Flank steak, which technically isn’t a steak but a cut of beef from a cow’s belly muscles, is everyone’s favorite grilling cut of meat. Its powerful beefy flavor blends well with a variety of rubs and marinades. Since it has a tough texture, it is best marinated, grilled over high heat, or slow-braised.
However, flank steaks are not always easy to find in the market, so it would save you enough time and energy to be familiar with the best substitutes. Here are some alternatives you can consider immediately.
- Chicken breasts
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Skirt steak
- Vegetable steak
- Flat iron steak
- Trip-tip roast
- Beef Fajitas
If you are still unable to find any of the alternatives mentioned above, read on as we touch on the full list of flank steak substitutes you can consider.
But first, let’s understand what else is so special about a flank steak?
13 Best Flank Steak Substitutes
Aside from its delicious beefy taste, flank steaks are a good source of zinc, phosphorus, and iron. These beef cuts are high in proteins but low in fat.
They are versatile enough to be used in preparing different dishes such as stir-fried flank steaks with broccoli, garlic, superior, soy sauce, aji mirin, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and senanami togarashi
You can also have grilled flank steaks that have been marinated for three days in pineapple juice, soy sauce and garlic
One of the best flank steak substitutes we recommend is skirt steak which is more juicy and tender compared to flank steak due to its fat content.
Here are the rest of the substitutes that you might want to consider:
The breast is the largest and thickest part of the chicken. A chicken has two breast sections, split in the middle by a thin bone. Chicken breasts are removed out of the chest cavity of the bird, and split in half during processing and sold individually.
It is a popular cut because it is lean, low in calories, and has an evident mild-tasting poultry meat taste. Though not the tastiest part of the chicken compared to the thigh part, chicken breast is considered the healthiest; being low in fat and high in protein.
Three ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast contain 31 grams of protein, a bunch of heart-protective B vitamins, and about 4 grams of fat. [Source]
Just like flank steaks, chicken breasts can be used in preparing a wide variety of dishes, from pan-sears, stews, barbeques, grilled or steamed vegetables, and Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas.
When it comes to cooking, both flank steaks and chicken breasts should be cooked cautiously. These meats are recommended to be cooked quickly over high heat. Overcooking them will result in firm, tough, and dry meat.
It might not sound initially appealing but Shiitake mushroom is a type of edible fungus. Mostly found in East Asian countries like China and Japan, it is known as the second most commonly eaten mushroom in the world.
Shiitake mushroom’s dark and earthy appearance, delicate and springy texture, and strong earthy and meaty flavor make it an excellent flank steak substitute. Its distinct woody taste adds richness to any dish.
Given its characteristics, shiitake mushrooms can be used as a 1:1 substitute for flank steak.
Portobello mushrooms are the fully matured version of cremini mushrooms – a white variety of mushroom that has a similar size and appearance as the button mushroom.
Portobello mushrooms are large, dark brown, with an open cap and deep brown gills on the side.
These are deliciously meaty, earthy, and can absorb marinades. Portobello mushrooms have a meaty and fibrous texture, making them identical to meat.
These are versatile and can be prepared using different cooking methods. Excellent for fajitas, grilled or barbeque dishes, tacos, and enchiladas just like how everyone cooks their flank steaks.
Tofu is a healthy, vegetarian-friendly, and widely used meat alternative. It is a very nutritious, soy-based meat substitute. This is a famous option for low meat-eaters who would like to enjoy meat’s rich flavor.
However, tofu must be prepared well due to its delicate texture and distinct beany taste.
Tofu is a nutritious and delectable substitute for flank steak. It can be used in soup and stir-fried dishes, and can retain different flavors from creamy, savory, and those complex blends with herbs and spices.
A piece of tofu can be used as a direct substitute for a small piece of flank steak.
If you are experiencing challenges in sourcing a supply of flank steak from your local butcher, then you should consider skirt steak, also called Beef skirt.
This is a preferable substitute for flank steak, and some people find it a better option as it has more fat that contributes to its juicier and tenderer meat compared to flank steak.
Skirt steak is known for its characteristic slender and marbling-flattened beef cut. It is also thinner than flank steak, so it has a shorter cooking time.
The difference between flank steak and skirt steak is that skirt steak comes from the brisket. That is why it is more slender and leaner than the flank. Though these two are mostly considered the same because the flank is found very close to the brisket, they are not the same.
If you are to use skirt steak as a substitute for flank steak, substitute one fresh skirt steak for more than one piece of flank steak. If you are going to use a new raw skirt, apply a 1:1 substitution.
This recommendation is based on the skirt steaks’ typical strong flavor that might overwhelm the taste buds when used in generous amounts.
