Pan Seared Flank Steak

PREP TIMEREST TIMECOOK TIMETOTAL TIME
5 mins45 mins to 24 h10 mins1 to 24 hours

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
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground 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, 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 let it rest on the rack at room temperature for about 45 to 60 minutes. After that, give it another quick pat down with paper towels before moving 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 might wonder why there are specific rules for salting a flank steak. Here’s why: Moisture is the enemy of a good sear. Right after you sprinkle the salt, you’ll notice little droplets forming on the steak’s surface. That’s the salt at work. The steak needs to lose that moisture to develop a nice crust. Give it an hour, and the meat will reabsorb most moisture. Leave your salted flank steak in the fridge overnight for the best results. It’ll be perfectly dry and ready for pan-searing the next day.

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, heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes until it gets nice and hot. Then, add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and let it warm up for another minute. After about 3-4 minutes, your skillet should be between 400-475°F, perfect for searing.

While the skillet heats up, it’s a great time to season the steak. Sprinkle some finely ground black pepper over it. If you haven’t salted it yet, season both sides now, following the suggestion in step 1, option 3 of this recipe.

Note: Cooking at high temperatures requires 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.

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

Step 3: Place the Flank Steak in the Skillet

Place the seasoned flank steak in a preheated cast iron skillet. Flip the steak every 30 seconds for even cooking. Keep checking the temperature at the thickest part of the steak. Once it reaches 15-20°F below your desired doneness, remove the steak from the skillet and prepare for the next step.

Note: Check the temperature at the steak’s thickest point for the most accurate reading.

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

Once you remove the flank steak from the heat, let it sit for 5-7 minutes. This resting period is crucial because the steak keeps cooking a little, even after it’s off the heat. Due to carryover cooking, the steak’s internal temperature will increase by about 15-20°F during those 5-7 minutes of resting. 

After waiting 5-7 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
Cooked flank steak
Cooked flank steak sliced against the grain
Cooked flank steak sliced against the grain
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Flank steak cooked in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop

Pan-Seared Flank Steak

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  • Author: Adam Wojtow
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Rest Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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. 


Ingredients

  • flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon high-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare Your Flank Steak: Pat the steak dry and trim any excess fat. Depending on your time, choose a salting method: 

    Option 1: Salt the flank steak on both sides, then place it on a wire rack in the fridge overnight. Remove it 30 minutes before cooking the next day.

    Option 2: Salt the flank steak on both sides, let it rest at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, and then pat dry. 

    Option 3: If you’re short on time, skip salting and move to the next step.

  2. Preheat the cast iron skillet: Heat the skillet over medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil and let it heat up for about a minute until it’s very hot, around 400-450°F. While waiting, season the skirt steak with black pepper and salt on both sides if you haven’t already.
  3. Sear the flank steak: Place the seasoned flank steak in a preheated cast iron skillet. Flip the steak every 30 seconds for even cooking.  Keep an eye on the temperature in the thickest part of the steak. Once it reaches 15-20°F below your desired target temperature, remove the steak from the skillet and move to the next step below.
  4. Rest the Flank Steak: After removing the steak from the heat, let it rest for 5-7 minutes. This resting period is important as the steak will continue to cook slightly, increasing its internal temperature by about 15-20°F. Once rested, slice the flank steak thinly against the grain for maximum tenderness.

FAQs

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

The best time to remove a flank steak from the pan is when its internal temperature is about 15-20°F below the target final temperature. Why’s that? Because the steak doesn’t stop cooking the moment you remove it. Its temperature can increase by about 15 to 20°F within 5-7 minutes of resting, especially if it’s a thick cut. That’s all thanks to carryover cooking.

What is the best way to slice flank steak?

The best way to slice flank steak is thin and always against the grain. It’s a common mistake to think flank steak is just naturally tough and there is nothing we can do to make it tender. 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’ll feel like you’re 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?

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

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

Grilled flank steak is better than pan-seared, but don’t get me wrong—pan-seared is also delicious. It’s especially tasty if you add a flavorful sauce. I highly recommend trying it with chimichurri.

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 five years and knows a lot about them, including the different types of steak cuts, how long to cook them, and the best ways to cook any steak.

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