Flank Steak is one of those cuts of beef that is incredibly tasty when done well, but can also be really easy to mess up. I will show you all my tips and tricks to get a flavorful, juicy, and tender flank steak, grilled outside or under the broiler! Using a great marinade, slicing correctly, and cooking hot and fast are the secrets to a fabulous flank steak. 

grilled flank steak

I’m probably on my 15th run through of Taylor Swift’s new album, and I’m halfway through a bulk package of Andes mints. Yes, my Friday’s going pretty well, how ’bout yours?

It’s going much better than yesterday. Yesterday was one of THOSE DAYS. You know the ones.

how to cook flank steak

Beef Flank Steak

I prepped all morning to get ready for the photo shoot with this here flank steak. I had photographed the Chimichurri sauce the day before, the steak happily marinating in it for 24 hours. I set up the table on the porch where I do my photos. I did some last minute research. I turned my gas grill to high heat, as necessary for flank steak.

Then I brought my beautiful steak outside to a completely cold grill, because the propane had run out. NOOOOOO

So I frantically call Eric to find out what to do, because of course refilling the propane tank is usually his job. He gives me the run down and I lug the thing to the gas station, still in my apron.

Broil flank steak

Finally I get to grilling, and I set a timer on my phone to turn the heat down from high from the initial sear. Then I went to help Valentine (age 2) in the bathroom and got completely sidetracked, and also my timer literally just didn’t go off.

So my first flank steak was completely overcooked. NOOOOOO

But today has been much better. Not only because of the Andes mints. I bought another flank steak, marinated, grilled it to perfection WITH 3 TIMERS SET no joke, and got it all photographed.

Except the battery on my camera died literally on the last picture that I was planning on taking. It’s always something, right??

cooking flank steak

Do you have plans for Labor Day weekend? Eric and I are taking it pretty easy. We did the calendar math a couple weeks ago and realized this is our last event-free Saturday for literally months. Eric plans to get ahead on yard work. I plan to lounge in my yoga pants and eat more Andes mints.

Well if your plans involve grilling, THIS IS THE RECIPE YOU NEED. If you’ve never cooked your own Flank steak before, the time is now. This stuff is so good, and with the chimichurri sauce? Forgetaboutit. You are seriously going to be everyone’s favorite person if you make this for your cookout.

What is Flank steak?

how to cook flank steak

Flank steak is a long and thinly cut strip of muscle from below the loin. It is long and flat, and fairly easy to recognize once you know what you’re looking for. Often it is sold in stores rolled up in a neat little bundle. Flank steak is very lean, boneless, and full of delicious beefy flavor. The cut does not have a lot of fat, which is why marinating flank steak is a really great way to go. (And why cooking it properly is really, really important. An overcooked flank steak is a chewy mess.)

Is Flank Steak the same as Skirt Steak?

No, but Flank steak and INSIDE skirt steak are situated next to each other on the cow. They are both long and thin cuts of meat, so they are sometimes confused with each other. (For more info about Skirt steaks and the big difference between inside and outside skirt steaks, see my Carne Asada recipe.)

Both the flank steak and the inside skirt steak come from the abdominal area which mean both have tough muscular fibers from a lot of use during the cow’s life. No stress​​—this recipe has all you need to tenderize this leaner cut of beef. You’re gonna love it!

Marinating Beef Flank Steak is the best!

Because flank steak does not have a lot of fat to add flavor, marinating is one of the best and easiest ways to tenderize the meat and infuse it with tons of flavor. Because flank steak is so thin, it is really great at absorbing marinade.

Really any marinade that you have used and love is going to work great with flank steak. The basic elements of a good marinade are fat, acid, and flavor. Fat means oil (olive oil is great), acid means lemons, limes, vinegar, wine, or even dairy (like buttermilk), and flavor means spices and herbs. And garlic. Garlic should get it’s own category because it’s so transcendent. Also, it’s not required, but it is delicious to add something sweet like honey or brown sugar.

grilled flank steak chimichurri

My personal favorite way to marinate a flank steak is with Chimichurri Sauce, which I posted earlier this week. I love the intense garlic-y flavor, and how it doubles as a marinade and as a serving sauce. It is SO GOOD. I include a simple marinade in the recipe below, but highly recommend using Chimichurri Sauce.

How do you cook flank steak so it’s not tough?

Marinate. Marinate. Marinate! But while we’re on the subject, let’s review all the basics of tender flank steaks.