Meat substitutes are popular due to the increasing demand for vegetarian and vegan dishes. These days, you can come across a wide array of vegan and vegetarian food choices in your local food shops.
If you used to love stocking up on your favorite flank steak but decided to turn vegetarian or vegan, then a vegetable steak is just right for you.
Vegetable steaks are readily available in the market. Packed with all the good flavors and textures of your favorite meat without the animal content.
Vegetable steaks are mostly made of or made from a combination of soy, mushrooms, chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables.
How should you use vegetable steak as a substitute for flank steak? You can consider a 1:1 direct substitution of vegetable steak to flank steak, or you may opt to use a higher portion of vegetable steak since it is packed with high nutrients without the animal fats and proteins from the flank steak.
Flat Iron Steak
Flat iron steak is produced from premium steak and is a well-known substitute for flank steak. This meat cut has gained popularity in the United States. Flat iron steak is not generally boneless and is cut in half to permit the formation of compact fat tissue.
Similar to flank steak, flat iron steak is a slice of remarkably marbled meat, with thin, lean, and long muscle fibers. Many culinary experts use this meat cut as it yields a delicious flavor, and can be cooked in different ways.
Flat iron steak and flank steak are both delectable when grilled, used for stir-fried dishes, pan-seared, slow-cooked, and prepared with curry, spices, and seasonings.
These meat cuts should not be overcooked, though, as the texture will be extremely firm, tough, and chewy. It is recommended to use a lower temperature during cooking.
A tri-tip roast is a triangular boneless beef, generated from the sirloin’s tip. Another name for tri-tip roast is triangle steak. This is a well-preferred substitute to flank steak since it’s lower in cost but with the same delectable texture and flavor.
The tri-tip roast is invented in the mid-20th century.
It was only used for stew meat or prepared as ground meat during that time. When people discovered that it is not necessary to limit its preparation to such kitchen applications, Tri-tip roast or triangle steak became more accessible and became a popular component in a wider variety of dishes.
Tri-tip is a good substitute for flank steak in smoked, roasted, pan-seared, and barbecue-style prepared dishes.
You must be familiar with Beef fajitas if you’re a fan of Mexican food. Fajitas are strips of grilled meat combined with strips of grilled onions and peppers, and placed on tortilla wraps that are made from corn or flour.
Beef fajitas were invented when workers in a meat shop were given tough, fewer premium cuts of beef, and they decided to make good use of them by mixing them with other ingredients.
Nowadays, packed frozen beef fajitas are sold in nearby supermarkets. Beef fajitas are very thin, making them a preferred substitute for flank steak because they are easier and faster to cook.
A combination of beef skirt steak that has a tender and juicy texture and beef fajitas is a perfect substitute for flank steak.
A beef hanger is a meat cut located at the last rib at the edge of the stomach and the kidney. Quite similar to flank steak, a beef hanger is also difficult to source. This meat cut cannot be easily purchased at just any store.
A beef hanger is a good substitute for flank steak, based on flavor. The flavors are explained to be very comparable because the area where the beef hanger was sliced is very close to where the flank is located.
When substituting beef hangers for flank steaks, a good combination is four portions of the beef hanger and one portion of beef skirt steak.
Top Round Steak
Top round steaks are often mistaken to be flank steaks. Most people notice that these two cuts are quite similar in many ways. They are also popularly called London broil steaks.
But just like the favorite flank steak, top-round steak may result in a tough texture when cooked without proper preparation. Well-known cooking applications for top round steak and flank steak are grilling and broiling.
Top round steak is recommended to be marinated ahead of time before cooking. This procedure will enable the meat to absorb the marinade, which will aid in tenderizing the meat.
Rubbing the meat with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and garlic, and then resting the meat before cooking will also help result in a tenderer and juicier steak.
Short ribs are famous in many international cuisines like Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisines. A short rib is a cut generated from the brisket, plate, chuck, or rib areas of beef. The short rib is one of the best substitutes for flank steak, given its strong beefy flavor and juicy texture.
When cooking short ribs, refrain from adding too much fat since short ribs are already high in fat. When using short ribs as a substitute for flank steaks, you may use one portion of the short rib to replace two pieces of flank steaks.
The Bavette steak is another excellent, cost-effective substitute for flank steak. Bavette steak is mostly mistaken to be closely similar to a skirt steak.
Nevertheless, when inspected closely, Bavette steak will appear to have more exposed grains since its muscle fibers are less compact. Some find it easier to flavor up and season this cut as its open structure permits marinades to penetrate the beef.
Since it tends to absorb marinades efficiently, this steak is noticed to be tenderer than flank steak even when cooked at high heat. Its beefy flavor is also slightly milder than that of flank steak.