The One Extra Ingredient You Need To Season Steak For Tacos

Your next taco Tuesday can get a flavor boost with just a simple ingredient: cornstarch. When making steak specifically for tacos, trying out new dry rubs, experimenting with unusual marinades, and perfecting your grilling technique are all part of the fun. But if you go through the trouble to research a new blend and buy specialty ingredients, you want to know that every bite of your steak will be flavorful and delicious. Fortunately, adding cornstarch to your blend will help the spice adhere evenly to the steak before grilling or roasting. Rather than lumps, you'll get an evenly-coated steak full of rich flavor and texture.


The cornstarch doesn't add flavor, but it does keep the spices from clumping together, which can happen as moisture builds and the steak cooks. Once moisture is introduced, the spices often begin to stick together. This means that some bites of steak will be left without any seasoning, while others have an overpowering amount of spices. The cornstarch prevents this from happening and ensures that your steak is consistently flavorful, which helps it form that tasty crust that works so well in steak tacos. Along with some tips for making the ultimate steak, adding cornstarch to your seasoning blend is sure to take your steak tacos from just okay to the star of your meal.

Why do spices clump together?

Moisture can change the texture of food and it makes the spice granules sticky, especially with each other. As the steak cooks, moisture from the meat and fat is released, and the first place it goes is to the seasoning. Even moisture in the environment can wreak havoc on ingredients. This is part of the reason why spices get lumpy in their packaging if left in the pantry for too long. The result is a clump of spices that would rather stay in one spot together than spread out evenly over the surface of your food. But cornstarch removes some of the moisture, letting those granules get unstuck.


Cornstarch prevents caking and keeps clumps from forming in other ingredients. It is made from corn kernels, specifically the endosperm, which is made of starch. Because it doesn't have a noticeable flavor but can change the texture of foods, cornstarch is a very versatile ingredient to have on hand in the kitchen. It can thicken sauces, be used as a base when making gravy, and ironically works well to bind ingredients together in baked goods. Some companies add cornstarch to absorb unwanted moisture from certain processed foods, which keeps ingredients from caking or clumping together. This same property makes it a fantastic addition to your homemade steak spice rub.

How to cook steak for tacos

To make your own steak seasoning, consider which flavors complement each other and work well with this type of meat. Most blends include salt and pepper, and many chefs use these two seasonings and stop there, opting to let the meat's natural flavor come through. But you can add spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and others to make a custom blend. The addition of brown sugar helps create a caramelized crust, which adds extra texture to your steak tacos and a sweet flavor that pairs well with spicy salsa and sour cream or crema. Just don't forget to add the cornstarch to your blend to keep the mix from clumping. Start with a teaspoon, and adjust the amount as needed if you're cooking more than a couple of steaks. If you want to save time, consider picking up a container of steak seasoning from Texas Roadhouse, which uses a combination of salt and sugar plus other spices.


Cornstarch comes to the rescue again to remove moisture from the steak itself before cooking. To get a brown, crispy crust, the steak surface should be super dry. Pat the raw steak with a paper towel to get rid of moisture, then add a bit of cornstarch over the top, almost like a rub, to absorb even more. Then add your spice blend, sear your steak, cook it to the desired level of doneness, and get ready to devour some steak tacos.