Pan Seared Flank Steak

If you’re a fan of that beefy taste and love a good, tender texture, then you’ve got to try this pan-seared flank steak recipe – no marinade needed. It’s perfect when grilling isn’t an option, and you’re stuck cooking indoors. Let me walk you through my go-to method for cooking flank steak in a pan on the stove.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

To prepare a flavorful and tender flank steak on your stovetop, you’ll need:

  • Flank steak
  • High-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer

How to Cook Flank Steak on a Stove

Get all your ingredients and tools ready, then just follow the directions below. This isn’t just a quick recipe; it’s a guide for cooking flank steak on the stove. I’ve included many useful tips about cooking steak and some photos to help you along the way.

Note: I used flank steak weighing just over 2 pounds in this recipe.

all ingredients for pan seared flank steak
Ingredients: Black pepper, garlic, salt, butter, avocado oil, rosemary, and flank steak

Step 1: Prepare the Flank Steak

First, pat the flank steak dry with some paper towels. Then, trim off the extra fat from the flank steak to make it look like the steak in the above photo. Next, think about how much time you have to prepare the steak. Based on that, you will decide how to salt the flank steak. Here are your salting options:

  1. The best way (Option Number 1): Salt that steak well on both sides and leave it on a wire rack in the fridge overnight. The next day, pull it out about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.
  2. The quicker way (Option #2): Short on time? No worries. Just salt the steak and pop it on a rack in the fridge for about 45 to 60 minutes. After that, give it another quick pat down with paper towels before you move on to the next step of the recipe.
  3. The speedy way (Option #3): If you’re really in a hurry and can’t wait, it’s okay to skip the salting for now. Just go straight to the next step of this recipe.

You probably wonder why there’s a whole set of rules for salting a flank steak. Here’s the answer: a few minutes after you sprinkle the salt, you’ll see these little droplets on the steak surface. That’s the salt doing its job. The steak needs to lose that moisture to get the crust going. 

Remember, moisture is the biggest enemy of a nice sear. After you salt the steak, its surface will be wet. That’s normal. But give it time, like an hour or so, and the meat will reabsorb most of that moisture again. My pro tip here? Leave your salted flank steak in the fridge overnight. It’ll be perfect and dry the next day, ideally for pan-searing.

Flank steak seasoned with salt and refrigerated for 24 hours
Flank steak seasoned with salt and refrigerated for 24 hours

Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet

First, get your cast-iron skillet nice and hot. Give it about 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat. Then, throw in a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and give it a minute more to heat up. After 3-4 minutes, your pan should be around 400-475°F, perfect for a good sear.

While waiting for the pan to get to temp, it’s the perfect time to season your steak. Get some finely ground black pepper on there. And, if you haven’t salted it yet, now’s the moment. Just a quick sprinkle of salt on both sides right before it hits the hot pan should do the trick.

Cast iron skillet heated to 471 degrees F.
Cast iron skillet heated to 471 °F.

Note: The thing with high heat is you need an oil with a high smoke point. That’s where refined avocado oil comes in – it’s got a high smoke point, right around 500°F. Just make sure it’s the refined stuff.

Step 3: Place the Flank Steak in the Skillet

Place the seasoned flank steak in a preheated cast iron skillet. For even cooking, flip the steak every 30 to 60 seconds. Continuously monitor the steak’s temperature at its thickest point. Once the thermometer reads 15-20°F below your desired target temperature, remove the steak from the skillet and proceed to the next step.

Note: Don’t forget to poke your thermometer into the thickest part of the steak to get a good read on the internal temperature.

Flank steak cooked in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop
Flank steak cooked in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop

Step 4: Let the Pan-Seared Flank Steak Rest

The last step is super easy. Just let your pan-seared flank steak rest for 5-10 minutes after you take it off the heat. This resting period is crucial as it enables the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the steak, ensuring less juice is lost when it’s sliced.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that the steak continues to cook even after being removed from the pan. Its internal temperature can rise by approximately 15-20°F. This process is known as carryover cooking. For this reason, I recommend taking the steak off the heat when its internal temperature is 15-20°F below your desired doneness.

cooked flank steak
Cooked flank steak

After waiting for 5-10 minutes, go ahead and slice up the flank steak. But remember, slicing it thin against the grain is the secret to a tender flank steak. If you’re curious for more info, check out the FAQ section.

Cooked flank steak sliced against the grain
Cooked flank steak sliced against the grain

FAQs

When’s the best time to remove a flank steak from the pan?

The best time to take the flank steak from the pan is when its internal temperature is approximately 15°F below your desired final temperature. Why’s that? The steak keeps cooking even after you take it out of the pan. Its temperature can increase by about 15 to 20°F, especially if it’s a thick cut. That’s all thanks to a phenomenon called carryover cooking.

What is the best way to slice flank steak?

Slicing thin and always against the grain is the best way to slice the flank steak. It’s a common mistake to think flank steak is just naturally tough. It’s all about how you slice it. This steak has a pronounced, long grain running through it. If you slice along these lines, it will feel like chewing leather. But here’s the trick: cut across those lines, and you’ll be amazed at how tender each bite turns out.

Below, I’ll show how the grain runs in the flank steak, how to angle your knife, and what a piece looks like when cut correctly – against the grain.

The grain direction in a flank steak
The grain direction in a flank steak
Cut flank steak against the grain. The yellow line indicates the grain direction, while the red line shows the cutting direction with the knife
Cut flank steak against the grain. The yellow line indicates the grain direction, while the red line shows the cutting direction with the knife
Slice of a cooked flank steak against the grain in my hands
The result of cutting flank steak against the grain

What is the ideal doneness for a flank steak?

Medium-rare is the ideal doneness for flank steak. The temperature between 130-140°F (medium-rare doneness) allows the steak’s fat to melt, making it more juicy and tender.

Which is better, pan-seared or grilled flank steak?

Grilled flank steak is better than pan-seared. However, please don’t get me wrong, pan-seared isn’t bad. It’s great too, especially if you throw in some sauce to kick up the flavor. I highly recommend the chimichurri sauce.

Flank steak cooked in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop

Pan-Seared Flank Steak

Adam Wojtow
This is a quick and very easy recipe for pan-seared flank steak. It's perfect when grilling isn't an option, and you're stuck cooking indoors. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • flank steak
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper finely ground
  • 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil I recommend refined avocado oil

Instructions
 

  • Prepare Your Flank Steak:
    Dry the flank steak with paper towels. Trim off any extra fat, then choose your salting method:
    Overnight Salting: For best results, salt generously and leave in the fridge on a wire rack overnight. Take it out 30 minutes before cooking.
    Quick Salting: Short on time? Salt it and put it on a rack in the fridge for 45-60 minutes. Pat it down before cooking.
    Immediate Cooking: In a rush? You can skip the salting and go straight to the next step in the recipe.
  • Preheat the cast iron skillet:
    Heat your cast-iron skillet on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil and wait another minute. In the meantime, season your steak with black pepper (and salt if you haven't already).
  • Cook the flank steak:
    Put the steak in the hot skillet and flip it every half a minute to one minute. Keep an eye on the internal temperature; take it off the heat when it's 15-20°F below your preferred doneness.
  • Rest Your Flank Steak:
    Let the steak sit for 5-10 minutes after cooking.
  • Slicing flank steak:
    Slice the flank steak thin, against the grain for the best texture.

Notes

  • Slicing Advice: Always slice against the grain for tender bites.
  • Ideal Doneness: Aim for medium-rare (130-140°F) for optimal taste and texture.

More Pan-Seared Steak Recipes To Try

Photo of author

Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.