  1. Marinate. 4 hours is ideal. Anything from 2 to 24 hours is fine (but not longer; see below!) If you only have 15 minutes . . . I’m going to say it’s your call. A flank steak is a tougher meat. It just is. The best way to tenderize it is to give it time in a marinade. The other option is to tenderize it via beating it with a mallet. (I looked for a verb that meant “beat it with a mallet” more concisely and couldn’t find one, go figure.)
  2. Remove meat from the refrigerator 30-40 minutes before cooking, so that it starts cooking at room temperature.
  3. Pat the meat down with paper towels to remove the marinating liquid and any bits of spices that could overcook with the high heat used for making flank steak. You’re not steaming your flank steak, you’re broiling or grilling it!
  4. Cook first on high heat and then on medium heat. Don’t overcook! Flank steaks are thin! Don’t burn your first steak like I did!!! And don’t keep the heat up the whole time, going for a crispy edge. Just say no. Basically, you’ve already gotten the crispy edges with the initial temperature, which also sealed in the juices. Now you need to bring the heat to medium, to coax the tenderness from this naturally stiff, but flavorful, meat.
  5. Remember, the temperature climbs about 5 degrees after the meat is off the grill. Take the flank steak off the heat once its internal temperature reaches 130 degrees for a medium rare, or 5 degrees below your preferred doneness. Flank steak should really only be served medium rare. If you want well done steak, choose a different cut. See notes on the recipe for an internal temperature guide.
  6. Cut against the grain. Much of the toughness of a slice of meat comes from cutting it incorrectly and too soon. Let the meat rest five minutes! Read the slicing instructions below and cut against the grain! Flank steaks need to be sliced thin in order to maximize their tenderness.

grilled flank steak

Can you marinate flank steak too long?

Yes. Great tenderizing marinades, including the one featured in this recipe, have acids like vinegar or lemon juice in them that can make the meat taste sour and look overly grey if soaked for too long.

Do not marinate for over 24 hours.

Do you have to tenderize flank steak?

No. Unlike skirt steaks, which often require tenderizing, a flank steak will tenderize sufficiently with a marinade and correct slicing, which cuts the long muscle fibers into short pieces.

How to make Grilled Flank Steak

The key to grilling a tender, juicy flank steak is to get the job done hot and fast! Here’s an overview; instructions are also in the recipe below.

Grilled Flank Steak

  1. Turn your grill to high heat, about 450 degrees.
  2. Let the grill heat up for about 15 minutes so that it’s good and hot.
  3. Sear for 1 minute on each side (set two timers!! Ignore your 2-year-old when she says she needs something!!) and then turn the heat down to medium to finish cooking.
  4. Flip once about halfway through after you’ve turned your grill to medium. Times for medium, medium rare, etc, are below in the recipe. I HIGHLY recommend a meat thermometer. Every grill and flank steak is different. Meat thermometers do not lie.

How to cook Flank Steak in the oven

Sometimes you will see Flank steak labeled as a London Broil, because it’s the perfect cut of meat for broiling! It’s a great method to use especially in the winter when you don’t have access to a grill.

Turn your broiler on to high heat, and set your oven rack so that the steak will be about 3-4 inches below the heat source. Use your broiler pan, if you haven’t tossed it out in a fit of kitchen space or lack there of (that would be me). If you don’t have one, line a baking sheet with foil and layer a cooling rack on top, like this. Easy peasy.

how to cook flank steak oven

Broil on high heat for about 11-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of your flank steak, flipping halfway through. Use a meat thermometer! Full instructions are in the recipe below.

How to cut Flank steak

Flank steak is made up of long and lean muscles that all run in the same direction. It’s called the “grain” of the meat. It’s important to cut these grains into shorter pieces so that your teeth aren’t doing all the work. To get a really tender flank steak, cut the meat into very thin 1/4 inch slices “on the bias” and “against the grain.”

“On the bias” means you should be cutting at a 45 degree angle, not straight up and down like you would slice bread. (This increases the surface area of each bite, and shortens the muscle fibers, enhancing tenderness.) Also it looks better as far as presentation goes.

how to slice flank steak

“Against the grain” means that your knife should be cutting the meat perpendicular to the lines of muscle (“grain”) that you can see on the flank steak. Your knife should cut where the black lines are (only much thinner slices.)

How to store and reheat Beef Flank Steak

Store cooked flank steak, refrigerated, in an air-tight container for 3-4 days.

To reheat, consider the microwave! Simple, yes. But if you add gravy, beef stock, or even a bit of water to the bottom of a microwave-safe container covered with plastic wrap, the microwave doesn’t do too bad.

For stovetop reheating, be sure to add the same liquids to the grilling surface. (I’m not going to argue if you want to use butter.)

If you’ve got the time for oven-roasting, set the temperature to 250 degrees. Add a bit of gravy, beef stock, or water in the pan and cook the flank steak just until heated through, no more.

What is flank steak

And there you have it! It really is that easy! Cooking flank steak is not intimidating once you know the rules (and once you get a timer that actually goes off :) If you are looking for more great recipes for this weekend, check out the links below! Tri Tip, Ribeye Steak, or Cuban Mojo Pork are other grill recipes that are always huge crowd pleasers (and that I’m particularly fond of.) Have a great Labor Day weekend everybody!

Serving suggestions for Flank Steak

Mm, what to eat with your 3-ounce serving size (or 9-ounce–no one’s judging here) flank steak? What is there not to eat with it!?!

More recipes that you’re going to love!

