12 Things You Shouldn't Serve With Steak

When it comes to what to serve with steak, we're happy to report that you've got a lot of great choices. Just take a look at any steakhouse menu and you'll see the sundry options you have available to create a steak dinner that's utterly delicious and all your own. The thing is, while some side dishes featured on menus pair impeccably with steak, there are also some that simply fall flat. That's not all — you can also fall prey to making a faux pas or two when dishing up steak to guests you're entertaining at home if you aren't selective with your steak accompaniments.

Curious about which steak pairings make us writhe in discomfort? From drinks to side dishes and even condiments, we've rounded up some of our least favorite steak pairings to grace your plate. While you'll undoubtedly disagree with us on some of these, we think you'll agree that most simply don't work with a luxurious, high-quality slab of savory beef.

1. Ketchup

Ah, the ole ketchup-on-steak debate. You either love or hate this combo, and which side of the coin you land on is totally up to you. Still, we must say that no matter which opinion you have about this sweet and tomatoey condiment, one thing's for certain, and that is that you should never ... ever ... be caught slathering it on steak in public.

We know, we know — it's your food, your business. And that's still true! However, you should know that putting ketchup on steak is a little frowned upon when it comes to entrees. It's kind of like putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog. You could do it, but you'll have to have tough enough skin to bear the eye-rolls and snickers you'll likely encounter if anyone witnesses you making this regional mistake.

When it comes to steak, you may find that certain condiments, sauces, and pairings help to accentuate its beefy nuances best, but it's best to leave that up to the professionals — and that's even assuming you want to add something to your steak in the first place. Thus, loading your steak down with ketchup at a fine dining establishment isn't recommended unless you want to anger the chef ... even if it does taste really good.

2. Applesauce

We find it hard to believe that some of you out there – according to Reddit — like to take chunks of steak meat and dip it in applesauce. To this, we can only offer one response ... yuck.

We acknowledge there are some meats out there that pair well with apples, for example, apples paired with pork is a common and delicious meal that defies our expectations a bit, but we stand by the fact that applesauce has no place on the adult dinner plate and certainly not anywhere near steak. Besides not enhancing steak flavors, we must say that adding applesauce to virtually any dinner entree is reminiscent of an elementary school lunch. We aren't saying we've never given applesauce a go when eating dinner, but what we are saying is that it isn't usually the most sophisticated pairing to serve with steak, especially when dining at a fancy steakhouse.

Because steak is so rich and heavy, it typically pairs well with lighter options that can help balance everything out. We agree that applesauce is indeed light, but it may be a bit too light — and too sweet — to really enhance the flavors of a savory steak cut.

3. Mustard

Tangy, bitter, and oh-so-bright, serving mustard, whether Dijon, spicy, or yellow, on steak is a foreign concept to most. Though there are some avid mustard devotees out there who are willing to try it, and even Marc Murphy uses the surprise ingredient alongside soy sauce for a steak condiment, we think its zesty flavor definitely works best on hot dogs, burgers, and other meat types. 

Now, does that mean that mustard and steak can never go together? Absolutely not. Actually, adding Dijon mustard to a steak marinade or even a beef stew can really help amplify flavors and give the meat a bit of something "extra" without being too overpowering. But it's important to understand that the addition of mustard to steak in these cases usually happens before the steak is cooked or during the cooking process. As for dishing up steak with a side of mustard after the steak has been served? Well, that's something else entirely. Its slightly sour flavor effect conflicts with the already subtly bitter char some steaks carry, making for an overall pungent and unappetizing flavor experience. We'll pass, sorry Chef.

4. Sweets

When was the last time you thought of sampling a rich and creamy pudding or fresh vanilla yogurt alongside a savory, juicy ribeye? Probably never. The light and distinct taste of sweets just doesn't fare well with some savory options, like steak, for reasons we can't necessarily put our finger on.

Now, we'll admit that there are some nuances to this rule, which we totally get. For one, steak almost always pairs beautifully with a red wine, some of which can be quite sweet. It's also the case that a slightly sweet cocoa rub can bring out some wonderful warm flavors in your finished steak. Those, however, are the exceptions. 

