If you are a steak-lover, I hope that the title of this post + the luscious photo is enticing enough for you to read though the entire article. Because I promise you that it’s worth it. Even if you don’t eat steak, this is a must-read, as you can impress the hell outta your carnivorean friends (and sometimes, when you’re a vegetarian in a herd of carnivores, it would just be nice to have that extra, “Dude! You didn’t know that about steak???!” in your pocket.)

My entire family just adores any type of steak recipe You could probably classify us as professional steak-eaters. In fact, it is my husband’s life-long quest to hone his grilling technique so that our cheaper cuts of steak at home turn out charred crusty on the outside and perfectly medium-rare on the inside. With grill marks for show, of course. Seriously, we are too cheap to eat out and would rather cook a nice steak recipe at home. For the past 4 months, we have been experimenting with the best way to get full, juicy, beefy flavor of a ribeye with butter-knife tenderness of a filet mignon without feel like getting ripped off buying Prime cuts. And after 4 months of eating steak 2 times a week, I think we’ve figured it out. 

So, my friends, I am offering you a very juicy secret, one that will turn an ordinary “Choice” cut of cheap steak into a gucci “Prime” cut. (And yes, I know what “Choice” and “Prime” means – it’s the marbling. The salting doesn’t affect fat content. I’m using those terms as a figure of speech and something people can relate to.) Do you know the joy of buying Choice and eating Prime? It’s like buying a Hyundai and getting a free mail-in rebate for a BMW upgrade!!!

Turn Cheap Steak into Prime Steak Recipe

Why This Steak Method Totally Kicks Butt

  • Tenderizes Like a Boss: Salt works like a meat tenderizer, turning tougher cuts into buttery, tender bites.
  • Flavor Town Road Trip: We’re not just sprinkling on top; this salt gets deep into the steak, making every bite insanely flavorful.
  • Juicy Business: Salt pulls out the steak’s juices, mixes in, then the steak sucks it back up. It’s like a juice spa for your steak.
  • Pick Your Player: Works like magic on any cut – cheap, pricey, whatever you’ve got. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of steak methods.
  • Flavor Level: Epic: Wanna get fancy? Throw in your fave spices or rubs. This method’s like your flavor wingman.
  • No More Cooking Guesswork: This steak won’t give you any drama on the grill or pan. It cooks evenly, making you look like a pro.


How to Make the Most Tender, Flavorful Steak Recipe

The Steak Secret: salt your steaks 1 hour before cooking for every inch of thickness.

Here are two nice pieces of regular ‘ol supermarket steak. They’re about 1.25 inches thick, so I’ll let them salt for about 1.25 hours.

two nice pieces of regular 'ol supermarket steak

Season liberally with kosher salt on both sides with kosher or coarse sea salt. If you are used to using regular table salt, this may look like a ton of salt, but just remember that kosher and sea salt flakes are 2-3x the size of table salt.

 Salted Meat steak

 Salted Meat Steak

And then just let it sit on your counter.

After 15 minutes, it will look like this — you can see how the meat’s water is starting to come up to the surface — and that some of the salt is still on the surface of the steak.

 Salted Meat Steak After 15 minutes

After 30 minutes, you’ll see more water:

 Salted Meat Steak After 30 minutes

After almost an hour:

 Salted Meat Steak After 1 hour

And now 1.25 hours – see all that water?  You can also see that there’s still salt on the surface of the steak.

 Salted Meat Steak After 1.25 hour

The next step is to discard the water, rinse the steak really well to rid of all the salt. Pat very very dry with clean paper towels so that absolutely no moisture is left on the steak. Then it’s time to cook.

Before y’all throw a hissy fit, just hear me out. I first learned of this technique from Judy Rodgers’ The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant.Judy massively salts her chicken before roasting, and I’ve adapted the practice to steaks. Thanks to a couple of other books (McGee’s On Food and Cooking and Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here For the Food), and a few fellow bloggers, I have an explanation of how it works.

(Oh, and if the drawings look like a 3rd grader did it, too bad. YOU try drawing with a laptop touchpad and a glass of bourbon on the rocks.)


How Salting Works

How Salting Steaks Work

All of you who season JUST before grilling: this is what you are really doing to the meat. Did you know that? All the water comes to the surface and if you don’t pat super dry, you’re basically STEAMING the meat. Plus, your salt just sits on the surface of the steak, leaving the interior tasteless.

How Salting Steaks Work

Now – note that only a little of the salt gets to go back into the meat. Don’t worry – you aren’t going to be eating all that salt!

How Salting Steaks Work

Bourbon does that to me too.

How Salting Steaks Work

I can hear it now… B-B-BUT!!! What about all the water that stayed on the surface of the meat? Aren’t you drawing all the moisture out of the meat? Will it taste like a salt lick? (*%!*%!@#!#!!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS STEAK RECIPE!!!)

Pull your pants back on and keep reading…

How Salting Steaks Work


Verification on Technique

How Salting Steaks Work

Cook’s Illustrated January 08 issue (and you can also find it on their paid portion of their website. Just search for “Improving Cheap Roast Beef”). 

Professional chefs salt a 4lb roast beef (big, fat, thick meat) and they are using 4 tsp kosher salt, therefore their steak recipe recommends salting for 18-24 hrs. It’s all related: thickness of meat : amount of salt : time.

Salting Steak Recipe Key Points

  • Use kosher or sea salt, not table salt <– that is important. It will not work well with tiny tiny grains of table salt. Plus, table salt tastes like shit.
  • Use steaks 1″ or thicker.
  • Follow my timetable (below).
  • If you are Harold McGee, a member of Alton Brown’s research team or Mr. Burke my high school chem teacher, and think I’m full of B.S…. please let me know. But guys, none of this was in your books. I had to formulate, extrapolate, hypotholate and guesstulate based on your stuff. Highly mental activity.
  • I know this sounds awfully like salt-curing, which dries out meat (like beef jerky). But with salt curing, you use A LOT more salt and leave it salting for A LOOOOOONG time. We’re talking about a little tiny nap here – not weeks – just enough to break down the muscle fibers and flavor the steak throughout.
  • Again, don’t worry about all that salt. Just enough of it gets absorbed into the meat. Most of it gets washed down the drain when you rinse off. Really.
  • I know you’re going to ask, so I’ll answer it for you. Why not brine? You could if you really want water-logged, diluted-tasting, crappy steak.

I understand that this method will cause chaos, confusion and controversy in your household. But I encourage you to experiment: try adding spices, crushed garlic and rosemary sprigs to the salt, which will then act like Christina Aguilera dragging its entourage of flavors with it into the meat. If confusion in the household becomes unbearable, just whack’ em with the hunk of salted steak.

Grilled Steak Recipe with Garlic-Herb Butter

FAQs I Know You’re Going To Ask

  • How does salting affect the steak’s tenderness and flavor? Salting, or “dry brining”, works wonders by breaking down tough muscles and connective tissue in the steak. It’s an easy way to make sure every bite of your steak is juicy and flavorful. The salt draws out moisture initially, then dissolves in it, creating a natural brine that’s reabsorbed, seasoning the steak throughout.
  • Can this method be used on other cuts of meat, like pork chops or beef brisket? Absolutely! This technique isn’t just limited to transforming a budget steak. It can also work well on other meats like pork chops or beef brisket. The key is adjusting the salting time based on the thickness and type of meat.
  • What’s the best type of salt to use for this method? Kosher or coarse sea salt is the way to go. These types of salt don’t dissolve as quickly as table salt, allowing for a more controlled and even absorption into the meat fibers.
  • How long should I leave the steak at room temperature before cooking? After salting, let the steak rest at room temperature for the prescribed duration (1 hour for each inch of thickness). This ensures the steak reaches an even internal temperature.
  • What are some effective ways to add extra flavor to the steak? Alongside salting, consider rubbing your steak with your favorite rub, fresh ground pepper, or a little bit of olive oil. These can complement the natural steak taste and elevate your budget steak to taste like a tender cut of prime steak.
  • Can I cook the steak using methods other than grilling? Yes! While a hot grill is a popular and effective way, you can also use a cast iron skillet or even try sous vide cooking for precise control over the internal temperature. Each cooking method offers its own unique touch to your steak experience.
  • What should I look for when buying steak from the local grocery store for this method? Look for thicker cuts like chuck steak or flat iron steak. These cheap cuts of beef often have great deals at grocery stores and respond well to this salting method. Avoid cuts with too much visible salt and tough cuts of meat.
  • How can I tell if the steak is cooked to my preferred method? Using a meat thermometer is the best way to check for the desired internal temperature. Remember, the right amount of time on a high temp grill or skillet varies depending on steak thickness and your personal preference for doneness.
  • Is it necessary to rinse the steak after salting? Yes, it’s crucial! Rinsing removes the excess surface salt and ensures the steak doesn’t taste overly salty. Pat it dry thoroughly afterward for the best sear.

Side Note: This is another great use for my herb butter!

This one!

Grilled Corn with Lime Cilantro Wasabi Butter

Notice the consistency in ingredients (first photo and the one below): the perfect steak always goes well with homemade shoestring fries or homemade potato chips. The green stuff is just to give color to the plate. Unless it has garlic-herb butter slathered all over it too.

Grilled Steak Recipe with Garlic-Herb Butter

Other Steak Recipes You Might Enjoy:

dry-bag-aged-steak-40 How to dry age steaks at home with Drybag method

Grilling Kobe Burgers and Sliders Watch me talk about Kobe Beef Burgers on CBS

Artisan Steak Tasting – taste test of 6 steaks from small artisan ranchers

Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos Skirt Steak Tacos Recipe & Parking Adventures of La Tacqueria

No Knead Bread – so easy a caveman 4-yr old can do it

Negative Calorie Chocolate Cake

Garlic Truffle Shoestring Fries

Tropical Island Salmon: cooking fish low ‘n slow creates the most dreamy, silky fish

Grilled Steak Recipe with Garlic-Herb Butter

How to make cheaper Choice steak even more tender and flavorful

Salting the steak is a "dry brine" technique that tenderizes the steak and makes it more flavorful. If you are using fine sea salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
4.77 from 42 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Salting time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American



  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 piece steak


  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt PER side of steak
  • Let salt: 1 hour per 1" thickness of steak. For example, if steak is 1/2" thick, then let salt for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse all salt off. Pat very dry with paper towel.
  • Season steak with pepper or other seasoning (do not add any additional salt)
Keyword steak
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