoning steak, you’ve got options. Sure, there are definitely dos and don’ts, and you can’t skip the fundamentals, but outside of those, you can make just about any spice blend you want.

We’re going to outline how chefs think about seasoning steaks and then go into some specific spice blends for four different cuts of steaks, specifically the london broil, sirloin, hanger, and skirt — that way you can understand how to think through seasoning a steak and have some specific options to grab and go with.

Pro chef tips for seasoning steaks

There are a lot of differing opinions on how best to cook and season steaks, but there are still some general best practices that chefs agree on.

1. Always use salt and pepper

For a classic steak, the one thing you cannot skimp on is salt and pepper. Salt amplifies flavor, and applying it thoroughly will give your steak an even and rich flavor. Pepper brings a bit of complexity and spice.

These are both fundamental to achieving a restaurant-quality steak, and almost any spice blend you use should use these.

2. Season it like you mean it

Home cooks criminally under salt food — especially in America. Don’t make that mistake (or misteak, rather).

You should salt and pepper every single bit of your steak, from the top all the way to the sides. You don’t want so much that the salt crystals are layering on top of each other, but it should cover the steak entirely. It’s almost like putting cream cheese on a bagel or putting peanut butter on some bread — aim for an even coat.

Remember, you’re not just salting the outside crust, you need enough salt to permeate the entire bite.

3. Use the right kind of salt

When seasoning a steak before cooking, use kosher salt. Kosher salt is the preferred choice by many chefs since it’s the ideal size to work its way in and throughout the steak.

For serving salt, use flaky sea salt on the inside of your slices. This will give you some extra texture and make sure that salt is evenly distributed throughout each bite.

4. Match your seasoning to your dish

Beyond salt and pepper, you should match your spice blend and fat choices to the meal you’re preparing.

For example, if you’re making tacos, then you should use a blend of paprika, cumin, garlic, and other common Mexican spices. If you’re making steak for some sort of Indian dish, then maybe you use a marsala blend and baste the steak in ghee. If you’re eating it alongside classic steak sides and aren’t putting the steak in anything, then just salt and pepper is more than enough.

5. If you love it, make a rub

If you make a steak and absolutely love the spice blend you stumbled upon, make a blend you can use in the future! Mix a bunch of it together, seal it in an air-tight container, and save yourself a few minutes next time you’re in the mood for some steak.

When to season steak

When you should season is probably the biggest argument in steak cooking. Some chefs season a day or more ahead of time. Others insist on only seasoning right before you grill. Both are equally valid and here’s why:

According to experiments on steaks by Serious Eats, you have to pick a lane. Salting steak draws out moisture through the process of osmosis, which is a natural chemical tendency for liquids to equalize. In this case, the salt on the exterior of the steak will begin to work its way toward the water inside the steak with the end goal of distributing evenly.

So if you salt right before you grill, you get the deliciousness of the salt without losing any moisture to osmosis. If you salt well in advance, you give enough time for the salt to work its way throughout all of the meat and for the water that was drawn out by osmosis to reabsorb into the protein strands, yielding even and delicious bites.

What you don’t want to do is salt it and let your steak sit anywhere for up to forty minutes. This is the worst of both worlds. Osmosis will cause the liquid to seep out and drop the temperature of your pan, getting in the way of your sear.

So as a recap, either season it for more than forty minutes in advance or immediately before you cook, nowhere in between!

How to season steak: 4 great ways

Okay! Onto some specific recommendations. Cuts of meat can vary greatly in size, so be sure to check your meat as it’s cooking and adjust the recipe according to your preferences.

1. Italian-style London broil

London broil is usually referred to as a method of cooking rather than an actual cut. However, many butchers use the term to describe a large, lean cut of beef.

London Broil is lean and needs to be either marinated before cooking or cooked for many hours in a slow cooker to achieve fall-apart tenderness. In this recipe, we’ll be going with the latter.
Slow-simmered cuts of beef are a mainstay in authentic Italian cooking and you will often see large platters of shredded chunks of beef in tomato sauce served alongside Italian entrees like pasta.

The flavor is very rustic and makes the whole house smell like you’ve spent the day cooking. Dish up this recipe over zucchini noodles for a complete meal!

Prep time: 15 minutes — Cook time: 6 hours — Yield: 6 servings


  • 2-3 lb london broil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup red wine


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium/high heat until olive oil is shimmering. Rub steak with oregano, basil, sea salt, and pepper on both sides.
  2. Place steak on pan and brown each side 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place steak with drippings in slow cooker. Add garlic, tomato sauce, and red wine. Cook on medium heat 4-6 hours, until fork-tender.
  4. Shred beef and serve over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for a Paleo pasta dish.

2. Asian-style sirloin

Sirloin is terrific for cutting into chunks and marinating, which is exactly what this Asian-style recipe includes.

