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Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak

A quick and easy way of cooking lean flank steak on the stovetop.

pan fried flank steak
Elise Bauer

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.

slicing flank steak
Elise Bauer

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

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Steak resting 10 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. Tenderize the steak with shallow cuts:

    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.

    tenderize flank steak by poking it with a knife tip
    Elise Bauer
    cuts in flank steak
    Elise Bauer
  2. Rub with salt, pepper, dry mustard, and butter:

    Sprinkle one side of the steak with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle the steak with dry mustard. (You can use regular mustard if you don't have any dry mustard.)

    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.

    rub flank steak with dry mustard
    Elise Bauer
    rub flank steak with butter
    Elise Bauer
  3. Sear steak in hot frying pan:

    Heat a large cast iron frying pan on high heat. Place steak in hot pan. Let sear for 2 to 3 minutes until well browned.

    place flank steak in frying pan
    Elise Bauer
    sear flank steak in frying pan
    Elise Bauer

    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.

    turn flank steak over in pan
    Elise Bauer
    seared flank steak in pan
    Elise Bauer
  4. Remove from heat:

    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).

  5. Check for doneness:

    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.

    If the steak isn't done enough to your liking, return the steak and pan to medium high heat for a few minutes.

  6. Let the steak rest:

    Remove the steak from the pan to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes, covered with aluminum foil.

  7. Thinly slice:

    Cut the meat in very thin slices, at an angle, across the grain of the meat. (This way you break through the tough long muscle fibers.)

    slicing flank steak
    Elise Bauer
  8. Boil juices, deglaze pan, add butter to make sauce:

    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.