If you’ve been craving flank steak, but you’re not able to get it at your local grocery store or online, there are some suitable alternatives out there. Whether you want to grill in the summer or for a special occasion, here are some easy flank steak substitutes you can try now!
What is Flank Steak?
Flank steak is a cut of beef specifically from a cow’s belly muscles. While it’s not technically considered steak, it’s still considered one of the tastiest cuts of meat.
It is also known as bavette or jiffy steak and is generally cooked whole and then sliced into thin cuts.
It is a rather lean piece of meat that contains little fat and is more on the tough side. However, depending on how you cook it, you can make it tender and juicy.
Best Flank Steak Alternatives
One of the most popular alternatives to flank steak is the skirt steak. Located close to the abdomen, this particular cut is flat and boneless.
There are two types of skirt steak namely the outside and inside. It’s important for cooks to know this as the tenderness varies for both types.
It does have a higher fat content than flank steak and is ideal for grilling, broiling, or cooking at high heat in a cast-iron skillet. There is a tendency for skirt steak to get tough especially when not marinated before cooking.
Skirt steak is a great replacement for flank steak when you’re short on time and want something easy and delicious. It makes for a great recipe in stir-fries, fajitas, and tacos.
Hanger steak is another good replacement for flank steak. Hanger steak does have an advantage in that it is more tender due to its higher fat content.
Hanger steak is located on the underside of the cow, just near the loin, and is oftentimes referred to as ‘butcher’s cut’.
Like flank steak, it is a budget-friendly cut of meat and has become really popular in the past few years for its awesome flavor.
When preparing hanger steak, it’s best to baste it with a marinade before grilling. Care must be taken when grilling as it can lose its tenderness due to overcooking.
It’s best to grill no more than two minutes on each side and try to aim for medium-rare.
Due to its versatile nature and great flavor, it makes for delicious fajitas, salads, or as a main course with veggies or mashed potatoes.
This is a triangular boneless beef found just behind the flank steak area. It is a less expensive option than flank steak and has a trimmable fatty edge.
Some recommend cutting the fat to make it a healthier option, though it can be done after cooking to retain flavor.
While you may not find it in every state in the country as it’s more popular on the West Coast, you should still be able to snag a tri-tip piece with help from a butcher.
This lean and tender cut of meat is great for grilling, roasting, and slow-cooking dishes such as stews or chilies.
When grilling, it should be marinated beforehand and cooked for a short time on each side to avoid toughness or chewiness.
If you’re looking for a mild, lean cut of meat to replace flank steak, Top round is another good choice. This large piece of steak is known as ‘round’ as it’s cut from the tops of the cow’s hindquarters.
It is similar to flank steak in that it is a tough cut of meat which makes it one of the more affordable ones in your local grocery aisle.
Due to this, special care should be taken to prepare the meat before cooking. One way to do this is to rub it with herbs such as garlic, salt, and pepper and let it sit on the counter for an hour.
Another option is to follow the same process but use a marinade of your choice. Your best bet for retaining tenderness after following this step is to broil or use in slow cooker recipes to break down the muscle.
Try to avoid grilling this steak as it most likely won’t result in a tender steak.
Flat Iron Steak
Also known as Blade steak, this cut comes from the shoulder of the cow. It is sliced in half to reveal two cuts known as the top blade and flat iron.
Flank steak is a bit leaner than its counterpart, but both cuts of meat are brimming with flavor. Flat iron steak is rather tender and rich which makes it ideal for grilling or for slow cooker recipes.
Despite its tenderness, avoid overcooking as it can become chewy.
Flap steak is a thin, lean piece of meat sometimes used as a substitute for flank steak in various recipes. It comes from the belly of the cow, which makes it a likely contender due to the similar texture.
When cooking, grilling is a fantastic choice as the high heat works well for getting a tender, juicy texture. It should be well-marinated beforehand just as with flank steak as this helps with the tenderness.
Flap steak is a nice option when short on time as it cooks quickly on the grill making it a preferred choice with most grillers.
Some prefer to charr it on the grill for crispy edges and a more tender inside. It is best to check the temperature of the beef while grilling as it can become dry if overcooked.
What Cut is Most Similar to Flank Steak?
The go-to option when looking for the best flank steak substitute is hands-down skirt steak. Even though it’s thinner and considered a tougher cut of meat when compared to flank steak, it’s the best replacement when a recipe calls for using flank steak.
This is because both the taste and texture are very similar and you may not even be able to tell them apart.
Skirt steak does have a more beefy flavor and a bit more chew, but it’s hardly noticeable when compared to flank steak.
Is Flank Steak the Same as Flat Iron Steak?
Flank steak and flat iron steak are different cuts of meat, even though some may confuse the two.
Flat iron steak is cut from the shoulder area of the cow, while flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscle.
Also, flank steak is leaner than flat iron steak which has more fat, though both are tender and flavorful. It is best to cook flat iron to a medium-rare, while flank steak can be grilled or braised.
Is Flank Steak the Same as Sirloin?
Sirloin comes from the hip of the cow and is generally more lean than other cuts. It is one of two components of the beef loin primal cut and is separtated into top sirloin and bottom sirloin.
Butchers do this by cutting between the main muscle of the top sirloin and the knuckle or sirloin tip.
As a popular and affordable cut of meat, it’s ideal for a variety of recipes especially in Chinese and Italian dishes. It tends to be leaner than flank steak, but just as flavourful
Top Sirloin steak is juicy, somewhat tender and is usually cooked to medium-rear. If cooked right, it will retain its tenderness, but if temperatures get too high, it can get tough.
Sirloin steak is a favorite for grilling especially with a side of vegetables, in fajitas, slow cooker chili, or in a well-seasoned stir-fry. It also does well as a stand-alone steak with rice or mashed potatoes.
Is Flank Steak Same as London Broil?
London broil was originally made with flank steak, but other cuts of meat were eventually used to make London Broil over time.
London broil is often confused for a particular cut of meat, but it’s actually a method of cooking cuts of beef.
Chances are that if you ask for London broil at the butchers, you’ll most likely be handed flank steak. Despite this, other popular cuts like top rounds, blade roasts and sirloin are often used for London broil.
London broil is created by cooking marinated beef medium-rare and then cutting it across the grain to make thin strips. Cuts used in London broil are generally lean and tend to be on the tough side.
Flank steak has become the main cut of beef used in London Broil for good reason. It’s a lean, flat cut that works conveniently in an array of dishes.
This is due to the flank steak’s versaltaility and the fact that it can be grilled, pan-fried, braised and added to slow-cooker recipes such as stews.
Using slow cooking methods are prefect for flank steak because it enhances it’s tenderness and makes for delicious and succulent beef dishes that are well known in London Broil.
When preparing London boil, the meat should first be marinated, usually for several hours. The cooking stage involves searing at high heat with a broiler, grill or by pan-frying.
To serve, London broil is cut into thin slices that are ideal for cold salads, tacos, sandwiches or as a meal to eat with sides such as veggies.