Dry Brine Steak over open fire

How and Why to Dry Brine Steak

Dry Brine Steak over open fire


Ever wondered how to make your steak taste even better? The answer is a dry brine steak.

There’s a super simple trick called dry brining that can make a huge difference. Once I tried it, I wouldn’t cook a steak any other way!

Unlike soaking your steak in a saltwater mix (that’s a wet brine), dry brining just means sprinkling some salt right on the meat.

This little step is a game-changer. It makes the steak tastier, gives it a fantastic crust, and helps it stay juicy.

If you’re ready to step up your steak game, stick around. We’re diving into the what, why, and how of making your steak awesome with just a bit of salt.

Dry brine steak

What is Dry Brining?

Dry brining sounds fancy, but it’s pretty straightforward.

You take some kosher salt (it’s coarser than regular table salt, so it’s not too harsh) and sprinkle it all over your steak. Then, you just let it sit. Most people put it in the fridge on a rack so air can get around it.

The salt pulls a little moisture out of the steak at first, but then the steak sucks it back up, bringing the salt along with it. This process flavours the meat from the inside out, and it doesn’t make it watery like wet brining can.

Pat dry a dry brine steak

Why Dry Brine Your Steak?

So, why go through the trouble of dry brining your steak? First off, it’s not much trouble at all. All you need is some salt and time. This method does wonders for your steak in several ways:

  1. Taste and Texture: The salt gets right into the steak, making every bite super flavorful. It also breaks down some of the meat fibres, making the steak tender and juicy.

  2. Perfect Sear: Because the outside of the steak dries out a bit in the fridge, it browns beautifully when you cook it. This gives you that amazing crust that’s crispy and full of flavour. Be sure to pat dry the steak before cooking to get that great crust.

  3. It Works with Everything: No matter how you like to cook your steak – on the grill, in a pan, or even with fancy methods like sous vide – dry brining makes it better. It helps the steak hold onto its juices, so it comes out perfect every time.

  4. Easy Seasoning: With dry brining, you’re less likely to end up with a steak that’s too salty or too bland. The salt spreads evenly, seasoning the meat just right.

  5. Safe and Sound: Letting the steak sit in the fridge not only flavours it but also helps keep it safe to eat. The salt and the air drying the surface can keep any unwanted bacterial growth at bay.

Salting steak for dry brining

In short, dry brining your steak is like a secret weapon. It’s easy, but it makes a huge difference in making your steak tender, juicy, and full of flavour.

Plus, you get that awesome crust that everyone loves. It’s a simple trick that can turn a good meal into a great one. Give it a try, and see just how delicious your steak can be!

Why you should use Kosher Salt for Dry Brining

Okay, so we’ve talked about dry brining steak with salt, but why kosher salt specifically?

Well, it’s all about the size and shape. Kosher salt has bigger, coarser grains than regular table salt. This doesn’t just make it easier to sprinkle evenly; it also isn’t as harsh, so you don’t end up with a steak that tastes like the ocean.

Think of it this way: when you use kosher salt, it’s like laying down a bunch of tiny flavor pebbles all over your steak. They do their job of pulling moisture out and getting those tasty juices back in without going overboard.

Plus, kosher salt doesn’t have the additives that table salt does, so all you’re getting is the clean, pure taste of salt to boost your steak’s flavor.

In short, kosher salt is the best addition to your steak, it is often the only seasoning used on many great tasting steaks.

Dry brine steak wtih kosher salt

How to Dry Brine Steak: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to try dry brining? Here’s how to do it, step by step:

  1. Pick Your Steak: Start with a good piece of meat. This method works with any steak, but it’s especially great for thicker cuts.

  2. Season with Kosher Salt: Take your kosher salt and sprinkle it all over your steak. Don’t be shy; cover every inch, but don’t pile it on. You’re aiming for a light, even coating.

