How to BBQ Perfect Flank Steak

BBQ flank steak with asparagus and salad

Bbq flank steak
Bbq flank steak

Flank Steak is a Lean Cut of Meat

Flank steak is a long, thin, and lean cut of beef. It presents challenges to grillers everywhere for three reasons. First, it lacks marbling (less fat) which provides taste. Second, it's a chewier cut of beef which many people find tough. Third, it's thin nature casuses it to cook quickly so that most people severely overcook it. I've seen this happen a dozen times. The cook seasons and slaps it on the grill. They overcook it and when it's served it's tough as nails, dried out and has no taste.

So, to make a perfectly grilled steak, it must be:

  • Tenderized by either the butcher or scoring
  • Cooked to perfection (ideally medium rare)

If you're new to bbqing steaks, cuts of meat that are lean like flank, and brisket are much more challenging than cuts with a high degree of marbling like rib eyes and filet mignon.

Scored flank steak
Scored flank steak

Simple BBQ Flank Steak Recipe

  • Brush with olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Let the flank steak sit out of the refrigerator in a food safe dish for two hours prior to grilling.

Grill following the bbq instructions in this Hub.

Tenderize before Marinating

There are two ways to prepare a flank steak for marinading. The first is when you purchase the steak at the grocery store is to ask the butcher to run the flank steak through the tenderizer. This will shape the meat a bit by putting in dozens of small cuts. The small cuts help the meat absorb the marinade. Also, the butcher's machine helps to shape the flank steak into a more consistent thickness which helps it cook more evenly when on the grill.

The second way to prepare the flank steak for grilling is to score the meat. Using a sharp knife, make cuts up to 1/4 of an inch thick across the meat. Then make the same cuts from the opposite direction creating little squares like the picture demonstrates above. Do this to both sides of the meat.

Besides helping the meat absorb marinade, and helping it cook more evenly, scoring flank steak will also help prevent it from curling up at the edges while it's on the grill. So, even if you decided to forego a marinade, having the butcher tenderize it or scoring it yourself is a good idea.

Flank steak marinade
Flank steak marinade

Flank Steak Marinade Recipe

This recipe was modified from "How to Grill" by Steven Raichlen for a flank steak salad.

Flank Steak Marinade Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 4 serrano chilis (habanero chilis for extra spicy) with seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the flank steak to taste. Place the meat in a food safe dish. Add the rest of the ingredients (optionally leave the green onions out until the other ingredients have been pureed) to a high powered blender or food processor. Puree the ingredients. Pour the marinade over the flank steak. Let it sit covered in the refrigerator for two to four hours. Remove from the refrigerator and place on the counter for two hours before grilling.

Flank steak on grill
Flank steak on grill

Sear Flank Steak over Direct Heat

The best way to bbq a flank steak is over high direct heat. Once the meat is properly seasoned, spray the grill with oil. Make sure the grill temperature is approaching 500 degrees. Place the flank steak on the grill and close the lid.

  • Grill over direct heat at 500 degrees
  • Close the lid while the flank steak is on the barbeque
  • BBQ for 4 to 5 minutes a side for medium to medium rare flank steak
  • Only open the lid to flip the steak once

Flank steak barbeques extremely quickly over high heat.

A few of the keys to keeping the steak juicy and tender is:

  • To handle the steak as little as possible. In someways, grilling a flank steak is like barbecuing a hamburger. They should only be flipped once on the grill and handled as little as possible
  • Never cut open on the grill to check for doneness. With flank steak, you can't afford to release the juices until it's served.

Guide to Flank Steak Grilling Times for Perfect Internal Temperature (Grill at 500 Degrees)

Time
Doneness
Notes
3 minutes a side
Rare Flank Steak
Pink all the way through (120 degrees)
4 to 4.5 minutes a side
Medium Rare Flank Steak
Pink center (125 degrees to 133 degrees)
5 to 6 minutes a side
Medium Flank Steak
Tinge of pink (134 to 140 degrees)
7+ minutes a side
Well Done Flank Steak
145 degrees
Steak is at room temperature before grilling and the steak rests 10 minutes before slicing and serving. The notes on the temperatures is the internal temp after the 10 minute rest period
Flank steak medium rare
Flank steak medium rare

Let the Flank Steak Rest

We pulled our flank steak from the grill after nearly five minutes a side so we would have some of the thinner parts more medium, while the thicker bits were medium rare. The thick portion was reading at 125 degrees on the grill.

  • Flank steak should rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving

Once the flank steak rests, the meat continues to cook and the temperature will rise. So, don't be afraid if the meat looks a little undercooked on the grill. After ten minutes of resting, the meat will be ready to slice and eat.

Slicing flank steak
Slicing flank steak

Slicing Flank Steak

Flank steak is served in thin strips. Using a sharp knife, slice the steak across the grain. This is similar to how a beef brisket is sliced.

  • Use a cutting board
  • Slice with a sharp knife
  • Slice 1/4 of an inch thick slices

* Tip: If you're slicing up several flank steaks, use an electric knife to help cut the meat more quickly.

Typically, a rare to medium cooked flank steak will have plenty of juice run out while it's sliced. It's recommended to use a cutting board with a gutter for catching the juices.

As soon as the meat is sliced, serve it!

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Comments 12 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

You made my mouth water with this one, Paul. Now I've gotta get me some flank steak to grill.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Sounds and looks delicious. Will be trying your recipe as soon as I get my grill cleaned and ready for this upcoming BBQ season.


gredmondson 3 years ago

That looks great, Paul!


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 3 years ago from Texas

We love flank steak! Thanks for the recipe! Voted useful.


grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 3 years ago from florida

I recently discovered a tenderizer called "jaccard" and it is the best accessory I have ever bought other than my infrared grill (500 is considered "high heat"?!). When you press the tenderizer to the meat 50 tiny razors slide in and out. The slices are too small to lose moisture (as with scoring) but texturize the outer layer for amazing absorption.

I grill, barbecue, broil and smoke a lot of meat and this tenderizer improved the flavor of everything i grill. I do not sell these, this is not an ad. I just started using it and it is an absolute necessity with cuts like sirloin and flank steak.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 3 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

I'm going to check the jaccard out.


lalage profile image

lalage 3 years ago from lahore

I have heard of this product first time, Can you show me its pictures?


grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 3 years ago from florida

i ate at a smith&wollensky and the tenderloin was amazing. I am pretty smug when dining at high-end steakhouses because my house has better grilled steak than any of them -- but s&w blew me away.

I did a little research and the tenderizer was suggested so i got one (i think it was $45) and the difference was incredible.

I have an infrared grill and sear with heat above 1000 degrees so usually steaks are amazing and juicy. the tenderizer with all the razors took it to a whole other level!


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 3 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

I saw the 48 blade tenderized for $21.60 at Amazon. Thinking of getting one... pretty good reviews on it.

My grill will get well over 1000 degrees when loaded up, but it's not really necessary to get the grill that hot.


IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

The marinade sounds yummy.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 3 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

The marinade is pretty good, but I sometimes prefer the simple salt or garlic salt and pepper. One thing you can do is put this on a salad and save a bit of the marinade to use as dressing. That works really well.


kentuckywriter267 profile image

kentuckywriter267 3 years ago from Hodgenville, KY

Awesome info and tips. Thanks. Will give it a try the next time I Grill. I love Grillin', but I haven't done any flanks lately and the last time I did, if I remember right I left it on the grill juuuuuussssst a tad bit too long.

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