Looking for the best flank steak substitute? Choose a cut of beef with similar flavor and texture, especially ones that you marinate and grill. Here's a list of the best way to substitute flank steak in your recipes.
Understanding the basic cuts of beef is the best place to start. Packagers break down the 9 primal cuts of the cow twice before they reach the grocery stores.
There is no other cut of beef from the flank primal except for the flank steak.
What is Flank Steak?
The flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow, which is a long, flat cut of meat with a pronounced grain that runs across it. It's popular because it's flavorful, relatively lean, and cooks quickly.
Flank steak doesn't contain much fat (aka marbling), and because it's lean it benefits from a marinade to infuse flavor and break down some of the muscle fibers. This is why you'll often see flank steak recipes call for a marinade and a quick cook time over high heat.
When it comes to a flank steak alternative, it's important to keep these characteristics in mind, especially if you're following a specific recipe. Dishes like fajitas, stir-fries, and salads use flank steak.
Important tips when working with flank steak: it has an ample amount of connective tissue, so it's important to know how to cut flank steak (hint: against the grain) or it will be very tough and chewy. Don't forget to use a meat thermometer to determine the internal temp of beef.
Another Name for Flank Steak
Grocery stores most often label it as flank steak, however, it's possible you'll see it as London Broil. This general term describes a marinated piece of meat broiled over high heat. Some stores may also offer pre-marinated flank steak that has a different name or branding on the packaging. If you're not sure where to find flank steak in your grocery store, you can ask a butcher or a store employee for assistance.
5 Best Flank Steak Substitutes
The best flank steak substitutes are ones that are lean, similar in size, hold up to a marinade, and cook quickly over high heat. These are all the main characteristics of flank steak and things to keep in mind when choosing a good substitute.
Skirt steak is an excellent choice instead of flank steak because it's similar in size and makeup. It's a long, thin, and flavorful cut of beef that comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow. It contains a lot of marbling (fat) despite it being relatively tough and fibrous. Like flank steak, marinate skirt steak first then sear it over high heat to create a crusty outside and tender, juicy center.
Mexican and South American dishes like beef fajitas, carne asada, and tacos often call for skirt steak. It's also a popular choice for stir-fries and salads, where its strong flavor can hold up to other bold ingredients.
Hanger steak is a very tender and flavorful cut of beef that works well in place of flank steak. It's a bit thicker than flank steak and may require a slightly longer cooking time, but it's a great choice for grilling or pan-searing. It's a little more difficult to find, so you may need to get it from butcher shops instead of the grocery store.
Flat Iron Steak
The flat iron steak comes from the shoulder of the cow and is another great option. It's a thin, rectangular cut of meat with a pronounced grain that runs across the meat. It's rich flavor and tender texture makes it ideal for grilling or pan-searing.
Flat iron steak gets its name from its shape, which resembles an old-fashioned flat iron. Flat iron steak is sometimes called "top blade steak" or "patio steak."
Tri-tip steak is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin region of the cow. Its triangular shape is why you may see it called triangle steak in stores. It's relatively lean and flavorful but also has a slightly coarser texture.
You can be grill, broil, or roast tri-tip steak. Like flank steak, it benefits from marinating to add flavor and tenderness, which makes it an excellent substitute.
Sirloin Flap Steak (Sirloin Tip Steak)
Flap meat, also known as sirloin tip or sirloin tip steak, is a tender and flavorful cut that works well as a substitute. Do not confuse this with top sirloin steak, which comes from the round primal (back of the cow).
Dry heat methods like grilling, broiling, and pan searing are best for Sirloin tip steak but may take longer to cook because it's thicker. It's also suitable for slow-cooking methods like braising or stewing.
Flank Steak vs Skirt Steak
Flank steak and skirt steak are two different cuts of beef that come from different parts (primals) of the cow. They're similar in size and shape but have a few differences in texture and flavor.
Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is a long, thin cut of meat with a pronounced grain that runs across the meat. It's relatively lean, but it's also quite flavorful and can be a bit tough if it's not prepared correctly.
Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscles of the cow and is also a long, thin cut of meat with a pronounced grain. Skirt steak is more marbled (higher fat content) than flank steak and has a more intense beef flavor. It's also a bit more tender than flank steak and can be cooked quickly over high heat, but is good for slow cooking or braising too. Skirt steak is often used in dishes like carne asada, tacos, or fajitas.
What's the same: they both have a tender, long, and flat shape and do well with a marinade and high-heat cooking method.
What's different: skirt steak has more fat (marbling) than flank steak and comes from the diaphragm of the animal as opposed to the abdominal.
Flank Steak Substitutes that Aren't Beef
Here are a few alternatives to flank steak that are red meat. Keep in mind each one cooks differently and will yield a different taste and texture.
- Chicken breast
- Portobello mushrooms
- Tuna fillet
Cheaper Alternatives to Flank Steak
If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to flank steak, there are several options available:
- Skirt steak: Skirt steak is a similar cut of beef that's often a bit cheaper than flank steak. It has a similar texture and flavor to flank steak and can be used in most recipes that call for flank steak.
- Flap meat: Flap meat, also known as sirloin tip or sirloin tip steak, is a tender and flavorful cut of beef that's often cheaper than flank steak. It's a bit thicker than flank steak and can be cooked to the same temperature as flank steak.
- Chuck steak: Chuck steak is a budget-friendly cut of beef that's often used for slow cooking, but it can also be used as a substitute for flank steak in some recipes. It's a bit tougher than flank steak, so it's best to marinate it before cooking to help tenderize it.
- Round steak: Round steak is a lean cut of beef that's often less expensive than flank steak. It's a bit tougher than flank steak, so it's best used in slow-cooked dishes like stews or braises.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best meat to use instead of flank steak is skirt steak, flat iron steak, flap (sirloin tip) steak, tri-tip steak, and hanger steak (in that order). Each has its differences, but all do well being marinated and cooked over high heat, like flank steak.
Flank steak is sometimes also referred to as "London Broil" or "jiffy steak." However, it's important to note that "London Broil" can also refer to a cooking method, where a tougher cut of beef is marinated and then broiled or grilled quickly over high heat. "Jiffy steak" is a trademarked name for a pre-marinated flank steak product, so it may not be widely used outside of that context.
Yes you can substitute skirt steak for flank steak. The main difference between the two is that skirt steak has more marbling because it comes from a different location in the cow. You can marinade them both and cook them over high heat. Don't forget to cut both against the grain.
The best steaks for stir fry are top sirloin steak, flank steak, inside and outside skirt steak, flat iron steak, and sirloin tip side steak.
Flank steak is very lean and is best when marinated and grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.
Tips for Cooking Flank Steak
- Marinate the steak: Flank steak can be a bit tough if it's not prepared correctly, so it's best to marinate it for at least a few hours (or overnight, if possible) to help tenderize the meat and add flavor. You can use a pre-made marinade or make your own by combining ingredients like olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and herbs.
- Preheat your grill or pan: Flank steak is best cooked quickly over high heat to develop a crispy exterior and a juicy interior. Make sure your grill or pan is preheated before adding the steak.
- Pat the steak dry: Before cooking the steak, make sure to pat it dry with a paper towel. This will help the steak sear properly and develop a nice crust.
- Cook to medium-rare: Flank steak is best cooked to medium-rare or medium, which will help keep the meat tender and juicy. Depending on the thickness of your steak, this should take about 4-5 minutes per side on a hot grill or pan. Read our guide to master the internal temperature of beef.
- Let it rest: After cooking, let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This will help the juices redistribute and make the steak more tender.
- Slice against the grain: When slicing the steak, make sure to cut against the grain (the direction of the muscle fibers) to help make it more tender.
Flank Steak Recipes
Craving Mexican flavors? Try this grilled flank steak with pineapple salsa or these classic carne asada tacos. These sheet pan steak fajitas are on rotation because they're so easy for a weeknight meal.