Sesame oil and pineapple juice come together with coconut aminos, garlic, and cilantro to tenderize the steak and seal in the flavor of the marinade. Once marinated, the cubes of steak get tossed in a hot pan until lightly charred all around.

This recipe is perfect served over cauliflower rice with fresh vegetables for a Paleo dinner.
Prep time: 10 minutes + 2 hours to marinate — Cook time: 10 minutes — Yield: 2 servings


  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ⅓ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)


  1. Cut steak into 1-2 inch cubes. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the marinade. Add steak to marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pieces of steak and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve with vegetables over cauliflower rice.

3. Blackened Brazilian hanger steak

The chimichurri hanger steak gives a nod to Brazilian steakhouses, cooked over high heat for a rich blackened flavor.

After resting, the hanger steak is sliced into thin strips and served with a cilantro-lime-based chimichurri sauce to add some herbal zing.

Serve this with cauliflower tabouli and you have an exotic feast!

Prep time: 15 minutes — Cook time: 15 minutes — Yield: 2-4 servings


For steak:

  • 1-2 lb hanger steak
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)

For chimichurri sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp sea salt


  1. Combine seasonings for steak in a small bowl. Rub seasonings onto all sides of the steak. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until oil is shimmering.
  2. Add steak and cook for 6-7 minutes. Less time is required for thinner cuts of steak. Flip and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes.
  3. While the steak cooks, combine ingredients for chimichurri sauce. Set aside.
  4. Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice steak thinly against the grain. Serve with chimichurri sauce.

4. Oven-barbecued skirt steak

The final steak recipe takes us to the good ole’ barbecue flavors of the South.

Instead of grilling or smoking this cut, the skirt steak is rubbed with a generous amount of coconut sugar, cumin, smoked paprika, and other seasonings, then tightly wrapped in aluminum foil and baked in the oven to tenderize the meat as it steams in its own juices.

When the meat is just about finished, it is basted in barbecue sauce and popped under the broiler to create a sweet crisp layer on top of the steak.

This recipe is delicious chopped and served on a Portobello mushroom.

Prep time: 10 minutes — Cook time: 40 minutes — Yield: 2 servings


  • 8 oz skirt steak
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp barbecue sauce (for basting)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine dry seasonings in a bowl and whisk to combine. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over skirt steak and rub to coat.
  2. Wrap the steak in aluminum foil and place it on a baking sheet in the oven on the center rack for 30 minutes. Carefully open the aluminum foil and baste the steak with barbecue sauce. Turn oven to broil on high. Return steak to the oven for 7-10 minutes. Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Slice steak against the grain and serve with barbecue sauce.

Other tricks of the steak trade

Since we’re already talking about steak, here are a few other quick tips about cooking steaks that you can use when you tackle your next one.

1. Make a compound butter ahead of time

Instead of cutting up herbs, squeezing lemons, and putting salt in butter every time you want to add a little extra flavor to your steaks, make a compound butter ahead of time. All you do is take soft butter and mix it with whatever you’d like, roll it into a log in some plastic wrap, and throw it in the freezer. We’re big fans of rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

This is also really useful if you’re making a lot of steak — you just cut a few slices into your pans as you’re finishing each one.

2. Use fresh herbs

Don’t skimp on herbs. Dried herbs can’t compete with the flavor of fresh ones. If you want a high-quality steak, there is no replacement.

3. Buy grass-fed and grass-finished beef

“Finding the best product you can get your hands on is always the hardest part of cooking a great steak,” says Ryan Prentiss, Executive chef at Prime + Proper Steakhouse in Detroit, Michigan.

Why go through the trouble of cooking a nice steak dinner if it isn’t the best it could be? Industrial meat is full of preservatives, and the diet feedlot cattle consume throughout their lives affects the nutritional profile and taste of the meat. There is no replacement for eating grass-fed and grass-finished beef that gives cattle the space and freedom to live more natural lives.

4. Nail the temperature

Most chefs recommend cooking your steak to ten degrees shy of your desired temperature and then letting it finish cooking while it rests. Here are the typical temperature ranges as a reminder:

  • Rare: 125°F – 130°F
  • Medium-Rare: 130°F – 135°F
  • Medium: 140°F – 145°F
  • Well-Done: 160°+

The bottom line on seasoning steak

The rules are simple: never forget to use salt and pepper liberally in whatever spice blend you choose, cook it to temperature, and salt either 40 minutes to a day in advance or immediately before. If you follow those guidelines, you will end up with a delicious steak, any way you slice it.

And remember, the best steak nights start with the best steaks. See why home chefs all over the U.S.A. can’t get enough of our incredible grass-fed steaks.

Choose your perfect steak now.


Jennafer AshleyJennafer Ashley

Jennafer Ashley is a recipe developer and food photographer. She is the girl behind the healthy recipes at Fresh and Fit, her recipe development company and blog of the same name – as well as PaleoHacks, a top source for Paleo recipes, fitness tips, and wellness advice.

Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.