The Flavorful Secret To Texas Roadhouse Steak Sauce

While steak sauce isn't as popular as it once was, there are still plenty of devotees who love nothing more than dousing common steak cuts like T-bones and filet mignons in the savory, tangy condiment. Texas Roadhouse, the second-largest steakhouse chain in America (and No. 5 in our worst-to-best ranking of U.S. steakhouse chains), also has its die-hard fans — especially of the chain's popular fruit-based sauces. Smoky Roadhouse Gold gets its citrusy sweetness from apple butter and lime juice. Then there's the casual Southwestern-themed restaurant's classic steak sauce, which is just as much of a hit thanks to its unique combination of ingredients.


Besides what you'd expect, like tomato paste and distilled vinegar, the Texas Roadhouse version of steak sauce also contains tamarind extract and raisin paste. While there are other steak sauces that use either tamarind extract or raisin paste – Peter Luger's Old Fashioned Sauce in the first category and A.1. Sauce in the second — the combination of both these ingredients in one sauce is much less common.

What tamarind brings to Texas Roadhouse's steak sauce

Tamarind, which is also found in the beloved condiment Worcestershire sauce, is a tropical fruit with a sweetly sour flavor profile. It looks sort of like a vanilla bean pod with a pulpy interior, is a versatile ingredient and takes center stage in a number of Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes, from pad Thai to chutneys, and it even makes an appearance in certain drinks, like Mexico's agua de tamarindo. The reason home cooks and brands like Texas Roadhouse use it in their steak sauces is it adds two important elements: sweetness and acidity.


A touch of sweetness may enhance the savory umami flavor in the steak and improve its mouthfeel. The acidity helps balance out the rest of the flavors. Texas Roadhouse's classic steak sauce uses tamarind extract, which as it sounds, is intensely concentrated, upping this tropical fruit's profile in the sauce. The company then goes further than many others by adding another kind of concentrated fruit in the form of dried grapes, which lend its classic steak sauce an even more nuanced taste.

Raisin paste raises the bar for steak sauce

Raisin paste, as it sounds, is simply raisins that have been blended up into a thick paste. It's been an ingredient in steak sauces since at least the 1820s, but back then it was more about covering up the taste of meat that was starting to turn in a time before mechanical refrigeration than anything else. Today, the reason for including this ingredient is to add natural sweetness and a deeper flavor. Raisin paste also gives the sauce a dark color and a touch of stickiness that helps it adhere to the steak.


Texas Roadhouse — which, unlike the name might suggest, actually began life in Clarksville, Indiana, in 1993, and not in Texas — offers its sauces, including the classic steak sauce with tamarind extract and raisin paste, both in-house and at grocery stores. While purists might scoff at saucing steak, for those who love a dollop of tangy-sweet flavor on their beef, Texas Roadhouse offers a fairly distinctive version.