There are also people who like to saddle up loaded sweet potatoes alongside steak. These sweet potatoes often come heaped with brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, marshmallows, and, dare we say, additional honey to make things almost offensively sugary. But while options like loaded sweet potatoes may be available on your local steakhouse menu, it doesn't necessarily mean that option goes perfectly with steak — does it?

In our opinion, it's best to enjoy dessert-style flavors after a rich, savory, and traditional meal rather than with it. Syrupy sweet tastes have no place on or alongside our steak.

5. Mac and cheese

Now, this one is one of those pairings we just might be willing to bend the rules for. Mac and cheese is technically a bit too rich to offer up with steak. Sure, its melty creamy and deliciousness could be paired with virtually anything and still float our boat, but when it comes to what would actually enhance the flavors and nuances of the meat, mac and cheese isn't exactly the best choice.

Instead of something heavy, thick, and creamy like mac and cheese, steak typically pairs best with the likes of a light potato, salad, asparagus, and perhaps a nice glass of red wine. Mac and cheese, on the other hand, though featured on many steakhouse menus, may prove a bit too much in the flavor department, given its hearty texture and buttery rich taste. Having said this, we're willing to confess that though a blunder in the world of fine dining, this can be an awesome comfort food side dish if aren't afraid of receiving a couple of weird looks. It's also a very filling option when you're ravenously hungry.

Listen, we mourn the fact that mac and cheese isn't a stellar option with steak as much as you do. But if we're honest, this side dish just isn't going to make the cut in terms of regality ... and that, friends, is a real shame.

6. Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce on steak? Believe it or not, some love it, and no, we aren't kidding. Although tomato sauce could technically be seen as an upgrade to ketchup, we still aren't willing to give it the green light. Hey, if the silky smooth goodness of ketchup isn't deemed appropriate for serving atop a steak, what makes you think a can of Hunt's tomato sauce is? We rest our case.

Tomato sauce is typically too bitter and acidic on its own without a little help from a few seasonings and a dash of sugar. In addition, the taste of tomato sauce tends to be bland and flavorless when used straight out of the can. Thus, we fail to understand how tomato sauce could, in any way, be deemed an acceptable dipping for a tender steak. We suppose if there's nothing else in your pantry and you just can't bear to eat your steak on its lonesome, then it's something you could try. But even then, we'd recommend looking up a few homemade steak sauce recipes before dousing your steak with something we'd traditionally associate with spaghetti. You might just thank us in the end!

7. Pasta

‌Pasta is something that technically could work with steak, but let's be real, it's not as typical of a pairing as chicken and pasta. After all, when was the last time you sampled an Italian steak parmesan doused in marinara off of a steakhouse menu? We, for one, have never heard of such a thing. And though you might find garlic and herb chicken served atop a bed of angel hair pasta, it's much rarer to find steak served in a similar fashion.

Are we saying this would be totally gross? Not at all. Actually, depending on the cut and seasoning on your steak as well as the type of pasta you use, it could actually taste quite good. Not to mention there are comfort dishes out there, like beef stroganoff, that would seemingly make this combination a-okay. Still, if you plan on serving a tender and juicy ribeye with herbed linguini pasta to dinner guests, just know you may get weird stares and uncomfortable smiles at the sight of such a combination. Though it may technically taste okay, the two just aren't commonly associated with one another, which ultimately makes for an awkwardly-paired entree unfit for a fine dining experience. 

8. Milk

Remember when we spoke about enjoying lighter options with steak over richer food fare? The same applies when pairing a good drink with a beefy steak dinner. Is milk a soothing and satiating option to complement beef? If it can be, it's a new one for us. But as most of us can attest, steak is best served with a light drink. A glass of red wine, whiskey, beer, tonic, or even plain water can do the trick, but thick and creamy milk? Nah, we'd rather save that for cookies.

