I personally taste-tested a variety of Montreal steak seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for Montreal steak seasoning is to make your own blend from scratch. If you don’t mind a shift in flavor, try adobo, cajun, or carne asada spice blends. You can also soak your steak in a marinade instead or use a simple mix of salt and pepper.
I seared different batches of steak to test out several Montreal steak seasoning substitutes.
Montreal steak seasoning is a spice blend used to season steaks and grilled meats. It’s also known as Canadian steak spice, although it’s based on the pickling spices used in Eastern European and Jewish cuisine. It boasts a savory flavor that works superbly with the meatiness of your proteins.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade Montreal steak seasoning||Really easy to make||10/10|
|Carne asada seasoning||Has a smokier twist||8/10|
|Adobo seasoning||More robust and zestier||8/10|
|Cajun seasoning||Good if you like spice||8/10|
|Steak marinade||Lots of different options to pick from||8/10|
|Salt and pepper||Simple but effective||7/10|
Homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning
If you want an exact flavor match, making your own Montreal steak seasoning blend is the way to go. The process is straightforward and only takes five minutes. And you have the freedom to customize the blend to your heart’s desire. I personally love spicy food, so I like adding an extra pinch of red pepper flakes.
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp freshly ground black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp dill seed (or dill weed)
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- Mix all of the spice together until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container somewhere away from direct sunlight for up to 6 months.
This blend tastes just as good as the store-bought version and I couldn’t really taste the difference! I simply sprinkled this blend over the steak, but you can also transform it into a marinade by mixing it with olive oil and soy sauce.
Remember with marinades, an overnight soak is best.
How to Substitute: Replace Montreal Steak seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.
Other brands of steak seasoning
Montreal steak seasoning isn’t the only pre-made steak seasoning brand out there. Some other ones you can try include:
- Weber Chicago Steak Seasoning: A bold combination of salt, onion, garlic, and the natural flavors of lemon peel, bell pepper, and tamarind. It’s savory with zesty undertones.
- Dale’s Seasoning Steak Seasoning: A liquid marinade with a soy sauce base, this seasoning offers a salty and umami profile complemented by hints of garlic and other spices.
- Stubbs Beef Spice Rub: Combining sea salt with molasses and coffee, this rub offers a savory, slightly sweet, and robust flavor
- Bad Byron’s Butt Rub: This was initially created for pork, but it’s also popular for steaks. It has a balanced mix of onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.
Check the ingredients list of any steak seasoning you come across to see if you think you’ll like the blend of flavors before buying it.
How to Substitute: Replace Montreal Steak seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with another brand of steak seasoning.
Carne Asada Seasoning
Carne asada seasoning, a term in Spanish meaning “grilled meat”, is another decent alternative to Montreal seasoning. It doesn’t have quite the same flavor, but they both taste amazing with steak and other grilled meats.
While Montreal steak seasoning is slightly spicy, with salty undertones, carne asada is citrusy with a chili heat and earthy undertones. Both seasonings rely heavily on garlic, which gives them a savory note.
If you miss the saltiness of Montreal seasoning, you can always add a pinch of salt to your carne asada spice blend.
How to Substitute: Replace Montreal Steak seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with Carne Asada Seasoning.
Adobo seasoning is common in Latin American and Filipino cuisines and has a few of the same base ingredients as Montreal steak seasoning such as salt, paprika, garlic powder, and crushed black peppercorns.
They’re both savory with a background heat and lots of salt. But adobo seasoning also has earthy notes to it because of the oregano and cumin. And if you see adobo sold as a sauce rather than a dry rub, it will be pretty sour because of the added vinegar.
It’s used in the same way as Montreal steak seasoning, which is mainly to season meats. But you can also use them both in a similar way to salt and pepper to sprinkle over pretty much anything you want! I love them both with scrambled eggs.
Psst… you can easily find this in any store nowadays (the brand Goya is my favorite)!
How to Substitute: Replace Montreal Steak seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with Adobo seasoning.
Cajun seasoning is typically used for Louisiana dishes like gumbo, but it’s super versatile and can also make a delicious alternative to Montreal steak seasoning. The flavor is very different, but it will bring your steak alive in the same way.
Cajun seasoning is all about the peppers — it’s got cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, and paprika so it’s spicy and smokey.
I love spicy food so this substitute worked perfectly for me, but if it’s too much for you, you can either use less or try adding some fillers like extra herbs to distract from the heat.
How to Substitute: Start with 1/2 the amount, add more if needed.
Instead of using a spice rub, immersing your steak in a flavorful marinade can also infuse your meat with flavor. Marinades also help tenderize meat ensuring you get an extra juicy steak, even if you’re using a cheaper cut of meat like flank steak.
You’ll need to plan ahead slightly though because marinades need more time to be effective compared to dry rubs like Montreal steak seasoning. The exact amount of time varies depending on the type of meat you have and the ingredients in your marinade, but as a guide 6 hours should be enough for steak.
Like with spice blends, you have lots of marinade recipes to choose from. This one from Recipe Critic is a classic made with a base of soy sauce and lemon juice to mimic Montreal Steak’s savory, zesty flavor. You can also try an herbaceous chimichurri if you want something different.
How to Substitute: Replace Montreal Steak Seasoning with your choice of marinade.
Salt and Pepper Seasoning
Don’t underestimate the power of the classic salt and pepper duo. It’s not the most glamorous combo, but it gets the job done and will make sure your steak’s meaty flavors shine. You can also try adding a bit of sugar to help form a crust.
The simplicity of salt and pepper also allows you to dress up your steak in other ways. I love serving a simply seasoned steak with a knob of herby compound butter, but you can also try a dash of Worcestershire sauce or even a luscious gravy. Yum!
Pro-tip: skip the table salt and use coarse-grained Kosher salt – it will distribute more evenly on the surface of the meat.
How to Substitute: Start with ½ tsp each of salt and pepper, add more to taste.
Other Spice Rub Blends
If you don’t mind a complete flavor shift from Montreal’s robust, savory notes, here are a couple more seasoning blends you can use as a spice rub for your steaks:
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning: This has bright, citrusy notes.
- Italian Seasoning: This is more herbaceous than all the options here.
- Creole Seasoning: Has a kick of heat to it.
- Herbes de Provence: This has floral notes from the lavender.
- Coffee Rub: An interesting option that also works as a meat tenderizer.
BEST Montreal Steak Seasoning Substitutes
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns crushed
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp dill seed
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine all the ingerdients in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer the mixture in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.