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What is Flat Iron Steak?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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The flat iron steak is a cut of beef which was discovered by researchers at the University of Nebraska. The researchers were trying to figure out how to use traditionally less desirable cuts of beef, and in the process, they found this extremely tender cut of meat. The cut is also called a top blade steak, in a reference to the region of the cow that it comes from.

The steak is cut from the area just behind the shoulder of a cow. Traditionally, the large cut of meat from this region has been called a blade roast. The meat was generally viewed as tough, suitable for stewing or roasting but not for grilling and other delicate cooking processes. However, a closer examination of the meat led to the discovery that this long held opinion is actually false.

The very top of this cut is really quite tender, but it must first be separated from the rest of the roast. Each shoulder actually yields two flat iron steaks, which are connected by a band of dense connective tissue. This tissue led people to believe that the steaks around it would be stringy and tough, as most cuts of meat surrounded by connective tissue are. This turned out not to be the case; in fact, flat iron steak is one of the most tender cuts of meat.

The origins of the name are a topic of debate. The most obvious explanation is that the steak does resemble an old fashioned triangular flat iron. Some people have also suggested that the steak was named for its supposed hardness, which would have rivaled a solid metal flat iron.

Like many steaks, flat iron steak certainly benefits from being marinated. It does extremely well on the grill, and can also be prepared like other steaks would be. Just as with high quality steak, overcooking tends to turn the meat stringy and dry, rather than tender and moist. It can also be cut into strips for fajitas and stir fries.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon310565 — On Dec 24, 2012

My wife and I have been using flatiron steak for a while now. We buy them at M&S. I used their instructions: start on a very hot grill and lightly oil the meat, add a little salt and pepper, put the meat on the very high heat and listen to the sizzle. Leave on this heat for about a minute and a half, and turn over. Leave on high for another minute, turn the gas off for two minutes, then turn back on medium heat for a further two minutes. Coat the top surface in butter, turn over and cook for a further two minutes, remove and allow to rest on a warm plate covered in foil for three minutes and serve. This will be medium rare and will absolutely melt in the mouth. Lovely.

By anon175905 — On May 14, 2011

The best flat iron steak you will ever eat will have no marinade. For this steak, it's all about the cooking process.

It's best on the grill, but I have cooked it indoors in the winter. Salt and pepper should be all you need. Preheat the grill to at least to 500 to 600 degrees. You want it really hot. Coat the meat with oil, put on the grill and close the lid. After two minutes, rotate the steak a quarter turn. After three minutes, flip it and repeat the process and times. Remove and tent it with foil for four or five minutes. It will be medium and absolutely melt in your mouth.

If indoors, sear it in a iron skillet on both sides on high. Then broil it using the same grilling times. the kitchen gets a little smoky, but it's still good for a winter steak or in the absence of a hot grill. Don't overcook. This is not not a cut meant to be well done.

By anon155359 — On Feb 23, 2011

I marinate flat iron steak in Dale's sauce at room temp for few hours.

By anon147836 — On Jan 30, 2011

Can someone tell me if flat iron steaks can be considered as part of the Chuck?

By anon125868 — On Nov 10, 2010

Flatiron steak is the best there is. No need to marinate. Just grill it and definitely don't overcook it.

By yournamehere — On Sep 20, 2010

Would you say that a sirloin steak or a flat iron steak would be better for a first-time steak griller?

I know that a sirloin is more classic, but a flat iron looks like it might be good too -- what do you think?

By StreamFinder — On Sep 20, 2010

My local butcher recently started stocking pork flat iron steaks. They make a fantastic grilling steak -- I've found that you get a lot of the benefits of a good beef flank steak, but with the lighter taste of pork.

You should be aware though that this is a hefty cut of meat, and does do better if you marinate it, but if used improperly, it works well for grilling, baking, sauteeing and broiling.

By rallenwriter — On Sep 20, 2010

I recently discovered flat iron steak by watching food network, and I have to say it sounds very tasty.

They used a steak marinade made of honey, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice, plus what sounded like 30 different spices. It sounded fantastic, but was a little much for a first time marinader like me to undertake.

Does anybody have a really good beef flat iron steak recipe that doesn't call for an insane marinade, or at least one that has a marinade that is simple to make?

I'd like to move away from my rib eye and steak sauce days, but I need a little help getting there.

Any advice?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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