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Best Ways To Cook Flank Steak

Updated on October 21, 2012
courtesy flickr austin512
courtesy flickr austin512

Cooking Basics: Cooking with Flank Steak

It used to be that flank steak was one of the more affordable steaks and people thought of it as less than gourmet.

However, today, it is a culinary basic ingredient for many chefs and home cooks as well. 

Why? Supply and demand is the only explanation for why this relatively tough piece of beef has become so popular.

About Flank Steak

Flank steak is extremely popular for an ingredient in fajitas but it actually got its start in popularity with the famous dish London Broil. It seems after this culinary delight caught on, flank steak pricing has never been the same.

It actually is not really a steak at all – in fact it is part of the belly muscle of the cow.

Then why is this ingredient so much in demand other than the obvious attachment with London Broil and fajitas? Because of its flavor.


What it lacks in tenderness, it makes up big time in flavor. You just have to know how to use this ingredient properly and cook it correctly to get the desired result. You also have to know how to slice it.

There is almost no fat in flank steak. However, it will inevitably always be tough.

It helps to cut the slices paper thin and to cook it to only rare or medium rare on the grill or in the oven.

You don’t want flank steak that is overcooked and in this case, cooking to medium will give you an end result you probably won’t be happy with.

This is a meat ingredient that needs to be braised (cooked in liquid or fat) to tenderize it. It also needs to cook hot and it needs to cook fast to achieve the desired result.

I use a marinade and soak the flank steak for a day ahead. This is a mixture containing bourbon, Dijon mustard, brown sugar and a few other ingredients. It really makes the meat very tender and gives it an even better flavor.

You also can use the marinade to make a delicious gravy for the meat. Any marinade for beef will do. Usually it is best to try and marinade it in a zip-lock freezer bag, turning it every so often to coat for about 24 hours, then grill or broil.

When it comes to carving a flank steak, again, make sure you only cook to about 130-135 degrees, 140 at the maximum. Let it stand for about 5-10 minutes before carving.

Use an electric knife or a super sharp knife to cut paper thin slices, and cut against the grain to reduce the toughness. If you do this (cutting into thin perfectly cooked strips), you will have discovered the secret to this ingredient.

Flank steak is boneless. It is also super lean as it is from a well-exercised muscle.

Marinades are also good that are tomato-based or try lemon, wine, vinegar, pineapple or ginger based marinades.

The appearance of flank steak is a little unsettling if you have never used it. It looks like it is a giant muscle marbled with fat.  It is usually rolled up. This in fact is a very striated part of the muscle of the cow. It is rather purplish in color.

It keeps 3-4 days in the fridge.  If not used by then, freeze in a well sealed zip-lock freezer bag.

Flank steak is best broiled about 2-3 inches from the heat source to cook it to its fullest potential, either 2-3 inches below in the oven to broil or 2-3 inches above on the grill.

You can also use this meat in a variety of Asian recipes, including stir-fry.

Another great recipe for flank steak is stuffed flank steak. Cooking it to the right temperature is the most important point.

Pound it a bit to flatten it so that it is ‘even’.  Use it in a stuffed flank steak recipe.  Use kitchen twine to tie after rolling about every 2 inches.

Use a meat thermometer and cook to 130-135 degrees max.  Let sit 5-10 minutes and then slice paper thin and across the grain.

If you can find a recipe that also includes a marinade and allow it to marinade at least several hours before grilling or broiling, that is even better.

All in all, flank steak has really come around. What used to be our ancestors’ cheap meat is now a veritable delicacy and will cost you a bit more than you would think for this cut of beef. It is delicious though if you know how to cook it!

Summing Up Flank Steak

Flank steak is a favorite meat of mine to use in grilled dishes.  I was frustrated at first with it because I did not understand exactly how to cook it.

However, if you follow the tips above, I think you'll learn as I did that flank steak is a great meat and if cooked properly, it will do you proud in your culinary basics towards cooking healthy and hearty recipes!

How to Carve a Rolled Flank Steak

Culinary Basics: Trimming Flank Steak


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Carol~ Great cut of meat IF you know how to cook it properly.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I love most meat...and I was inspired to read this hub from the fabulous picture. Lots of good advice here on cooking flank steak.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Hello, hello - thanks so much for stopping in - it is really delicious if you cook it right.

      Holle - Johnny might like it if it was marinated - that was the only way I could get it to work. The bourbon recipe really is great - will post it up one of these days when we slide into recipes. If I marinate it for 24 hours, it seems to really do well. Of course, I drink the bourbon so how would I really know? NOT REALLY! I'm more of a wine girl.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great info on flank steak. I rarely cook it, though. Hubby has a hard time with anything remotely tough. lol

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      That sounds great must try it. Thank you.