Should you pat steak dry before grilling?

There’s so much conflicting information on what to do with a steak those final moments before it hits the grill. Should you pat steak before grilling being one of them, when should you season a steak being another, sound familiar?

Well you’re not alone. I found an answer that looks right on a forum and then read another one that tells a completely different story. Instead, I started researching what professional chefs do with a steak and then started testing that to see what worked best. Now I think I have perfected the art of grilling a steak.

Hopefully this article will give you a head start to grilling the perfect steak.

Why pat meat dry?

Patting any and all meat dry before cooking, frying or grilling allows for a better crust to seal the moisture in the meat. A better crust will result in a more even cook.

Sealing the meat or formation of the crust is usually done in the earliest part of grilling a steak. The faster meat is sealed the more moisture remains in the meat.

If you didn’t pat meat dry before cooking the moisture on the surface of the meat, would just sit in the bottom of the pan and steam. Destroying the crust and not sealing the meat quick enough. Although this is different when grilling directly over lit coals, wet meat on a grill stops the crust forming quickly to seal the meat.

How to prepare steak for grilling

To best prepare steak, follow these simple steps.

  • remove steak from the refrigerator around 30 minutes before grilling, to allow the meat to warm to room temperature.
  • Fire up the grill while waiting and set the grill as hot as possible.
  • a few moments before grilling pat the steak dry with paper towels, pat away as much of the moisture you can.
  • Season the whole steak with salt and pepper and press gently into the meat. Make sure to get an even coverage.
  • Do not pat the steak dry again or you will remove the seasoning.
  • Place the steak directly over the hot charcoal to sear.

Should you pay steak dry after marinating?

Yes, for 2 reasons, first to seal the steak and create the crust as already mentioned. If marinated long enough the additional flavours should have hopefully penetrated the meat surface.

Second, and the main reason you should consider patting a steak dry after marinating is to stop flair ups on the grill. A Flair up is when oil and fat based marinades drip onto the hot charcoal, a large fire and drastic rise in temperature over the grill follows. A flair up on a BBQ can be dangerous, in simple terms a flair up is a grease fire. Flairs ups can cause the marinade to burn and also add an odd taste to the steak when finished.

It’s not common to marinade a steak and then grill it whole. A good quality steak doesn’t require marinating to add extra flavor, unless grilling for a certain cuisine or using tougher cuts of steak. Mexican food for example, usually a marinated steak would be chopped and fried for food like fajitas. However you wouldn’t use a rib-eye steak for fajitas.

Should you pay steak dry after marinatings

When should you season a steak?

A steak should be seasoned once patted dry and just before it is hits the grill – in my opinion. Steaks can never be over seasoned and you should season very generously with salt. Basically use more salt than you think you need.

Now this is were you will find a lot of conflicting information, some people like to season steaks the night before grilling and keep them refrigerated. Other like to season half an hour before grilling.

I personally don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. However the draw back to seasoning the night before is salt draws moisture. Once all the moisture on the exterior has been soaked up by the salt, it will then draw the moisture from the centre of the steak. Drying the steak before it hits the grill.

What should you season a steak with?

Steaks at a minimum require a very generous helping of salt to season them before grilling. Use coarse grained kosher salt and ground black pepper is the best seasoning mix for steak. SPG can also work well as a seasoning for steak.

Once grilled and rested, some like to add sea salt flakes but if seasoned correctly, there isn’t really a need to add more salt.

Too much salt isn’t good for us, so there isn’t much need to add more to an already salted piece of meat.

Final thoughts

Now you should understand the reasons for patting steak dry before grilling and why you should do it. Experiment with when you season the steak before grilling and see if you can amplify the flavor further. There isn’t much that can beat a delicious correctly cooked steak!