When You Pepper Steak Matters More Than You Think

Cooking up a nice juicy steak? Whether you're throwing it on the grill or searing it on the stove top, you'll likely be adding some spices to your favorite cut of beef at some point in the process. However, don't just throw on that salt and pepper whenever. When you pepper the steak in the cooking process matters more than you think.

According to LifeHacker, peppering your steak ahead of cooking can sometimes result in burnt pepper — which is bitter, acrid, and overall not very tasty. If you plan on searing your steak or cooking it over an open flame, then, you'd best stay clear of pepper until later in the cooking process. However, if you plan on cooking your steak over low heat, and you're less likely to burn the spice, you're safe to pepper away ahead of time. Overall, though, if you'd like to really be able to taste your pepper's unique flavor profile, you should generally hold off on adding it until after your steak is completely cooked.

What type of pepper should you use on steak?

Yet, the final result relies not only on when you add your pepper. You also need to consider what kind of pepper you use on your steak. Is traditional black pepper enough? Should you branch out and try white peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns? According to the Ask Culinary thread on Reddit, pepper choice comes down, partially, to personal preference, but overall, fresh, coarse-ground black pepper reigns supreme.

One thing to keep in mind? "The coarser the grind the more intense that charred pepper flavor will tend to be. If you don't like that flavor you can ... try white pepper sometime [for a] similar but different flavor. Generally it's super finely ground, and it won't burn like black pepper," one Redditor noted.

If you cook steak frequently, you may want to invest in a pepper grinder with adjustable settings that allow you to experiment with different textures to find the best peppery fit for your palate.