Grilling skirt steak or flank steak is easy. Follow along!
Make your grill happy with a tasty steak that doesn’t cost a wad of cash.
Steaks are expensive, and while grilling them may sound easy, it can be intimidating—especially if you’re new to it.
These days, I save the super-pricy steak cuts for special occasions and use thinner steaks like flank or skirt steak for my casual weekend grilling.
These steaks are packed with flavor and have a great mix of fat and meat. They’re getting more popular (with reason) so they aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but they’re still less expensive than many cuts.
That said, let’s try not to mess them up! Here’s how:
Prepare the Steak and Grill
I recommend rubbing steak with some spices to get a nice crust going. You could do this a day or two in advance.
You can use a prepackaged rub if you want, but I usually just mix up a teaspoon of kosher salt with a teaspoon of black pepper, add in big pinches of chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder, and call it good.
Rub the steak with some olive oil first, then rub on the spices. They’ll stick better with the oil on there.
When it comes to grilling a steak, direct heat is your friend. The steak will only be on the grill for 10-12 minutes, so make sure it’s nice and hot so you get a good crust on it.
I like to use charcoal, but you could just as easily use gas. If you’re using gas, preheat the grill for 5-10 minutes over medium high to really get it nice and hot. For charcoal, let the coals burn down and then spread them out in an even layer.
Time to Grill!
With all that great prep, you’re ready to go.
So toss the steak on the grill!
Cover the grill and let the steak cook for 5-7 minutes.
If you’re doing a thin cut like skirt steak, you might even do 4 minutes. It’ll cook fast. Flank steak tends to be a little thicker, so you can safely leave them on side one for 7 minutes.
If you want to make sure you’re getting a nice crust, you can lift up the steak with some tongs.
After the steak has grilled on side one and is smelling good, give it a flip!
Grilling side two is very important. You want to get a nice sear on it, but now temperature is key. Not the temperature of the grill, but the temperature of the steak! For a nice medium-rare steak, you don’t want it to go over 135ºF in the thickest part of the steak.
This will most likely mean it’s on the grill for 3-5 minutes on side two, but there isn’t any rule here. The time depends a lot on your grill and your steak.
I recommend checking your grilling ego at the door and using a thermometer to make sure you nail the temp. I use a little instant-read digital thermometer to tell me my steak is perfect.
Give it a Rest
Besides not overcooking a steak, resting a steak is probably the most important part. Cutting into it right after it leaves the grill is a big mistake.
Instead, wrap it in foil and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. It’ll seem like a long time, but trust me. It’s worth it to let the juices re-distribute in the meat.
Slice it Up
Now let’s talk slicing. This is where some people get into trouble.
As you see in the above picture, there are strands in the steak that run horizontal. This is called the “grain” of the steak and if you cut with it you’ll end up with these full strands in your pieces. It’ll be really tough.
Instead, slice across the grain with a very sharp knife and you’ll be left with super tender slices of steak!
Ready to go!
The uses for these cuts of meat are endless. You can eat it as-is, top it with a little chimichurri sauce, put it in tacos or sandwiches, or not tell anybody you even made steak and keep it all to yourself.
Totally your call!
For more great outdoor party ideas, check out our Grilling recipes.
Nick thinks thin steaks are very undervalued! Check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon Profile.