Freezing Soaked Beans
Chef's Table - in the Middle of the Atlantic!

Salting Meat Before Cooking

I love grilled steak but am never sure if I should salt it before putting it on the grill.  I have heard that salting the meat before cooking it will cause the juices to leak out of it.  Is that true?  When is the correct time to salt a steak you are going to grill?

Some people prefer to salt their meat after it has been seared, exactly because of your concerns.

There is some truth to the comment that if you salt meat before cooking it that it will lose some of its juices, but is that necessarily bad?  The deep rich flavor of a grilled streak comes largely from a chemical change called the Maillard Reaction (see Browning Meat for Slow Cooker) that occurs when the natural sugars and proteins in meat are heated  together.  If you salt meat shortly before cooking, the salt will draw out some of the juices, which are rich in those sugars and proteins, onto the surface.  Then, when you grill the meat, you will get even better browning and more flavor.

If, however, you leave the salted meat sit, you will see a puddle of juices collect.  This is because of a process called osmosis that moves water from inside the cells to outside.  But an interesting thing will happen if you wait a bit longer.  The osmotic effect will reverse as the salt becomes diluted, and the liquid starts to be absorbed again.  This reversal will start in about 20 or 30 minutes.  While not all of the juices will be reabsorbed, in effect what you get is a quick brining that penetrates the outer surface of the meat.

Now, if you grill the meat, it won't be so dried out from losing liquid, but the salt will be in the meat rather than on the surface.

The worst case scenario is salting the meat and then leaving it sit for 5 or 10 minutes.   Then both juices from the meat and most of the salt will be left behind on the plate.

I suggest you try experimenting with salting the meat shortly before cooking and waiting just until it gets a slight sheen of liquid on the surface, compared to leaving the meat sit for 30 minutes or so until some of the juices are reabsorbed.  See which method you prefer.

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Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered.
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward


Whew, All Righty Then - I'll give it a try
Thank You - Debbie

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