The Expert-Approved Steak Lover's Guide To Seasonings

steak with seasonings
steak with seasonings - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

If you love steak but struggle with creative ways to get it tasting as flavorful and delicious as you had hoped, then you should worry no more. With so many seasonings available, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of combinations that work well against the flavor profile of steak. Thankfully, we've been able to track down a few experts to get you on the road to serving up restaurant-worthy beef that will tantalize your taste buds.

After consulting with executive chefs, food bloggers, and more, we've curated their top tips about how to get your steak tasting its best. From spices to sauces, and even a few surprises, expect to be wowed by the many flavorfully distinct ways to season your steak. Oh, and don't worry -- many of these tips can be easily executed, even with basic ingredients on hand. Without further ado, let's slice into the expert-approved steak lover's guide to amazing seasonings you can try tonight!

Read more: Cuts Of Steak, Ranked Worst To Best


chimichurri on steak
chimichurri on steak - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Chimichurri is associated with grilled food, and because of this, it should come as no surprise that it works amazingly on steak. In case you aren't familiar with it, chimichurri sauce can be used as a seasoning, marinade, or topping, and usually consists of a blend of various "bright-tasting" herbal ingredients (such as cilantro, parsley, and oregano) often used on meat. Other infusions like cumin and red pepper flakes can amp up the flavor, making this delicious pick a wonderful option for taking steak up and over the edge.

"Chimichurri is the best seasoning for steak because it combines fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, and oil to create a vibrant, tangy, and savory flavor that perfectly complements the richness of the meat," states Jessica Randhawa, head chef and recipe developer over at The Forked Spoon. "Its acidic components help to tenderize the steak, while the herbs and garlic add depth and complexity. The freshness and bold flavors of chimichurri make every bite of steak more dynamic and satisfying."

If you're wondering if chimichurri and pesto are the same thing, we'd like to note that they are not. While it may be hard to distinguish the differences between the two green sauces, they actually aren't composed of the same things -- or at least, not mostly. Instead, pesto is made of basil leaves and pine nuts. And while we've seen pesto steak recipes out there, chimichurri is far more often associated with grilled meat than pesto. Now you know!

Lemon And Herbs

steak with lemons and herbs
steak with lemons and herbs - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Lemon and herbs are another great yet untraditional way to flavor steak, according to experts. While most people gravitate towards herbs and garlic to give steak the flavoring it needs, using lemon with herbs gives the meat a citrusy zing. Chef Dagan Lynn, executive chef over at Beef. It's What's For Dinner, tells us that lemon-oregano steak rub is a splendid choice for steak meat. According to Chef Dagan, you'll simply combine fresh oregano (or dried oregano leaves) with freshly grated lemon peels. Add to this minced garlic and black pepper, and you'll have a wonderfully zesty steak, perfect for serving dinner guests.

Ken Tobby of Organic Solace suggests the same, with his rendition of lemon and herb steak seasoning that sounds as scrumptious as it is easy. "Lemon and rosemary make a classic, fragrant pairing that enriches the natural flavors of steak with a zesty and herbaceous twist," he says. "This combination is perfect for pan-searing or grilling." To prepare this steak seasoning, simply mix chopped rosemary, lemon zest, minced garlic, and sea salt. Rub the mixture onto the steak before placing it into the fridge for a few hours or overnight." Perfect!

Cajun Spice

cajun spices on surface
cajun spices on surface - Armankose/Getty Images

Cajun spices might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to seasonings to flavor your steak with — Cajun chicken or shrimp is usually the primary meat for this sort of seasoning over beef. Nevertheless, it can be a great option to add distinct and unique flavor to your steak, especially if you're sick of the same ol' basic salt, pepper, and garlic status quo.

Ken Tobby voiced his recommendation for using Cajun spices for steak seasoning, and we must admit, we were intrigued. As Tobby suggests, you can easily combine paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, onion powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl to create a powerhouse of a rub that will come off totally unexpected, but no less delicious. Once you've mixed the spices together, massage the mixture into the steak before searing or grilling it. Tobby also suggests adding a bit of brown sugar if you aren't opposed to it, as doing so can offer a hint of sweetness that works to mellow out the heat. Pair your Cajun steak with fried okra, corn, beans and rice, or other familiar Creole-inspired sides for a deliciously surprising dinner that will be sure to stun even the pickiest taste buds.

