Steak searing in a pan.

How to Dry-Age Meat at Home

Enhance the flavors and textures of proteins — no fancy gadgets required.

When dry-aging meat, beneficial bacteria break down tough connective tissue and moisture evaporates, deepening the flavor of the meat.

Dry-aging a cut of meat often results in a tender product with a concentrated flavor and some extra fun, funky flavor notes. 

While traditional dry-aging requires lots of space, specific temperature and humidity controls and large cuts of meat, Lead Chef-Instructor of Online Culinary Arts & Food Operations Shawn Matijevich has scaled down the techniques involved to great success in his restaurant and home kitchens.

His secret? Remove the plastic packaging the meat comes in and leave it unwrapped in the fridge before cooking. The moisture loss through evaporation will mimic the effect of dry-aging to yield a deeper flavor, crispy exterior and tender interior textures. Chef Shawn recommends placing the unwrapped protein on a roasting rack set on top of a sheet pan and letting it sit for up to three days in the fridge.

steaks being seasoned with salt.

Before you shudder at the thought of leaving unwrapped, raw meat in the refrigerator, know that Chef Shawn has considered food safety. Make sure nothing is stored around the meat or on top of it, and the sheet pan will collect any drippings.

Additionally, letting a protein breathe helps it last longer. An airtight wrapper traps in moisture the kind of wet environment that spoilage microorganisms love. But under drier conditions, bacterial growth is stunted and proteins naturally tenderize and create more concentrated flavors.

Related: Why You Should Dry-Age Steaks

Think about how steaks can be dry-aged for over 30-40 days, but at home, chicken would spoil if left in its packaging for over a week. As long as you follow good sanitation procedures and use your senses, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Practice this technique using thick, fattier cuts of meat. A lean cut may develop too thick of a skin on the muscle and become chewy. Chef Shawn recommends fatty cuts of steak at least 1.5 inches thick, such as New York strip or ribeye, duck breasts or whole chicken. (When working with a whole chicken, you can roast it whole or simply remove the pieces as you want to cook them.)

Place the protein skin-side up on a rack to promote airflow around the whole product, and leave it in the fridge for three days. The outer layer will develop a pellicle, becoming dryer on the outside while becoming slightly darker in color. This is where you can experiment to see how long you want to dry the meat out.

Three steaks resting on a wire rack.

These lightly dry-aged proteins shine when the goal is to get a nice sear. Moisture is the enemy of searing, so allowing some of the protein’s moisture to evaporate will result in crispy browning. Use dry heat cooking methods like sautéing, grilling or broiling, instead of moist heat applications to reap the benefits of aging.

Related: How to Grill Steak

Keep in mind that the benefits of this technique are flavor concentration, tenderization and to achieve a crispier skin.

Professional cooking is all about having a solid plan and prep, not tricks or fancy techniques. Think about all the prep that happens to each ingredient before service. This is one you can easily execute at home to get a bump in flavor and texture when cooking protein.    

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