Quick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak

Quick and EasyPaleoBeefFlank Steak

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

Photography Credit: 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

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

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Steak resting time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

raw flank steak on butcher paper

  • 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 cuts in flank steak

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 rub flank steak with butter

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 sear flank steak in frying pan

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 seared flank steak in pan

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

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.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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48 Comments / Reviews

No ImageQuick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Trang

    great recipe! simple but effective! thank you for the details with cooking timing and I think the cuts in the steaks really help to the flavors to permeate better. I added compound butter to it and had a great medium rare steak!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Joseph

    It is my opinion flank is way better and easy to find, Hanger if you like well or medium well is very tough but be cooked to a rare, or rare medium at the most, ask your butcher they will tell you the same. And for the person that said they bought a price cut and a prime flank and a prime brisket, yow dat was a ton of bucks. But Flank dats da way to go.Good directions iron skillet da way to go or a stainless steel not a non stick skillet, as my old associate James Jimmy Beard: “Good Eating”

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Myrtha

    This recipe is our family favorite. We now have Flank Steak Fridays. It’s so easy and soooo good.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Alex

    This is anonymous, right?

    Because I don’t want anyone in real life to know that I just literally licked the pan.

    This was so delicious. I could have eaten the entire steak myself (I stopped myself, don’t worry!) I made it just as written but also added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce. Who knew flank steak could be so incredible?

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Nitrous

    I’m struggling with the rational behind poking the meat to “break up the long fibers”. Since we’re going to be cutting this meat, after cooking against the fiber, what possible use does poking the meat as you have suggested, serve?

    Show Replies (1)
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pan fried flank steakQuick and Easy Pan-Fried Flank Steak