Homemade is Better—Steak Spice

With Spring in full swing and the snow melting here in Edmonton, it’s getting closer and closer to grilling season.  This week I created my own steak spice, in part out of need and in part because I’ve always wanted to make my own steak spice.  This mixture is a balanced combination of sweet, savory, and spicy.  I became interested in making my own steak spice while I was in culinary school, after reading the ingredients on a bottle of Montreal steak spice.  There are as many “Montreal” steak spices as there are cuts of steak, or at least it would seem.  Almost every spice company has a version of Montreal steak spice.

While preparing for this article I was curious why Montreal steak spice was infamous as the only steak spice.  In my googling I came across several articles addressing the history of the spice mix.  All the articles have a few facts in common.  The origin of Montreal Steak Spice is credited to Morris “The Shadow” Sherman.  The Shadow worked at Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal and one day he sprinkled the pastrami spice onto a liver he was having for lunch.  After that day, customers started to request the spice and thus was born another popular culinary artifact (Abboud, 2019) (Ewbank, n.d.) (Steiman, 2016).

Some of the website I saw have various recipes for Montreal Steak spice, so using influence from them and with an idea as to what spices can be used, I created Big Daddy’s Steak Spice.  I used ingredients I had on hand so I wouldn’t have to run out to store to get some specialty spice.

Each of these spices are among the base line that one should have in their spice rack.  The additions that should also be on hand would be parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, and bay leaves.  Not including salt and pepper, with these spices plus my steak spices, one can make several combinations for various recipes.  Admittedly, most of those would be European spices.  The pizza sauce I wrote in one of my first articles used salt, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley.  Pasta sauce is the same as pizza sauce with the addition of bay leaf and raw garlic and onion instead of powdered.  If you are going to pickle, add in a cinnamon stick and all-spice to my steak spice recipe.

As you can see, having at minimum ten spices plus salt and pepper in your cabinet will provide you with at least five to six different variations for meals.  This variation is also versatile, use it on salmon, pork, roasts, or chicken.  Now, let’s make Big Daddy’s Steak Spice.

Big Daddy’s Steak Spice


2 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion Powder
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes

  • Add everything into a medium mason jar and shake it up to mix well.
  • If you have an empty shaker around, transfer the spice mix and spread liberally on your proteins.


Abboud, E. (2019, June 29). ‘Tis the seasoning: What’s behind Montreal steak spice, flavouring food for more than 70 years? Retrieved from CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-steak-spice-origins-1.5194382

Ewbank, A. (n.d.). Montreal Steak Spice. Retrieved from Atlas Obscura: https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/montreal-steak-spice\

Steiman, A. (2016, June 3). The Strange-But-True Story of Montreal Steak Seasoning. Retrieved from epicurious: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/montreal-steak-seasoning-recipe-history-article