How to Properly Smoke Flank Steak

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The Flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscles lower on the cow, giving it a well-developed flavor at an affordable price. It’s often chosen primarily for uses like making beef jerky or steak fajitas. Yet this cut is also worth enjoying in its own right, especially after being smoked. While you need precise temperature control to smoke a Flank steak without leaving it on the dry or tough side, it’s easily done with a little practice and the right equipment. Anyone with a pellet or offset smoker should find it simple enough to make the smoked Flank steak of their dreams. Let these tips be your guide through the process.

How to Smoke Flank Steak


This kind of affordable steak comes from the lower abdominal area on each side of the cow. It’s an active muscle group that receives exercise, so it has a strong grain and can toughen if cooked for too long on a high heat setting. Using a smoker with accurate temperature controls is the key to getting good results with this cut. It’s also helpful to marinate this particular cut, regardless of how you’re going to cook it. Sometimes it’s not recommended to marinate the meat before smoking, but this is one form of beef that benefits from it. You can still add a dry rub after removing the Flank steak from the marinade and before adding it to the smoker. Wet-brined steaks also respond well to smoking since the moisture trapped inside the meat helps keep it tender as it cooks. Of course, don’t forget to let the steak rest after smoking so it can come to full temperature and maintain its juiciness.

Benefits of Smoking Flank Steak

Smoking, especially in a controlled temperature smoker, is a low-and-slow cooking method. This helps relax the muscle tissue that makes up the Flank steak, softening it and maintaining its delicious meaty flavor. It also gives you plenty of control over how you use the steak in the end since the smoked meat can add extra flavor to chili, sandwiches, stew, and more. The smoking process is easily combined with other methods for softening the meat like marinating and the use of meat tenderizers. It’s a traditional method used for preparing this cut of meat in many South and Central American barbecuing practices.

Smokers & Wood

It’s not enough to pick up a Flank steak and put it on just any smoker and expect good results. You’ll want to choose a smoker capable of maintaining a steady and low temperature without stalling out or spiking in heat. A pellet smoker is a good choice, but an offset smoker can also work just as well. Flank steak’s strong flavor can handle a more intense smoking wood, and plenty of options are given below.

Pellet smokers/pellet grills

A pellet smoker is a good choice for this cut of steak because it’s easy to keep the temperature controlled. Electric smokers that use pellets or wood chips also work just as well. If you have a pellet grill already, you should be able to use it as a smoker with no real modifications to how it operates. Make sure to set the pellet smoker or grill for around 225 degrees F and give it at least 15 to 20 minutes to warm up before adding your meat.

Offset smoker

Even the most basic offset smoker is a large, finely tuned piece of cooking equipment. It’s more than good enough for smoking a Flank steak because it offers unparalleled control over the temperature and smoke level even without propane or electric elements. Choose a high grill placement and keep the temperature around 200 to 225 degrees F when using one of these smokers. This will keep the steak from toughening up due to exposure to too much direct heat.

Choosing the wood

Regardless of the type of smoker you plan to use, the flavor of the smoke remains the same. Whether buying pellets, chips, planks, or other forms of smoking wood, consider pairing Flank steak with:

  • Earthy and intense Oak
  • Classic tongue-tingling Hickory
  • Mesquite for a hint of honey
  • Cherry wood if you’re a fan of lighter-smoked flavors
  • Mixed blends that contain any or all of the above.

Tips and Tricks

Flank steak is a large cut of meat. There’s nothing wrong with cutting the meat into smaller pieces for rapid smoking, but it may expose too much of the surface and therefore dry it out. If you have a large enough smoker or pellet grill, consider leaving this cut whole and only slicing it after it’s cooked. Remember to stop the slow-and-low smoking about 10 degrees before the target temperature for your desired level of doneness. You’ll then switch to a cast iron pan on the stovetop or fire up your smoker to high heat to put a finishing sear on the outside of the meat.

Smoked Flank Steak Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 Flank steaks, around 2 lbs of beef in total
  • Your favorite acidic or enzyme-based marinade
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Two tablespoons of a neutral-flavored high-heat oil

Instructions

1. Let the steak sit until the meat reaches room temperature, which can take between 10 and 20 minutes for this cut. Preheat the smoker or grill, aiming for 225 degrees F. Blot the surface so it’s not too wet, even if it was marinaded, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Pat the seasonings on the surface of the meat.

2. Add the steak to the smoker when it reaches the desired temperature. Let the meat smoke for at least one hour before beginning to check the internal temperature. Depending on the thickness and size of the steak, it can take anywhere from 90 minutes to over 2 hours to finish smoking. Check the meat every 10 minutes or so with a meat thermometer so it doesn’t overcook. Remove the steak from the smoker when it’s around 10 degrees lower than your target temperature for smoked Flank steak.

3. Use a cast iron pan to sear the steak, using the two tablespoons of oil and high heat on the stovetop. It only takes about 1 minute on each side to finish this thinner cut off. If you want to use your smoker or grill to sear the meat, set it to 450 degrees F or high heat and let it come to temperature, then give the steaks about 5 minutes on each time to get a good surface browning.

Notes

Searing the steak at the end in a pan gives you more control and prevents overcooking, especially if you add some butter at the very end to increase the flavor and juiciness of the smoked Flank steak.

Conclusion

Flank steak is often handled with care because of its potential to toughen up, but a smoker capable of holding low temperatures is an ideal way to cook this cut of beef. Pick up some affordable Flank steaks from the Chicago Steak Company to experiment with your own signature recipes.

smoked flank steak cut and ready to eat

Smoked Flank Steak

Course Main Course

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 flank steaks, around 2 lbs of beef in total
  • your favorite acidic or enzyme based marinade
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp neutral flavored high-heat oil

Instructions
 

  • Let the steak sit until the meat reaches room temperature, which can take between 10 and 20 minutes for this cut
  • Preheat the smoker or grill, aiming for 225 degrees F
  • Blot the surface so it’s not too wet, even if it was marinated, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Pat the seasonings on the surface of the meat
  • Add the steak to the smoker when it reaches the desired temperature. Let the meat smoke for at least one hour before beginning to check the internal temperature
  • Depending on the thickness and size of the steak, it can take anywhere from 90 minutes to over 2 hours to finish smoking. Check the meat every 10 minutes or so with a meat thermometer so it doesn’t overcook
  • Remove the steak from the smoker when it’s around 10 degrees lower than your target temperature for smoked Flank steak
  • Use a cast iron pan to sear the steak, using the two tablespoons of oil and high heat on the stovetop. It only takes about 1 minute on each side to finish this thinner cut off. If you want to use your smoker or grill to sear the meat, set it to 450 degrees F or high heat and let it come to temperature, then give the steaks about 5 minutes on each time to get a good surface browning
  • Remove the steak and enjoy!

Notes

Searing the steak at the end in a pan gives you more control and prevents overcooking, especially if you add some butter at the very end to increase the flavor and juiciness of the smoked Flank steak
*Photo by These Pictures are Entirely Bad licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0