How to Dry Age Beef at Home Like Alton Brown for Ultimate Flavor

Dry aged beef is famous for its rich, complex flavor and tender texture. But dry aging beef is an expensive process best left to professional butchers, right? Not so fast. With a simple, proven technique from culinary superstar Alton Brown, you can dry age beef right in your own kitchen.

In this step-by-step guide we’ll walk through Alton’s innovative method for DIY dry aging to help you achieve premium steakhouse quality beef without the premium price tag. Let’s get started!

What is Dry Aged Beef?

First, a quick primer on what makes dry aged beef so special. Dry aging is a process where entire subprimals (large cuts like rib roasts or strip loins) are hung in a refrigerated, humidity-controlled room for several weeks.

Over time, natural enzymatic and microbial actions break down connective tissues in the meat, making it incredibly tender. The beef loses moisture, concentrating flavor. The outside layer develops a funky, cheese-like flavor from mold and yeasts.

This long aging produces incredibly complex, tangy, funky beef flavor and a tender “melt in your mouth” texture. The process takes skill, time, and money, making dry aged steaks a luxury.

Alton’s Method for Dry Aging at Home

Typically, dry aging requires walk-in coolers, humidity control, and air circulation. Alton Brown bypasses all that with a simple technique using two key components:

Terra Cotta Pot – Acts as a breathable “crust” to allow moisture out while preventing surface mold growth.

Fridge Time – Provides cool temperature for slow aging without expensive cooling equipment.

With just a terra cotta planter, some fridge space, and a few days of patience, you can dry age like a pro!

Step 1: Start with a Rib Roast

  • Alton recommends a 4-bone standing rib roast, preferably from the loin end which is most tender.

  • Choose the highest quality, well-marbled, fresh beef you can find. Higher fat content prevents meat drying out.

  • Get 3-4 lbs total to allow ample meat for dry aging shrinkage.

Step 2: Dry Out the Roast

  • Remove all packaging and place roast on a rack over a sheet pan to allow air circulation.

  • Loosely drape dry towels over roast. This wicks away surface moisture.

  • Refrigerate, uncovered, at 34°-38°F with 50%-60% humidity for 3 days. Replace towels daily.

  • Drying the surface prevents mold growth later during aging.

Step 3: Add the Terra Cotta Lid

  • After 3 days drying, place a 16-inch terra cotta planter in a cold oven.

  • Heat oven to 250°F. This slowly warms the pot to prevent cracking.

  • Flip planter over pizza stone to create a breathable “lid” for the roast.

Step 4: Season and Roast the Beef

  • Remove roast from fridge and coat all over with oil. This helps distribute salt evenly.

  • Generously season with kosher salt and black pepper.

  • Place a probe thermometer in center set to 118°F.

  • Position roast in pot “lid” on the pizza stone. Roast at 200°F until 118°F internal temp.

  • The terra cotta lid allows moisture to escape but prevents surface mold growth as it slowly cooks.

Step 5: Finish with a Crispy Crust

  • Once roast hits 118°F, remove terra cotta lid and tent meat loosely with foil.

  • Turn oven to 500°F. Roast briefly until crust browns and internal temp reaches 130°F.

  • The high heat gives you a crispy, flavorful exterior with a tender, juicy interior.

Step 6: Rest, Carve, and Enjoy!

  • Allow meat to rest tented in foil 10-15 minutes before slicing.

  • The inside will continue gently cooking to a perfect medium rare.

  • Carve into steaks or prime rib.

You’ll enjoy incredibly flavored, tender dry aged beef with concentrated savory flavors and mineral notes. Sear up a steak and enjoy!

Dry Aging Tips and Tricks

  • Use fresh, high-quality beef at the start. Lower grade meat won’t improve with aging.

  • Keep all equipment and surfaces clean. Dry aging can promote bad bacteria without sanitation.

  • Control humidity in the fridge to prevent excess drying. Aim for 50%-60%.

  • Change out towels daily so dried beef surface doesn’t reabsorb moisture.

  • Roast low and slow. Cooking over 118°F overcooks meat, making it dry and tough.

  • Rest meat after roasting. Dry aged beef needs time to reabsorb juices for tenderness.

  • Use tongs to handle. Piercing meat with forks allows precious moisture to escape.

  • Wrap tightly for freezer storage. Freezer burn causes even more moisture loss.

More Dry Aging Inspiration from Alton Brown

Once you perfect Alton’s basic dry aging technique, get creative with other cuts like these:

Dry Aged Steaks – Follow same steps with 1-1.5 inch ribeye, NY strip, or filet mignon steaks.

Dry Aged Roasts – Dry age smaller prime rib roasts or beef tenderloins.

Dry Aged Ground Beef – Use dry aged beef trimmings for uniquely flavored burgers.

Dry Age Other Meats – Try dry aging lamb, pork, or venison roasts.

Don’t limit yourself to traditional cuts either. Dry aging can improve flavor and texture in almost any cut when done properly. Experiment and find your favorites!

Elevate Your Dinners with Dry Aged Beef

Skip the steakhouse and enjoy incredible dry aged beef at home with Alton Brown’s simple, reliable technique. All it takes is a terra cotta pot and some fridge space to unlock the full flavor potential of beef.

Impress dinner guests with perfectly cooked prime rib, treat yourself to the world’s best burger, or enjoy a restaurant-quality steak night any night of the week.

Once you realize how

Alton’s Porterhouse Perfection | Food Network


How long to dry age steak in the fridge?

In modern dry-aging, butchers refrigerate large cuts of beef for 30 days, 60 days, or even longer. As moisture evaporates, the flavor of the meat becomes more concentrated. Enzymes in the meat start to break down connective tissue, resulting in a more tender texture.

What happens when beef is dry aged?

When beef is dry aged, there are three basic changes that occur to its structure: Moisture loss is a major factor. A dry-aged piece of beef can lose up to around 30% of its initial volume in water loss, which concentrates its flavor.

Can You Dry Age steak at home?

So let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Next time you’re in a fine restaurant, and you’re eyeing up that $100 aged steak on the menu amazed at the expense, be happy that you now know how to dry age beef at home and can recreate it yourself for a fraction of the cost! Sure, it takes time and patience, but it’s also fix-it-and-forget-it.

How do I know if my meat is dry aging?

Always leave a little fresh white fat after trimming because this is what imparts show-stopping umami flavor when allowed to oxidize over time. Look for top-grade USDA prime quality meat. This is really important. Dry-aging will just dehydrate an inferior piece of meat.

Where can you find a good dry aging steak?

Because of the large amounts of space and precise monitoring of temperature and humidity required for proper dry aging, it remains largely the realm of fancy steakhouses like Peter Luger, specialty meat purveyors like Pat LaFrieda, or the occasional high end supermarket like Whole Foods or Fairway.

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