How To Cook a Flank Steak: Ultimate Guide

flank steak

There are many steak cooking methods; however, some of the best are grilling and pan-frying. This article will show you how to cook a flank steak in multiple ways.

Cooking flank steak is simple. You’ll need a few ingredients and a heavy pan. It’s not time-consuming as it takes around 10-15 minutes to cook the flank steak, depending on the desired doneness.

As a chef, I think flank steak is underestimated. It’s a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It’s relatively tender, and most of all, it’s versatile. You can season it with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, or you can marinate flank steak instead.

Below you will find 4 different flank steak cooking methods. They are simple to follow. Make sure to read the instructions carefully, and you’ll have the best steak.

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How To Cook a Flank Steak

grilling flank steak

Flank steak can be prepared in many different ways. That is what makes this steak cut of beef so versatile.

I’m using koshers salt, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh herbs for steak seasoning. However, you can marinate flank steak instead. At the bottom of the article, you’ll find a flank steak recipe. This recipe has an excellent marinade recipe.

Steak searing requires a heavy pan. Avoid using cheap thin frying pans. Since you’ll need to cook steak over high heat – a skillet or good quality frying pan is necessary to have.

Here’s the equipment list you will need:

Here’s the ingredient list. Fell free to swap or add ingredients:

  • Flank steak (grass-fed preferably);
  • Kosher salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Butter;
  • Fresh thyme;
  • Fresh rosemary;
  • Olive oil.

Note: You will find links to the steak marinade recipes at the bottom of the article. They are great, especially for grilling.

How To Grill Flank Steak

  1. Bring flank steak to room temperature. Take the steak out of the fridge and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to rest for about an hour before cooking. Dry brining is an excellent way to tenderize flank steak. If you have time, dry brine the steak overnight;
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill. Prepare grill for two zone cooking. Spread coals – leave half of the grill extremely hot while another half warm. Use cooking oil that has a high smoke point to grease grill grates. It will prevent the flank steak from sticking;
  3. Cutaway tough connective tissue. Flank steak has a tough connective tissue running throughout the entire surface area of the steak. Using a boning or paring knife to remove the tissue;
  4. Pat steak dry. Using paper towels – remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. When moisture is left on the surface – steak boils. You want to reduce the moisture evaporation process to a minimum. When searing the steak, a nice brown, golden crust will form, making steak packed with flavor on the outside and juicy on the inside;
  5. Grill the steak. First, place your hand over the grill about 5 inches away from the grill grates to check the temperate. If after 3-4 seconds it feels uncomfortable holding your hand, it means the grill is ready for cooking. Place the steak on the hot side of the grill and sear on both sides. Sear the steak for 2 minutes on each side before moving onto the medium-hot side. Continue cooking flank steak to the desired temperature;
  6. Check internal temperature. The flank steak I’m cooking is an inch thick. It will take around 6-8 minutes to cook until medium-rare. About halfway through cooking, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak and check the reading. Alternatively, use the finger test method to check the steak’s doneness. Remove the grilled flank steak from the grill when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. Steak continues to cook for another few more minutes when removed from the heat source. It is called carryover cooking;
  7. Rest. Rest the steak for about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Resting is essential since it allows the meat juice to redistribute throughout the steak’s interior. The meat will become dry if you slice into it straight after it’s removed from the heat source.
  8. Slice the steak. Flanks steak is a big cut of meat; therefore, it’s best when served to share in thin slices. Cut the steak into very, very thin slices, at an angle, across the grain.

Note: when grilling steak on a gas grill, first sear the steak on high heat, then turn the heat down to medium-high and continue cooking.

