What is Flank Steak?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Flank steaks are cuts of beef that are harvested from the belly muscles of a cow. The exact cut may vary slightly, but in general, the cut is long and thin. Because cuts of meat of this type tend to be tougher than meat harvested from the rib or loin area, it is not unusual for any recipe calling for this cut to require that the meat be marinated before the actual cooking process begins.

Beef tacos can be made from grilled flank steak.
Beef tacos can be made from grilled flank steak.

One of the most well known examples of a flank steak presentation is London Broil. With this recipe, the meat is marinated in order to ensure that it remains somewhat tender after cooking. While broiling is the most common approach, it is also possible to grill London Broil. Generally, the meat is allowed to cook long enough to brown the exterior while leaving the interior rare or medium rare. The meat is then sliced into thin pieces that are cut against the grain.

London Broil can be grilled.
London Broil can be grilled.

Flank steak is used in many different countries. In France, it is known as a Bavette and is pan seared to brown the outside and lock in the natural juices of the meat. In Mexico, it's known as arrachera and may serve as small cuts of tasty beef to go in tacos or be prepared in larger sections for use as the main dish of a family meal. Chinese cuisine calls for the meat to be cut into small sections and stir fried. Asian dishes make use of a marinade that includes a wide range of herbs and spices, followed with broiling or braising as part of the final preparation.

There are a number of different recipes available for use in preparing flank steak at home, and just about all of them require some type of marinade prior to cooking. The recipes often provide details instructions for the ingredients to use, but there are many commercial marinades available today that work very well too. Even something as simple as bottled Italian dressing can be used to create a tasty broiled meat entrée.

At one time, this steak was considered to be a poor man’s meat, since the cut was not considered as desirable as others, but this has changed over time. The cost of this cut has risen considerably since the middle of the 20th century, and it has found its way into many restaurants as a premier choice for a meat dish.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Flank steak is not skirt steak, although they come from relatively close parts. Flank is the abdominal muscle and the skirt is the diaphragm muscle.


Flank steak is also referred to as "skirt steak."


Flank steak is considered a very lean red meat. Surprisingly, a 4 ounces flank steak has significantly less fat and calories than 4 ounces of roasted chicken with skin.


It is important to cut the meat against the grain, and cut the meat fiber so it is easier to chew. Muscle fiber if cut with the grain would be very chewy.

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