Crowd-pleasing grilled flank steak perfect for a quick weeknight summer grill option. This flank steak is flavored with a Caribbean inspired marinade and cooked in just a few minutes for a tender and extremely juicy finish. This is a special recipe, so you will need to try a little tenderness with it.
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What Is Flank Steak?
Flank steak is a cut of beef that comes from the cow’s belly muscles. It’s highly flavorful, especially for such a lean cut; we’re talking basically no fat. So as you might have guessed it can be quite tough without proper preparation. However, when done right, it’s tasty and juicy. Flank steak also goes by the name bavette, which I believe is what the French call it. You can always tell a flank steak because of the visible lines indicating the direction of the muscle fibers aka “grain”. The “grain” is an important element.
Flank steak vs. skirt steak
Flank and skirt steak are very similar. Both come from the cow’s underside, are highly lean, and look almost the same. They differ primarily in their texture and tastes. Skirt is fattier from the bit of marbling it carries. It’s also much thinner and has a courser grain.
How to marinate flank steak
Because it’s a lean, no fat, fast cook steak, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure flavor. Marinating is crucial from a flavor add standpoint, so you’ll definitely want to account for this in your meal planning. Because of its importance, you’ll want to put some actual thought into your marinade and the process.
As with most things, balance is the key to maximizing flavor. Consider a few of these ingredients when building your own marinade:
- Acid (vinegar or citrus) – It’s your flavor balancing agent. You don’t need a lot as too much and too long can break down the meat into straight mushiness.
- Salt is the most important. Salt not only seasons, but it penetrates beyond the surface deep inside the meat. Many different ingredients can provide the necessary salt element. Soy is the most common. I prefer low-salt varieties since I also use coarse kosher salt for texture. Keep in mind that salt can also inhibit meat from absorbing flavors from other ingredients, so when using garlic, ginger, pepper, herbs, etc don’t be shy with them.
- Sugar (brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, maple) tends to be the balance against the saltiness. Sugar also helps with color and caramelization and when used during grilling helps with developing that nice charred crust. But like acid, you’ll need to use in moderation as you can easily end up with a tarred steak instead of a little charring lol! I used coconut water for this grilled flank steak recipe
A few other hacks when marinating flank; feel free to score or make shallow cuts into the thicker parts of the flank. This will aid in the marinade penetrating deeper. If using a zip lock bag for marinating flip it at least once to make sure all parts of the steak bathe in the marinade.
How Long Should I Marinate Flank Steak
This is the great debate! I personally think it’s all marketing and schtick. The marketers boast about marinating for four score and seven years! The reality is there is actually a point of diminishing returns when after too much time the flavor has penetrated as far as it’s going to go and any longer marinating just starts to deconstruct the meat to the point it’s so far removed from what it was. Most marinades penetrate as far as they’re going to after about half a day. For deeper marinade penetration you’ll need enough salt and acid. I actually went a day and a half for this recipe, but in reality, a day could have been enough.
How to make grilled flank steak
The best-grilled flank steak recipes call for a quick cook at high temps! It’s why grilling or searing are the preferred methods for cooking flank. I try to minimize grill time (about 6 minutes per side depending on your grill) as much as possible so go big high heat or go home! Keep in mind, I like my steaks medium rare (130 degrees F). If you prefer medium or well done, I’d suggest finishing in the oven.
Can I cook on a stovetop?
You can certainly make a perfect flank steak on the stovetop. A good cast-iron skillet or grill pan will do the trick easily. Principles of cooking are the same, I.e., marinate then cook on high heat quickly. Just make sure you have good ventilation so you don’t get smoked out!
I use a lodge cast iron. I prefer because it’s reversible with one side being ridged for grilling the other flat and smooth.
How to cut grilled flank steak
Cutting flank steak is the most important step for the ultimate tenderness. You’ve probably heard it a million times – cut the steak across the grain. If you’re like me, you probably asked yourself, what the eff does that mean? Once it was broken down to me by a good friend it was plainly obvious. He made the analogy to wood grain to make the point that cuts like flank have clearly defined grains.
As with most things, when you know what to look for, finding it can be easy. “Grain” refers to the direction that the muscle fibers are aligned. Cutting across the grain means to cut across (perpendicular) these muscle fibers vs. in the same direction. In a typical flank steak, this means you’ll be cutting across the width of the steak. The reason all this is important to texture/tenderness is by cutting against the grain, you’re actually shortening it and thus making it easy to chew. Cutting against the grain means you don’t have to bite through the muscle fibers. The thinner the slice the better.
What dishes are flank steak best used for?
Fajitas are probably the most common recipe for flank steak. However, it has many recipe uses beyond fajitas. Steak tacos, steak salads, steak sandwiches, and stir-fries are some of my favorite ways to enjoy a nice, juicy flank steak. I made a simple “soul bowl” of pearled couscous in harissa sauce and simple greens, then topped with the grilled flank steak. I also made a simple green onions vinaigrette for the steak. Use whatever sauce you see fit, but my reco would be to keep it simple. A nice chimichurri or green sauce such as this collard greens salsa verde would be great.
Grilled Flank Steak Cooking Tips
- Don’t marinate a frozen steak. Thaw first.
- Make enough marinade to cover the entire steak. If not, then flip as much as possible to ensure all parts of the steak gets marinated
- Beyond the marinade, season simply with salt and pepper
- Dry the marinated steak before grilling. Excess oil can/will drip into your fire and flame up burning the steak
- Let the steak rest 10 minutes before cutting
- SLICE AGAINST THE GRAIN at an angle
making grilled flank steak
If you make these delicious delicious flank steak recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- 1 1/2 lbs beef flank steak
- 1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp Ginger peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp Black Pepper
- Mix soy, lemon juice, coconut water, olive oil, garlic, and ginger in a medium mixing bowl.
- Place flank steak in large ziplock bag and top with marinade.
- Refrigerate overnight. If steak isn’t fully submerged then flip the steak about halfway through marinating process
- Remove steak from marinade. Dry the steak and leave out until it reaches room temperature. Season with the salt and pepper
- Dampen a folded paper towel with olive oil. Wipe down the grill grates with the oiled paper towel
- Preheat grill for high heat direct grilling.
- Grill the steak for 6-7 minutes. Flip and grill another 6 minutes.
- Remove steak from the grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.