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.)

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Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

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

Method

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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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23 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. Renee

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

  5. paula

    That looks perfect!

    I’ve never considered flank steak to be tough, in fact I consider it to be one of the more tender cuts, when sliced thinly against the grain. I usually marinate it but that’s mainly for flavor.

    Heck, it’s generally $8 or more per pound here. Anything at that price shouldn’t need marinating to make it tender.

  6. Shibi

    Mmmmmmmmmm. Looks lovely. Now I want to eat this for breakfast! I will most certainly make this flank steak this weekend. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Kalyn

    The photos turned out great; this looks delicious. Your mother is such a brilliant cook!

  8. Tri

    Great pictures! I love to cook flank steak on my cast iron skillet. I find it is good to buy a lot of it while it’s on sale and freeze it. I make it about once a week. I will have to try your recipe next time. Have you tried using Montreal Steak Seasoning? If you haven’t you should check it out. I have found it is the fastest way to make a great steak. I simply use kosher salt, montreal steak seasoning, fresh ground pepper and sear on the cast iron skillet. And like you said, slice thinly, against the grain. BTW, I love your blog! Keep up the good work.

  9. Mary

    What’s the difference between flank steak and London Broil? Are they the same thing? I have a bunch of London Broils I bought on sale in my freezer, and I wonder if I can make them this way.

    London Broil used to describe a method for cooking a lean steak such as flank or top round, by quick searing, such as described in this recipe. The term has now evolved to describe the cut, which is usually top round, and usually somewhat thick. My mom’s London broil is almost identical to this flank steak recipe other than there is no poking the meat with a knife, and she finishes it off in the oven. ~Elise

  10. Denise

    I had no idea that flank steak could be pan-fried. The only way I know how to prepare it is on the grill or stuffed and rolled in the oven. Thank you for another quick and delicious idea. Your mom rocks!

    Yep, she certainly does rock. :-) ~Elise

  11. courtney

    Oh it looks like your mom cooked that perfectly. We don’t buy flank steak because there are only two of us. It is one of my inlaw’s favorites, but my mother in law insist that my father in law cook the entire thing until it is well done (can you wonder why they think I don’t like steak). On the other hand it just makes it that much easier to impress my husband in the kitchen.

  12. RebeccaC

    This is wonderful. My old apartment had a grill and we often made grilled flank steak for supper. I moved into my fiances condo this spring and we don’t have any outdoor space for grilling which has left us absolutely CRAVING flank steak. I’ll be making this recipe TONIGHT.

  13. jonathan

    Now, I’m well aware of your Mom’s disdain for anything but knives for most of her food prep, but my butcher and I swear by this little number…

    http://www.tenderizemeat.com/meat-tenderizer-jaccard-meat-tenderizer-p-2427.html

    Safer than a mandoline – promise. So long as it’s used for it’s “intended” purpose.

    I fear with that comment I may have created an even more interesting device for use in future slasher films.

    Please assure Mom that I have a lovely set of knives that I keep well-honed and sharp as a razor, and absloutely love using.

    Now, aside from my obvious gadget fetish, I do love flank steak, most often marinated and grilled. Carne Asada anyone? This quick pan sear method (without the need for weaponry of any kind) is also wonderful for ribeye — a thick one, followed by a quick oven roast. I refer you to Alton Brown for that one.

  14. Kerry

    I use a very similar technique with flank steak using dry mustard and a dusting of fresh ground pepper but I omit the butter and sub a 50/50 mix of EV olive oil and canola oil (had a heart attack and now avoid as much of the bad fats as I can stand…I miss Bagna Cauda!!).

    When deglazing I use a healthy splash (1/2C+) of pinot noir or chianti, let it cook down a bit then add a few tablespoons of 2% milk, then stir and let reduce to a thick sauce. If I remember, I add fresh cracked pepper with the milk.

    Sliced thin and served hot over an iceberg lettuce salad w/ sliced red onions. Good Stuff.

  15. Peter Albertson

    It’s a delicious way to do a flank steak, which is the original London Broil. Anything else called London Broil is a newcomer. Trust me, I’m 75 and my folks were both in the restaurant industry. I’m shocked that your Mom sticks it with a knife all over. I never do that; the meat will weep. The dry mustard is a nice idea; never done that. Once I used ghee instead of my usual olive oil or butter. Was pretty good.

    Your Simply Recipes is a great site and I love it.

  16. steamy kitchen

    Kalyn and I have agreed that you are steak-photography goddess!!!

    Oh Jaden, I think you are the reigning queen in that department. ~Elise

  17. Teresa

    Great recipe! I followed instructions and it turned out delicious. Thanks!

  18. Dana

    Wonderful! Simple and easy, with great flavor. Going to use this one a lot. Enjoy.

  19. Diane

    This is excellent — so easy to make and with a perfect buttery texture. Hubby and I just gulped down almost the entire steak in one sitting. I wanted to save half for later this week, but that’s no longer possible… Thanks for sharing.

  20. JeffCJ

    I was in a hurry to cook dinner tonight, and somewhat despairing because I had this lovely cut of meat that said “london broil,” and all the recipes I found said you had to marinate it, usually at least overnight. But then I discovered that “london broil” is really flank steak (as far as cuts go), and stumbled onto this (relatively) quick and easy recipe. Dinner was cooked on time, and I have to say it was excellent! Thanks for saving the day! (Or the dinner at least!)

  21. Ostara63

    Tried this recipe adding a bit of garlic and oregano to it, as well. It cooked to a perfect extra-rare. What a taste! And, what an easy way to get a meal on the table in 15 minutes. Will make this over and over again; I’m certain of that!

  22. Terri

    Yummy…so tasty and QUICK! Made just as directed. This will be a staple going forward. Served with tomato pie and summer squash. Thank you!

  23. Lubica Weston

    I have always broiled my flank steak. It came out alright, sometimes little burnt on top and chewy. Since I have recently moved and have a new kitchen with induction cooktop I’ve decided to look for a “pan fried” flank steak. Your recipe had very nice step by step directions accompanied by very helpful pictures. After I cooked and sliced the steak I noticed that I had very little juices on the cutting board. They all stayed in and made the meat very tender. From now on I will only use this method to prepare flank steak. This is a WINNER!

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