Flat iron steak, also known as a top-blade steak, is a lean cut of meat carved from the shoulder of the cow (chuck primal). It’s a new cut of beef discovered in the early 2000s by the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska. It gained popularity due to its excellent beefy flavor and tender texture. At the same time, it’s a relatively affordable steak cut compared to other cuts of steak with similar taste and texture properties.
It’s essential to cook a flat iron steak properly to achieve the best results possible. Even though it’s one of the most tender cuts overcooking or undercooking the steak can lead to a less enjoyable meal. In this article, I will rank the best cooking methods for flat iron steak based on tenderness, flavor, and ease of cooking.
- Ease of cooking.
Flavor and tenderness are two of the most important criteria when ranking the best cooking method for a flat iron steak. Even though flat iron steak has some marbling, it’s still a lean cut of meat that can be tough if not cooked properly. The first two methods below produce a tender and juicy steak without requiring the skills of a professional chef.
The best cooking methods should bring out the meat’s natural flavors and enhance it with seasoning or marinades. It’s important to strike a balance between tender and flavorful; the first cooking method on the list does that.
Best way to cook flat iron steak
Here’s a list of the 5 best cooking methods for flat iron steak:
Grilling is the purest and the most popular method for cooking flat iron steak. High heat and an open flame of the charcoal grill create a delicious char on the steak’s exterior. Grilling on the gas grill provides the same benefits as the charcoal grill apart from the smoky flavor.
It’s essential to prepare a grill for two-zone cooking. A high heat zone is used for searing the steak, while a low heat zone is used for finishing cooking the steak. To learn more about grilling flat iron steak, read this article.
2. Sous vide
Sous vide is a cooking method often used in high-end restaurants. It gained popularity among home cooks in recent years. It’s a cooking method that involves sealing flat iron steak in a vacuum-sealed bag or a zip lock bag and cooking it in a temperature-controlled water bath. Usually, the temperature is set to 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. It allows the steak to be cooked to the perfect doneness without overcooking it. The only downside to the sous vide cooking method is that it’s time-consuming.
After taking the steak out of the vacuum bag, it’s best to sear the steak over high heat on a grill or cast iron skillet to caramelize the steak’s exterior. Here’s an article explaining how to sous vide flat iron steak step-by-step.
3. Stovetop searing
Cooking steak on a stovetop in a pan is one of the easiest and most convenient ways. It produces a delicious brown sear on a flat iron steak, and it takes less than 10 minutes to cook the meat. One downside of cooking flat iron steak on a stovetop is that it’s easy to overcook the meat. Cooking steak over high heat requires paying close attention to the steak. It would be best if you also used a heavy pan for searing the steak. Cast iron skillets or stainless steel pans are excellent for searing steaks since they can withstand high heat.
Read this article to learn more about how to cook flat iron steak in a pan.
4. Slow cooking
Slow-cooking flat iron steak in a dutch oven or slow cooker produces a very tender and flavorful steak. However, it doesn’t have the same level of sear and char as grilling or stovetop searing has. One downside of slow cooking is that it requires a longer cook time.
Broiling is a cooking method that involves cooking flat iron steak under the broiler element in the oven at high heat. This method is often called an upside-down grill because the heat radiates from above. It produces a delicious sear on the outside of the steak while the inside remains juicy and tender.
Here’s a comprehensive article explaining how to broil a flat iron steak. It is worth mentioning that it takes a bit longer to cook the steak using this method than pan searing or grilling.
Tips for cooking flat iron steak
- Properly season the steak. Properly seasoning flat iron steak before cooking is essential to enhance the flavor of the meat and tenderize the steak. Salt and acidic ingredients help to break down proteins in the steak and make it more tender. At the same time, herbs and spices flavor the meat. Use a flat iron marinade to elevate the meat’s flavor and tenderize the texture.
- Allow steak to come to room temperature before cooking. Allowing the flat iron steak to come to room temperature will speed up the cooking process and help to cook the steak more evenly. Take the steak from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before cooking, depending on the size, and let it come to room temperature.
- Know when to flip. Knowing when to flip the flat iron steak is essential for achieving a crispy exterior and cooking steak to the desired doneness. Depending on the steak thickness and desired doneness, you should flip it at least once. Since flat iron steak is about an inch thick, flipping it once is enough, considering you’re not cooking it past medium doneness.
- Check the steak’s internal temperature. Check the flat iron steak’s internal temperature to avoid overcooking the meat. Flat iron steak tends to get dry when cooked past medium 145° Fahrenheit/62 ° C.
- Rest the cooked steak before slicing. After cooking flat iron steak, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Resting will allow steak juices to redistribute throughout the steak resulting in a much juicer and more flavorful piece of meat.
Each flat iron steak cooking method has benefits and drawbacks. While grilling and pan searing are excellent methods for achieving a nice sear, sous vide is ideal for precise cooking and a very tender texture every time. Slow cooking and broiling are excellent methods; however, flat iron steak has the best flavor with a crisp exterior and tender interior, which is impossible to achieve with slow cooking.
Can I marinate flat iron steak before cooking?
You can marinate flat iron steak before cooking to tenderize the meat and add or enhance additional flavors. The marinade should include acidic ingredients, salt, and fat.
How do I slice flat iron steak?
Slice flat iron steak against the grain perpendicular to the lines of muscle fibers. The steak will be much tender and easier to chew.