The Difference Between Montreal And Chicago Seasoning

North American cities Montreal and Chicago are known for their meats, and those bold flavors have been packed into signature seasoning blends. Both Montreal seasoning and Chicago seasoning are perfect for tenderloin, chops, ribs, hamburgers, and more. With similar applications, Montreal Steak Seasoning and Chicago Steak Seasoning have comparable flavor profiles; both seasoning blends generally aren't very herbaceous and rely more on spices with heat or savory flavors.

Montreal Steak Seasoning is said to have originated about 70 years ago in the French Canadian city where smoked meats are highly popular. While Montreal Steak Seasoning may have first been blended to flavor meats such as brisket, it eventually began to be used for flavoring steak, ribs, and other meats. Chicago Steak Seasoning lacks a clear origin story; still, being a city known for its steakhouses, it's only natural that it would develop its own seasoning blend. Like the Montreal blend, the Chicago seasoning blend isn't limited to steaks, and is good on pork roasts and vegetables. While the two seasoning blends may have more in common than not, there is still one key flavor difference that differentiates the two.

A spice variation

Because there is no one recipe for Montreal Steak Seasoning or for Chicago Steak Seasoning, there are no set differences; however, Chicago blends tend to have more red pepper flakes than the blend from Montreal. A standard recipe for Montreal Steak Seasoning calls for salt, black pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, granulated onion, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, and ground dill seed. A similar list of spices goes into Chicago Steak Seasoning: salt, pepper, minced onion, and minced garlic. However, one recipe also calls for crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. The bottled blend from Weber has red bell pepper and red pepper, as well as garlic and onion. 

The flavor from the red peppers in the Chicago blend tends to be fairly mild or slightly sweet and not very spicy. The dill seeds in Montreal Steak Seasoning add a touch of herbaceous, almost bitter notes — suggesting that although the blends are similar, Montreal's has distinctly herbal undertones. Thankfully for most of us who aren't living in the vibrant culinary cities of Montreal and Chicago, their signature seasoning blends can be found bottled up and for sale at the area grocery store or are easy to make at home.