Elevate Your Steak Game: The Art of Flavorful Herbs, Rich Butters, and Perfect Cooking
Photo Credit: Paul Hanaoka
Oh, sorry. Was I drooling?! I have to admit that a tender, buttery, herby steak is one of my favorite foods! There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cooked steak, each juicy bite bursting with flavor. But what sets an excellent steak apart from a merely good one? And what are the best herbs for steak? The answer lies in the details – the right herbs, flavorful butters, ideal cooking methods, and precise temperatures.
Today, we’re taking steak to the next level, exploring the world of herbs, butters, and cooking techniques that transform your favorite cut of beef into a restaurant-quality masterpiece. Plus, we’ll share our most requested herb garlic compound butter recipe! So, first off: What are the best herbs for steak?
The Best Herbs:
What are the best herbs for steak? Fresh herbs (or dried herbs) are the stars of the show when it comes to elevating the flavor of your steak. Seasoning steaks with herbs can add depth and flavor to your meal and is the best way to cook a steak that wows!
We’ve taste-tested MANY steaks here at Kitchen Easy Life. It pretty much goes with the territory! If you’ve ever wondered: What are the best herbs for steak? We’ve got you covered! Here are ten of the best herbs, in our opinion, for seasoning steaks:
- Rosemary: Rosemary has a robust, piney flavor and aroma that pairs exceptionally well with beef. Use fresh rosemary sprigs or finely chopped leaves to season your steaks.
- Thyme: Thyme offers earthy and slightly minty notes that complement the richness of steak. Both fresh thyme leaves, whole fresh thyme sprigs, and dried thyme work well.
- Marjoram: Marjoram is an herb that belongs to the oregano family and has a mild, sweet, and slightly citrusy flavor. Its delicate taste won’t overpower the meat but will add a pleasant herbal note to your dish.
- Oregano: Oregano has a bold, slightly peppery flavor that works especially well with grilled or roasted steaks. Dried oregano can be sprinkled generously.
- Parsley: Flat-leaf parsley adds a fresh, herbaceous note to your steak. Use it as a garnish or finely chop it to create a flavorful herb rub.
- Chives: Chives have a mild onion flavor and can be used as a garnish or mixed with other herbs for a balanced seasoning.
- Basil: Basil lends a sweet, slightly minty flavor that complements the beef. It’s best used fresh, either chopped or as whole lbasil eaves.
- Sage: Sage provides an earthy, savory flavor that pairs well with steak. Fresh sage leaves can be finely chopped or used whole as a garnish.
- Tarragon: Tarragon has a delicate, anise-like flavor that adds a unique twist to your steak. Use it sparingly as it can be quite potent.
- Cilantro: Cilantro offers a bright, citrusy flavor that works beautifully in marinades or as a garnish, especially if you’re making a Mexican-inspired steak dish.
But, wait! Don’t just stop at sprinkling some herbs on your meat! Creating herb sauces to accompany your steaks can really dress up their flavor and add a delightful finishing touch. Here are ten herb sauces you can make to put on steaks, each one offering a unique, and maybe surprising, taste.
10 best herby sauces
- Chimichurri: A classic Argentine sauce made with parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, and olive oil. It’s bright, tangy, and herbaceous, making it an excellent complement to grilled steaks.
- Bearnaise: A creamy sauce with a base of butter, egg yolks, and white wine reduction, flavored with tarragon, shallots, and white wine vinegar. It’s rich and luscious, pairing wonderfully with a juicy steak.
- Peppercorn Sauce: A creamy sauce made with crushed black peppercorns, shallots, cream, and sometimes brandy. It delivers a peppery kick that works beautifully with beef.
- Garlic-Herb Butter: A simple yet delightful sauce made by combining softened butter with minced garlic and chopped fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, and chives. This buttery blend melts over the hot steak, infusing it with flavor.
- Gremolata: An Italian condiment made from lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. It adds brightness and a zesty kick to your steak.
- Salsa Verde: An Italian green sauce made from parsley, capers, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. It’s fresh, tangy, and herb-forward, perfect for grilled meats.
- Horseradish Cream Sauce: A creamy sauce with a horseradish kick, combining sour cream or mayonnaise with fresh grated horseradish, Dijon mustard, and herbs like chives and dill.