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close up of tender flank steak broiled on top with herbs
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How to Cook Flank Steak (Grilled or Oven Broiled)

Flank Steak is one of those cuts of beef that is incredibly tasty when done well, but can also be really easy to mess up. I will show you all my tips and tricks to get a flavorful, juicy, and tender flank steak, grilled outside or under the broiler! Using a great marinade, slicing correctly, and cooking hot and fast are the secrets to a fabulous flank steak. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Start by choosing a great flank steak at the store. Look for one that is uniform in thickness if you can find it, to ensure even cooking. (Costco sells fabulous flank steaks in a 2 pack. Cook one and freeze the other for next time!)
  • Unroll the steak and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Place the steak in a large ziplock bag, or in a glass casserole dish with a lid.
  • Rub about 1/4 cup homemade Chimichurri sauce (click here for the recipe) all over both sides of the flank steak. OR you can use your favorite marinade (see notes for a different marinade idea).
  • Seal the bag or put the lid on your dish. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. Turn the steak at least once or twice during the marinade (which is why I prefer using ziplocks; I don't like getting my hands messy)
  • Take the steak out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 30-40 minutes before cooking, so that it starts cooking at room temperature.

How to grill flank steak

  • Make sure your grill has been scraped clean of any remaining bits from the last time you grilled.
  • Heat your grill to the highest setting, about 450 degrees. Let the grill heat for at least 15 minutes to make sure it's REALLY hot.
  • Discard any marinade that is not sticking to your flank steak.
  • Just before you are ready to put the steak on the grill, oil the grates. I like to add a little olive oil to a bowl, dip a paper towel in it lightly (don't soak it) and rub the grill grates where the steak is going to go.
  • Place your steak on the grill and shut the lid. Set a timer for 1 minute, or 2 minutes if it's a very thick steak.
  • Open the lid and flip the steak. Shut the lid and set a timer for another 1-2 minutes.
  • After this initial sear, don't open the lid again. Simply turn the heat down to medium.
  • Cook the steak over medium heat for 6-10 minutes, opening the grill to flip the steak one time at the halfway point. Keep an eye on it and don't walk away. Use your meat thermometer. Rely on the meat thermometer, not on cooking times. See notes below for doneness temperatures.
  • When your steak has reached the temperature that is 5 degrees BELOW what you want your final temperature to be (see notes), remove from the grill and place on a rimmed platter to catch any drippings.
  • Tent your steak with foil to keep it warm while it rests for 5 minutes. You need to let the steak rest, or all the juices will run out of the steak when you slice it.
  • Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice the steak into thin 1/4 inch strips, on the bias against the grain. "On a bias" means you should be cutting at a 45 degree angle, not straight up and down like you would slice bread. (This increases the surface area of each bite, and shortens the muscle fibers, enhancing tenderness.) "Against the grain" means that your knife should be cutting the meat perpendicular to the lines of muscle ("grain") that you can see on the flank steak. See photo.
  • Serve the flank steak with extra Chimichurri Sauce!

How to oven broil flank steak

  • Turn your broiler on to high heat. Let it heat up for 15 minutes at least, to make sure it's good and hot.
  • Meanwhile, place your room temperature flank steak on a greased broiling pan, or on an oven-safe cooling rack that has been set on a baking sheet. (Line the baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. See photo)
  • Position your oven rack so that the meat will be about 3-4 inches from the heat source.
  • Broil the flank steak for about 11-14 minutes (for Medium Rare. See how to measure doneness temperature in the notes below.) At the halfway point (after about 6-7 minutes), remove the pan from the oven, shut the oven door, and flip the steak with tongs. Put the pan back in the oven. (you always want to keep the oven door shut as much as possible so that your oven doesn't cool down.)
  • When the steak reaches the temperature that is 5 degrees BELOW what you want your final temperature to be, remove it from the oven.
  • Place the steak on a rimmed platter to catch any drippings.
  • Tent your steak with foil to keep it warm while it rests for 5 minutes. You need to let the steak rest, or all the juices will run out of the steak when you slice it.
  • Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice the steak into thin 1/4 inch strips, on the bias against the grain. "On a bias" means you should be cutting at a 45 degree angle, not straight up and down like you would slice bread. (This increases the surface area of each bite, and shortens the muscle fibers, enhancing tenderness.) "Against the grain" means that your knife should be cutting the meat perpendicular to the lines of muscle ("grain") that you can see on the flank steak. See photo.
  • Serve the flank steak with extra Chimichurri Sauce!

Notes

Measuring Doneness
Remember to take the steak off the grill when it is 5 degrees BELOW what you want the final temperature to be. The steak will continue cooking once off the heat; this is called "carryover cooking." So, for example, if you want a Medium Rare steak, take it off the grill or out of the oven at 130 degrees F. 
  • Rare: 125 degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 135 degrees F
  • Medium: 145 degrees F
  • Medium Well: 155 degrees F
  • Well Done: 165 degrees F
*Chimichurri sauce is my favorite marinade to use with flank steak, but you can use any marinade you know and love! The flank steak you see in the photos on the cooling rack (ready to broil) was rubbed with a version of my Tri Tip marinade:
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley (or a handful of chopped fresh parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Nutrition

Serving: 1 steak, Calories: 371 kcal, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 49 g, Fat: 17 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 137 mg, Sodium: 265 mg, Potassium: 773 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Vitamin A: 312 IU, Calcium: 73 mg, Iron: 4 mg