10 Ingredients That Take Your Steak from Good to Great

Steak is good with nothing but a dash of salt and pepper. To make a good steak taste great, try using some of these secret ingredients.

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Cast-iron skillet steak
Taste of Home

We love cooking on the grill, but our favorite way to add flavor to steak is by using in a cast-iron skillet. Once you’ve mastered this simple salt-only steak recipe, branch out with some of our favorite seasoning ingredients. Bonus: You’ll wonder how you managed without this custom branding iron for grilled meats, too.

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Grilled premium rib eye beef steak in the pan, cooking steak in the kitchen on a dark background
Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

Baste with a sprig of rosemary

This is one of those tricks that takes minimal effort but works exceptionally well. Place a sprig of rosemary in the pan with your steak. After the flip, use your tongs to grab the rosemary and mop up the pan juices. Brush it over the steak to infuse each bite with flavorful rosemary oil. By the way, here’s how to cook medium-rare steak the right way.

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Grilled Medium rare steak Ribeye with herb butter on cutting board serving size
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Top steak with compound butter

Many steakhouses make their product taste better by topping it with butter. It works even better if you flavor the butter first. Roasted garlic butter is fantastic, but we also love the more unique combinations that include things like blue cheese. Check out these easy flavored butter recipes to get inspired.

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Savory Steak Rub
Taste of Home

Use a steak rub

Don’t feel like you have to go to the store and buy a premade steak rub. Making spice blends at home allows you to control the salt levels and ingredients—many store-bought rubs contain MSG. The simplest steak rub is salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, but have some fun with recipes like espresso steak rub.

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Spices and herbs

Add smoky or spicy ingredients

Kick things up a notch by rubbing your steak with chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika or ground cumin. These smoky, spicy ingredients add a ton of depth and accentuate the steak’s naturally beefy flavor.

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Chef grinding peppercorns over a raw steak using a long grinder as her prepares he meat for cooking in a restaurant

Keep it simple with freshly cracked black pepper

One of my favorite ways to prepare steak inside is by coating it in coarsely cracked black pepper and making steak au poivre. The combination of the spicy black pepper and the savory steak pan drippings create an unbelievable sauce when simmered with brandy and a splash of heavy whipping cream.

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Closeup ready to eat steak new York beef breeds of black Angus with herbs, garlic and butter on a stone Board. The finished dish for dinner on a dark stone background.

Don’t forget the finishing salt

There are a ton of different salts out there, and each has a specific flavor profile. We’d recommend seasoning the steak with regular kosher salt but finishing it with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Even better if you can find a flavored salt (if you can’t, you can always make your own).

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Sliced steak with couscous and vegetables
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Fresh herbs can make all the difference

A sprinkle of fresh parsley can go a long way to complement the flavors of your steak. Have some fun with this one; you can turn your fresh herbs into chimichurri or gremolata, or mix a few together to create your own blend.

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Rib eye steak with garlic, pepper and red wine
Stepanek Photography/Shutterstock

Rub your steak with garlic

You don’t need a really fancy rub to make your steak taste great. Simply slice a garlic clove in half and rub the cut part over the steak, including the sides. Feel free to toss the garlic in the pan when you cook the steak; it’ll soften and become rich and tender.

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Glass dish with delicious steak in marinade
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Use a flavorful marinade

Steaks with a lot of fat content don’t require marinades, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them! Marinating a steak overnight is a great way to infuse it with extra flavor. Our favorite recipe uses balsamic vinaigrette, ground mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

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Grilled steak Ribeye with herb butter and baby potatoes on white plate on wooden background
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Serve it with complementary flavors

If you don’t want to mess with the flavor of the steak, accentuate its beefiness by serving it with savory, umami-rich flavors. We particularly like using tomatoes, mushrooms, a red wine sauce or caramelized onions. Learn the right technique for caramelizing onions.

Up Next: Learn how to sear a steak in 5 simple steps

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially when she can highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.