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 The 5 Best Flank Steak Substitutes

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Flank steak has become popular over the years, and now many recipes are calling for it. But what can you do if your local butcher or grocery store runs out? Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!

As a professional chef, I have spent years working on the grill and 3 years in a bbq restaurant. I’ve cooked a lot of flank steaks and suitable alternatives.

The best flank steak substitute depends on your preferred cooking temperature and the recipe you’re using it in. To make the best decision possible, it’s good to know a little about what your substituting.

Flank steak on a grill

What is Flank Steak?

Flank steak is a wide, flat rectangular beef cut from the cow’s lower chest or abdominal muscles. It’s a lean cut with a small amount of marbling and no large fat chunks. It has a strong grain that can be tough if not cut against after resting.

What to Think About when Substituting Flank Steak?

Since flank steak is an inexpensive cut, I’ll only be substituting it with steaks in a similar price range.

Flank steak is quite tender, so we will want other steaks that are also tender.

It isn’t fatty and has a moderate beef flavor, which is one reason why it favors the grill and marinades.

5 Best Substitutes for Flank Steak from a Grill Chef

1) Hanger Steak

Hanger steak comes from the plate section of the cow, which is next to the flank. It’s a cut from the upper abdominal muscles, where it “hangs” off the diaphragm.

It used to be a reasonably unknown cut. Known as butcher’s steak or hanging tenderloin in the industry.

It has a robust beefy flavor that works as an all-purpose replacement for flank steak. Like flank steak, it’s essential to cut it against the grain to be tender. But due to the large grains, it works wonders with marinates.

It tends to be best cooked between medium-rare and medium due to its slightly squishy texture when cooked to rare.

Ideal Cooking Range: Medium-Rare to Medium

Recipes: All Purpose (Pan-Searing, Grilling, Marinating, Sous-Vide, Fajitas, Tacos, Stir-Fries)

2) Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is another close cut of steak that comes from the plate section. It’s a thin steak cut with a tough membrane attached to one side that is usually peeled off before being sold. If you find the membrane still attached, ask the butcher to remove it or peel it off with a sharp boning knife.

There are two types, “outside skirt” and “inner skirt.” It’s best to get the outside skirt steak as it’s the more tender version. Since it’s a thin cut, it favors very high heat to allow it to sear nicely before the center overcooks.

Ideal Cooking Range: Medium

Recipes: Grilling, Marinating, Fajitas, Stir-Fries, Tacos

3) Flat Iron Steak

Flat iron is a steak deep inside the chunk section. It wasn’t until 2002 that it was discovered. Unlike chuck meat, flat irons are tender because they are tucked away in the shoulder blade and not overworked.

Flat irons are an excellent value choice for flank steak and are well-marbled, giving you a stronger beef flavor. It’s an all-purpose replacement for flank steak.

Ideal Cooking Range: Rare and Medium

Recipes: All Purpose (Pan-Searing, Grilling, Marinating, Sous-Vide, Fajitas, Tacos, Stir-Fries)

4) Denver Steak

Another hidden gem from within the chunk section. The Denver steak comes from underneath the shoulder blade muscle.

It’s tender and well-marbled, giving it a nice beef flavor. Denver steak is another excellent all-purpose substitute for flank steak.

Ideal Cooking Range: Rare and Medium

Recipes: All Purpose (Pan-Searing, Grilling, Marinating, Sous-Vide, Fajitas, Tacos, Stir-Fries)

5) Sirloin Steak

Sirloin steak comes from the back of the cow and is a tender cut with a good flavor. It’s a similar price to flank steak and has a beefier flavor.

There are a a couple types of sirloin steak, the top sirloin but and the bottom. Each with their own pros.

Use the top sirloin for any type of fast-cooking or traditional ways you’d usually cook a steak, like grilling & pan-frying. The bottom sirloin like the tri tip are best for slow cooking like braising and smoking.

Top Sirloin Steak Ideal Cooking Range: Rare and Medium

Recipes: All-purpose (Pan-Searing, Grilling, Sous Vide, Fajitas, Stir-Fries

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best flank steak substitute for cooking at well-done?

Flank steak isn’t famously cooked past medium; this is because it’s a lean cut of steak. If you want to cook your steak past medium-well, use a well-marbled steak with a high-fat content like a rib eye. This will help keep the steak juicy when cooked to a higher temperature.

What’s the best flank steak substitute for marinating?

The best substitute for marinating is another steak cut with large grains like the hanger or skirt steak. It allows the marinate to penetrate the steak more and sticks better while cooking.

Can I use sirloin steak instead of flank steak?

Yes, sirloin steak is an excellent all-around alternative to flank steak. For fast cooking like grilling, pan frying, stir-fries and fajitas, etc, use top sirloin. For slow cooking like braising and smoking, use bottom sirloin.

Final Thoughts

Every steak listed will make an excellent substitute for flank steak. I suggest making your way down the list with hanger steak and skirt steak being the best two picks.

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