How to Dry Age Steak

  • By: Patricia Telesco

How to Dry Age Steak

When you visit high-end restaurants, you may come across listings for dry-aged steak.  By the price, you’d anticipate the steak to be tastier. After all, a 50-100% markup from your regular steak is hefty. But the taste of dry-aged steak isn’t for everyone. Your personal preferences make a huge difference. 

How to Dry Age Steak: What Does Aging Do? 

If you think of ripening an apple, aging a steak is kind of like that. As it ages, it takes on a distinct flavor and improved tenderness. A dry-age steak remains in a carefully controlled environment for between one week and four months. During this time, the temperature, humidity, and airflow around the meat remain regulated. Eventually, a layer of white mold develops (but it’s removed before cooking). As the meat ages, the moisture level drops, so the meat shrinks and darkens. This shrinkage contributes to the higher cost of these steaks. 

Can you Skip the Middleman and Dry Age at Home?

Yes, you can learn how to dry age steak at home, but you need a lot of patience and prepare yourself for some detailed work to keep things safe. The equipment necessary to dry age meat properly isn’t cheap, nor is the steak. You want large pieces, not individual steaks. Don’t skimp on quality. Look for good marbling. Lean meat doesn’t age nearly as well. 

Setting Up

First, your dry aging setup is very selfish. It requires a dedicated refrigerator is for ONE purpose only: aging the meat. Nothing else can go inside, or it can (and usually does) undo all your efforts. You also want to avoid any chance of cross-contamination. 

When you look for refrigeration, bear in mind the size of the meats you’ll be aging. It will need room all around the sides for air circulation. A glass door is a nice perk as it deters the temptation to open the door. You can see what’s happening. Once you’ve found a unit, make sure you clean it thoroughly. Every nook and cranny needs to be disinfected. 


For airflow, you can get a swivel fan. If you can find battery-operated ones, those are great because you don’t have to thread the cord through the refrigerator door. Direct the fan upward toward the meat. 


Get yourself a humidity gauge. You’re looking for 75-85%. This is the sweet spot with no bacterial growth and excess shrinkage. If you have trouble with high humidity, a salt block within the fridge will help and do double duty as an air purifier. 

Testy Temperature

The internal temperature of the drying refrigerator should be between 29F and 40F. When temperatures go higher, the meat becomes rancid. 

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

So, how long should your meat age? It takes about 30 days before you’ll notice a discernable difference in flavor. By this time, the meat has already tenderized fully. From here on out, the amount of time you continue aging depends on the end flavor you want. It becomes more intense the longer you go. 60 days is a good starting point for beginners, so you know what you like without ruining your experiment. 

Trimming the Mold

Aged steak has mold on the outside. So long as it’s not black, things are ok. You’ll need to remove that along with the hard outer shell that develops as you age the meat. Make sure you get all of it.

As you survey your meat, there will likely be a few darker areas. Smell them. If it doesn’t smell right, cut them off, too. Safety first.

Sound complex? It is. I won’t sugarcoat it. As you can see, home dry-aging requires commitment. The time involved gives you a greater appreciation for that restaurant steak’s price point. 

PitMaster’s Memo: What Does Dry-Aged Beef Taste Like?

It depends on a variety of circumstances, including the type of meat. Some of the most common flavors people report are nutty or earthy, like mushrooms. Another is a highly savory steak with a meat-forward flavor. 

With steaks that have shorter aging times, they may be slightly sweet. Meanwhile, longer-aged steak has a distinct funk. If you don’t mind blue cheese, you won’t mind this. 


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