With that said, you should know that cooking milk in steak, though peculiar, actually isn't such a bad idea. In fact, it's gained a bit of a cult following after the fictional character Charlie Kelly from the popular series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" helped make the dish popular. You basically boil the steak in milk along with seasonings to render an oddly delicious dinner creation, though even this still seems slightly weird in our estimation. Even so, people seem to love it despite it being a uniquely strange flavor mashup.

All in all, when it comes to slurping a glass of milk alongside a juicy steak, know that it isn't too common.  For some, it may even prove an even greater insult to the cow since you are eating its meat while also drinking its milk. Go figure!

9. Fruit

‌It's true that pairing fruit and meat can be tasty in its own right, but when it comes to sampling fruit of any kind with steak, we here at Mashed are going to have to pass. This isn't to say there isn't some amazing fruit chutney or glaze that couldn't possibly win us over; we're sure they're out there. Nevertheless, there is no fruit that comes to mind that would do well on top of (or served alongside) steak.

At this point, some of you out there are probably wondering what ever happened to the theory that lighter options pair best with heavier options. While that is normally true, there's something about the sweet nuance of fruit when paired with the heavy and robust taste of steak that's quite off-putting. Unlike common pork options like the aforementioned pork chops and apples, you probably won't find many steak recipes offered up in quite the same way.

Sorry, fruit lovers. As much as we hate to admit it, fruit just isn't our go-to when it comes to the best items to serve with steak.

10. Beans

Serving beans of any sort with steak is both unconventional and unadvised as their mushy texture and distinct taste are more commonly associated with barbecue and Mexican fare than the finest steakhouse offerings. Nevertheless, we'd be lying if we said we've never sampled a bit of baked beans alongside our chargrilled steak before. Though the combination doesn't taste terribly bad, dishing up this interesting duo to unsuspecting guests may get you that look again ... you know what we're talking about. 

We aren't sure if it's a texture thing or just a general conflict with our taste buds, but something about the duo just doesn't sit right. Still, according to Reddit, there are some out there who apparently see nothing wrong with it. One man states that his wife was shocked at his choice of dinner for the night, which of course, was none other than beans and steak. While most commenters agreed with the original poster's wife that this mashup is definitely strange, for the original poster this dinner selection was totally commonplace growing up. 

Despite the fact that it isn't a great option for steak as a side dish, we do think sampling beans alongside a savory rack of ribs, fried cod, tacos, or even snappy hot dogs is a much better choice. Save your beans for one of these entrees instead!

11. Soup

Yes, you can totally put steak in soup. We know that. But serving soup as a side dish for steak? That would be a no, folks. In all seriousness, although soup is indeed light and therefore would seem to fit the bill for a good steak pairing, the truth is that this kind of side dish simply doesn't work. It could be the savory matched with savory aspect here that causes things to get a bit muddled, especially since many soups already come served with a decent amount of meat in them. 

Having said that, even a cream-based or vegetable-rich soup doesn't seem to quite cut it. Because soups are traditionally served with hearty sandwiches or a nice warm piece of crusted bread, it seems out of the norm to serve up something like a steak as a complementary option. If you want veggies, it might be better to opt for something like a cool salad or steamed broccoli as a more acceptable side dish. These options are more commonly paired with hunks of meat, like steak or chicken breasts, and therefore, would prove better options overall. 

12. Potato chips

Most of the pairings we've reviewed thus far probably seem outlandish, and indeed, many of them are. But when it comes to potato chips, things get a bit confusing and divisive.

As we're sure you'll agree, steak and potatoes are typically a match made in heaven. The quintessential mashed potatoes, steak, and salad setup is all too common. And while matching steak with fries starts to feel less formal, we're willing to guess that most of you have tried it, and, dare we say, loved every bit of it.

So, what could possibly be so wrong about pairing steak with chips? After all, they're potatoes too, right? Indeed, they are. Still, we think that because potato chips are deep-fried and typically associated with casual cuisine, it doesn't quite seem appropriate to take something so common and match it up with something as exquisite as a luscious steak entree. The only exception to this would be a steak sandwich or other casual steak fare, in which case a bag of chips would be totally acceptable. As for enjoying a bag of Lay's with your next T-bone?  No, thanks.