- Herb Pesto: A variation of traditional pesto made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic. You can experiment with different herbs like cilantro, arugula, or mint to create unique flavor profiles.
- Red Wine Reduction: While not an herb sauce per se, a red wine reduction sauce made by simmering red wine with shallots, garlic, and herbs like rosemary and thyme can add depth and richness to your steak.
- Cilantro-Lime Sauce: A zesty sauce with cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and a touch of honey or sugar for balance. It’s great for adding a fresh, citrusy element to grilled steaks.
These herb sauces offer a wide range of flavors and can cater to various tastes and preferences. Feel free to experiment with different combinations and variations to discover your personal favorite for flavorful steak. Believe me, it will be worth your time!
The Right Seasoning:
Before you cook, ensure your steak is at room temperature to promote even cooking. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. These two staples enhance the natural flavor of the beef and create a tantalizing crust when seared.
Want to spice things up and go beyond the best herbs for steak? The best spices to use when cooking a steak can enhance its flavor and create a delicious crust. Here are some of the top spices and seasonings to consider:
- Kosher Salt: Salt is the foundation of seasoning for steaks. It enhances the meat’s natural flavors and helps create a flavorful crust when seared. Use coarse kosher salt for better control of the seasoning.
- Black Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper adds a bold, slightly spicy kick and complements the richness of the beef. Coarsely ground black pepper is ideal for creating a flavorful crust.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder provides a savory, garlicky flavor without the risk of burning garlic during high-heat cooking. It’s a popular choice for seasoning steaks.
- Onion Powder: Onion powder adds a sweet and savory note to your steak’s seasoning profile. It pairs well with other spices and enhances the overall flavor.
- Paprika (Smoked or Sweet): Paprika can provide a subtle smokiness (if using smoked paprika) or a mild, sweet pepper flavor (with sweet paprika). It adds depth and color to the steak’s crust.
- Cayenne Pepper: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, a pinch of cayenne pepper can add a spicy kick to your steak. Use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors.
Photo Credit: Calum Lewis
What goes great with a delicious herby steak? Garlic!
Let’s go beyond the best herbs for steak and talk flavor. Garlic has a natural savory quality that complements the richness of beef. There are several ways to incorporate garlic into your steak-cooking process:
- Garlic Butter: Many people love to use fresh garlic in a compound butter, as mentioned earlier in the flavored butter suggestions. A garlic herb butter or garlic compound butter can be placed on top of the cooked steak to melt and create a flavorful sauce.
- Garlic Rub: You can create a garlic rub by mixing minced or crushed garlic cloves with other herbs and spices. Rub this mixture onto the steak before cooking for an infusion of garlic flavor.
- Sautéed Garlic: Sautéing minced garlic in a bit of olive oil or butter in the same pan you use for cooking the steak can add depth and complexity to the overall flavor of your dish. Be cautious not to overcook the garlic, as it can become bitter if burnt.
- Roasted Garlic: Roasted garlic cloves, when spread over the steak or mashed into a paste, provide a milder, sweeter garlic flavor. Roasted garlic adds a rich, creamy element to your steak.
- Garlic Powder: If you prefer a subtler garlic flavor, you can use garlic powder. Sprinkle it on the steak along with other seasonings before cooking.
Homemade Steak Rub:
Take your seasoning beyond the best herbs for steak to the next level with a homemade steak rub for your best steak yet! Combine your favorite herbs – such as rosemary, thyme, basil, and sage – with a touch of garlic powder, onion powder, and a hint of smoked paprika. This blend infuses your steak with a medley of strong, savory flavors. Dry rubs add insane depth and pop, turning a good steak into your most requested steak recipe!
Coffee on Steak?
Coffee rubs, which typically include ground coffee beans, spices, and sometimes sugar, can be excellent for seasoning steak. The coffee adds a deep, roasted flavor and can create a delicious crust when seared. Espresso rubs, which use finely ground espresso beans, provide a more intense coffee flavor and can also work well with steak.
And you thought we forgot… the star of the show – the steak!
