Flat Iron Steak vs Flank Steak: Which Steak Is Better For You

Barbecue wagyu bavette beef steak with red wine salt offered as close-up on charred wooden black board

Flat Iron Steak vs Flank Steak: Which Steak Is Better For You

Steak lovers are always looking for a good cut of beef to make on their grill. When shopping in a grocery store, two cuts of steak that are available in many meat sections are flat iron steak and flank steak. These two steak cuts, while coming from a cow, differ immensely due to the area of the cow from which they are cut. The differences can be seen in the flavor, thickness, and cooking styles. However, both steaks are excellent options if you are looking to cook a rich and tender steak.

Grilled and sliced flat iron rare steak. Marble beef meat. Black background. Top view
Flat iron steak is both juicy and tender.

©Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock.com

What Is Flat Iron Steak

The flat iron steak comes from the top shoulder of a cow. On the thickness scale, it's relatively thin in comparison to other types of beef. Flat iron steak is incredibly popular because it's more affordable than most other cuts. It comes in a rectangular shape and is usually a longer piece of meat. The steak has a ton of marbling, which consists of fat, making it very tender. There are a variety of ways in which people cook flat iron steaks, such as grilling and pan searing.

What Is Flank Steak

Flank steak comes from the abdominal area of the cow, around the lower chest area. Other known names for flank steak are London Broil and even jiffy steak. Flank steak has a small fat content, making it have far less marbling than other steaks. Many people choose to marinade flank steak before cooking as it absorbs all of the flavor and sauce. Some may describe flank steak as a “chewy” piece of meat, but when cooked properly, it is extremely beefy in flavor.

Raw flank beef steak and ingredients for cooking on a wooden Board, close up
Flank steak lacks marbling, which means it lacks much fat.

©Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock.com

Key Differences Between Flat Iron and Flank Steak


The biggest difference between a flat iron and a flank steak is that the two steaks come from different areas of the cow's body. The flat iron steak comes from the shoulder region of the cow, whereas the flank steak comes from the abdominal area of the cow. Each section makes different types of steaks and provides different types of marbling, fat tissue, and even size.


The two steaks have immensely different flavor profiles. A flat iron steak has a ton of marbling, which makes the steak very tender and soft. The flavor is very rich because of the marbling and fat ratio. Flank steak, however, has far less marbling. It is a tougher steak and is very lean. The flavor profile is much more intense.


While both steaks are very affordable, flank steak tends to cost a dollar to two dollars less per pound than flat iron steak. This is mainly due to size and thickness. However, both steaks are not considered expensive by any means.

Roasted Shoulder Top Blade or flat iron beef meat steaks on wooden board. White background. Top View
Flat iron steaks are served as standalone steaks usually.

©Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock.com

Cooking Methods

Both the flat iron and flank steak can be grilled or pan-seared; however, they are done in different ways. Flat iron steak can be grilled or pan-seared and served medium or rare. Flank steak is usually cooked after being marinated many times and is also grilled or pan-seared.


Flat iron steaks are rich, tender, and juicy. They are oftentimes used as a standalone steak in a meal or cut up and used for stir-fry. Flank steak is a thinner, tougher steak used in strips for various recipes. Many people use flank steak for fajitas, tacos, or other dishes that require beef.

Well-done grilled marinated beef flank steak on wooden board
Flat iron steak has rich marbling, making it very tender.


Which to Choose

If you are deciding between a flat iron steak and a flank steak, there are some things to consider. Flat iron steaks are rich in fat and marbling, making them very tender and juicy. They have a rich flavor profile due to the fat. They tend to be on the thicker side, while still affordable and available at the grocery store. Flank steak, on the other hand, has hardly any fat and is far leaner. It is a tougher steak but rich in flavor, as well. It's a good steak if you want to marinade it and cut it up for recipes.

There are so many cuts of meat, including flat iron steak and flank steak. While they generally come from the same source and have similar nutritional values, there are some distinctions between them. Here is how they differ:

  • In terms of cut, flat iron steak typically comes from the top shoulder of a cow, whereas flank steak is from the lower chest area.
  • Flank steak has a lower fat content and less marbling than other steaks. On the other hand, flat iron steak has quite a bit of marbling.
  • Flat iron steak is a great meat for a standalone dinner or even used in stir fry. Flank steak, however, is typically great in fajitas, tacos, or similar dishes.
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Well-done grilled marinated beef flank steak on wooden board

Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • ¼ cup dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
  • 1 1-pound beef flank steak or top round steak, trimmed of separable fat
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil


  1. In a small bowl soak the dried tomatoes in enough hot water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain. Snip into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, score both sides of steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals. Place meat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Working from center to edges, pound with the flat side of a meat mallet into a 12×8-inch rectangle. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the spinach over the steak. Sprinkle the softened tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Roll the steak up from a short side. Secure with wooden toothpicks at 1-inch intervals, starting ½ inch from an end. Cut between the toothpicks into eight 1-inch slices.
  4. Place sides cut side down on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat until done as desired, turning once. Allow 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 12 to 16 minutes for medium (160°). Before serving, remove toothpicks.


  • Serving Size: 2 slices
  • Calories: 214
  • Sodium: 348mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Cholesterol: 47mg
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