Juicy flank steak is one of our favorite cuts, perfect for steak fajitas, salads, or even sandwiches. But it can be tough and chewy if not cooked properly. This easy flank steak marinade is one of the steps to ensure the most tender and flavorful results from your recipe, whether oven roasted or grilled. It’s quick and simple and the results will take your dinner to a whole new level.
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When it comes to beef recipes, whether or not to marinate is always a question. Our rule of thumb in the Girl Carnivore Meat Labs is to marinate on tough cuts that can benefit from being tenderized for flavor and mouthfeel. These are cuts of beef that tend to be more worked on the animal than others, with more muscle fibers to break down to really enjoy the meat, like Merlot steak, skirt steak, cuts from the round, and stew or kabob meat (mainly because those are usually cuts the butcher has left over that could use some love).
Cuts we do not marinate are ones that have a lot of their own flavor and fat, like ribeye steaks, or amazing texture (and don’t need tenderizing), like filet mignon, where we finish with a steak sauce to enhance flavor.
A marinade not only adds flavor, but it’s also science. Marinades contain acid, oil, and flavor enhancers (spices, herbs, etc.). The acidity works to tenderize the meat, and the whole combination also adds depth to the flavor. For this easy steak marinade, we went with simple flavors that go well with Latin-inspired meals and summer grilling but our traditional steak marinade will also work if you want to serve this in a different manner.
Why marinate flank steak?
Flank steak is an incredibly flavorful cut. It comes from the flank area of the cow, behind the belly. However, it’s a lean cut, meaning it has little fat and unique muscle fibers that run in long strips that can be a tough cut of meat if not cooked right.
A steak marinade helps tenderize the flavorful cut of beef because of its acidity. And it can boost the umami flavor of your flank steak recipe. The flank steak takes well to a hot and fast cook, and where an easy marinade isn’t an essential step for an amazing steak dinner, if you have the time, it can really elevate the meal.
Ingredients For Flank Steak Marinade Recipe
- Salt – we use kosher salt when cooking
- Oil – vegetable oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a distinct flavor, so if using, cut it with a more neutral oil like avocado or canola.
- Acid – Lime juice from fresh limes (lemon juice will also work)
- Worcestershire sauce – adds depth, soy sauce, GirlCarnivore Ooomami powder, and even a dash of fish sauce are great options for adding to the savory flavor too
- Cumin – this is optional, but we love it for our grilled flank steak recipe.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Garlic cloves – or pre-minced garlic
- Fresh cilantro – and if you’re feeling spicy, add some sliced jalapenos or red pepper flakes to heat up the flavor of the marinade.
How to Make Flank Steak Marinade
This recipe is incredibly simple but such a big part of making a steak your whole family will love.
- Start by whisking the salt, oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, fresh garlic, and minced cilantro into a small bowl or pan.
- Then add the flank steak, flipping to coat several times. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- If storing the flank steak in a large resealable bag, pour the marinade over the steak and seal the bag, removing as much air as you can. Then rub the steak and marinade to coat.
- Place the marinade flank steak in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours.
- When ready to cook, remove the flank steak from the marinade and brush off any garlic or cilantro stuck to the meat. Use this marinade immediately or store it overnight without the meat to use the next day.
Now that you’ve made the best flank steak marinade, cooking it to a perfect medium-rare steak is your next challenge.
How to Cook Flank Steak
Flank steak is perfect for hot and fast cooking, 10-15 minutes on a charcoal grill or gas grill, to a medium rare temperature of 135 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the beef. It begs to be grilled flank steak, shaved into thin slices for salads and sandwiches, or turned into grilled flank steak tacos.
The key to tender flank steak, though, after the delicious marinade, is how you slice it. To ensure the best results, look at the direction of the grain. Make sure to slice thinly into strips against the grain of the meat (and on a bias if you’re feeling fancy). Cutting against the grain with a sharp knife is important because of the muscle fibers in this cut of beef. It shortens the long fibers, making the best mouthfeel and chew, so you can savor the flavors of the flank steak marinade ingredients added to your cut. Try to keep the slices around 1/4″ thick.
What to Serve With Marinated Flank Steak
Once you’ve marinated the flank steak and decided if you want to oven-roast or grill it over charcoal, the next choice is the side dishes. This simple marinade can be used for various dinner options, but we love grilled flank steak tacos with fresh tortillas, char-grilled peppers, and onions. Try your grilled marinated flank steak with rajas con crema, tasty smoked corn on the cob, and a drizzle of homemade chimichurri. Or go homestyle with mashed potatoes and sliced steak on top.
We recommend marinating for 6 to 12 hours to turn this tough cut of beef into a variety of delicious recipes.
Yes, if flank steak is left in marinade for too long it can lose its texture and become mushy. We like to marinate overnight, 8 to 12 hours maximum for the best flavor and chew.
No, do not reuse your excess marinade. Once the meat has sat for an extended period of time in any marinade, it’s best to dispose of it and make a new batch for next time. If you are using it as a sauce for the finished dish, reserve the marinade, strain it, and bring it to a rolling boil before serving to avoid contamination.
Do you marinate your flank steak recipes or is it right to the hot grill grates? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe to help the next person out!
Flank Steak Marinade
- 1 tbsp Salt
- ½ cup Oil
- ¼ cup Lime Juice
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp Cumin
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 4 Garlic Cloves smashed
- 1 tbsp Cilantro minced
- Whisk the marinade ingredients in a bowl; salt, oil, lime juice, Worcestershire, cumin, pepper, garlic cloves and cilantro.
- Add the meat and flip to coat.
- Alternatively, add the flank steak to a large gallon ziplock bag and pour the marinade in.
- Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible.
- Rub the bag to coat the steak.
- Marinate the flank steak for 6 to 12 hours.
- When ready to cook, remove the flank steak from the marinade, discarding the marinade any garlic or herbs stuck to the meat.
- Pat dry and cook as desired.
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