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How to Cook Flat Iron Steak

August 31, 2020
Flat Iron Steak Salad
This post is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.  Rest assured, all opinions are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links.  To learn more please, read my disclosure statement.

We are no strangers to the delicious steak suspects such as ribeye, strips and filets.  However, the lesser known flat iron steak is one you need to try!   Flat iron steaks are tender, beefy,  well-marbled and full of protein. Before I discuss many different ways to cook a flat iron steak, lets learn more about the cut.  I will also add a recipe for my flat iron steak salad with honey balsamic dressing.

The salad is prefect for lunch or dinner as it’s nice and hearty.  The flat iron is set atop mixed greens, goat cheese, candied pecans, dried cranberries and pears.  It’s perfect for any time of the year but I love it for fall when pears or apples are more plentiful and in season.

 

What is flat iron steak?

Flat iron steak is a cut of beef from the large chuck primal which is the shoulder area.  From the chuck primal comes some tougher cuts that are more suitable for slow cooking such as chuck roasts or steaks.

Flat iron steaks are also known by many other names such as: Boneless Top Chuck Steak, Book Steak, Butler Steak, Flat Iron or Flatiron (as one word), Lifter Steak, Petite Steak, Top Blade Steak, Shoulder Top Blade Steak (boneless).  (Source: www.nybeef.org)

Flat Iron Steak picture

Flat iron steaks

 

For my recipe I am using the 6oz flat iron steaks from Omaha Steaks.  Omaha Steaks sells the flat iron in both 4oz and 6oz steaks and in multiple package sizes.   They age their flat iron steaks to maximize tenderness and flavor.  In fact, the flat iron is the second most tender steak, behind the filet mignon.

Salted flat iron steaks from Omaha Steaks

Salted flat iron steaks from Omaha Steaks

 

Why you should invest in a good instant read thermometer

Many people look for recipes and expect to see an exact time to cook a steak or any protein for that matter.  I see comments on websites where people are angry because they followed the recipe exactly and ruined a steak.  Please realize, cook times are approximations and only guidelines.  There are many reasons that this is the case but here a few.

Taking temperature of meat

Checking temperature of meat with Thermapen MK4 instant read thermometer

 

Why the cook time on a recipe may not be accurate:

  • Your oven or grill temperature isn’t exactly what a recipe calls for
  • The difference in cook time between a steak that is cold vs a steak that has come to room temperature prior to cooking
  • The size of the meat you are cooking may vary from a recipe
  • You might like your beef cooked to a different level of doneness compared to someone writing a recipe

 

Methods for cooking flat iron steak

  • Grill
  • Skillet on stovetop
  • Stir-fry
  • Broil
  • Smoke
  • Sous-vide

I will go over the basics of each method of cooking.  Feel free to experiment with different profiles to create your own ideal meal.

For extra flavor, dry-brining your steak a couple hours ahead of time while it is in the refrigerator prior to cooking.  To dry-brine, salt each side of the steak with kosher or sea salt (be liberal but not excessive as flat iron is not a thick steak).

After salting, leave the steak on a rack on a plate or over a small sheet pan uncovered in the refrigerator until ready to cook.  If you have the time, doing this process 1-3 hours prior to cooking is beneficial.

I should note, it is perfectly acceptable to salt a flat iron just prior to cooking via any method.  I enjoy dry-brining because the salt accentuates the flavor of the beef greatly.

In fact, when searing over high heat, I prefer to just salt ahead of time and add no other seasonings.  Serving with a finishing butter or herbs after pulling the steak off of the direct heat is always an option as well. Refrain from using a rub containing sugar when grilling or searing on high heat however because the sugar will burn.

 

Because the flat iron is a relatively thin cut, leaving it chilled until shortly before cooking will give you some extra cook time to assure a nice crust. 

Contrary to many sources which say to always allow your steak to come to room temperature prior to cooking, that simply isn’t the case.  You will not ruin this steak by cooking it starting chilled or room temperature.

Flat iron steak salad

Flat iron steak salad

How to cook flat iron steaks on the grill

  • Whether you own a gas, charcoal, wood burning or pellet grill, heat the grill to high heat for direct cooking
  • Prior to putting the steak on the grill, clean your grill grates, then wipe down with some vegetable oil on a paper towel or cloth to prevent the steak from sticking
  • Resist the urge to use pepper on your steak until after it has been grilled.  Pepper can burn at high temperatures and leave a bitter taste on the meat
  • Season steak as desired
  • Place the steak on the grill over high heat and grill on one side for 4-5 minutes or until it has nice color.  Flip the steak then continue to cook until about 5 degrees shy of your target temperature.  Depending on the actual temperature of the grill this whole process will likely take 7-10 minutes.
  • For rare pull at 120°F,  medium rare 130°F and for medium 140°F
  • Rest steak for a 5 minutes prior to slicing (tent with foil)
  • Slice against the grain (steak will be more tender slicing across the grain)
Flat Iron Steak on grill