There are a lot of different cuts of red meat. So, instead of asking what are the best herbs for steak, you should ask what’s the best steak? The best cuts of meat for steaks at home depend on your personal preferences, budget, and cooking method. Here are some popular steak cuts that work well for home cooking and restaurant cooking alike:
Photo Credit: Justus Menke
- Ribeye: Ribeye steaks are known for their rich marbling, which makes them incredibly tender with lots of extra flavor. They have a good fat-to-meat ratio, resulting in a juicy and succulent steak. Ribeyes are often considered one of the best cuts for grilling and pan-searing.
- Filet Mignon: Filet mignon, often called the “king of steaks,” is the most tender cut of beef. It’s lean and has a mild flavor. Filets are ideal for those who prefer a tender, melt-in-your-mouth steak experience.
- New York Strip (NY Strip): New York strip steaks are well-marbled, flavorful, and moderately tender. They have a satisfying balance of lean meat and fat, making them a popular choice for grilling, pan-searing, or broiling.
- Sirloin: Sirloin steaks, or Top Sirloin, are leaner than ribeyes or NY strips but still offer good flavor. They are budget-friendly and versatile, suitable for various cooking methods, including grilling, pan-searing, and broiling.
- T-Bone and Porterhouse: These cuts feature a T-shaped bone that separates two different sections of meat—the tenderloin (filet mignon) on one side and the strip steak on the other. They offer the best of both worlds, with the tenderness of filet and the stronger flavors of strip steak.
- Flank Steak: Flank steak is lean and flavorful, with a robust beefy taste. It’s best when marinated and cooked quickly at high heat. Flank steak is ideal for dishes like fajitas, stir-fries, or carne asada.
- Skirt Steak: Skirt steak is similar to flank steak in terms of flavor and cooking method. It’s thin, long, and benefits from marinating before grilling or searing. It’s a great choice for tacos and fajitas.
|Best Cooking Method
|Subtle, Slightly Sweet
|Fresh, Slightly Bitter
|Sweet, Peppery, Slightly Minty
What is The Perfect Cooking Method:
At Kitchen Easy Life, we usually cook our steak in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. The high heat sears the meat, sealing in juices and creating a flavorful crust. Remember to use a touch of olive oil to prevent sticking. However, if we’re craving delicious skirt steak tacos with Chimmichurri sauce, we grill our steak to get that smoky char flavor.
Cooking steak to perfection, which takes a bit of trial and error, involves choosing the right cut of high-quality beef, preparing it well, and using the appropriate cooking method. Here are some of the best ways to cook a restaurant quality steak:
- Grilling: Grilling is one of the most popular methods for cooking steaks, imparting a smoky, charred powerful flavor. Preheat your grill to high heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper, and grill it over direct heat for the desired level of doneness. Flip the steak only once during cooking.
- Pan-Searing: Pan-searing in a hot skillet with butter or oil creates a beautiful crust on the steak. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat, add oil, and sear the steak for a few minutes on each side until it reaches your preferred doneness. Finish with butter and aromatics like garlic and thyme. Just thinking about the fragrant aroma wafting up makes my mouth water!
- Broiling: Broiling is an indoor method that mimics grilling. Preheat your broiler, season the steak, and place it on a broiler pan or rack. Cook the steak a few inches from the broiler element, turning it once, until it reaches the desired doneness.
- Reverse Searing: This method involves slow-cooking the steak in an oven at a low temperature first, followed by a quick sear in a hot pan. It results in a consistent doneness throughout the steak and a flavorful crust.
- Sous Vide: Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing the steak and immersing it in a water bath at a precise temperature. Finish by searing the steak briefly in a hot pan or on the grill for a perfect edge-to-edge medium-rare or your desired doneness.
- Smoking: Smoking imparts a distinct smoky flavor to the steak. Smoke at a low temperature until the steak reaches the desired internal temperature, and then sear it briefly to create a crust.
- Braising: Braising is ideal for tougher cuts like short ribs or chuck steaks. Slow-cook the steak in a flavorful liquid (often with vegetables and aromatics) until it becomes tender and delicious.
- Stir-Frying: For thin cuts like skirt or flank steak, stir-frying can be a quick and tasty option. Slice the steak thinly and stir-fry it with vegetables and a flavorful sauce in a hot wok or skillet.
