How to Cut Flank Steak? A Step-by-Step Guide!

November 28, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Knowing how to cut flank steak is crucial if you want steak with amazing tenderness and flavor. The important thing to note when cutting the flank is to cut the steak against the grain.

The main reason for this is that flank steak, while lean and delicious, is tougher than most beef cuts because of the long muscle fibers that run through the meat.  For the best results, always cut the steak against the grain.

This method of slicing flank steak cuts through the tough muscle fibers, shortening them to make the meat easier to chew. Continue reading to learn how to cut flank steak for the most tender bite.

how to cut flank steak

How to Cut Flank Steak?

What You’ll Need?

  • Cutting board: For flank steak and other raw meat cuts, I recommend using a plastic or dishwasher-safe cutting board because it is easier to clean than a wooden cutting board. 
  • Sharp knife: Make sure you use a sharp 8-inch chef's knife to cut your flank steak. A blunt knife may tear the steak, thereby making it tough.
  • Kitchen towel: A kitchen towel comes in handy when cutting your steak. Place the kitchen towel under the cutting board to keep it from slipping.
  • Carving fork: You’ll need a carving fork to keep the meat steady as you slice it.

Instructions

Step 1

First, you'll need to trim the raw flank steak. Use your sharp knife to slice under one end of the silver skin. The silver skin is a thin membrane found on one side of the steak. Because of the rubbery texture of the silverskin, it's paramount to remove the skin before cooking flank steak.

Place the steak on a cutting board with the silverskin side facing upward. Next, wedge the knife under one end of the membrane. Make sure you don't pierce the flesh. To remove the silverskin, grab the flap and pull it upward. As you pull, use the knife to cut the silver skin from the steak. 

Step 2

Next, remove any large pieces of fat from the raw flank steak with a sharp knife. Remember to leave some fat on the steak because it adds flavor and moisture as the meat cooks. 

Step 3

Now, locate the grain of the steak. The meat grain refers to the arrangement of the muscle fibers. The meat grain runs down the length of a flank steak and is usually visible on the steak. 

Step 4

Using a carving fork, hold the steak in place and keep it from sliding around as you slice it. Use your weaker hand to hold the fork and your dominant hand to slice the meat. Make sure you cut the steak against the grain. Slicing flank steak against the grain is a good way to tenderize tough meat. This is because cutting flank steak against the grain shortens the muscle fibers, making the meat easier to chew. Note that you can slice flank steak before or after cooking it.

Step 5

Make a 45-degree angle cut in the steak. Instead of slicing flank steak straight down, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle as you cut the steak. Cutting the meat at an angle prevents it from becoming chewy and results in slightly wider slices. Next, cut the raw flank steak into thin strips to help keep it tender. Cut the meat ½ -inch thick. This is the ideal size for stir fry but you can cut it to whatever size you prefer. 

Raw Flank Steak with Spices on the Wooden Board

What is Flank Steak?

Flank steak is cut from the cow's abdominal muscle. This steak is long and flat and is made up of long fibers. Flank steak is also a lean cut, which can make it tough to eat if not cooked properly. For the best results, marinate the meat and cook it quickly over high heat. Because beef flank steak is widely available and reasonably priced, you can find it at almost any local grocery store

What is Meat Grain? 

The grain in meat refers to how the muscle fibers in a piece of meat are aligned. The meat grains are connective tissues that run parallel to the length of the meat.

These fibers give the meat texture and structure. The goal of slicing the flank steak against the grain is to shorten the length of the fibers and make the meat easier to chew.  

Cutting flank steak with the grain preserves the fiber strands. As a result, the meat slices will be tougher and chewier. Even though the meat will still be edible, it will be less enjoyable to eat than if you cut it against the grain.

How to Choose a Flank Steak?

Choosing a quality steak is essential for improving the flavor and tenderness of your favorite flank steak recipes. Here are some pointers to help you choose the best flank steak:

  • Choose raw flank steak with a vibrant red color, as this shows that the meat is fresh.
  • Make sure the flank steak feels firm to the touch. Firmness also tells you how fresh the meat is.
  • Look for marbling when selecting a flank steak. Marbling is the streak of fat that runs through the piece of meat. A flank steak with more marbling will be more flavorful and tender.
  • Avoid flank steaks that are grayish-brown, as this signifies that the meat is old.
  • Make sure to check the steak's odor for any unpleasant odor that indicates signs of spoilage. 

Best Ways to Cook Flank Steak 

Here are three of my favorite ways to cook flank steak:

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Place the baking tray about 5 inches from the heat source. Then, bake the flank steak for 5 minutes per side and remove the cooked flank steak once it reaches your preferred internal temperature.
  • Pan fry: To pan sear flank steak, sear for 3 minutes on each side on high heat for medium rare steak. Make sure you flip the cooked flank steak throughout the frying process so both sides cook evenly.
  • Barbecue: Grill the whole steak for about 3 minutes on each side over the direct heat of the grill. Then, move the cooked flank steak to a medium-hot area of the grill for an additional 5 minutes, flipping the steak occasionally to get an even sear. Remember to cook the meat to your desired doneness. I prefer my grilled flank steak cooked to medium.
Grilled Flank Steak with Veggies and Sauce

Expert Tips

Let’s discuss extra tips to help you get the best cuts every time.

  • Ensure you cook the flank steak to the ideal internal temperature. Note that no matter how you cut the meat, an overcooked flank will be dry and tough. Remove the meat from the cooker when it reaches the desired temperature. I love my flank steak cooked to medium at 135-145 degrees. But you can remove the tender flank steak depending on your preferences. Use a meat thermometer to read the internal temperature of the flank steak.
  • Slice flank steak into thin slices to allow it to absorb the flank steak marinade better and make it easier to cook. It also tenderizes the whole steak because the thinner the slices, the thinner the chewy meat grain.
  • If slicing the flank steak is difficult, refrigerate the meat for 30 minutes to make it firmer and easier to slice thinly into even slices.
  • If you don't have much time to refrigerate the flank steak, you can pound it with a meat mallet before slicing it. This will help break down the meat's fibers and tenderize the meat.
  • Remember to allow the meat to rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb and keep the steak succulent with a tender bite. 

Conclusion

Cutting your flank steak is that simple. Understanding how to cut flank steak correctly is all about knowing the direction of the grain of the meat. In fact, the same principle applies to any type of meat you intend to cut. A well-prepared flank tastes delicious and can be prepared quickly with different cooking techniques. So, buy a whole flank steak, get a sharp knife and cutting board ready, thinly slice the meat, and cook.

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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