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There is a never-ending debate about the what spices make up the best steak rub. Some purists swear by just salt. Others prefer SPG, which stands for salt, pepper and garlic.
I think the best dry rub for steak is one that combines SPG with a hint of coffee, chiles and fresh thyme.
Steak Rub Ingredients
This steak rub recipe is all about flavor and texture. Each spice and herb that goes into it is coarse. This helps create a memorable crust on your steak.
- Kosher Salt: Be sure to use kosher salt instead of table salt or sea salt. The grains are the perfect size for developing flavorful crust on a steak.
- Coarse Ground Black Pepper: When purchasing black pepper, look for ground pepper that says 16-mesh. This refers to the size of the grind.
- Granulated Garlic: This is not the same as garlic powder. Like the salt and pepper, it’s a little more course.
- Espresso Chile Rub: Although this rub is optional, it really adds amazing intensity to your steaks that will set them apart. The rub is from Spiceology and is also referred to as Cowboy Crust. It contains espresso powder, chiles, mustard seed and brownulated sugar, which is a dry brown sugar.
- Fresh Thyme: If you can’t find fresh thyme, you can also use dried, but I recommend using the leaves instead of ground thyme.
Substitutions: If you can’t find Espresso Chile Rub, use 1 teaspoon espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or chili powder.
How to Make Steak Rub
I make rubs regularly and even have my own line of barbecue rubs that I use at barbecue competitions.
I have found that the best way to blend seasonings is to place them in a small bowl and stir them with a fork.
The fork allows the different spices to slide through the tines for a more even blend. If you use a spoon to mix your spices, you tend to just push them around in the bowl.
How to Use Steak Rub
When seasoning a steak, it’s best to add the dry rub right before cooking the steak.
Pat the steak dry and sprinkle enough dry rub on the steak to create a medium coating. You should see an even amount of meat through the seasoning.
Be sure to season the sides of the steak, too.
If you hold your spice jar about 6-12 inches above the steak, that will help you get an even application.
Then, once your grill is ready, you can cook your grilled steaks. This rub is also great for steaks seared in a cast iron pan.
How to Store Steak Rub
Storing steak rub isn’t rocket science. You just need to place it in an air-tight container. That can be anything from a zip-top bag to a plastic container with a lid or a mason jar.
Personally, I like to store my blends in mason jars. After mixing the spices in a bowl, I place a canning funnel over the mouth of the jar and then pour the blend right in.
Then, add the lid and write the name of the rub and the date right on the lid.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Use fresh spices
- Be sure the spices you use are the coarse variety; they’ll give your steak crust more texture
- Store the steak rub in a cool, dark place in an air-tight container
Frequently Asked Questions
This steak rub recipe makes 3/4 cup, which is equal to 12 tablespoons. A smaller steak like a filet mignon or sirloin steak will only need 1-2 teaspoons of rub per steak. A standard ribeye steak or New York strip will use about 1 tablespoon per steak and larger cuts like a tomahawk ribeye or porterhouse steak will use about 2 tablespoons per steak.
Just like all spices, it’s best to use them within 6-9 months. They’ll last longer if you store them in a cool, dry place like your pantry. It’s also best to start with fresh ingredients. If you make this rub with spices that have already been sitting on your counter for 3 months, take that into consideration.
This steak rub recipe does have a touch of espresso powder in it, giving it warm notes of coffee. Because the coffee is a fine powder, it’s not bitter. Instead it adds a pleasant richness.
There’s no wrong answer here. I usually only use olive oil on steaks when I’m creating a marinade. When adding a dry rub on steak, I usually pat the steak dry and just add the rub. But if you prefer to add oil before the rub, go for it. Your steak will still taste great.
Recipes You Can Make Using Steak Rub
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The Best Steak Rub
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup coarse-ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp Spiceology Espresso Chile Rub
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with a fork. Transfer to an airtight container like a mason jar, until ready to use.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.