How to BBQ Perfect Flank Steak
BBQ flank steak with asparagus and salad
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)
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 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.
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)
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
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
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!