Beef Steak Spices: A Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered, how to season a steak? The best seasoning for steak is critical for getting the most flavor out of a beef steak. Many beef steak spices and herb combinations can take a decent cut of meat to new heights of flavor.

Understanding the best spices to use, how to make homemade blends, application tips, and avoiding common mistakes will help ensure your steak is always seasoned to perfection.

What are the Best Spices and Herbs for Steak?

Salt and black pepper are the foundation of most great steak rubs and seasoning blends. A simple mixture of coarse sea salt, whether kosher, sea, Himalayan pink, etc., and freshly cracked black peppercorns is a classic preparation.

The salt helps draw out moisture in the meat to achieve a better sear while enhancing the natural beef flavor. Cracked pepper adds an extra punch of spice with some subtle fruity notes. There is no shortage of options to improve the flavor factor regarding herbs and spices. Here is an overview of some of the most popular:

Garlic Powder

Dehydrated, ground garlic buds add a potent flavor and aroma. Just a teaspoon or two is needed to lend a distinctly savory flavor. Onion powder works very similar to garlic powder, and the two are often paired.


Ranging in flavor from mild and sweet to hot and smoky based on variety, paprika is an essential spice for steak. Hungarian varieties are incredibly flavorful. The rich red powder not only provides flavor but also helps create a beautiful sear marking for the meat.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper flakes or powder infuse steak with a slow, warming heat for those who like a touch of heat. Just a pinch is needed to make its presence known. This is one of my favorite beef steak spices!

Oregano & Thyme

Fragrant Mediterranean herbs that pair exceptionally well with beef. Oregano has an earthy, almost menthol-like zing, while thyme has delicate lemon and mint notes. Both will make your steak taste like it came fresh off the grill at an upscale Italian steakhouse.


Pungent and piney rosemary have a tendency to char and blacken when exposed to high grill heat. Use it minced very finely or steep rosemary in oil to prepare fried potatoes for a tasty pairing. Just avoid putting large sprigs or chops directly on the grill.


For a woodsy flavor reminiscent of fall seasoning or American Thanksgiving stuffing, rubbed sage adds a distinctive savory flavor to the beef. Going light on sage allows its balsamic-like flavor notes to come through.


This seed spice is crucial to most curry powder blends, as it lends a subtle yet complex citrusy, floral flavor when finely ground and sprinkled on steak.

Chili Powder & Cayenne

Ground chili peppers and cayenne pack some punch for those wanting some natural heat and smoky spice in their simple steak seasoning. Jalapeño, chipotle, ancho, and habanero are incredibly flavorful in powder form.

What Makes the Best Steak Seasoning Recipe?

beef steak spices

The options are endless when mixing up the perfect blend of beef steak spices to prepare the best steak seasoning. Here are some guidelines for creating full-flavored mixes:

Focus on just a few spices

Less is more when seasoning meat, especially with strong spices. A general rule of thumb is to pick no more than 5 primary seasonings. Choose spices and herbs that have complementary flavors. This allows their individual qualities to shine rather than overpower each other.

Always include salt

Be sure to add kosher salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, or whatever you fancy to season the meat properly. This is the best way to season a steak. Around 1 Tablespoon per pound of beef is perfect. The salt also helps distribute the other spice flavors evenly across the meat.

Enhance flavor with umami

Ingredients are high in savory, meaty, umami flavors like mushrooms, tomato, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, etc., perfect for beef steak seasonings. Consider adding a splash or dash to your homemade blend.

Mind the measurements

Small amounts make a big difference When using strong or moderately hot spices like garlic powder, chipotle chili, cayenne, etc. Until you get a feel for a recipe, measuring spices rather than eyeballing them precisely is best.

Consider texture

Coarse sea salt, whole peppercorns, and spices like fennel, coriander, and cumin seed add significant visual appeal and textural contrast when used to coat the meat’s exterior. Crush them between your fingers as you sprinkle them on for added flavor.

What are some of the Best Steak Seasoning Recipes?

Now that you have a better understanding of the herbs, beef steak spices, and blend elements that create exceptional steakhouse quality flavor, here are some easy recipes to try at home:

Basic Dry Steak Rub

The simplest steak rubs call for just 4 ingredients – coarse salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. To make it:


  • 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk to fully incorporate. Generously season steak on all sides, gently pressing rub into meat. Let rest 5 minutes prior to cooking if time allows. This is the best way to season steak.

Best Steakhouse Style Steak Dry Rub

Dry rub for steak seasoning mix mimics those used by professional chefs at upscale steakhouses.


  • 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper


Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season steak evenly on all sides with about 1-2 teaspoons per side. Gently pat rub into meat, rest for 5-10 minutes, then grill, broil, or pan sear as desired.

