Also known as cowboy rub, this coffee rub for steak combines the bold, rich flavor of coffee with a blend of sweet and smoky spices. It’s a simple way to add tons of flavor to any cut of steak, transforming it into a culinary masterpiece.
- Natural meat tenderizer. In addition to adding flavor to your steak, this espresso-based rub acts as a natural meat tenderizer!
- Affordable. Instead of spending big bucks on gourmet spice blends, make your own from common pantry ingredients.
- Keeps well. This steak rub can be stored in an airtight container for future use, making it a convenient recipe to have on hand.
Steak Night Just Got Better
It’s not much of a secret that I love drinking coffee, but did you know that you can also cook with it?
I was beyond excited when I stumbled upon the coffee marinated churrasco steak with passionfruit puree when we went to Jose Andres’ Bazaar on a trip to Miami last summer.
The steak was incredibly tender and the coffee rub seasoning gave it a delicious crust that had the perfect balance of earthy, sweet, bitter, and smoky flavors.
I knew I had to recreate it at home.
After experimenting with different blends of spices, I finally landed on a combination that I love, and that’s versatile enough to use on any cut of beef, from New York strip steak or ribeye to a flank steak or even a burger burger. It’s a great way to that your steak game to the next level.
Fire up your grill and let’s get cooking!
Ingredients you’ll need:
Instant espresso. A lot of coffee rubbed steak recipes use coffee grounds, which taste great but can be a little gritty. Instead, I use instant espresso, which dissolves completely while infusing the steak with it’s rich flavor. You can also use instant coffee granules, but I find espresso to be much more versatile and it’s a useful ingredient to keep on hand. Finely ground coffee beans also work in a pinch.
Chipotle chili pepper. Chipotles are made from smoked jalapeno peppers, so they add a smoky flavor in addition to a mild heat. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, you can use your favorite chili powder. Add a pinch of smoked paprika if you want a smokier flavor!
Brown sugar. Brown sugar helps balance the spicy peppers and bitter espresso, and it encourages the outside of the steak to form a delicious caramelized crust.
Kosher salt and Black pepper.
How to make and use it
- Mix the ingredients together in a bowl, bag, or jar.
- Spread a thin layer of the dry rub all over your meat.
- For the best results, let the espresso rub steaks sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before cooking it. This will give the spice rub a chance to penetrate the meat, tenderizing it and adding flavor, while the salt works to pull out moisture.You can also refrigerate the rubbed steaks for up to 24 hours before cooking. Again, I recommend bringing them to room temp before cooking them for the best results.
- Let the steak rest after cooking and before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. As a rule of thumb, I let it rest loosely tented under foil for the same amount of time that it cooked for.
Frequently asked questions
It will add a rich earthy taste to your steaks along with subtle sweet and spicy notes. You can taste the coffee, but it isn’t super strong. The meat itself is still the predominant flavor!
You can store this coffee rub in an airtight container, like a mason jar or a ziplock bag, at room temperature.
This dry rub has a big, bold flavor so I like to pair it with bold steaks like flank steak, ribeye, or strip steaks. It would also work on a brisket or standing rib roast. Skip this rub if you’re making something more delicate like a filet mignon, since it can be overpowering.
It’s also great on bone-in pork chops!
Coffee is acidic, and the acids help break down tough fibers. The longer it sits, the more tender your steak will be, which is why I recommend prepping your steak about 30 minutes before cooking it.
Coffee rubbed steaks are amazing on the grill, but you can also cook them on the stove or in the oven. Here’s how I make perfectly seared steaks.
Other recipes you might like:
- Air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwiches
- Guava Barbecue Sauce
- Homemade teriyaki sauce
- Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas with Mushrooms + Jalapenos
- Easy Sheet Pan Cheesesteak Sandwiches
- 20 Easy Marinade Ideas
3-Ingredient Coffee Rub for Steak
- 3 Tablespoons instant espresso
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons pepper
- 1 Tablespoons ground chipotle chili pepper
- Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small bowl.