- Pan-Roasting: Pan-roasting combines searing in a hot skillet and finishing in the oven. It’s great for thicker cuts like ribeye or filet mignon. Sear the steak on both sides in a skillet and transfer it to the oven to finish cooking.
- Using a Grill Pan: When you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, a grill pan on the stovetop can create grill-like sear marks and flavors. Preheat the grill pan, oil it, and cook the steak as you would on an outdoor grill.
The best cooking method for your steak depends on the cut, your equipment, and your personal preference for doneness and flavor.
Achieving your desired level of doneness is crucial for a juicy steak. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. For a perfectly cooked steak, aim for these temperatures:
- Rare (120-130°F or 49-54°C): A rare steak is characterized by a cool, red center. The exterior has a deep sear, while the interior remains soft and cool to the touch. The juices are abundant.
- Medium Rare (130-135°F or 54-57°C): A medium-rare steak has a warm, red-pink center. The exterior is nicely seared, and the steak is slightly firm but still yielding to the touch. It’s often considered the ideal doneness for many steak enthusiasts.
- Medium (135-145°F or 57-63°C): A medium steak features a warm, pink center that’s a shade closer to pinkish-brown than medium rare. The exterior has a good sear, and the steak is firmer to the touch.
- Medium Well (145-155°F or 63-68°C): A medium-well steak has a warm, mostly brownish-pink center with a hint of pink. The exterior is well-seared, and the steak is noticeably firmer to the touch.
- Well Done (160°F or 71°C and above): A well-done steak is uniformly brown throughout and has no visible pink. The exterior is deeply seared, and the steak is quite firm. It can sometimes be drier than steaks cooked to lower temperatures.
don’t skip out on Flavorful Butters:
Not putting butter on your finished steak is like not putting butter on your baked potato! And, to take your flavor up a notch, add flavor to your butter! Enhance your steak’s richness with delicious compound butter. Flavored butters can take a perfectly cooked steak to the next level, just like the ones you might find at upscale steakhouses like Fleming’s. Here are ten delicious flavored butters to consider for your steaks:
Garlic Herb Butter: This classic flavored butter combines softened butter with minced garlic, fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, and chives), and a squeeze of lemon juice. It adds a zesty, herbaceous kick to your steak while enhancing its richness.
Blue Cheese Butter: Create a creamy and tangy blue cheese butter by mixing softened butter with crumbled blue cheese, a pinch of salt, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. It’s perfect for topping a hot steak, allowing the cheese to melt and create a luxurious sauce.
Truffle Butter: Elevate your steak with the earthy, decadent aroma of truffle butter. Blend softened butter with truffle oil or finely minced truffle, a pinch of salt, and chopped fresh chives. The truffle aroma pairs wonderfully with a perfectly seared steak.
Peppercorn Butter: For a bold and peppery kick, make peppercorn butter by combining softened butter with crushed black peppercorns, finely chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley or thyme), and a touch of cognac or brandy. It adds depth and complexity to your steak’s flavor.
Herb and Shallot Butter: This flavorful butter features a combination of minced shallots, fresh herbs (like chives, tarragon, and parsley), and a bit of lemon zest. Blend these ingredients with softened butter for a well-rounded, aromatic topping for your steak.
Chardonnay Butter: Create a luxurious Chardonnay butter by reducing Chardonnay wine in a saucepan until it’s syrupy, then letting it cool. Blend this reduction into softened butter along with a pinch of salt and a touch of fresh lemon zest. The wine imparts a subtle, fruity depth to your steak.
Red Wine Butter: Craft a rich Red Wine butter by reducing a robust red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) until it thickens. Let it cool and then mix it into softened butter along with minced shallots and a pinch of salt. This butter adds a deep, wine-infused flavor to your steak.
Café de Paris Butter: This French-inspired butter is a flavor bomb, combining minced garlic, shallots, capers, anchovies, Dijon mustard, and a blend of fresh herbs like tarragon, chervil, and chives. Mix these ingredients with softened butter for a complex, herbaceous sauce.