Salt And Pepper(corns)

steak with salt and peppercorn
steak with salt and peppercorn - Jupiterimages/Getty Images

Salt and pepper may sound immensely hum-drum when it comes to seasoning steak, but this combo serves as a surprisingly tasty addition that highlights the star of the show, which is the steak itself. "I always love the timeless combination of salt and pepper when seasoning my steak," says Kevin Ashton of Restaurantji. "Use coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to create a savory crust that enhances your steak's natural flavors." To make the most of this simple seasoning, apply the salt and pepper on both sides for 30-40 minutes before cooking; this will allow the salt to penetrate the meat for more depth of flavor.

Ken Tobby chimes in, but this time, with a distinct spin on this basic yet scrumptious duo: "Making a peppercorn blend seasoning for steak is a great way to add a robust, peppery flavor to [it]. Use a blend of green, black, pink, and white peppercorns, grind coarsely, and massage into the steak." Add to this a small pinch of sea salt, and voila — you've got a simple yet mouth-watering way to prepare your steak. Also, be sure not to box yourself in when it comes to the many uses for peppercorns -- we know a mean brandy peppercorn steak sauce recipe that requires only a handful of simple ingredients to create one the most rich-tasting sauces you'll put to your mouth -- we promise.

Coffee And Cocoa

cocoa powder on wooden spoon
cocoa powder on wooden spoon - Savany/Getty Images

Using coffee and, gasp, cocoa on a steak? Whoever heard of such a thing? Actually, there are a couple of experts who give this unexpected way to season steak a thumbs up, citing the combination of flavors to give beef a boost in the most surprising way. Chef Dagan Lynn recommends giving your steak a peppy kick by blending coffee with certain spices to add surprising complexity to almost any cut of beef. "Enjoy the richness of espresso blended with garlic pepper, brown sugar, and ancho chili powder," he states.

In addition, Sunita Yousuf, founder of The Wannabe Cook, affirms the same: "[The] combination of ground coffee, unsweetened cocoa powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper creates a complex, almost savory-sweet flavor that perfectly complements steak's rich, beefy taste." To use it, simply sprinkle it generously over your meat pieces before cooking, or mix the spices in a bowl beforehand. Aside from adding flavor, the rub helps seal in the steak's natural juices, which will yield mouth-watering results. "After using the rub, let the steak rest for at least 10 minutes before cooking. This allows the flavors to meld and penetrate deep into the meat," Yousuf asserts.

Southwest Marinade

steak with fajita peppers
steak with fajita peppers - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Love southwestern flavors? We certainly do. Drum up your own marinade using a blend of citrusy and smoky flavors for a steak that's out-of-this-world delicious. According to Chef Dagan Lynn, you can make use of a few simple spices along with the help of an unexpected yet readily available condiment to make a scrumptious yet ridiculously simple marinade for your steak that your dinner guests will love.

Apparently, mixing Italian dressing with a bit of fresh lime juice, honey, and cumin is a great way to give your beef a bit of southwestern flavor with little to no effort, according to Chef Dagan. Once you've mixed the marinade, place your steak along with it in a plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Working with a tougher cut of meat? The chef recommends allowing the steak to marinate for 6 hours or even overnight -- if you have the time -- to yield meat that nearly melts in your mouth. As for pairings, well, you know what we're thinking: fajitas, anyone? The yummy citrus, herb, and smoky cumin flavor would lend itself perfectly to a sizzling entree like this, especially when topped with cool and mellow contrasting flavors like sour cream, cheese, and more. This would also be a great steak seasoning to use when using steak as a topper for steak nachos -- and, now we're salivating. Delish!

Garlic And Herb

steak with garlic cloves
steak with garlic cloves - Aleksei Isachenko/Shutterstock

Garlic and herbs are a great way to infuse steak with flavor. In fact, we've got four experts proclaiming in unison that garlic and herbs are one of the best ways to enhance the flavor profile of a good chunk of steak. Ken Tobby tells us that a mixture of minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and a touch of olive oil does the trick. To brighten it up a bit, you can even add a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Kevin Ashton and Eric Sornoso of Mealfan agree, with Sornoso adding that a bit of parsley and oregano to hot mixtures can make those flavors even better. As for whether dried or fresh herbs are needed and exactly how to apply it to the steak, Rena Awada of Healthy Fitness Meals states that using either dried or fresh versions of herbs works well, depending on what you have on hand. Just know that dried versions of herbs will almost always be more potent. To apply your seasoning, Awada says to simply rub the mixture generously onto both sides of the steak prior to cooking. You can even let these spices marinate overnight for better flavor.

Chili Lime

chilis and chili powder in bowl
chilis and chili powder in bowl - Sgaphoto/Getty Images

Chili lime seasoning is typically something that most of us might associate with chicken or a chili lime hot sauce. Even so, chili lime seasoning can often pair well with steak, provided that you use the right seasonings, and of course, don't mind a little kick to your taste buds.

