There’s no doubt a good flank steak can become a wholesome weeknight meal, and it has a place on the most lavish grilling parties. Versatile, meaty, and flavorful, this lean cut is a joy to cook with.
And although flank steak is readily available and relatively inexpensive, there are times when you’re craving for some flank, and you just can’t find it anywhere. That’s where flank steak substitutes come in.
Here are our favorite flank steak alternatives for all your favorite recipes. If you want to learn how to cook flank steak and similar steaks, we’ve got you covered as well!
What Is Flank Steak?
To find the right flank steak substitutes, we must talk about the beef cut itself. The flanks steak comes from the cow’s rear quarter, behind the plate, and it helps support the cow’s abdominal structure.
Since the flank steak muscle works really hard, it’s fairly lean but chewy. To enjoy it, one must marinate it, grill it and cut it against the grain. The result is insanely juicy, tender and flavorful, making it hard to substitute.
Flank steak’s long, thin structure makes it suitable for various cooking methods. If we want to find the best alternatives for flank steak, we must first learn how to cook it.
How to Cook Flank Steak?
Flank steak is not an ordinary cut, it’s lean and grainy, and it needs not to be trimmed. Typically, grill experts marinate flank steak, as an acidic marinade tenderizes the meat, allowing the connective tissue to break down, tenderizing the beef.
Once tender, flank steaks can be cut into strips and pan-fried to make stir-fries or fajitas. The cut has an affinity for high heat grilling as well. Finally, you can always slow-cook tough cuts until fork-tender, and that goes to flank steaks as well.
You can also smoke a flank steak and get a completely different flavor profile.
What’s the difference between flank steak and the London broil?
Technically, all London broils are flank steaks, but not all flank steaks are a London broil. The flank steak is a beef cut. The London broil involves a cooking method that can also be used for other cuts like the top round and coulotte. For a traditional London broil, the meat is marinated, broiled and cut into thin strips.
Flank Steak Substitutes
Now we’re ready to talk about the best flank steak substitutes. These meaty flank steak alternatives might not have the exact same fat content, flavor and texture as flank steak, but the results will always be delightful.
1. Skirt Steak
Skirt steaks are lean and tough, just like the flank steak, but they are completely different cuts. The skirt steak holds the calf’s diaphragm in place behind the ribs.
Cook skirt steak just like you would with flank steak — marinate it, grill it and cut it against the grain. Skirt steak won’t burn a hole in your pocket either, making it an excellent alternative for flank steak. If you’re looking for meat for fajitas or stir-fries, skirt steak is for you.
2. Flat Iron Steak
You can recognize this cut by its shape, which looks somewhat like an old-fashioned clothes iron. The cut has gained popularity recently, and it’s a great alternative for flank steak. Still, you’re getting an entirely different cut. The flat iron is tender, in fact, almost as much as the tenderloin, and it’s rich and beefy, just like the flank steak. Besides, you need not marinate this cut or worry too much about slicing it against the grain.
Here is a great guide on grilling a flat iron steak.
3. Top Sirloin
Top sirloin is a great alternative for flank steak. In fact, it’s an upgrade. Top sirloin is lean and thick; it has a great flavor as well. And it’s incredibly tender!
Of course, top sirloin will always be a bit pricier than flank steak. Still, cut into strips, you can substitute flank steak with top sirloin any day. The top sirloin comes from the back of a cow, just below the tenderloin — if you’re planning to use it instead of flank steak, make sure you cut it thin.
4. Flap Steak
Flap steak is a lesser-known beef cut. As its name suggests, the flat steak is thin and lean, and it comes from the bottom of the sirloin butt. Some butchers use flap steak for burgers, but that’s a missed opportunity — flap steak, AKA sirloin tips, is similar in flavor, texture and appearance to flank steak. Flap steaks can also be quite coarse, with the grain along the short axis, so they call for marinades and careful slicing.
5. Tri-Tip Steak
The triangular tri-tip steak comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal, and it’s a pretty neat steak already, but you can cut it into smaller pieces as well. Marinating the tri-tip is not uncommon. Keep in mind this unique cut comes with a fat layer, which you’ll have to remove, unless, of course, you’re looking for a little more flavor from that silky fat.
You can Smoke a Tri Tip on a Traeger for some seriously tasty eats.
6. Hanger Steak
The hanger steak is not as easy to find as the flank steak, as it comes from a small part of the carcass; using the meat for fajitas is uncommon, but the steak is actually pretty similar to the flank steak. The hanger steak hangs from the diaphragm and has a flat, thin shape. You’ll need to marinade hanger steak just like you’d do with flank steak and cook it over high heat. Yes, you can even make a London broil with hanger steak, and it’s glorious!
Everyone’s Replaceable, Even Flank Steak
There’s no doubt the flank steak is hard to beat for versatility, texture and flavor, especially for its price point. Still, any skilled cook and grilling enthusiast should have a few aces up its sleeve for when flank steak is not available.
Experiment with the different flank steak alternatives and find the right one for you and your recipe. There’s no such thing as a bad steak dinner, so cook with what you have in hand have a good time around the grill. There’s more meat where the flank steak came from! Happy grilling!