Balsamic Reduction Butter: Make a sweet and tangy Balsamic Reduction butter by reducing balsamic vinegar until it thickens and then letting it cool. Blend this reduction into softened butter, and you’ll have a delightful, slightly sweet sauce to complement your steak.
Cilantro Lime Butter: Create a zesty Cilantro Lime butter by mixing softened butter with freshly chopped cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt. It adds a refreshing, citrusy element to your steak.
To use these flavored butters, simply shape them into a log or scoop and refrigerate until firm. When your steak is hot off the grill or pan, place a pat of the flavored butter on top of your steak and watch the melted butter create a luscious sauce. The richness and depth of flavor these butters provide will elevate your steak to a gourmet level, reminiscent of a fine dining experience.
By focusing on the best herbs for steak, the perfect seasoning, and a masterful cooking technique, you can create your favorite steak that rivals even the top fine-dining restaurants. The flavorful herbs, fragrant aromas, and delicious compound butters take your favorite cut of beef to the next level, creating a memorable dining experience for your taste buds – and your guests!
Which herbs go well with steak?
- Rosemary: A classic choice, offering a robust, earthy flavor.
- Thyme: Subtle and slightly sweet, it’s perfect for enhancing the steak’s natural flavors.
- Garlic: Not an herb, but a must-mention for its ability to complement steak beautifully.
- Oregano: Adds a slightly bitter, peppery taste.
- Sage: A more daring choice, bringing a pine-like, aromatic essence.
Is rosemary or thyme better for steak?
- Rosemary: Ideal for grilling or roasting, its strong flavor stands up well to high heat.
- Thyme: Best for a gentler, more nuanced flavor, especially when pan-searing.
🔥 Pro Tip: Why choose? Combine them for a harmonious blend!
What herbs are good to baste steak?
- Butter with Thyme: Classic and infallible, it adds a rich, aromatic glaze.
- Rosemary with Garlic: Provides a robust, aromatic kick.
- Sage with Butter: For a slightly more sophisticated, earthy note.
What is the best seasoning for steak before cooking?
- Salt: A generous seasoning of coarse salt is essential.
- Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper for that spicy edge.
- Garlic Powder: For a hint of garlicky goodness.
- Paprika: Adds a touch of sweetness and color.
- A touch of brown sugar: For a subtle caramelized crust (optional but amazing).
What do chefs season steak with?
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: The classic, tried and true combination.
- Custom Herb Blends: Many chefs create their unique mixes, often including herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
- Garlic (fresh or powdered): For a punch of flavor.
- Mustard Powder or Paste: For a tangy twist.
- High-Quality Olive Oil: To tie all the flavors together and add a bit of moisture.
Try our delicious compound butter and get out there and cook some awesome steak!
herb garlic compound steak butterCourse: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This aromatic herb garlic compound butter, bursting with the flavors of fresh herbs and minced garlic, is the perfect finishing touch for steak.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, thyme, or rosemary), finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
- Soften the Butter: Take the unsalted butter out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until it’s soft and easy to work with. You want it to be soft but not melted.
- Prepare the Garlic and Herbs: Finely mince the garlic cloves, and chop the fresh herbs finely. You can use a combination of herbs or choose one that complements your dish. Common choices include parsley, chives, thyme, or rosemary.
- Mix the Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, minced garlic, chopped herbs, and optional lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Blend Thoroughly: Use a fork or a spatula to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Make sure the garlic and herbs are evenly distributed throughout the butter.
- Form into a Log: Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your countertop, and place the butter mixture in the center. Shape it into a log or roll using the plastic wrap. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap to seal the compound butter.
- Chill or Use Immediately: You can either chill the herb garlic compound butter in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm it up or use it immediately. Chilling will allow the flavors to meld even more.
- Serving: When you’re ready to use the compound butter, slice off rounds or chunks as needed and place them on top of grilled meats, vegetables, or any dish you want to add extra flavor to. The butter will melt and infuse your food with the delicious garlic and herb flavors.
- Storage: If you have leftover compound butter, store it in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for longer-term storage. You can also freeze individual portions in an airtight container for easy use.
- To customize your compound butter, experiment with your favorite herbs and spices to suit your taste and the dishes you plan to serve it with!
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