How To Pan Fry Flank Steak

  1. Bring flank steak to room temperature. Take the steak out of the fridge and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to rest for about an hour before cooking. Dry brining is an excellent way to tenderize flank steak. If you have time, dry brine the steak overnight;
  2. Prepare the ingredients. Before cooking the steak, prepare all the ingredients. Wash fresh herbs and peel the garlic. Have tongs and meat thermometer within hands reach. It’s essential to have everything ready since steak cooks extremely fast, depending on doneness. If you decide to cook a rare steak -it will take about 3-4 minutes depending on the steak’s thickness;
  3. Cutaway tough connective tissue. Flank steak has a tough connective tissue running throughout the entire surface area of the steak. Using a boning or paring knife, remove the tissue;
  4. Pat steak dry. Using paper towels – remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. When moisture is left on the surface – steak boils. You want to reduce the moisture evaporation process to a minimum. When searing the steak, a nice brown, golden crust will form, making steak packed with flavor on the outside and juicy on the inside;
  5. Preheat the pan. Make sure the pan is scorching hot. Place it over high heat on a stovetop. A hot pan will give the steak a nice brown crust on the exterior;
  6. Cook the steak. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat the pan cooking surface. Lay the steak away from you and give it a nice sear on both sides. Sear for 2 minutes on each side before turning the heat down to medium-high. Continue cooking on medium-high;
  7. Baste. Halfway through cooking, add butter, fresh thyme, rosemary, and crushed garlic to the pan. Create butter pools and baste the steak using a tablespoon. It’ll add an extra depth of flavor to the steak;
  8. Check steak’s internal temperature. I’m cooking a one-inch thick flan steak medium-rare. It’ll take about five minutes to reach the desired doneness. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak or use a finger test method to check the doneness. Remember that it’s important to remove steak from the heat source when steak’s internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness;
  9. Rest. Rest the steak for about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Resting is essential since it allows the meat juice to redistribute throughout the steak’s interior. The meat will become dry if you slice into it straight after it’s removed from the heat source.
  10. Slice the steak. Flanks steak is a big cut of meat; therefore, it’s best when served to share in thin slices. Cut the steak into very, very thin slices, at an angle, across the grain.

How To Reverse Sear Flank Steak

  1. Bring flank steak to room temperature. Take the steak out of the fridge and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to rest for about an hour before cooking. Dry brining is an excellent way to tenderize flank steak. If you have time, dry brine the steak overnight;
  2. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit;
  3. Cutaway tough connective tissue. Flank steak has a tough connective tissue running throughout the entire surface area of the steak. Using a boning or paring knife, remove the tissue;
  4. Pat steak dry. Using paper towels – remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. When moisture is left on the surface – steak boils. You want to reduce the moisture evaporation process to a minimum. When searing the steak, a nice brown, golden crust will form, making steak packed with flavor on the outside and juicy on the inside;
  5. Reverse sear the steak. Place the steak on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet on the oven’s center rack and cook the steak for about 15 minutes at 275° Fahrenheit. I will cook my steak medium-rare. Cooking times will differ depending on the level of doneness;
  6. Check steak’s internal temperature. Using a meat thermometer, check the steak’s internal temperature. Remove it from the oven when the internal temperature is 15° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness;
  7. Preheat the pan. Place the pan over high heat on a stovetop. It should be smoking hot;
  8. Sear. Place it in a scorching hot pan once the steak is removed from the oven. Remember to add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Give it a sear for about one minute on each side;
  9. Rest. Rest the steak for about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Resting is essential since it allows the meat juice to redistribute throughout the steak’s interior. The meat will become dry if you slice into it straight after it’s removed from the heat source.
  10. Slice the steak. Flanks steak is a big cut of meat; therefore, it’s best when served to share in thin slices. Cut the steak into very, very thin slices, at an angle, across the grain.

Note: here’s an alternative way of cooking flank steak in the oven. First, you’ll need to pan-sear the steak. Once the steak is pan-seared it’ll need to go to the oven.

How To Broil Flank Steak

  1. Bring flank steak to room temperature. Take the steak out of the fridge and season with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave it to rest for about an hour before cooking. Dry brining is an excellent way to tenderize flank steak. If you have time, dry brine the steak overnight;
  2. Set oven for broil. Make sure it’s hot before placing the steak in the oven;
  3. Cutaway tough connective tissue. Flank steak has a tough connective tissue running throughout the entire surface area of the steak. Using a boning or paring knife, remove the tissue;
  4. Pat steak dry. Using paper towels – remove excess moisture from the exterior of the steak. When moisture is left on the surface – steak boils. You want to reduce the moisture evaporation process to a minimum. When searing the steak, a nice brown, golden crust will form, making steak packed with flavor on the outside and juicy on the inside;
  5. Broil. Place the steak on a wire rack onto the baking sheet. The baking sheet will collect excess marinade or fat drippings. Place the baking sheet onto the oven rack about 5 inches away from the heat source above. Broil the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side before turning;
  6. Check steak’s internal temperature. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak and check the reading. Continue cooking until the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness. Steak continues to cook for another few more minutes when removed from the heat;
  7. Rest. Rest the steak for about 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Resting is essential since it allows the meat juice to redistribute throughout the steak’s interior. The meat will become dry if you slice into it straight after it’s removed from the heat source.
  8. Slice the steak. Flanks steak is a big cut of meat; therefore, it’s best when served to share in thin slices. Cut the steak into very, very thin slices, at an angle, across the grain.

