Flank steak packs some great flavor and is lean, making it a healthy steak. The best way to cook it would definitely be making smoked flank steak on your favorite pellet smoker! Fire up those smokers, it's time to roll some smoke!
Video - How to smoke flank steak (Step-by-Step)
Definitely! Smoking steak is a great way to impart that fantastic smoke flavor onto an already delicious tasting piece of meat. As long as this is done right, you will have a nice juicy steak.
The key is to smoke it for a short period of time and then crank the temp up to finish the flank steak off. I'll show you how to do this in a minute...
What is flank steak?
Flank steak is a cut of beef from the abdominal muscle of a cow. This muscle works a lot and can be a little tough. If cooked and sliced correctly, it can be tender and delicious.
Flank steak is my wife's favorite and we cook it once a week. She likes how lean flank is compared to a fattier steak such as a tomahawk ribeye.
You will see large muscle fibers running from one end of the meat to the other with little fat. Some fat on the surface will be common, but minimal marbling within the steak. Flank steak is also called London Broil in certain areas of the world.
Similar steaks to flank include a skirt steak or flat iron steak. I have found that flank steak is a little harder to find than these other two. Ask your butcher if you can't find it, they normally can get some for you.
Smokers & wood
We're not grilling these bad boys on the BBQ grill, we're firing up those smokers! So choose your weapon and let's roll some smoke!
Pellet smokers / pellet grills
I'm smoking this flank steak on my pellet smoker, just like the Camp Chef 36 smoker. Using a Traeger to make this a Traeger flank steak is a fantastic option of a smoker.
Pellet smokers are an easy and great way to impart fantastic smoke flavor on your steaks and other meats without having to babysit a firebox all day.
----> Check out our other Smoked Meat Recipes Here<----
They must be plugged in to an electrical socket to operate the auger that constantly feeds the smoker with small wood pellets. This process makes keeping a consistent temperature extremely easy and little effort.
Don't have a pellet smoker? Check out our breakdown of the Best Pellet Smokers on the market to choose the best one for you.
Looking for something more traditional? This Oklahoma Joe's Smoker takes small pieces of wood and will give you a little better smoke flavor than a pellet smoker.
They do require a little more attention to keep the temperature consistent, so grab a couple beers and a lawn chair if you are going to use an offset smoker such as this.
Choosing the wood
There are several different types of wood that can be used when smoking flank steak, but my favorite is oak or hickory wood chips. This wood can be bought in chunks/chips or pellets to accommodate whichever type of smoker you are using.
If using a pellet smoker, many companies offer a competition or trophy blend of wood pellets. These are great because they have the perfect mixture of several different types of wood giving you a nice smooth smoky flavor.
Let's keep it simple here folks. I am not a big fan of marinating these steaks or using a marinade of soy sauce & worcestershire sauce. There is a time and place to lather your meat with an array of spices to achieve a great flavor. This is NOT one of those times.
- Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Olive oil (Optional)
Steak requires very little help when it comes to flavor. A simple 50:50 mixture of sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper is all you need when smoking flank steak to have a mind blowing finished flavor.
A coating of 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the steak before salt and peppering will help the spices attach and stay on the steak.
Smoking the steak
Pre-heat your smoker to 180°F - 200°F until the smoker is able to maintain that temperature.
Hit it with smoke
Place the flank steak directly on the grill grates and smoke for 20 - 30 minutes.
The key here is NOT to smoke the steak until it's at our desired temperature. We only want to get some smoke flavor on the steak and then crank the temperature up to 425°F.
Turning the temp up / Reverse searing
After 20 - 30 minutes, remove the flank steak from the smoker and place on a plate. Lightly tent with aluminum foil and increase the smokers temperature to 425°F.
If you have searing plates, place them on the grill grates of the smoker while pre-heating to 425°F.
Once the smoker hits temp, throw the steak back on the grill rack or searing plates and cook until reaching your desired doneness, flipping the flank steak once. This will be about 4 minutes a side for a medium finish.
The searing plates are great for getting a little crust on the steak. They will come with a flat side (seen above) and a ridged side. Both work great for searing the steak.
You do not need searing plates, but they definitely elevate the flavor and finished look of the steak. I definitely recommend them.
Determining when it's finished cooking
Alright folks, let's cook these steaks to the desired internal temperature, NOT time. Here is a chart showing the desired internal temperature for how you like your steak.
The key is to remove the steak 5-10 degrees BELOW your desired internal temp. So if you want a medium steak, pull it off the grill when the steak reaches about 135 degrees.
How do you tell when the steak is that temperature? Most pellet smokers will have thermometers that come with the grill. If not, grab one of these Thermopro Meat Thermometers.
They are perfect for determining when your meat is finished cooking. If you don't have one already, get one. They help SO MUCH when grilling or smoking meats to a perfect finish.
Not you, we're talking about the meat! The reason we pulled the steak off 5-10 degrees below our desired internal temperature is because we are going to let the steak rest before slicing. Resting the steak allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat and will also continue to cook the meat to your desired finished temp.
Rest the steak on a plate without covering for about 10 minutes before serving. The meat will rise about 5-10 degrees while resting, finishing the smoked flank steak to perfection.
Once the steak is finished resting, it's time to slice that meat the CORRECT way. Normally slicing a steak doesn't make a huge difference, but with flank steak it makes ALL the difference.
If you slice against the grain of the meat you will have a nice tender flavorful steak. If you screw up and slice WITH the grain of the meat, you will end up with a tough almost unchewable steak.
Finding the direction of the muscle fibers is extremely easy in flank steak. The fibers will run from the thickest part of the steak to the thinnest part. Look for long lines within the meat, those are it's fibers.
Starting at the thinnest part of the steak, slice perpendicular to those fibers (across the fibers). You also want to slice ¼" pieces with the knife at a 45° angle, this will make the pieces of steak a little wider.
This steak was topped with a nice chimichurri sauce my wife makes and man was it GOOD! We eat flank steak about once a week. It's my wife's favorite steak and smoked flank steak is the ONLY way you will cook it from now on.
Perfect Side dishes
Old Pro Tips
- Sear over an open flame to get the best char on the steak
- Don't smoke too long, this will make the meat tougher. 20-30 minutes max
- Steak pairs well with acidic garnish like chimichurri sauce or sweet steak sauce
Yes! It is not as expensive as Ribeye and does not have the fat content either. It's a great steak that is lean and has fantastic flavor.
Rare to medium is the best doneness for flank steak. It is a tougher cut of meat when it comes to steaks, so the more rare it is the more tender it will be.
Of course! Just go straight to grilling at a high temperature of 425 - 500°F until 5-10° before your desired temperature. This should take about 4-6 minutes a side depending on how hot the grill is.
- 2 lb Flank Steak
Dry Rub Ingredients
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- Pre-heat smoker to 180°F.
- Season steaks with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Place steak directly on smoker and smoke for 20 minutes at 180°F. After 20 minutes, remove from the smoker and put on plate. Tent with aluminum foil.
- Place grill grates on smoker and increase temperature to 425°F. Once heated, place steak on grill grates and cook until desired internal temperature, test with thermometer. Always cook to temperature and not time. However, It should take about 4-6 minutes a side for medium.
- When steak reaches desired temperature, remove from smoker and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice the steaks AGAINST the grain of the meat in ¼" wide strips so it will be nice and tender. Tilting the knife and slicing at a 45° angle will also make the strips a little wider since this steak is very thin.