How to Season a Steak

Here's how to do it like a pro.

February 21, 2023

Related To:

raw rib eye steak

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raw rib eye steak

Photo by: ahirao_photo/Getty Images

ahirao_photo/Getty Images

By Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

A perfectly seasoned steak is one of the world’s most celebrated dishes. The good news is it takes just ingredients — salt and pepper — and a few simple steps to achieve perfection. Here’s what you need to know for success.

How to Season a Steak

The most important rule when seasoning your steak is to always use enough salt, and preferably kosher salt. A generous crust of salt is the number-one reason restaurant and steakhouse steaks taste so good.

Step 1: Prep the Steak: Pat the steak dry to eliminate all moisture (this will ensure the outside browns nicely) and place it on a plate or cutting board.

Step 2: Salt and Pepper It: Sprinkle the steak with kosher salt, holding your hand about 12 inches above the steak so the salt falls in an even layer. Season generously until you see a layer of salt on the steak. If your steak is very thick (over an inch), you’ll want to use enough salt to actually form a crust on it. Grind a little fresh black pepper over the steak and then gently pat the steak with your hand to adhere the seasoning. Turn the steak over and repeat on the other side. If your steak is thick, season the sides as well.

Step 3: Let the Steak Sit: Let the salt sit on the steak at least as long as it takes to prepare your grill or heat up your pan or broiler. You can also place the seasoned meat on a rack set over a plate or pan and refrigerate the steak, uncovered, for up to a day. Why? The salt on the surface of the meat will pull moisture out; the salty liquid will then be reabsorbed by the meat (a process called diffusion), softening the proteins and seasoning it all the way through for a very tasty steak.

Sea salt and ground black pepper in wooden spoons.

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Sea salt and ground black pepper in wooden spoons.

Photo by: JanInfante/Getty Images

JanInfante/Getty Images

How Much Salt Should You Use On Steak?

Not comfortable eyeballing the amount of salt you use? No worries. Although there are a number of factors to consider, including personal taste and sensitivity to salt, about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt per pound of boneless steak is standard. Fattier cuts typically take more salt than leaner ones since fat dulls the taste of salt on the palate. And you'll typically want to use about half as much pepper — about 1/2 teaspoon per pound.

Why Use Kosher Salt on Steak?

Kosher salt is the easiest to work with; its large crystals are ideal for pinching between your thumb and forefinger, and it won’t melt into the steak instantly like fine salt will, so you’ll be able to see it. And unlike table salt, kosher salt doesn’t contain iodine, an additive that has a slightly bitter taste. Medium-coarse sea salt is also a good alternative to kosher salt. And if you want a sprinkle of finishing salt on your cooked and sliced steak, the large, mildly crunchy crystals of a flaky salt like Maldon are excellent.

Now that you've learned how to season steak, it's time to cook it! Check out some how-to's on different techniques, including How to Cook Steak On the Stove, How to Cook Steak In the Oven and How to Grill Steak.

What Seasonings to Put On Steak

When chefs talk about seasoning steak (or other foods for that matter) they are typically referring to salt and pepper. However, beyond these two ingredients, there are many lovely spice rubs you can add to your steak as well. See below for some of our favorite ideas.

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