Flat Iron Steak on Aspire by Hestan grill

How to cook flat iron steaks on the stove

  • Heat a cast iron, stainless or carbon steel skillet to medium high heat.  Note: the pan will smoke at high temperatures.  Make sure you turn on an exhaust fan or open a window.
  • Resist the urge to use pepper on your steak until after it has been grilled.  Pepper can burn at high temperatures and leave a bitter taste on the meat
  • Season steak as desired
  • When pan is smoking hot, add a high smoke temperature oil (such as grapeseed, canola), ghee, lard or bacon fat to sear steak
  • Place the steak in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes or until it has nice color.  Flip the steak then continue to cook until about 5 degrees shy of your target temperature.  Depending on the actual temperature of the grill this whole process will likely take 7-10 minutes.
  • Optional: after searing  you can decrease the temperature of the skillet and toss in some butter and herbs such as rosemary or garlic to baste the steak until it is at the adequate temperature.  Do not put butter into a hot skillet initially because it will burn.
  • For rare pull at 120°F,  medium rare 130°F and for medium 140°F
  • Rest steak for a 5 minutes prior to slicing (tent with foil)
  • Slice against the grain (steak will be more tender slicing across the grain)
Flat iron steak in cast iron pan

Searing flat iron steak in cast iron skillet

How to stir-fry flat iron steaks

To cut a flat iron steak for stir-fry, I prefer to put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes prior to slicing.  A chilled steak is much easier to slice thinly than a room temperature one.  Slice against the grain into strips.  Set aside.  The key to making beef or chicken come out similar in texture to an Asian restaurant is combining the meat with cornstarch.

In a bowl, combine equal parts water and cornstarch.  For two steaks mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water until uniform.  Add 2 cloves or 2 teaspoons of fresh minced garlic.   Add the steak and combine until it is all coated.

In a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, stir-fry the meat until desired doneness and set aside kept warm.  Cook in small batches if necessary.  Remember for stir-fry, keep the food moving in the pan.  You do not want the garlic to burn.  At this point I add onions, broccoli or any vegetables that take a bit longer to cook first then add the others.

Get Creative!

At this point you can make a variety of different sauces to complement the meat and vegetables.  I like to use a few tbsp of low sodium soy sauce, a few tbsp of oyster sauce, 2 tbsp of rice vinegar and if I have it about 1/3 cup of orange juice or pineapple juice.  If you don’t have any on hand, add 1/3 cup of water instead and 2 tbsp brown sugar.  Combine 1 tbsp water with 1 tbsp cornstarch to make a slurry then add to the skillet and combine well to thicken the sauce.

If I’m being honest, when I typically make stir-fry once the meat and vegetables are finished I’m an open book when making the sauce.  Don’t overdo it on the soy sauce and it’s really a flexible recipe after that.  Try to balance salty and sweet.  I’m a big fan of garnishing with sliced green scallions at the end as well.

 

How to broil flat iron steaks

Whether you are doing the steaks under the broiler in your oven or using a salamander which reach incredibly high temperatures, resist seasoning the steak other than salting prior to cooking.   Herbs and pepper will burn.   Keep the area ventilated, and use the same time schedule as mentioned above.  When broiling, do not walk away while the steak is cooking.  One misjudged minute can mean the difference between nicely browned and a black exterior.

Flat iron steak salad

Flat iron steak salad

How to smoke flat iron steaks

Smoking meat gives it an extra layer of flavor to compliment the taste. Smoking also requires the use of lower temperatures to cook and thus will take longer to cook.  Set your smoker up for indirect cooking with wood of your choice.  I like oak, cherry or hickory on beef but use your favorite.

Smoke at 250°F and cook until steak is 15 degrees shy of your finished target temperature.   Remove from smoker, lightly oil then sear either on a grill or on the stove in a skillet using the methods above.  The searing process should only take a minute or two per side as to not overcook the steak.  You do not have to rest your steak afterwards when smoking the steak.

 

How to sous-vide flat iron steaks

Sous-vide is a convenient fool proof method to cook a steak.  There are a multitude of different types on the market of varying price ranges.  The good news?  They have been on the market for awhile and the cost has come down greatly on many models. The beauty of sous-vide is that you set the temperature of the water bath to a certain temperature and after adding the steak, it will not go above the temperature you dial it to.

Guaranteed results and edge-to-edge perfect doneness is a hallmark of sous-vide cooking.  Season the steak as desired and the flat iron steak in a bag suitable for going in a sous-vide bath.  I like to vacuum seal beef with about a tablespoon of butter and some fresh garlic and rosemary.  If not adding butter I will salt my steak as well.  Use whatever flavor profile you enjoy most.

