How to Cook Flank Steak

This flank steak recipe is a family favorite. Learn how to cook flank steak by tenderizing with tiny cuts, then pan-frying in butter on the stove. No marinating required!

Overhead view of a flank steak sliced on a cutting board.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

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.

The Key to Making Juicy, Tender Flank Steak

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.

Side view of a person eating flank steak and a plate of flank steak in front of the person.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

For the Best Flank Steak, Pan Fry

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.)

Overhead view of a flank steak sliced on a cutting board.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

What is Flank Steak?

Flank steak is a cut of meat from a cow's abdomen. It's muscular and has tough fibers. This fairly lean cut of beef is flavorful and less expensive than some other cuts of beef, but it needs careful preparation so it doesn't come out tough. It's sometimes thought to be interchangeable with skirt steak, but skirt steak comes from the diaphragm area of the cow, under the rib section.

Alternatives to Flank Steak

Other steaks work well on the stovetop, too. Try Pan-Fried London Broil or Skirt Steak.


How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Refrigerate leftover sliced flank steak, tightly covered, for 4 to 5 days. Steak is best reheated slowly over low heat in the oven. Reheat flank steak in a 350°F covered in foil until it reaches 110°F.

Use leftovers in Steak Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette or fajitas.

The Best Sides for Flank Steak

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

How to Cook Flank Steak

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

Searing flank steak on the stovetop can produce a lot of smoke. Open your windows, if possible, and get the vents over the range going if you have them.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak

  • Kosher 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.

    Cutting slits in raw flank steak.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
    Cutting slits in raw flank steak.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
  2. Rub the steak 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.

    Seasoning flank steak for a steak recipes pan.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
    Rubbing flank steak with butter to show how to cook flank steak.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
  3. Sear the steak in a 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.

    Cooking flank steak in a cast iron skillet.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
    Cooking flank steak in a cast iron skillet.
    Simply Recipes / 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.

    Picking up flank steak from a pan.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
    Showing how to cook flank steak in a cast iron skillet.
    Simply Recipes / 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.

    Resting flank steak on a cutting board.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
  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 on a cutting board.
    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer
    Flank steak slices on a cutting board.
    Simply Recipes / 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
256 Calories
13g Fat
0g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 256
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 100mg 33%
Sodium 288mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 393mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.