Nothing can be more gratifying for any meat lover than a perfectly cooked steak. The first step to achieving that is often selecting the right cut of beef from the numerous options available. This article focuses on two of the most popular cuts: flat iron steak and flank steak.
Flat iron steaks are known for their tenderness, and they often don’t need marination to tenderize them. On the other hand, flank steak is somewhat tougher, and you’ll need to slice it against the grain to make it chewable.
Read on to learn more differences between flat iron steak and flank steak, so you can easily choose one that best suits your preferences.
Flat Iron Steak vs Flank Steak
The better option between a flat iron and flank steak depends largely on your preferences. While both steaks are flavorful and tender, flat iron has a higher fat content than flank steak. So, if you prefer something leaner, flank steak is your best bet.
These cuts also differ in their ideal cooking styles. Both steaks are great for marination. However, due to the thick, dense nature of the flat iron steak, it is best when cooked medium-rare. You can braise flank steak, and many people also use it for carne asada and steak fajitas.
Flank Steak Overview
Flank steak is one of the most affordable cuts of beef, and it comes from the cow’s abdominal muscle or lower chest. Other common names for flank steak are jiffy steak and bavette. It is also known as London broil in some regions.
You can identify flank steak by the obvious direction of the meat’s cross-grain. This flavorful cut of beef is very lean with virtually no fat content. It is approximately one foot long and one inch thick.
It is best to cook this steak whole instead of dividing it into smaller pieces. Even though flank steak is tough, it can be tasty and tender if you prepare and cook it properly.
This steak is a great candidate for marination, and if you want the best-tasting flank steak, consider grilling it over medium-high heat or slow-braising it.
Flat Iron Steak Overview
The flat iron steak comes from the shoulder of the cow known as the chuck. It derives its name from the fact that it resembles the traditional metal flat iron. This steak features a rectangular shape and uniform thickness.
Other common names for flat iron steak are top blade filet, top blade steak, and shoulder top blade steak. It is nicely marbled, making it extremely tender and rich in beefy flavors. When cooked properly, this steak is tender and juicy.
Grilling is the ideal cooking style if you want the best-tasting flat iron steak. You can also incorporate it into various recipes.
Flank Steak or Flat Iron: Which Is Better?
Where It’s Cut
One of the major differences between flat iron steak and flank steak is that they come from different cow parts. The flat iron steak comes from the chuck primal, or the shoulder part of the cow. A line of connective tissue runs through the steak.
If left intact, the gristle may result in an unappealing cut known as a top blade steak. The removal of connective tissue gives us the flat iron steak. On the other hand, flank steak comes from the flank primal in the cow’s abdominal area.
A whole flank steak measures about 12 inches long, up to 6 inches wide, and about 1 inch thick. Flank steak features plenty of tough fibers as it comes from some of the cow’s most active muscles.
How It Tastes
Another difference between flank steak and flat iron steak is their taste. With their excellent marbling and distinctive tenderness, flat iron steaks boast a rich flavor, thanks to their high fat content.
On the other hand, flank steak has a strong beefy flavor even though it is quite lean. The reason behind the flavor could be that the steak comes from a part of the cow that receives considerable blood flow.
There is no significant difference between the prices of the two steaks. Flat iron steak is usually cheaper than flank steak by a few cents, depending on the store and the region.
Best Way to Cook
Flat iron steaks are best when grilled, pan-seared in a skillet, or broiled in the oven. Thanks to its rich flavor and affordable price, flat iron steak can also be an excellent choice for stir-frying or other recipes requiring thin beef slices.
On the grill, flat iron steak is best cooked medium-rare. On the other hand, flank steak makes an excellent choice for fajitas, tacos, and fajitas. You can also marinate and grill it alongside seasonal vegetables for a simple, delicious meal.