Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak

Flank steak is a lean, flavorful cut of meat that is probably best prepared marinated and cooked over a grill. But sometimes you just don’t have time to marinate the meat or deal with the grill. My mother raised 6 kids (all born within 8 years) on my dad’s teacher’s salary. Which means she is the master of efficiency in the kitchen. This is her favorite method of preparing flank steak. The trick is to put little knife pokes in the meat, breaking up some of the long muscle fibers. When I asked about the juices running out of the meat, it’s not really an issue as the meat is cooked rare, and whatever juices do come out get reduced in the pan and served over the meat.

You wouldn’t want to cook flank steak this way on a grill, as you wouldn’t be able to catch the juices. Also, grilled meat should be marinated first. (For that see our grilled, marinated flank steak recipe.)

Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.



  • 1 1/2 pound flank steak
  • Dry mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Softened butter
  • Salt


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1 Remove the steak from the refrigerator a half hour before cooking. Cut away any tough connective tissue on the surface of the steak. Using the tip of a sharp knife, poke small cuts into the meat, almost all the way through. The cuts should be at an angle, in the direction of the grain of the meat as the knife tip is going in. The cuts should be about an inch apart from each other. Turn the steak over and repeat the cuts on the other side. Make sure that the cuts you are making on this side are parallel with the cuts you made on the other side, otherwise you may cut across an existing cut, and end up poking a hole through the meat.

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2 Sprinkle one side of the steak with dry mustard. (You can use regular mustard if you don't have any dry mustard.) Sprinkle the steak with freshly ground pepper. Rub a tablespoon of butter all over the side of the steak. Turn the steak over and repeat with the dry mustard, pepper, and butter.

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3 Heat a large cast iron frying pan on high heat. Sprinkle both side of the steak with salt (unless you have used salted butter, then you can skip the salt.) Place steak in hot pan. Let sear for 2 to 3 minutes until well browned. Use tongs to lift up to see if nicely browned. If so, flip to the other side and let sear for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the steak continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes in the residual heat of the pan (assuming you are using cast iron, if not, lower the heat to low).

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4 Use your fingertips to check for doneness or insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak - 120°F for very rare, 125°F for rare, or 130°F for medium rare. Flank steak should be served rare or medium rare, otherwise it may be too dry. Remove the steak from the pan to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes, covered with aluminum foil.

5 Cut the meat in very thin slices, at an angle, against the grain of the meat. (This way you break through the tough long muscle fibers.) Any juices that come out of the meat while cutting or resting, return to the pan. Return the pan to a burner on high heat and deglaze the pan with a little water, scraping up any browned bits. Once the water has mostly boiled down, add a little butter to the pan for a nice sauce. Arrange the cut meat on a serving plate and pour the deglazed pan juices over the meat.

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Showing 4 of 27 Comments

  • Linda

    Thank you, once again, Elise and mom for educating me. I have only used flank steak in a green pepper steak recipe I learned from a lovely Chinese woman. The instructions and pictures you posted are excellent and will be of great help in preparing flank this way. I appreciate your providing all of us with such wonderful recipes. Is there a cookbook in your future? I think it would do quite well. Take care!

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I’m the biggest fan of flank steak — on the grill, in stir fry dishes, and most recently made in the slow cooker and turned into ropa vieja. Flank is one of those miraculous cuts of meat; it’s easy to overcook on the grill or stovetop in just a couple of minutes, but braised in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low, it is falling-apart tender.

  • Katie

    Wow! That looks delicious! We always do our top sirloins exactly like this but for some reason have always grilled flank steak. Will have to try this next time. Thanks!

  • Renee

    We love flank steak! Thanks for this easy recipe that sounds so good!

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