Because the flavors in the pouch have penetrated the meat and you pat the steak dry after finishing the sous vide process, you have more flexibility in seasoning.

For a steak this size, a two hour cook time is my sweet spot.  If it runs over, with sous-vide it isn’t a problem as the water bath temperature will remain consistent and it’s impossible to overcook the steak.  You can even sous-vide from frozen.  Just add 30 minutes to the cook time for flat iron steaks.  This is convenient especially when you forgot to defrost the meat ahead of time.

After removing the steak from the sous-vide bath, it’s time to put a quick sear on the steak.  Pat the steak surface dry with paper towels.  A drier surface will sear much nicer than a wet one.  Either sear the steak over medium-high heat in a skillet quickly or over direct heat on the grill for a minute or two.

Much like when smoking, I like to make my sous-vide water temperature 15°F less than my finished cook temperature.   I like this 15 degrees of lead way to assure I get nice color when searing. without accidentally overcooking.  Another advantage of cooking a steak sous-vide is you don’t have to rest the steak after searing.

Meat lovers salad

I might be guilty of putting big plastic containers of lettuce in my refrigerator only to forget about them.  In fact, I don’t want to admit how much money I waste on lettuce that goes bad.  Why am I guilty of doing this?  I start out with good intentions but get bored easily with salad.  However, not if there is delicious meat on it!

This flat iron steak salad pushes all the right buttons for me.  Beefy steak, the sweetness of the candied pecans, the mildness of the goat cheese contrasting with the acidity of the dressing and dried cranberries is just perfect.  So yes, maybe my salads don’t have many actual vegetables in them, but they sure are delicious.  I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do.  Feel free to swap the pears for apples, or the pecans for a different nut.

 

Looking for more great beef recipes? Check out my Giant T-bone with Bacon Alfredo Hasselback Potatoes recipe and How to Cook a Perfect Ribeye by Different Methods post.

Flat iron steak salad

Flat iron steak salad

Flat iron steak salad with honey balsamic dressing

Flat Iron Steak Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Grilled flat iron steak with a classic balsamic dressing of goat cheese, fruit, and nuts
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword steak salad, goat cheese, fall salad, dinner salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 3
Author Melissa Reome

Ingredients

Steak

  • 2 6oz flat iron steaks
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp for each steak)
  • 1 tbsp oil (with high smoke temp (canola, avocado, grapeseed, ghee etc)

Honey Balsamic Salad Dressing

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 5 tbsp honey (or more to adjust sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 shallot (small, finely minced)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)

Glazed or Candied Pecans

  • 1/2 cup glazed or candied pecans (bought or made, recipe below: may substitute raw or toasted pecans)
  • 1/2 cup pecans halves or whole
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 pinch salt kosher or sea salt
  • 1 dash cinnamon

Salad

  • 1 16oz spring mix lettuce (or lettuce of your choice or fresh spinach)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz dried cranberries (such as Craisins)
  • 1 pear (fresh such as red or bartlett pear, sliced. May substitute apples if preferred)

Instructions

Grill flat iron steak

  • Salt each steak with 1/2 tsp kosher salt. If dry-brining, put on elevated rack in refrigerator uncovered for 1-4 hrs prior to cooking. If not, proceed cooking.
  • Preheat grill to high and direct heat.
  • Clean grill grate if necessary and wipe with vegetable oil on paper towel with tongs to prevent sticking.
  • Grill steak 4-5 minutes on first side and 3-5 minutes on flip side depending on thickness.
  • Remove steak from grill when 5°F short of target temperature when measured with instant read thermometer.
    For rare- 120°F, medium-rare- 130°F, medium 135°F, medium well-145°F
  • If desired, season with fresh ground pepper after pulling off grill.
  • Tent steak with foil on the plate and rest for 5 minutes.
  • Slice steak against the grain and serve on salad.

Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • Whisk balsamic vinegar and mustard together.
  • Add olive oil slowly while continuing to wisk dressing.
  • Add minced shallot.
  • Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • Taste dressing. If you prefer it sweeter add more honey. If too tart, add more olive oil until well adjusted.

Make candied pecans

  • In a skillet over medium heat, add brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and water. Heat until sugar dissolves and is bubbling. Add pecans, stir to coat them and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, spread out on parchment paper or silicone mat to cool completely. May make ahead of time and store until needed.

Assemble salad

  • Place lettuce in large bowl
  • Slice pears and arrange on salad
  • Add goat cheese, dried cranberries, pecans and steak to salad
  • Serve immediately with honey balsamic dressing on the side
  • If not eating salad immediately, top salad with steak upon serving as to not wilt the lettuce or melt the goat cheese.
How to cook flat iron steak

How to cook flat iron steak

 

 

 

 

 

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