Simple Grilling Seasoning

Wondering, how to season steak for grilling? It is an easy blend tailored specifically for flavoring meat hot off the grill. Here is the best steak seasoning for grilling:


  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper


Mix ingredients and store them in an airtight container away from heat and moisture. When ready to grill steaks, sprinkle approximately 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon on each side before placing them over hot coals or flames for best results. Adjust chili powder levels to suit your heat preferences.

Spicy Southwest Steak Rub

Let’s talk about how to spice steak! This is for Steak with a flavorful kick of heat and smokiness reminiscent of the American Southwest. Here are some of the beef steak spices that you can use for this recipe.


  • 2 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for extra heat)


Thoroughly incorporate all ingredients except cayenne pepper if a mildly spicy rub is desired. Mix in cayenne to taste for additional heat. Generously coat steaks before broiling, grilling, or pan searing. Sprinkle any extra rub not adhering to meat into the pan drippings or grill flakes to impart additional flavor.

What are the Best Tips for Applying Steak Seasoning?

Beef Steak Spices

Achieving optimal steak flavor goes beyond just the spices and ingredients themselves. Proper seasoning techniques and methods can make all the difference. Here are some top tips:

Season ahead, then season again

Lightly seasoning meat at least 5 to 10 minutes before cooking gives spices time to penetrate deeper beyond the meat’s surface. Follow up with a second sprinkling immediately before throwing the steak on the grill or pan. The layering builds exceptional flavor and is a good seasoning for steak.

Distribute evenly on all sides

Season all exterior sides of steak pieces rather than just the top. This keeps flavor consistent throughout while creating the perfectly seasoned outer char.

Gently press into meat

Rather than lightly dusting meat, firmly press and pat spice mixtures directly into the meat on all sides. This helps them stay on despite handling and flipping during cooking.

Let meat rest after cooking

Resist cutting into the steak right away after cooking. Letting it rest for 5 minutes (more significant cuts 10-15 minutes) allows juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat rather than spill out immediately upon slicing. This brief resting period also lets steak absorb all the fantastic flavors in freshly applied seasoning.

How Do Different Cooking Methods Impact Overall Flavor?

Tweaking cooking techniques after a good steak seasoning in specific ways allows optimal development of beef steak spices and herb flavors:


The high dry heat of an open grill gives incredible charred flavor and brings out the best in spice rubs, coating the meat’s exterior. The grilled steak seasoning gives a different yet delicious flavor.

Be mindful that fine herbs and spices can burn quickly if placed directly above flames. Use spice blends higher in salt, garlic, onion, and paprika for grilling, or add extra seasoning toward the end for the best flavor.

Pan Searing

Quickly browning steak in a cast iron skillet or heavy stainless steel pan requires plenty of oil. So rather than dry rubbing, consider mixing herbs into melted butter or olive oil and frequently basting meat to layer flavor.

This keeps exterior spices from burning in hot oil while helping them evenly coat meat rather than fall off into the pan. Thyme, rosemary, oregano, and garlic all shine with this technique.


Like grilling, broiling’s intense overhead heat chars exterior seasoning nicely but can cause burning if not placed high enough away from an element.

Most salt-based rubs hold up exceptionally well. Chili-based ones can work, too, if positioned 4-6 inches from the broiler. Monitor closely.

Sous Vide

With precise low and slow cooking, a vacuum-sealed steak poaches in its juices and any seasoning applied to the meat before bagging.

Unlike grilling or broiling, the water bath environment allows delicate herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, etc., to fully permeate flavor throughout the meat with no risk of burning.

What are Common Mistakes to Avoid When Seasoning Steak?

common mistakes to avoid

Sabotaging a perfectly cooked steak with improperly applied beef steak spices doesn’t take much. Here are some key pitfalls to avoid for homemade steak seasoning.

Over or under-seasoning

Like properly cooking a steak to preferred doneness, personal taste plays a big role in ideal seasoning. Resist under-seasoning meat, fearing it will be too spicy or salty. But also avoid overcompensating and ruining the natural flavor. Find your balance through trial and error.

Only apply seasoning to one side

Even distribution across all exterior meat surfaces produces a balanced flavor in every bite. Sprinkling on top can lead to bland, undersized meat hidden from any seasoning.

Letting spices burn

Delicate leafy herbs and fine ground spices will quickly burn when exposed to intense direct heat on a grill or under a broiler. Either keep them slightly away from flames or consider more robust spice blends.

Cutting meat immediately after cooking

Allowing the steak to rest after cooking enables juices to redistribute and spices on the outer meat layers to migrate deeper inward as temperature equalizes.


In this article, we talked about what seasoning to put on steak. The possibilities are endless for spice combinations and homemade blends to take ordinary steak to extraordinary levels of flavor.

Now armed with fundamental knowledge of the most complementary seasonings, tips for layering flavors, and methods for avoiding common pitfalls, you’re ready to get creative, concocting signature mixtures perfect for your palate.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with aromatics and spice profiles until you discover your go-to recipe. Then wow your friends and family with your chef-level backyard grilling skills!

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