How to Cut Flank Steak So It's Tender Every Single Time

Yes, the way you slice flank steak will actually impact the tenderness of your dish. Learn our favorite chef-approved technique for slicing and dicing.

person cutting cooked flank steak with kitchen knife

BHG/Ana Cadena

As with most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to cut flank steak. The critical reason for this is because flank steak, although lean and flavorful, is tougher than other cuts of beef due to the many long thin fibers running through it. To help tenderize flank steak, it is often marinated and cooked by grilling, stir-frying, broiling, or smoking. No matter the cooking method, with or without a marinade, for the most delicious results, you should always cut flank steak across the grain. Slicing flank steak this way cuts through those tough fibers, shortening them so you get an easier-to-chew, more tender bite of beef. Read on to find out how to cut flank steak using this method for the most tender result.

Flank steak on a wooden cutting board. Half the steak is sliced into strips with knife resting next to the steak on the cutting board. Pats of herb butter are melting over the top of the meat.
Blaine Moats

How to Slice Flank Steak

Whether you're slicing flank steak before cooking to quickly stir-fry or have finished making a smoky grilled flank steak recipe, you'll be cutting flank steak the same way. To cut across the grain look at the whole flank steak to determine which direction the muscle fibers are running, then line up your knife perpendicularly (you'll be cutting through the fibers not parallel to them) to that and slice. Make sure to use a sharp chef's knife or carving knife to get the cleanest cut.

Fortunately, most cuts of flank steak you buy from the store are rectangular in shape with the fibers running the length of the steak, so you'll slice across the width of the steak rather than the length, which you naturally want to do anyway.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you plan on cutting flank steak raw, freeze the meat up to 30 minutes before getting started. This allows for easier uniform slicing.

raw flank steak
Raw flank steak with visible muscle fibers running the length of the steak. Peter Ardito

How to Choose a Flank Steak

No matter what kind of steak you're buying, avoid packages with tears or with liquid in the bottom of the tray. The meat should have a good color and appear moist but not wet. Any cut edges should be even and not ragged, and the meat should feel firm and cold to the touch. If you don't need the whole steak for your recipe, cut it in half and freeze the extra for later.

Now that you're a pro on how to cut flank steak, you can apply this slicing-across-the-grain technique to any cut of beef that's naturally tougher for fork-tender meat every time. For some delicious flank steak ideas, try our go-to grilled flank steak or this arugula steak salad.

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