Dry-brining a steak is a great method for tenderizing it without going through the long process of soaking it in a wet-brine solution. A good steak should require little else other than fat, salt and pepper. Avoid cooking over extremely high heat for the most tender results.

Dry-Brined Steak

  • 1 steak, 8 to 12 oz and 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter
  • Plant-based oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, avocado or grapeseed

Dry brine steak close

Place steak on a rimmed dish and season generously with kosher salt on both sides – enough for a clear layer, with only a bit of meat showing through on each side. Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. If refrigerating, keep the steak uncovered to allow air to circulate and pass over the meat, pulling moisture off the surface. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and allow it to rest on the counter 30 minutes before cooking.

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When you’re ready to cook the steak, heat a heavy-bottomed pan of cast iron, cast steel or stainless steel over medium heat. Add at least 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, or enough butter and oil in equal amounts to create a thin layer of fat across the bottom of the pan.

While the pan heats and the fats meld, dab both sides of the steak with paper towels to remove as much surface moisture and salt as possible. Re-season the steak with salt and black pepper. Place the steak into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, monitoring the heat and reducing it to medium-low if the steak is burning or if the pan smokes too much. Flip the steak and cook for at least an additional 4 minutes on the other side. As a general rule, for medium-rare doneness, cook the steak for 4 minutes per inch of thickness, per side.

Dry brine steak cooking

After 4 minutes, insert a probe thermometer into the side of the steak, pushing it towards the middle. Do not insert the thermometer through the top of the steak, as doing so often produces an inaccurate temperature reading. Internal temperature can help you determine your preferred level of doneness.

  • Rare: Cook to an internal temperature of 125 ° F
  • Medium-rare: 130-135 ° F
  • Medium: 135-140 ° F
  • Medium-well: 140-145 ° F
  • Well-done: 155 ° F

When the steak has cooked to the appropriate internal temperature, remove it from the pan and place it on a cutting board to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting or serving. Season with more flaky salt.


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