How To Choose The Right Cut Of Meat

how to buy a good quality flank steak

A hardcore meat lover will easily distinguish grass-fed beef from grain-fed beef. Grass-fed steak has much more flavor. It has more marbling and a slightly different texture. It also packs more nutrients than the cows raised in an unnatural environment.

Grain-fed is not as flavorful as grass-fed beef. You can quickly notice the difference in marbling. The grain-fed cow has less marbling – which translates to less flavor.

However, it’s hard to find organic beef in most supermarkets. Most beefsteaks sold in supermarkets are grain-fed due to a lower price.

If looking to buy beef steak raised in their natural habitat, you’ll need to go to your local butcher shop or farmers market. Whole foods supermarkets have organic beef; however, it costs more than grain-fed steaks.

There are also dry-aged and wet-aged steaks. If budget is not a problem, then dry-aged is by far the best option.

Since dry-aged steak is aged for about 5 weeks – the flavors intensify. You’ll need to look for a dry-aged steak at specialized butchers shops.

Wet-aged steaks are cheaper and readily available. Because they are vacuum sealed and aged for 10 days, they become more tender. The flavor intensifies, meaning they are more delicious to eat.

Here’s a list of things to look for when buying a good quality flank steak (if not on a budget):

  • Grass-fed. If money is not an issue, always go for a grass-fed steak. It packs more flavor and is more nutritious. Grain-fed steak should be a budget option;
  • Color. A bright red color is an excellent indicator of good quality beef. Light red and pink steaks tend to be less flavorful and not as tender;
  • Smell. Stay away from meats that have an ammonia odor. Good quality flank steak should be odorless;
  • Marbling. The more marbling a steak has, the more flavorful it is. Look for tiny white flecks of marbling running throughout the surface of the steak. Stay away from the meat that has no marbling;
  • Texture. The steak should be firm in texture.

Steak Doneness Temperature Chart

steak temperature chart
  • Rare steak: 125° F;
  • Medium rare steak: 135° F;
  • Medium steak: 145° F;
  • Medium-well steak: 150° F;
  • Well done, steak: 160° F.

Use a meat thermometer to check the steak’s internal temperature. Stick the probe into the thickest part of the steak to get an accurate reading.

There’s a finger test method to check steak’s doneness. Most chefs and more advanced home cooks use this method. It’s as accurate as using a thermometer, and it does not create tiny holes in the steak, which makes juices leak.

Note: remember to remove steak from the heat source when the internal temperature is 5° Fahrenheit below the desired doneness.

Hot To Store Steak

Store a fresh steak for up to three days in a refrigerator and up to six months in a sealed bag in a freezer. However, remember to check the expiration date on the package. I’m using restaurant guidelines.

If you have any steak leftovers – store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days in a fridge. Reheat them in a skillet or preheated oven.

Best Flank Steak Marinades

Here’s a list of my favorite flank steak marinades:

FAQ

Is flank steak the same as skirt steak?

Flank steak is not the same as skirt steak. Skirt steak cut is located in the diaphragm area, while flank is located directly under the cow’s loin.

Do you have to tenderize flank steak?

It’s better to tenderize flank steak because it’s a chewy cut of beef. You can make a tender flank steak with a generous amount of kosher salt. Once salted, the steak should be left in a fridge, ideally for about 24 hours before cooking.

Does flank steak get more tender the longer you cook it?

Slow-cooked flank steak gets more tender. However, if you leave it on a grill or a skillet for too long – it’ll get even tougher and dry.

Does flank steak need to be marinated?

Marinating flank steak is a good idea if you tend to grill it. It tenderizes the steak as well as adds more flavor. However, salt and pepper keep steak flavors natural and not overpowering.

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