When should I salt my steak?

Should I season my steak before grilling? If so, when is the best time? Opinions vary but one thing is for sure: your steak should have a juicy and crispy crust on the outside and a tender center. To achieve this, salting steak can be a secret weapon for a perfectly seared and tender steak. For Otto, there are three ideal times to salt your steak.

3 ideal moments for salting steak

  1. 40 minutes before grilling
  2. Just before grilling
  3. After grilling

Why not any other time?

If you salt your steak and let the meat absorb the salt for less than 10 minutes, the salt just starts to pull out meat juices from the meat through the process of osmosis but doesn’t have time to reabsorb them. This cause the meat to lose moisture and you will have a more difficult time achieving the perfectly crispy, desired crust. When salting steak, it takes at least 40 minutes until all the meat juices have been expelled and then reabsorbed by the meat. We don’t recommend salting while you’re grilling because the herbs and salt you add might just fall off and stick to your grill. That means more cleanup later.

How to salt steak perfectly every time

1. At least 40 minutes before grilling

The salt dissolves into a brine that breaks down the muscle fibers and is absorbed by the meat. Because of osmosis, the meat juices leave the meat and mix with the marinade and salt before being absorbed again. This makes for an explosive meat flavor. You can easily enjoy a juicy cut of beef with only salting the steak beforehand, but if you are interested in a little more flavor, Otto teaches how to marinade your steak right every time.

2. Just before grilling

Season your steak generously with salt just before putting it on the grill. The salt stays on the surface of the meat without dissolving and the meat juices stay within the muscle fibers for a juicy steak. By immediately grilling the steak at a very high temperature, the steak forms an evenly distributed and crispy brown crust.

3. After grilling

This isn’t the purist approach. If you have a really good cut, you might not even need a lot of seasoning to enjoy pure meat snack delight. You can go ahead and sear the steak without salting it at all beforehand. What’s a good cut of steak? Otto explains all 12 cuts of steak with his steak chart that you can find at your local butcher. Then, if you so desire it after your grill session, you can still season it to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Beef cuts steak cuts
Check out Otto’s steak cut guide


The moral of the story

It is a question of taste and time when you salt your steak, as well how long you cook your steak. And, as always with grilling, a little bit of experience. Don’t forget to time your grilling and use a thermometer for the perfect degree of doneness. If you over cook your steak, not even the right amount of salt will save your steak!

The perfect way to salt your steak:

If you have the time, try to season your steak at least 40 minutes before grilling it and you will be thanking your past self that you did. Remember: 40 minutes is key!

perfectly grilled steak