How To Cut Flank Steak the Right Way for the Best Steak Ever

Nicole Austin

Wondering how to cut flank steak the right way? We've got you covered with tips for tender flank steak every time.

If you have been wondering how to cut flank steak the right way, or never knew you needed to know, you've come to the right place.

Because flank steak tends to be tougher than other cuts of beef, knowing how to cut flank steak properly helps ensure delicious results.

Don't be fooled though - this tough cut of meat can easily yield tender, juicy beef dishes with a few quick tips for preparing and slicing.

Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa Photo

What Is Flank Steak?

So, what is flank steak? Flank steak is a flavorful cut of meat that is both relatively inexpensive and versatile for making a wide range of dishes.

Sometimes confused with flat iron steak or skirt steak, flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscle and has a low fat content, making it very lean.

This piece of meat generally measures about one foot long and roughly one inch thick. Typically the whole flank steak is cooked as one piece versus being cut into smaller pieces as with other cuts of meat.

Often one of the least expensive cuts you'll find at the grocery store, flank steak is a lean cut of beef with long muscle fibers that make it particularly tough if cut the wrong way.

Flank steak is particularly well suited to dishes where you need thin slices of beef such as stir fry, fajitas or carne asada.

File 2 - Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa

How To Prepare Flank Steak

When cooking this kind of steak, the proper meat preparation (along with the proper cutting technique) makes all of the difference in your final dish.

To help ensure the most flavorful, tender results, flank steak benefits from being marinated and cooked with a quick cooking method over high heat.

A simple marinade recipe made with Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice or lime juice, olive oil and a splash of soy sauce is a great way to infuse flavor and make your steak tender.

Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa Image

Flank steak is then often cooked on a charcoal or gas grill as it responds beautifully to grilling. Alternately stir frying beef flank steak also lends high quality results.

Marinate the whole steak and then cook it over direct heat until you have the perfect medium-rare flank steak.

Our grilled chipotle lime flank steak recipe is paired with a bright and tangy avocado salsa that makes the most of the juicy beef flavor.

Spicy carne asada tacos or carne asada nachos are other great ways to use flank steak.

Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa Pic

How To Cut Flank Steak

For the best results, flank steak should always be cut against the grain. You'll want to keep this in mind when considering how to cut flank steak.

What does it mean when we talk about the grain? When talking about meat, the grain is the direction in which the long strands of muscle fiber are aligned.

When you look at your steak, you will see thin white streaks in it that show you which way the grain runs.

If you cut in the same direction as these tough fibers, you'll inevitably have steak that is tough and chewy instead of the tender bite of beef you're craving.

Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa Picture

Slicing across the grain of the meat, rather than parallel with it, breaks up the muscle fibers within the flank steak, breaking down those tough connective tissues and giving you the tender flank steak you want.

The grain in your steak will depend on what part of the cow it came from. Areas of the cattle that use more muscle groups, such as flank steak, will be ruined by cutting with the grain which is the critical reason slicing against the grain is the best way to cut.

Steaks like filet mignon or New York strip steak are so tender that it hardly matters how they are cut, though going against the grain is always best.

  1. Cook using your desired cooking method until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 130° to 140°F for medium-rare steak.
  2. Once your steak is prepared to your liking, move the steak to a cutting board to rest for at least ten minutes (longer is ideal) before slicing.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the flank steak by cutting across the grain, ideally at a 45-degree angle for the most tender texture.

Tip: If you will be stir-frying your flank steak or otherwise prefer to slice it before cooking, place the steak in the freezer for ten minutes before thinly slicing across the grain to get consistently thin slices of beef.

File 1 - Chipotle Flank Steak with Avocado Salsa

How To Cut Grass-Fed Beef

When preparing grass-fed beef, be aware that the cooking process is different, but the process for how to cut grass-fed beef is exactly the same as flank steak.

Grass-fed cattle generally have a more active lifestyle, resulting in muscle groups that are typically more pronounced and developed with little fat.

Cutting your grass-fed beef as thinly as possible helps keep the beef tender and while preserving the strong beefy flavor.

With muscle fibers that run parallel and without much fat, cutting thicker slices would leave more to chew through giving you an unpleasant eating experience.

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Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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