All About Flank Steak, and 6 Tips on How to Cook It

May 23, 2014

Each week this summer, Cara Nicoletti of The Meat Hook is helping us get to know our favorite cuts a little bit better – and introducing you to a few new ones, too. Read on, study up, then hightail it to your nearest butcher.

Today: We're learning all about flank steak -- including how to cook it to perfection.

All about Flank Steak on Food52

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Friends, we made it! It’s grilling season! Which means that it’s time to talk about meat. While it isn’t seasonal like fruits and vegetables, there are definitely times of the year when certain cuts are more popular than others. In the fall and winter, for example, we tend to gravitate towards cuts that go in cozy braises and comforting stews, cuts that pair well with belly-warming red wines and toasty bourbons, ones that leave us sleepy and satisfied. In the spring and summer, we look for cuts that are easy to grill -- cuts that benefit from zippy, fresh, herb-laden marinades, and that pair well with ice-cold beers and refreshing cocktails.

All About Flank Steak on Food52

One of the most popular steaks in spring and summertime is flank steak. If you’re unsure of what this cut looks like, check out the image of Lady Gaga’s meat hat and purse from the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards -- there it is! Flank is popular because it's affordable, flavorful, and works in a wide range of dishes. It’s great grilled and sliced into fajitas, tacossteak salads, Korean bulgogi, stir fry, or steak sandwiches. However, it also works well on its own, sharing a plate with some grilled vegetables or a light salad.

Flank steak gets its beautiful, beefy flavor and satisfying chew from its location on the animal’s body. It lays across the belly of the cow, in between the ribs and the hind legs, in an area that is very well-exercised. Because these muscles are stronger, they are also chewier, and because they get a lot of blood flow, they are also more flavorful. Flank is recognizable by its teardrop shape and the long, thin muscle fibers that run down its length. These muscle striations are what can make flank tough if it isn’t prepared properly, so here are a few tips on how to prepare and cook it.

All about Flank Steak on Food52  All about Flank Steak on Food52

  • Marinate your flank: The acid and the salt in a marinade will help to break up those muscle fibers. You only need to marinate the steak an hour or two -- don’t exceed 24 hours, or the acid in the marinade will begin to “cook” your meat. Be sure to pat the steak dry with a paper towel before grilling to avoid flare-ups.
  • Ask your butcher to tenderize your steak for you with a Jaccard knife (or buy your own!). This will help to break up those testy fibers, and will also allow your marinade to penetrate the top layer of meat.
  • If your butcher doesn’t have a jaccard knife, simply slice the beef across the grain all along the steak. Make 1/4-inch deep slices about an inch apart to break up the muscle.
  • Cook it quickly at high heat. Flank tends to get chewier the longer it’s cooked, so cook it to a nice rare or medium rare (125° F to 130° F) -- about 3 to 4 minutes for the first side, and 2 minutes on the second side.
  • Let your steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it to seal in the juices and let the muscle relax -- this is a must for every steak. Tent some foil over it to keep it warm.
  • Slice it against the grain. This is very important for a cut like flank. It's also quite easy, since the muscle graining is so apparent -- just slice perpendicular to the grain!

More: Need a simple flank steak recipe? This one's bloody good.

All about Flank Steak on Food52

What are your tricks for preparing flank steak?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • carmella bellia
    carmella bellia
  • Mike J
    Mike J
  • Johnny DiVincenzo
    Johnny DiVincenzo
  • MeechieNell
  • Vicki Schrader
    Vicki Schrader
Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Cara started working in restaurants when she moved to New York in 2004, and was a baker and pastry chef for several years before following in her grandfather and great-grandfathers' footsteps and becoming a butcher. She is the writer behind the literary recipe blog,, and author of Voracious, which will be published by Little, Brown in 2015. She is currently a whole-animal butcher and sausage-making teacher at The Meat Hook in Williamsburg.


carmella B. June 19, 2016
I am a first time reader, great advice ,looking forward to more good stuff,thanks c.b. from brooklyn
Mike J. May 19, 2016
I sure don't like how the term butcher is used. A "butcher" is a person who slaughters the meat and sections it into Quarters or even smaller sections. A "meat Cutter" is the person in the grocery store or restaraunt who cuts the meat into specific types of steaks. Just sayin
Johnny D. May 17, 2016
Flank stake is the Rodney Dangerfield of steak, it gets no respect. I grew up on Flank steak.
MeechieNell March 30, 2015
I read Mark Duckor's article about 'Frambled Eggs' being a new way to cook eggs.... not so! Where my grandfather came from down South, that same way of cooking eggs us called 'Stirred Aigs' and I've beeb making them since I was 8 yrs. old.... I'm in my 60s now. So much for new ways. But they are delicious!
Vicki S. June 15, 2014
I add Balsamic vinegar all over my steak and leave my meat to get to room temperature, when I'm ready to cook I use paper towels to remove all moisture before cooking. I rest for 5 min and eat. fantastic results, I'm yet to taste any better from any Resturant.
M May 31, 2014
Anyone know what flank steak is called in the UK? I've tried to get it from my butcher several times, but get funny looks!
Carol D. March 30, 2015
Hi, flank steak is also called skirt steak
j August 14, 2017
Deb May 25, 2014
This is such useful info! I love Cara's writing style and am looking forward to reading more of what she has to say! Great addition to Food52!
Marcy May 24, 2014
Great article. So happy to see Cara Nicoletti here. She is the BEST. I just subscribed to Food52 so I could read her here. Whenever a new Yuumy Books piece appears in my email I know it's going to be a good day. Can't wait to see what's next. Thanks Cara!
Catherine L. May 24, 2014
She is the best! We're so excited to have her on the site, sharing her expertise.