"If I want something with more heat and a little tanginess, I would go for a chili-lime seasoning," says Rena Awada. "This is great if you have a spicy-loving crowd," she adds. To make this flavor a reality, Awada suggests combining chili powder, cumin, lime zest, salt, and pepper together along with some cayenne or red pepper flakes -- if you can take the heat. For extra flavor, she recommends squeezing fresh lime juice over the cooked steak before serving: "I like this because it's a unique and flavorful twist on traditional steak seasonings; it adds zing and freshness." To round out the meal, Awada suggests pairing the steak with Mexican-inspired sides; authentic Mexican rice, black beans, or grilled corn would complement the flavor of the beef exceptionally, as would more traditional sides, like baked potatoes, salads, and more. You could also consider using steak as a part of a larger meal, rather than serving it à la carte; we could picture wrapping this flavorful steak in a warm tortilla, serving it atop flavored noodles, or making it a part of a killer steak sandwich. The sky's the limit, and chili lime flavoring for steak brings the heat.

Miso And Soy

asian style steak barbecue
asian style steak barbecue - tastyobjecter/Shutterstock

A couple of our experts have found soy to be an amazing ingredient to add to steak, along with other Asian flavors, like ginger, to further enhance the overall taste. "For a more Asian-inspired twist, try making a soy-ginger marinade," suggests Rena Awada. "Mix soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl and marinate the steak for at least an hour before cooking." Considering the saltiness of the soy and the intense flavoring of ginger paired with brown sugar, further seasonings, such as salt and pepper, aren't always needed. This makes for an easy marinade that's just as much unique as it is tasty: "I really love this blend because it adds a combination of savory, sweet, and tangy flavors to the meat [....] it can also be used as a sauce for drizzling over the cooked steak," states Awada.

Ken Tobby seconds this idea but approaches it from a different angle. He suggests using miso and soy to whip up a glaze along with some of the sweet and spicy flavorings already mentioned, to get a seasoning that's full of rich umami flavor to add to the steak. "Mix soy sauce, minced ginger, white miso paste, and a small amount of honey," he instructs. "Brush this mixture onto your steak during the last few minutes of cooking. For more flavor, you can sprinkle it with sesame seeds before serving." Delish!

Herb-Infused Butter

herb butter on steak
herb butter on steak - Lisovskaya/Getty Images

Buttered steaks are a decadent and luxuriously rich choice, and our expert, Ken Tobby, enlightens us on ways to make variations of butter that can be used to further enhance the flavors of steak, making for a darn delectable and difficult to turn down entrée. One of his suggested ways to accentuate the flavors of beef is using blue cheese. "Blue cheese butter is a delectable addition to steak, bringing richness and bold flavor," he states. In addition, Tobby recommends using herb butter to season steaks, as this classic blend combines the familiar flavor of herbs with the comforting richness of butter to create a dynamic delight for the palate.

Thankfully, neither of these steak butters are difficult to put together. Blue cheese butter can be made with softened butter and crumbled blue cheese, along with some chopped chives. Simply rub this on the hot steak with a touch of Worcestershire sauce for a delightful bite. As for herb butter, Tobby recommends blending softened butter with chopped parsley, garlic, and thyme — a mouth-watering combo of herbs if you ask us. To finish, try squeezing on some lemon juice if you feel so inclined. "By experimenting with these different seasonings, you can enhance distinct flavors in your steak," Tobby explains. We totally dig it.

Get Creative

steak with various spices
steak with various spices - Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

‌There comes a point when you no longer want to depend on those super basic steak seasoning blends you find in stores, and instead, want to amp up the flavor using spices you already have stored in your cabinet. So, where should you start? Thankfully, several of our experts have seasoning blends, marinades, and sauces they've made from scratch, and they're more than willing to spill the tea on which spices work well for steak. Chef Dagan Lynn details how he dishes up steaks using a rich and flavorful sauce: "Once steaks are perfectly cooked, we pull them out, glaze them with a house-made umami glaze, and let them rest. The umami glaze is a flavor bomb of soy sauce, fish sauce, shiitake mushroom, black garlic, kombu, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and smoked black pepper that cranks the rich, savory flavors of the steak up to 11."

Don't want to get that fancy? Try Kevin Ashton's simple marinade, which might prove to be a better fit: "I prefer a marinade made with soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a slight touch of honey." In addition, Ashton suggests using a blend of spices such as cumin, paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper to enhance the steak's flavor. Simply rub the mixture generously onto the steak's surface. Be sure to carefully press it into the meat to form a flavorful crust when seared.

Read the original article on Mashed.