How To Cook a Flat Iron Steak
8 Minute Read
Published on Feb 06, 2023
From the fancy filet mignon to the charming chuck roast, nine out of 10 Americans eat steak for dinner every day — and that’s no surprise to us!
Recently, there’s been a new cut that’s growing in popularity: the Flat Iron steak. This cut of beef is more affordable than finer steak alternatives, but it contains more marbling than a cheap piece of meat.
So, what does that mean? Well, it’s an excellent middle ground for home cooks and restaurants alike. In this article, we’ll discuss how to properly cook a flat iron steak to become a delicious dinner for you and your family.
How Can You Prepare a Flat Iron Steak?
When you’re cooking a steak that has a lot of marbling, like a Flat Iron cut, you have a wide variety of recipes and cooking techniques that you can use for different (but always delicious) results.
Whether you’re making tacos, sandwiches, or a classic steak dinner, here are a few different ideas on where to begin with your meat.
Marinating your steak is easy to impose flavor and add some tenderness to an already-juicy cut of meat. The process and ingredients are fairly simple, but there’s a lot of room to improvise and experiment! To make a delicious marination for your steak, all you’ll need is a gallon plastic bag, a liquid, seasonings, and time.
For example, a popular marinade for steak is soy sauce, garlic and honey. Combining these flavors into the bag and letting your meat rest in it.
As we’ve discussed, steak can be prepared in a number of ways depending on the meal you plan to make. Of course, purists will say there is no option outside of this classic trio: oil, salt, and pepper.
To start, rub your flat iron steak with an even coat of olive oil. Then, make a half-and-half blend of kosher salt and coarse ground pepper and generously coat your steak. You’ll want thin but full coverage of the surface of your steak. This will develop into a beautiful crust once we lay it on the heat through what’s called the Maillard reaction.
We recommend doing this just before putting your steak on the heat, as the salt will drag out some of the internal moisture if left on too long.
What Heat Source Should I Use To Cook a Flat Iron Steak?
Cooking a flat iron steak will obviously require some serious heat, and cooks throughout the ages have debated tirelessly over the age-old question: To grill or to skillet?
The truth is you can cook a perfect steak on either, you just need to know what you’re doing. You might not even have the option to grill your flat iron if you live in an apartment — in which case, don't worry. A pan-seared steak can be just as delicious even without the classic grill marks.
Grilling your steak requires less focus on the steak itself and more confidence in how well you know your grill. We recommend cranking the heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit so that the grates become ripping hot. Cooking a flat iron steak using the grill will be fast, so be ready with the meat thermometer.
Place your steak down on the grates and close the lid. You want to develop some char along the grate lines for a complex flavor profile. The timing will be different depending on the thickness of your steak (cue the meat thermometer), but generally, you’ll want to flip it after about 4 minutes on the first side.
After the flip, close the lid again and let the grill do its work for another four to five minutes. Don’t bother the lid too much, or you’ll let the flavorful smoke out and disrupt the internal temperature. Consistency and time are your goals. You should only need the one flip on a grill unless you specifically want the cross-hatch grill lines for aesthetics.
After your steak reaches 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, pull it off and let it rest while you prepare your plate!
Cooking a juicy steak on a skillet takes a bit more skill and technique — but once you’ve got it down, you’ll have a delicious dinner every time. As with the grill, you’ll want to get your pan hot and splash some vegetable oil, olive oil, or beef tallow. You’ll likely also want to turn on the oven fan to avoid too much smoke build-up.
We recommend using a cast iron skillet, but you can also use stainless steel if you’d like. Once your steak is ready and your pan is just starting to smoke, lay your meat down away from you to avoid any splashing oil, which can be very painful.
Let your steak sear for at least four minutes on the first side before flipping, meanwhile prepare your additional pan flavors. You’ll want two crushed cloves of garlic still in their skins, a sprig or two of rosemary, and a few tablespoons of butter.
Once your meat is properly golden brown on the first side, go ahead and flip it, reduce the heat to medium and add your butter, garlic, and herbs to one side of the pain.
The butter will melt extremely quickly, so you’ll want to move fast. Take a spoon, mix the liquid butter with the searing garlic and rosemary, and begin to baste the steak with the mixture. (Basting simply means to scoop and spoon atop.)
Continue to baste your steak with the butter for at least another 4 minutes or until your steak registers 130 degrees internally, and remove from the pan. You can use the remaining liquid butter in your skillet to make a wine sauce or gravy, or pour it directly on top of the now-resting meat.
What Are the Best Tips and Tricks for Cooking a Flat Iron Steak?
Cooking a steak is a skill that every cook aims to master; the truth is it just takes practice and time. Getting to know your heat source, pan, and cut of steak better will build up with every steak you cook.
That said, here are a few pointers to remember that will definitely help you get the most out of your locally sourced and sustainable cut of steak.
Never Cook a Cold Steak
Cooking the perfect steak, no matter the cut, requires a few general techniques — two always being time and patience. Removing the meat from the fridge for about 30 minutes before you cook might seem tedious, but it makes a world of difference. When you throw a cold steak on a hot grill, all of the muscle fibers tense up, leaving you with a chewy and unpleasant dinner.
It’s worth remembering to take it out at least 30 minutes (and no more than an hour) before cooking. You can spend that time prepping any other components of your meal, like chopping vegetables or making garlic bread.
Use a Meat Thermometer
While some cooks might swear by the palm method or their own eyes, we think using a meat thermometer is the only way to cook a perfect steak. Insert the tip of your thermometer into the side of the steak as close to the middle as you can to check that your steak is registering at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit before pulling it off.
You don’t want to cook it much less than that, as you may be dealing with some nasty bacteria up until that point.
Don’t forget that your meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the heat during the rest period. If you want to enjoy your cut medium rare (135 degrees Fahrenheit), give the steak a little room to get there while waiting on the plate.
Don’t Skip the Rest Period
Speaking of the rest period, don’t skip it! You might be tempted to dig right into this delicious-looking flat iron steak you’ve perfected, but again your patience will be rewarded — for a few reasons.
Firstly, as discussed above, your steak won't stop cooking immediately after being removed from the heat. It will continue to raise its internal temperature for a few minutes. By giving your steak time to finish cooking, you’re allowing the meat to stabilize. Once it isn’t heating up anymore, it’ll begin to cool off, but don’t worry — it won't get cold right away.
What it will do is release any residual heat tension and redistribute the fatty liquids inside throughout the steak. Letting your steak rest on the plate before cutting it gets you a more flavorful and juicy piece of meat, which is always worth a few extra minutes.
So, there you have it: Our easy guide on how to make the perfect flat iron steak. For novices to pros alike, flat iron steaks are a game-changing addition to any weekly menu.
Don’t forget to shake things up and add your favorite cuts to quesadillas, sandwiches, and beyond!
Nearly nine in ten Americans consume meat as part of their diet | Ipsos
Maillard Reaction - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics