4 Amazing Flank Steak Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Knowing the best flank steak substitutes will keep your summer grilling on track and may broaden your horizons when it comes to steaks!

Flank Steak Substitutes

Flank steak substitutes can come in many forms, as a flank steak is a simple cut of meat taken from the lower chest of the cow. It is a generally affordable cut that is recognizable for the pattern of long muscle striations across it. In South America, it is known as sobrebarriga, and in Asia, it is marketed as ‘stir-fry beef.’ Flank steak is featured in many grilling recipes, such as fajitas, and is often braised to retain the tenderness. However, it is not always easy to find at the meat counter. If your recipe calls for flank steak, some similar cuts that can work as acceptable substitutes include hangar steak, top round, skirt steak, and tri-tip steak among others. Let us take a look at them below. [1]

Hangar Steak

The hangar steak is located across the bottom ribs of the cow. It is a very lean, flavorful piece of meat that is popular for fajitas and tacos. Be careful to not overcook hangar steak. The low-fat content means that this meat becomes extremely chewy and tough when overcooked.

Steak, sauce, and some twigs of an herb with knife and fork on a table

Delicious steak ready for dinner Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Top Round

The ‘round’ refers to the back flank of the cow, and top round is a large steak cut from the top of the hindquarters. It is a thick cut of muscle and works as a good substitute for flank steak in recipes that require long, slow cooking, which breaks the muscle down. You should not try to fry or grill top round, as the meat is thick and will not be tender. Instead, use top round for braising, or in a London broil. [2]

Skirt Steak

While flank steak is a fairly large, thick cut, skirt steak tends to be much thinner and longer. It is cut from the same area of the cow as the brisket, with moderate fat marbling, but it can still be tough if overcooked, which is easy to do, because of its width. A marinade is important when cooking skirt steak, as the acidity can help soften and break down the muscles even before cooking. Grilling or frying for short amounts of time will lead to the most tender preparation of the meat. [3]

Tri-Tip Steak

More popular on the West Coast, the tri-tip steak is a lightly marbled, triangular cut of meat from just behind the flank steak area. It can also sometimes be found at the grocery store under the name triangle steak. Tri-tip steak can be grilled but should be marinated beforehand, and it works best with slow-cooking recipes, like braising. It is also a popular cut for chili and stews.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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