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Mastering the Art of Seasoning Steaks: Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes

7 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Seasoning Steaks

Cooking steaks at home can seem both very simple and very complicated. While most cuts of steak don’t need a lot of seasoning to taste great, the quest to achieve that restaurant-quality seared perfection can still be daunting. You don’t have to buy the most expensive cut of meat or own the fanciest grill on the market to cook a great piece of steak at home, but you do need to make sure you season and prepare the steak the right way, as certain techniques can ultimately make or break the final product on your plate.

Using the wrong type of salt

Salt is the most important seasoning for steak. If you didn’t use any other seasoning and just salt the meat, you’d probably still have a great tasting piece of beef. But the type of salt you use is just as important as the salt itself. Regular old super fine table salt is not the ideal salt for seasoning steaks, but people often use it because it’s what they already have in the pantry.
Kosher salt is what most chefs universally recommend for steaks. The actual flakes in kosher salt are much thicker and therefore cover the surface of the steak more efficiently. It’s certainly easier to confirm that you’ve seasoned the entire exterior of the steak when you can see the actual salt crystals. Always use kosher salt (any brand will do) if you’re planning to cook your own steaks at home.

Using too little salt

When it comes to beef, it’s important to use salt liberally when seasoning, and that’s usually a lot more salt than you might initially think is necessary. Pros know that if you want every bite to taste good, especially if it’s a thick cut of meat, you need to aggressively salt every square inch of the steak. You’re not just eating the top of the meat-the salt needs to coat every surface of the steak. This also helps create the crusty texture of a well-done steak. The exception to this rule is when you’re cooking a dry-aged steak, as less salt is needed when steaks are prepared this way.

Seasoning the steak at the wrong time in the cooking process

There is some debate among steak lovers as to when exactly to season the meat. Some people advocate seasoning just before cooking, while others suggest seasoning the steak and then letting it sit in the refrigerator up to a day or even two before cooking. Whichever way you go, there is one step you should avoid.
A common mistake is to let the steak come to room temperature on the counter before seasoning. Allowing a piece of raw steak from the refrigerator to reach room temperature with seasoning on it helps the meat absorb all of the seasoning’s flavor as it warms up. The result is a more tender finished steak. Ideally, you should take the steak out of the refrigerator, season it, and then let it sit on the counter with the seasoning for at least 40 to 50 minutes before cooking. Another method worth trying is to season the steak and leave it in the refrigerator overnight, allowing the salt to work its magic through the process of dry-brining the steak.

Wrong way to season

Believe it or not, the way you apply salt (and other seasonings, if you choose to use them) can negatively affect the outcome of your steak. Often, people who cook steaks at home don’t consider the technique they use to apply their seasonings. If you want to ensure an even coat of salt (and trust us, you do), try holding your hand about two feet above the cut of meat as you sprinkle the salt liberally over it.
Once the surface of the meat is completely coated with salt, use your hands to press the salt flakes into the steak. This will help the salt adhere to the meat. After seasoning, place the steak on a wire rack over a foil-lined sheet pan to allow air to fully circulate around the meat.

Do not pat the steak dry before seasoning.

If you are searing a steak at home and want that great, perfectly salty crust you expect from a restaurant steak, there is a simple adjustment you can make before seasoning. Don’t make the mistake of skipping the part where you pat the raw steak dry with a paper towel before seasoning it.
Gently press the paper towel over every inch of the meat so that it’s completely dry before you add your seasoning, whether it’s salt, pepper, or the ingredient of your choice. While it’s not necessary to wash the meat before cooking, there is often moisture and juices on the surface of the steak that can interfere with the formation of a good crust. Patting the steak dry ensures that the seasoning adheres properly and helps promote a beautiful sear.

Overcomplicating the seasoning

When it comes to seasoning steaks, simplicity is often the key. While it can be tempting to use a variety of spices, herbs and marinades to enhance the flavor of your steak, sometimes less is more. Overcomplicating the seasoning process can result in overpowering or conflicting flavors that mask the natural flavor of the meat.
Instead, focus on using good quality salt, freshly ground black pepper, and perhaps a touch of garlic powder or other simple seasonings. Let the quality of the steak shine through and let the cooking technique bring out the delicious flavors.

Do not let the steak rest

Resting the steak after cooking is an important step that is often overlooked. When you remove the steak from the heat source, whether it’s the grill, oven, or stovetop, it’s important to let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak. If you cut into the steak immediately after cooking, the juices will escape, leaving you with a drier and less enjoyable eating experience. Wrap the steak loosely with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving to ensure optimal tenderness and flavor.

Bottom line

Seasoning steaks is an art that can greatly enhance the flavor and enjoyment of your meal. By avoiding these common mistakes and following the tips outlined in this article, you can improve your steak cooking skills and achieve restaurant-quality results in the comfort of your own kitchen. Remember to choose the right type of salt, season generously, time your seasoning, apply it correctly, pat the steak dry, keep the seasoning simple, and allow the steak to rest. With these adjustments, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying perfectly seasoned steaks every time you cook.


What kind of salt should I use to season steaks?

Kosher salt is highly recommended for seasoning steaks due to its thicker flakes, which provide better coverage on the surface of the meat.

How much salt should I use to season a steak?

It is important to salt your steak generously to ensure that every bite is flavorful. Use more salt than you might think, especially on thick cuts of meat.

What is the best time to season a steak?

There are different approaches, but it is generally recommended to season the steak either just before cooking or to let it sit overnight in the refrigerator with the seasoning. Avoid seasoning the steak and let it sit at room temperature before cooking.

How do I apply the seasoning to the steak?

Hold your hand about two feet above the steak and sprinkle the salt liberally over the steak. Then press the salt flakes into the meat with your hands to make sure they stick. Place the seasoned steak on a wire rack to allow for proper air circulation.

Why should I pat the steak dry before seasoning?

Patting the steak dry with a paper towel before seasoning will help remove moisture and juices from the surface, allowing for better crusting and seasoning penetration.

Why is it important to let the steak rest after cooking?

Allowing the steak to rest for a few minutes after cooking allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak. Cutting into the steak immediately after cooking can cause the juices to escape, resulting in a drier eating experience.

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