  3. Let It Rest: Place your salted steak on a wire rack over a baking sheet. This setup lets air circulate the steak, drying the surface for a better sear later. Pop it in the fridge. For a quick brine, an hour will do, but for the best flavour, leave it overnight.

  4. Cook It Up: When you’re ready to cook, just take the steak out of the fridge. There’s no need to rinse it; just pat it dry with paper towels. Then cook it however you like. The salt has already done its magic, so it’s time to get that perfect sear.

Dry brine steak with rosemary and chilis

Tips for Perfectly Dry Brined Steaks

To make sure your dry-brined steak turns out amazing, keep these tips in mind:

  • Timing is Key: If you can, give your steak a full night in the fridge after salting it. This gives the salt plenty of time to work its way into the meat, making it even more flavorful and tender.

  • Don’t Rinse, Just Pat: After brining, you might think you need to rinse off the salt, but don’t. Just pat the steak dry. Rinsing would wash away all the flavour you’ve just added.

  • Heat Matters: For the best sear, make sure your pan, grill, or whatever you’re using is nice and hot before the steak touches it. This gives you that crust we’ve been talking about.

  • Let It Rest: After cooking, give your steak a little break before you cut into it. A few minutes of resting lets the juices redistribute, so every bite is as juicy as can be. Use this time to clean your pan.

  • Experiment: Once you’ve got the hang of dry brining with just salt, feel free to throw in some other seasonings like black pepper or garlic powder. Just remember, the salt is the star, so it should always go on first.

Steak held up on a skewer

And there you have it! With kosher salt, a little time, and these tips, you’re well on your way to making the best steak ever. Dry brining might just become your new favourite kitchen trick.

Dry brined steak on a serving platter

Serving Suggestions for Dry Brined Steaks

Now that you know how to dry brine and why it’s one of the best ways to prepare your steak, let’s explore some great pairing suggestions for your juicy, tender steak. Here are some ideas to make your dry-brined steaks shine:

Sliced steak
  • Keep it Classic: There’s nothing wrong with the classics. Serve your steak with a side of mashed potatoes or crispy fries and some steamed vegetables for a meal that never disappoints.

  • Go Green: A fresh, crisp salad with a tangy vinaigrette can balance the richness of the steak beautifully. Think arugula, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cheese.

  • Grain Power: Quinoa, rice, or farro can be great companions to your steak. They’re perfect for soaking up any juices and can be flavoured in countless ways to match your meal.

  • Sauce it Up: While your steak will be super flavorful on its own, a good sauce can take it to the next level. Try a simple chimichurri, a creamy peppercorn sauce, or even a bit of compound butter melting on top.

  • Wine Pairing: A glass of red wine and steak is a match made in heaven. Look for something robust like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah to complement the meaty flavours.

Steak on a serving platter

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dry-brine a frozen steak?

It’s best to thaw your steak first. Dry brining works by the salt interacting with the meat’s surface and moisture, which doesn’t happen effectively if the steak is frozen.

How long can I leave a steak to dry brine?

Overnight is ideal, but even an hour can make a difference. Just don’t leave it for more than 24 hours, as the meat might start to get too salty.

Can I reuse the salt from dry brining?

No, it’s best to toss it out. The salt has drawn out moisture and flavours from the steak, so it’s done its job and shouldn’t be reused.

Will dry brining make my steak too salty?

Not if you follow the steps correctly. The key is using the right amount of kosher salt and letting the steak brine for the right amount of time.

Cooked steak with peppercorn sauce


Dry brining is a simple technique that can elevate your steak from good to great with just a bit of salt and some time. For a juicier and more flavorful cut, a steak dry brine is your go-to method before cooking.

Whether you’re a kitchen newbie or a seasoned chef, mastering dry brining can help you cook up steaks that are juicy, tender, and packed with flavour. Remember, the best dishes are made with love and a touch of culinary know-how—dry brining your steak is a perfect example of this. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more tips and tricks to keep making delicious meals in your kitchen!

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