Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: April 2, 2023

A couple of years ago, I spent some time in Palo Alto, California, where I first tried Fred's steak.

For those who haven't heard of this delicacy, Fred's steak was developed by meat market owner Fred Schaub in the 1950s. The steak is sold by Schaub's Meat, Fish, and Poultry Market in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

The recipe for Fred's steaks is top secret. There are numerous versions online, but I decided to do my own research because I couldn't find the one that most closely resembles the real thing.

I spent years perfecting my recipe, so now I can confidently say it tastes just like Fred's steaks in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

Here's my recipe so that you can make Fred's steak.

Recipe Overview

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 3 days for the marinade)
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Number of Servings: 4 to 6


Wine and steak on a table
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika powder
  • 2 tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 4 ribeye or New York Strip steaks, at least 1 inch thick
  • 2 to 3 cloves of crushed garlic (peel before crushing)


Close up of a fiery pan
  1. Start with the marinade. Use a medium mixing bowl, and combine all ingredients apart from the steaks. Whisk the ingredients so they mix well.
  2. Put the steaks into a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the steaks. Seal tightly and leave in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Turn the steaks and rub the marinade into the meat several times a day.
    Tip: You can put the bag in a bowl or a baking dish to contain any leaks and prevent a mess in your fridge.
  3. Heat the grill or a grill pan to medium-high.
  4. Remove the steaks from the bag and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  5. Put the steaks on the grill and grill for up to 5 minutes per side, or until they reach 145 degrees for medium-rare.
  6. Once the steaks are done, move them to plates and drizzle oil on top.
  7. Let the steaks rest and serve.

Recipe Notes

A person reading a tablet while writing on a notebook in a kitchen

Here’s what to keep in mind when cooking Fred’s steak:

  • Fred’s steak is also called black lung because it has a charred, black exterior. There are several ways to achieve this look. You can use 1 packet of squid ink to get a truly coal-black experience. Or use 1 tablespoon of cocoa and toast with 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder. Another option is to use 1 tablespoon of black bean sauce.
  • You can use different steaks. Fred used sirloin. Ribeye and New York Strip Steak are also good choices. Nowadays, many online Fred’s steak recipes call for tri-tip.
  • You can cook Fred’s steak on the grill to get a nice crispy, dark brown exterior or in the oven.
  • If your steak is frozen, let it defrost completely before marinating. When the tri-tip or sirloin steak is at room temp, the marinade can work better, and you’ll have a tender steak.
  • Use an internal thermometer to check when the steak is done. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees when cooking steak [1].
  • Let the steak rest for at least three to ten minutes after cooking, so the juices distribute evenly.
  • You can add a pinch of baking soda and black pepper to the marinade to make the meat extremely tender.

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Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 431
  • Total Carbs: 8g
  • Protein: 40g
  • Fat: 30g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Net Carbs: 0 

History of Fred’s Steak

Fred’s steak was originally called Marinated Sirloin when Fred Schaub sold it at his Los Gatos meat market, Schaub’s Meat Fish and Poultry.

However, the market closed in 1979. His son, David Schaub, says the people kept asking where they could buy Fred’s steak, so he opened the butcher shop at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto in 1988 and renamed it Fred’s steak.


What Cut of Meat Is Fred’s Steak?

Different meat cuts can be used for Fred’s steak. Fred Schaub originally used sirloin at his Los Gatos meat market, but nowadays, New York Strip steak and tri top are used in Bay Area.

How Much is Fred's Steak?

Fred’s steak is around $50.

How Should You Make Fred’s Steak?

The most challenging part of making Fred’s steak is getting that charred, black color. Experiment with different ingredients, such as squid ink, or use Tamari sauce to get a nice black color.

You can use different steaks. Go for tri-tip, New York Strip, or do the same as Fred did at Schaub’s meat and poultry market butcher shop and use sirloin steak. No matter which cut you go for, make sure it’s high-quality.

When I don’t buy at the local butcher's, I put my trust in ButcherBox to deliver sustainably raised and hormone-free cuts straight to my door. You can choose your subscription box and customize it to your taste.


  1. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety
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