All About the Hanger Steak: What is it and How Do You Cook It?

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cooking hanger steak

Photo by Ann Larie Valentine licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hanger steak is one of those that people don’t really know about or overlook as a good piece of steak all together. Unfortunately, they’re missing out on a great cut of flat steak that’s inexpensive, yet packs a lot of flavor in each bite. This is one cut of steak you won’t want to keep passing up, so we’re here to clue you in on what we love so much about the hanger.

What is Hanger Steak?

Hanger steaks belong to the flat steak group, which is the same group that flank and skirt steaks belong to. This cut comes from right below the diaphragm of the animal, full of muscle that helps support it. The meat sits between the loin and ribs, essentially “hanging” out in that spot, giving it its unique name.

The hanger stands out, though, for an important reason: its incredible flavor! Although it’s a thin cut of steak, its fans sure do love its robust, meaty flavor that has the potential to become a household favorite. And, thanks to its placement in the animal, deep within the loin, it stays very tender, especially for such a thin cut.

Hanger Steak vs Flank Steak

Is hanger a good substitute for flank steak? Honestly, hanger, flank, and skirt steaks are fairly similar and could likely be substituted in most meals you’d use them in. Where you’ll notice quite a bit of difference is the tenderness of the cuts. The hanger is protected by the rib cage and has a good balance of meat and muscle that leaves it flavorful and tender. The flank portion, which comes from the end of the belly, close to the hind legs, is very lean. Flank steaks do well with a marinade to help tenderize them, whereas a hanger steak can take to one just fine, but doesn’t necessarily need it.

Hanger Steak vs Skirt Steak

The skirt steak is the least tender of the flat steaks. It is, of course, also the least expensive of the bunch, but all flat steaks will cost you much less than a big chunk of rib eye. The skirt portion is a fibrous piece of meat that sits between the abdomen and chest of the animal. It works hard, and is therefore full of muscle and tends to be on the chewy side. Skirt steaks usually do well with some tenderizing efforts, like preparing the cut with a meat tenderizer and marinade. Rather than eat it on its own, a skirt steak is a good choice for fajitas, steak tacos, or steak sandwiches. Hangers, on the other hand, are tender enough to make the star of your meal.

How to Cook Hanger Steak

Hanger steak is versatile in that you can usually get a good cook from it using your favorite method. But, no matter what cooking method you choose, you should always strive for a medium-rare doneness. The hanger steak can be touchy, losing its tenderness even if it’s slightly overdone. And, when it’s not done enough, the hanger steak has a slimy texture, rather than the tender, juicy texture you expect for rarer steaks.

The most popular way to really bring out the flavor of the hanger steak and get the perfect cook is by grilling it. These steaks love being cooked in high heat that cooks them quickly, and the grill’s heat gives the grilled hanger a perfect char instead of cooking through the entire steak and drying it out.

Grilling Hanger Steak

Before you start grilling your meat, be sure to season them. These cuts love some simple salt and pepper, but a mild steak seasoning can help bring out some of the incredible flavors without becoming overbearing. Fire up the grill and wait for it to come to full temperature before placing your hangers on. Remember: high heat is key for these steaks!

Place the steaks on the grill and cook for about two minutes on each side. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your temperature is between 125 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If so, remove them from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Conclusion: The Incredible Hanging Tender

Are you looking for a good marinade for your hanger? This cut has some amazing flavors already, but it’s not uncommon for steak enthusiasts to give it a good marinade. If so, check out our Jack Daniel’s Marinade recipe! This can give your grilled hanger the perfect texture and flavor. Don’t forget to browse our other articles, recipes, and helpful tips at Steak University.