Better Together: Top Flavors to Pair with Beef

Most of us have heard the age-old talk about how to ruin a perfectly good steak. Don’t over-flip. Don’t over-cook. And avoid, some would say at all costs, steak sauce! Opinions aside, there is one alleged beef-ruiner that we beg to differ with.

Less-tender cuts can always use a little help from other flavor-enhancing ingredients. But even the tenderest of steaks can benefit from a little something-something, if the flavors complement each other. Don’t let anyone judge for wanting to marinate your steaks or add a unique flavor profile to a dish! There’s a science to putting other foods with beef, and it all starts with the fifth taste.

The Fifth Taste

Most of us use the words “taste” and “flavor” to talk about the same thing, which is actually wrong. Taste is meant to describe the five basic feelings you have after eating something: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Hold up! Umam-what?? We’ll get to that later. Flavor is a combination of taste and other sensations that can change our eating experience, such as aroma, texture, juiciness, mouthfeel and color.

Back to umami. It’s basically the “fifth taste” that we didn’t learn about in school. Long story short, umami is described as meaty, savory or delicious. This means when you take a bite of a delicious steak or burger, your tongue is saying thank you for some life-giving protein!

Mastering the Flavor Equation

So how do you know what flavors go with beef? Most of the popular ingredients in beef dishes are made of umami compounds — just like beef. Mixing two umami compounds can produce eight times as much flavor as either one alone. Turns out picking the right flavor to pair with beef can actually make it tastier than ever! Try adding the following ingredients to pack a punch to any meal!

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppercorns
  • Mustard
  • Aged Cheeses
  • Bacon
  • Red Wine
  • Sour Cream
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Soy Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Thyme
  • Bell Peppers

A few of our signature recipes that prove one of the secrets to great beef is in the flavor-pairing:

1. Beef & Couscous Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

beef and couscous stuffed baby bell peppers

2. One-Dish Beef Stroganoff


3. Lemon-Garlic Beef Tri-Tip & Roasted Potatoes


4. Beef Brisket with Asian Chili Sauce


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