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How to Do a Dry Rub on Steak

Updated on February 28, 2013

Why dry rub?

This simple method of preparing steak elevates it to the next level. However, it does not take the next level to cook it - it is an extremely easy way to prepare steak. The better the steak, the more you want to think about using a dry rub for flavor. Marinades can sometimes be harsh on meat's flavor and texture, so the lower quality the meat the more you want to let it marinate in a liquid - however the better cuts of steak are already tender and have loads of flavor that just needs accentuating. There are many different combinations of spices that make a dry rub. I will go through a few, and the way to use them.

A perfect raw steak.
A perfect raw steak. | Source

The Meat

Now, I'm not saying you have to have a super expensive piece of meat for a dry rub to work well, but it is important to remember the better quality the materials the better quality the end result will be. This isn't alchemy, we (unfortunately) can't put in low quality materials and somehow get a great result from this. Shop around and find the best materials you can for the lowest price though, it makes a difference in how much you can buy.


Spice Rubs

When considering what you want to have in a spice rub, you should consider personal preferences and possibly what you are going to be serving with it.

I personally make my own rubs, though you can buy one premade at the store. You might want to make sure that if you like a spicier steak that salt isn't high on the contents list or you could be disappointed. Below is what I usually use for my rub mix.

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder or pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

The beauty of spice rubs? You just throw it all in a grinder or blender and reduce to a powder. You can usually store for a while - but for more on that see the video at the bottom of the page.

Dry rub left to marinate.
Dry rub left to marinate. | Source

Cooking With a Dry Rub

So, you have the rub, and you have the steak, now what?

Simple. First you coat the steak in dry rub - not too much, you still want to see meat underneath - and then let sit for an hour, or cook immediately. Easy right?

Cooking with a dry rub is a lot easier than most people imagine, and seems a lot more complex than it really is. Sometimes when I serve friends or family a dry rub steak, they take a look at the delicious crust that forms and think that it is some sort of magic when it is simply an easy spicing process.


Steak Sides

A common question is what to serve with the steak now that you have it. Though it depends on taste, I always try to have some sort of potato - be it mashed, fried, or baked - because it is delicious, nutritious, and filling. For an interesting carry over, try seasoning your potatoes (or any other served vegetables) with either the spice rub or a blend with a similar chemical structure or flavor profile.


Spices, Spices, and More Spices

Though the world of spices is as large as the world we live in, there is no reason to feel overwhelmed while trying to find what spices you want to add to your steak (or any meal). Trial and error is a great way to learn what you like, but for those who dislike the error part you can always go around to different restaurants and try every spice you can find to see if you like it or not.

Below I have added a video from the TV Show Good Eats by Alton Brown called "Spice Capades". Though it is 20 minutes, it will answer almost anything you need to know about spices and I highly suggest taking the time to watch it.

Happy cooking!

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    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Daniel,

      This is such a useful thing to know. I don't eat steak often but my partner loves it and when we both have it, the seasoning is essential. Great info here which I will keep for doing our steaks to perfection. Great job, votes, shares & pinned!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A great idea of spices and well put together, such a healthy meal and looks so delicious!