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Marinades and Dry Rubs for a Great Grilled Steak

When you open up the grill this spring, chances are you’ll be reaching for steak. It’s a classic BBQ meat for a reason; it has a complex and delicious range of flavors on its own, and can be seasoned to customize and bring out its full palette of flavor notes. Think of a nice cut of steak as a blank canvas, ready for you to paint your masterpiece.

When it comes to seasoning a steak, you have a whole world of options. Marinade the meat to infuse it with flavor and help to break down its proteins and make it more tender, or use a dry rub to seal in a rich flavor and make a delicious outer crust. Whichever method of seasoning you choose, make sure you rest your meat when it comes off the grill for at least five minutes. This allows the juices to re-circulate through the steak which would otherwise leak out when you make your first cut. Here are some choice ingredients to add to your repertoire as a grill master extraordinaire that are so versatile you can use any combination of them to create your own recipes.


A great marinade can accent the flavors in your steak and give it a whole new character. Acidic ingredients like lemon juice break down and tenderize the meat. Let your marinade do its magic for three to twelve hours, covered and refrigerated. Pick a flavor palette that compliments your side dishes.Combine these ingredients to make a sensational steak marinade (salt and pepper go without saying):

Asian Steak Marinade

  • sesame oil
  • minced garlic 
  • minced ginger
  • soy sauce
  • honey
  • red pepper flakes 
Moroccan Steak Marinade
  • cumin 
  • cinnamon
  • paprika
  • lemon juice
  • minced garlic
  • granulated sugar
  • olive oil
Mediterranean Steak Marinade
  • dry red wine
  • lemon juice
  • garlic paste
  • olive oil
  • lemon zest
  • freshly chopped oregano

Dry Rubs

Some chefs prefer dry rubs as opposed to marinades, because they don’t burn as easily. Also, because in dry rubbing, the spices are applied directly to the meat, you may find it easier to control the amount and intensity of flavor that the meat will receive. After it’s removed from the fridge, a steak should be cooked just after it reaches room temperature. This helps it to cook more evenly and quickly, while preventing the growth of bacteria. When your steak is at room temperature, pat it with paper towel until it’s as dry as possible in order to best sear in all the meat’s juices on the grill. Generously sprinkle it with kosher or sea salt to help the meat’s cells retain water and ensure a juicy end result. For each pound of meat, use 1-2 Tablespoons of dry rub mixture. The rest is up to you! Here are some go-to ingredients to craft your own dry rub:

Brown Sugar Steak Dry Rub

  • brown sugar
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • celery seed
  • cayenne Pepper
Spicy Steak Dry Rub
  • brown sugar
  •  granulated sugar
  •  allspice
  • ginger
  •  cumin
  •  ground red pepper
Sweet / Smoky BBQ Steak Dry Rub
  • dried chipotle chili
  • allspice
  • mustard powder
  •  smoked paprika
  •  chili powder
  • chopped fresh rosemary 
  • cumin
  • brown sugar
  • dried thyme

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