Pan-fried London Broil Steak

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“London Broil” used to be a way of describing a method for cooking lean beef cuts such as flank or top round, which originally was to pan-fry it quickly on medium high to high heat, cook it only to medium rare, and then slice it thinly on the diagonal.

The term has since evolved to a method of marinating, and then either grilling or broiling the steak. Furthermore butchers now sell a cut of beef that is called a London Broil which is typically a couple inches thick and is top round.

London Broil Steak

My mother has a method for pan-frying her steak which she calls London Broil, which does not involve marinating. The steaks we use are usually an inch thick. Her secret?

Butter.

I know. I don’t usually recommend searing anything with butter. If you’re not careful, butter will burn. But if you rub softened butter into well seasoned steaks, and sear the steaks on a cast iron pan heated on medium high heat, just until you get a good sear and no longer, the flavor really is amazing.

Do you have a favorite way to prepare London Broil? Tell us about it in the comments.

Updated, from the recipe archive. Originally posted in 2006. 

Pan-fried London Broil Steak Recipe

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  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

We recommend using a well-seasoned cast-iron frying pan for this recipe, which can take high heat and are relatively stick-free. If you do not have a cast iron pan, you can use a thick-bottomed frying pan. If using stainless steel, heat a little canola oil or olive oil in the pan first, before adding the steak.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb top round cut of steak
  • Kosher salt
  • Dry mustard
  • Pepper
  • Butter, softened to room temperature

Method

1 Remove steak from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature (only do this with whole cuts of meat, never with ground meat.) Cut away any tough connective tissue on the surface of the steak. Use a meat pounder to even out the thickness of the steak if necessary. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt on both sides.

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2 Heat a large, cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Rub a little dry mustard into both sides of the steak. Sprinkle both sides again with salt, and with a little black pepper. Rub butter over both sides of the steak.

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3 Place the steak in the hot pan. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (without moving), check before flipping to make sure it has nicely browned.

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4 At this point, if you have a steak only an inch thick or less, you can take the skillet off the heat and just let the steak sit for several minutes in the skillet (tent the steak with aluminum foil). The cast iron pan will retain enough heat to cook the steak to medium rare.

You can use a finger pressure method to test for doneness. You can also test for doneness by using a small sharp knife and cutting into the center to check the color. Or, if the steak is brown on both sides and it is weeping red juice, it's done.

If you have a steak thicker than an inch-thick, you can finish it off in the oven, at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or so.

Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the steak. Pull it out of the oven at 130°F for medium rare (the steak will continue to rise in temperature for a few minutes after you pull it out).

If you are using the oven method, when done, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it.

You want to cook the steak only to medium rare, as cooking it further will make it more tough.

5 Slice the steak thinly, across the grain.

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Links:

A great write-up on About.com on the origins of London Broil

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Showing 4 of 66 Comments

  • Becki

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe – don’t see London Broil being used very often so its nice to find a good recipe preparation! They always have it on sale at our Harris Teeter so I have been looking for good recipes. The last time I made it I did it just like a flank steak – scored it and then marinaded overnight in a soy sauce based marinade..grilled and then thinly sliced.. Turned out really well!

  • Jim Gauntt

    Elise, would you be so kind as to add a quick method for a “scrumptious” pan sauce to be made from this preparation? I think from all the comments it might be a worthy addition to the discussion and dish…thanks for letting me give you something else to do :-)

  • Greg N

    I marinate my london broil overnight in a cup of balsamic vinegar, half a cup of olive oil, and a liberal amount of Dijon mustard. I then grill/rest to medium rare. Usually serve with sauteed onions and the in-season vegetable.

    My favorite french country restaurant served something similar. Alas they are long gone, but through several years of trial and error this is a very close copy.

  • Sally

    A close look at the grain of top round, as in your nice photo, shows it perpendicular to the flat side of the meat. If you don’t plan to slice it from the big, flat side the only way to get cross-grain slices is to cut on the diagonal. A 45° angle is best. The difference in texture and even taste is remarkable.

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