steak cut

Dry Rub Bourbon Steak

The first time I made steak with bourbon I neglected to reduce the heat on my gas range before pouring in the alcohol. As the flames exploded around the steak I grabbed the pan, pulled it off the range and dropped to a squat, hoping to avoid burning my kitchen ceiling! By extending the distance between the ceiling and the licking flames we were able to laugh once the flames went out, the smoke detector quieted — and my heart stopped pounding!! Just another of those mistakes you make only once.


I like to leave the steak on the heat long enough for a nice crust to form but don’t want to over-cook the steak. For this reason I always ask my butcher to cut these steaks 1 1/4″ thick rather than the normal 1/2-3/4″ that they would otherwise be.

The dry rub can be made in advance and kept in an airtight jar in a cupboard for up to three months. I usually triple the recipe so I always have it on hand. I make it without the hot paprika and add it in depending on who’s joining us for dinner.

steak rub 3

steak rub mixed

steak rawsteak w rub 2

steak in pan

steak in pan 4Turn the steak over. Cook another 5 minutes.

steak in pan 5Reduce the heat to low and add 1/4 cup Bourbon. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and cook for 1 minute.

steak finished


4 tbsp Sweet Paprika

1 tbsp Ground Cumin

1 tbsp dry Thyme

1 tbsp dry Oregano

1 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice

9 tbsp (equivalent to 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) Montreal Steak Seasoning, by McCormick

1 tbsp Barbecue Spice Rub (I use one from Spice Trader, but any brand should be a fine substitution)

1/4 tsp Hot Paprika — ONLY use this if you like heat, otherwise omit.

3 tbsp Olive Oil — 1/2 tbsp to rub on steak, 2 tbsp for cooking pan, 1/2 tbsp for cooking onions

2-3 Rib Steaks, bone in, cut 1 1/2″ thick

1/4 cup Bourbon

1 large onion, sliced length-wise, stem-end to root-end, creating uniform pieces*

Combine all the herbs and spices in a bowl. If you’re not using them right away, transfer to a glass mason-type jar.

Brush the steaks with 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

Generously sprinkle both sides of the steak with the spice mixture. Allow the meat to sit out on the counter for 60 minutes — this will bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Heat pan on high. (Be sure to have your fan on high, there will be smoke during the cooking!) Add 2 tbsp olive oil. When the oil shimmers add the steaks to the pan.

Cook the steaks for 5 minutes, try not to move them around. Note: If your steak is thinner than 1 1/4″ reduce your cooking time to 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how you like your meat cooked.

Turn the steak over and cook another 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the Bourbon. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Transfer steak to a large serving platter and pour the pan juices on the meat. Tent lightly with tinfoil and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Resting allows the juices time to redistribute through out the meat, otherwise all the juices will be near the surface and drain out when you make the first cut, leaving a dry, tough steak.

steak onionsWhile the steak is resting, add 1/2 tbsp olive oil to the pan and toss in the cut onion. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring every minute or so, until the onion just starts to soften. The onions will pick up all the flavours remaining from the spices and bourbon and steak — basically, we’re using the onion to deglazing the pan.

steak on table 2

*Here is a link to an informative video made by Fine Cooking, demonstrating options for cutting onions. How to Slice and Dice a Onion

4 thoughts on “Dry Rub Bourbon Steak

    1. susan Post author

      Thanks! Cooking the steak this way is a terrific alternative to standing outside at a barbecue — especially in this frigid weather!


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