What’s a Butterfly Steak? How (and Why) to Butterfly and Stuff Steak

September 21, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

To butterfly a steak, simply take a steak and slice it lengthwise, stopping before you reach the end. Once cut, you can open the steak. The two sides will be uniform, resembling a butterfly. The reason steaks are butterflied is so you can fill them with ingredients, so they cook more evenly, and so they cook faster. You’ll also brown more surface area when meat is butterflied.

I’ve been butterflying steak since my cooking school days. My butterflied and stuffed beef tenderloin is legendary. It’s packed with flavor and looks like a million bucks. Today, I’m sharing that recipe with you.

Let me fill you in on how to butterfly a steak. The recipe comes later. I promise.

Butterfly Steak

What Are Butterfly Steaks?

Butterfly steaks are steaks that have been cut lengthwise. They are not cut all the way through – the end of the meat is intact and holds the pieces together. Both sides of the meat will match, like a butterfly’s wings. I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step in a minute, but here’s a video if you’re not getting it.

Butterflying a steak lets it cook faster. It is excellent for roasting or grilling. Butterflied steak can also be loaded up with ingredients (i.e., seasonings, cheese, cured meats, etc). 

Note: if you stuff your steak, it won’t cook more quickly.

I don’t recommend butterflying good steaks like ribeye or strip steak. That’s a waste of good steak.

It’s more commonly done with butcher’s cuts of beef steaks, along with pork steaks. Chicken breast is another prime candidate for butterflying. Beef tenderloin is the only expensive cut of beef I’d recommend butterflying. It’s a lean and bland cut and could use an infusion of flavor from stuffing it.

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How to Butterfly a Steak?

Step 1: Get a Steak, a Sharp Knife, and a Sturdy Cutting Board 

First, you’ll need a piece of steak. You’ll also need a cutting board and a razor-sharp knife. 

Keep your knives sharp. Sharp knives are safer than dull knives. You are less likely to miscut or use too much pressure with a good sharp knife. 

Step 2: Lay the Steak on the Cutting Board 

To butterfly a steak, lay the steak on your cutting board. Get a very sharp knife and hold the steak with your non-knife hand. 

Step 3: Start Slicing 

Make a neat cut in one motion down the center of the meat. Again, you don’t want to slice all the way through. Stop cutting just before you reach the end of the steak. Leave enough uncut meat so the two sides of the meat will stay together.

Step 4: Open It Up 

After finishing the cut, you can open it up.

Step 5: Stuff It 

If you want to fill it with ingredients, now’s the time.

The sky is the limit for what you stuff the meat with. I’ve seen seasonings, veggies, cured meats, fresh herbs, and more get rolled up in the butterflied meat. Use your imagination.

Step 6: Roll the Meat Up

Starting from one side, roll the meat up. When sliced, you’ll have elegant pinwheels. Here’s a video on how to roll it up if you need help.

If you butterflied the meat so it will cook more quickly and evenly, or so more surface area will get browned, don’t roll it up.  

Step 7: Cook the meat

I always grill my food when possible. The live fire of a grill adds flavor that your oven or stove can’t. This recipe can also be pan-fried. 

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Butterflied Beef Tenderloin Steak Recipe

Serves: 4

Note: Chateaubriand is the trimmed center portion of whole beef tenderloin. This is an elegant dish. Chateaubriand is one of the finest cuts of meat on a steer.

Steak Ingredients

  • 1 beef tenderloin chateaubriand, about 2 pounds  
  • Spices: 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Stuffing ingredients: ¼ cup tapenade (homemade or your favorite store brand), four slices of provolone cheese, and fresh oregano.
  • Store-bought horseradish sauce for serving. 


Step 1

Prep the steak. Most tenderloins will have a tough layer of silverskin. Use a paring knife to remove it. Here is a video demonstrating how to remove silverskin from beef.

Step 2

Butterfly the steak. Use a sharp knife to make an incision along the length of the roast, slicing most of the way through the meat. Season the meat with the black pepper and ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound or ¼ teaspoon of table salt per pound. Refrigerate uncovered tenderloin for 4 to 6 hours. This is dry brining the meat, which adds flavor and helps the steak retain moisture, which makes it juicier.

Step 3

Fire up your grill. We’ll start by smoking the steak over indirect heat and then finishing it over high heat. This is known as reverse searing. Get your grill temperature to 225°F, and set it up for indirect grilling. When indirect grilling, food is cooked away from the fire, not directly over it. 

On a charcoal grill, shove all the coals to one side. Throw wood chips or chunks on the fire. On a gas grill, only use one burner, and place a foil pouch with wood chips on the flame. Oak or hickory wood will work nicely, but use whatever wood you like.

Step 4

Prep the beef. Spread the tapenade across the butterflied portion of the chateaubriand. Liberally sprinkle some fresh oregano on top of the tapenade. Top with the provolone cheese. Roll up the beef tenderloin, and tie it together using butcher’s twine.

Sliced Pink Beef Steak

Step 5

Smoke the tenderloin. Get the tenderloin on the side of the grill with no fire under it. Let it smoke at 225°F until the interior reaches 110°F, about 45 minutes. Once it hits this temp, crank up the heat on your grill to 500°F or more. Finish cooking over direct heat for around 5 minutes per side, until the center reads 125°F for medium-rare.

Remove the meat from the heat. Transfer to a cutting board. Slice into at least 1” thick slices, and serve with the horseradish dipping sauce. Feast.


There you go – everything you needed to know about making butterflied steak. I hope you give my butterflied steak tenderloin recipe a try. It’ll make vegetarians drool. Play around with butterflying your own meat, experimenting with different fillings and cooking techniques. 

Remember, to butterfly a steak, you only need two simple tools – a cutting board and knife! Some butcher’s twine and toothpicks are handy, too. Butterflying speeds up cooking times, increases the surface area of the meat (more browning means more flavor), and makes meat cook more evenly. Happy grilling!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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