Looking for a good steak dry rub recipe? You’ve come to the right place. This simple steak rub is a flavor powerhouse that will transform more than just a good steak. Why use a rub? That extra boost of flavor can transform a good steak into possibly one of the BEST steaks you’ve ever had.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Why you should make this recipe
- Quick & Easy – This steak rub comes together in about 5 minutes.
- Versatile – This combination is great on a steak, but it’s also delicious on hamburgers, pork and chicken.
- Lasts a long time – This rub will last about a year, if properly stored.
The best steak rub recipe
A good quality piece of meat requires little more than salt, pepper and a nice sear, but sometimes you want a little something extra. That’s where a good rub comes in.
For this rub, I use dried chili peppers that I grind up in a coffee and spice grinder. It works well to grind the dried chili peppers and whole spices down into a fine, even consistency.
In lieu of using dried chilies, you can sub regular chili powder. If you can find dried ancho chili powder, that’s a great option. It’s slightly smoky and not too hot.
- Kosher salt – I always use Diamond Crystal. Please see notes about other brands.
- Brown sugar – I used light brown sugar, but you can use dark brown if you like a bit more molasses flavor.
- Dried chilies / chili powder – I like to grind up dried chilies, but you can also use chili powder if you don’t want to grind up whole chilies.
- Espresso powder – Not the same as instant coffee. You want a fine espresso powder here.
- Dry mustard powder – Colman’s is a popular brand that is easy to find.
- Paprika – Use sweet or smoked, whichever you prefer.
- Pepper – Black pepper, freshly ground, if you can.
- Garlic – Granulated or powder, either works.
- Onion – Again, granulated or powder.
How to make your own steak rub
Making your own homemade steak rub recipe not be easier. The stuff in the stores can’t even compare to this, and who knows how long it has been sitting on the shelf? This is fresher and tastier than anything you’ll buy.
It is a great way to use up your spices before they go bad, making it less expensive because you can use some of what you already have. And, you can customize it to your specific tastes, which makes it perfect.
Measure out all of your ingredients into a small bowl. Use fresh spices, that will make a big difference. If you have spices that have been in the back of your cabinet for years, it’s time to replace them. Old spices have a dull flavor, which means that is the flavor your steak rub will also have.
Break up any lumps in the brown sugar, you don’t want big chunks of sugar in the seasoning.
I use a fine espresso powder for this steak rub recipe. You can see it in the front of the bowl. It is the only one I use. In my humble opinion, it’s the best one out there, and it is fine enough to become part of the seasoning. Big crystals of dried coffee would be unpleasant.
Once you’ve measured everything into the bowl, whisk the steak dry rub together and transfer into an airtight container for storing. I keep my dry rub in a glass jar for canning. It will keep for nearly a year if stored properly.
How to apply dry rub to steak
It’s in the name – rub. It’s not called a sprinkle, it’s called a rub. You want to make sure that you get the seasoning onto the whole surface of the meat.
Apply liberally all over the steak and give it a good massage. The goal is to work it into the meat so that it stays put.
To avoid cross-contamination by dipping my fingers into a container, I like to use this shaker to apply the rub. Then, I use my other hand to rub it in. This two-handed method keeps one hand clean at all times.
How to use steak rub
Learning how to use dry rubs is a great skill to learn for anyone who loves to cook on the grill. This rub is fantastic on a steak, but don’t stop there. You can use this on burgers, ribs, or in a meatloaf. I’ve even tossed chicken wings in this mixture and they were delicious.
This is a dry rub, not a dry brine. The purpose is to flavor the outside of the meat.
Steak dry rub FAQ’s
You can apply dry rub right before grilling, or you can leave it on for a few hours. It’s up to you and what you prefer. I usually put it on my steaks as soon as I pull them out of the fridge and pat them dry. It takes about 30 minutes for them to come to room temp before they go on the grill.
Yes. When you remove the steaks out of the package, you want to pat them dry before you apply the dry rub. Otherwise, it ends up watery.
It is up to you when to dry rub steak. If you want to give your meat a bit more flavor, a dry rub is the perfect option. It’s also a great way to lend more flavor to a lesser quality steak.
These are my favorite glass jars. I use them for storing spices and homemade spice blends, as well as canning jam.
I like the glass lids better than the metal screw tops, because those always rust and these will not.
Variations and substitutions
- Add more or less of any ingredient to suit your personal preferences.
- If you are on a low salt diet, cut the amount in half and bump up the other ingredients to compensate.
- Consider adding cocoa powder to the mix, it’s very good.
Helpful tools and equipment
This flat coil whisk is the one that I use all the time. It’s great for everything from whisking up eggs to a steak rub.
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- 3 tbsp. kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) // 24g
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar (light or dark) // 13g
- 1 tsp. pulverized dried chili pepper (or chili powder)
- 2 tsp. espresso powder or ground coffee beans // 5g
- 1 tsp. dry mustard powder (Colman's)
- 1 tsp. Spanish paprika (or whatever you prefer)
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic / garlic powder
- 1 tsp. granulated onion / onion powder
- If using dried chilies, add them to a mini food processor, or spice grinder and grind them until they are as fine as you can get them. (Make sure you stand back when you open the grinder, it will make your eyes water.)
- In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for steak dry rub and whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Pour into a glass jar and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Use fresh spices, older spices have a dull flavor and thus, so will your steak rub.
If the brown sugar starts to cake up in your dry rub, break it up as best as you can. If it has become solid, it's time to make a fresh batch.
A note about salt: Not all salt is created equal. A teaspoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt weighs about 2.7 grams, Morton's kosher salt weighs a little over 5 grams for a teaspoon and table salt weighs 6 grams for a teaspoon. So, adjust accordingly, depending on what kind of salt you are using. There are 3 teaspoons in one tablespoon.
I do not recommend storing in plastic. The oils in certain spices can be reactive, meaning they can eventually eat through the plastic. Also, plastic is porous, which means that it will let in small amounts of air & we don't want that.
Serving Size:1 tbsp.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 30Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 849mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 9/16/12.