Are you looking to try out a new steak recipe but can’t find flank steak at your local grocery store? Don’t worry, you might be able to use flat iron steak instead. While these two cuts have some differences, they are similar in many ways and can be used interchangeably in some recipes.

Flat iron steak, also known as top blade steak, comes from the shoulder of the cow and is a relatively tender cut of meat. It has a rich flavor and is often used for grilling or pan-frying.

Flank steak, on the other hand, comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is leaner and tougher than flat iron steak. Flank steak is often used for stir-fries, fajitas, and other dishes where it is sliced thinly against the grain.

If you are substituting flat iron steak for flank steak in a recipe that calls for marinating or braising, keep in mind that flat iron steak may not absorb flavors as well as flank steak due to its tighter grain structure. To compensate for this, you may want to increase the amount of marinade or seasoning used.

When cooking flat iron steak instead of flank steak, keep in mind that it cooks faster due to its thinner profile. You may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly to avoid overcooking the meat.

Overall, while there are some differences between flat iron steak and flank steak, they can be used interchangeably in many recipes with some minor adjustments to cooking times and seasoning amounts.

Pros and Cons

  • Flat iron steaks are more tender than flank steaks.
  • Flank steaks have less fat content than flat iron steaks.
  • Flat irons are ideal for grilling or pan-frying whereas flanks are great for stir-fries or fajitas.
  • Flank steaks are typically cheaper than flat iron steaks.

How to Cook Flat Iron Steak Instead of Flank Steak

If you’ve decided to go ahead and use flat iron steak instead of flank steak, here’s how you can cook it:

  1. Take the flat iron steak out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking it. This will allow it to come to room temperature, which will help it cook more evenly.
  2. Season the steak with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend.
  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat.

    Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat the surface.

  4. Add the steak to the pan and let it cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until it reaches your desired level of doneness. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C).
  5. Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make for a more tender and flavorful steak.


While flat iron steak and flank steak have some differences, they are similar enough that you can use them interchangeably in many recipes. By making some minor adjustments to your cooking times and seasoning amounts, you can enjoy a delicious meal with either cut of meat. So go ahead and try out that new recipe with whichever cut you have on hand – you might just discover a new favorite dish!