Flank steaks used to be discarded pieces of meat. They were often included in ground beef, soup or stew meat, or even saved for high end pet foods instead of being a prized piece of meat on their own.
But, we’ve come a long way since then, and the flank steak is a popular favorite thanks to it’s affordable price and versatility for a lot of different kinds of meal.
The thing is, like any cut of meat, you should always have an idea of some good substitutes in case a flank steak isn’t available. Not to mention that you might want a non-beef or even a vegetarian alternative to a flank steak.
Here are a bunch of good flank steak alternatives, what they work for, and when you should consider them.
|More marbling, often a deeper flavor, easy to work with. More tender than flank steak.
|Might not be as lean or suitable for low-fat dishes.
|Flat Iron Steak
|Shoulder cut of beef, this steak is rich, and tender, and works well for grilling or putting in the slow cooker.
|Can be more expensive than a flank steak, and may be richer than you want for some recipes.
|Top Sirloin Steak
|Much more tender than bottom sirloin, this is a good steak for recipes with dry rubs or marinades. Also stir frys well.
|Can get tough fast cooked past medium well. A significant fat cap adds flavor, but may be fattier or richer tasting than some recipes call for.
|Easy to trim excess fat, flavorful option, one of the few steaks that can be thoroughly cooked without getting too tough.
|Often more expensive. The rim of fat adds flavor, but also a lot of calories if you don’t trim the steak after cooking.
|Cut thin, like flank steak, good marbling, and takes marinading well. Incredible beefy flavor.
|Higher fat content (though that means it’s more tender). Easy to overcook and make tough though.
|Less expensive on average, and just as lean as flank steaks
|A bit tougher most of the time, this steak does better with long cooking time or after a longer marinade than flank steaks.
|Scrap Beef Or Stew Beef
|Much less expensive, can offer a lot of flavor, suitable for a wide range of meals.
|Not a replacement for a steak meal, but can work well in soups, stews, fajitas, and other cut steak meals.
|Vegetarian, offers a lot of protein, can be marinaded and flavored to get a better flavor.
|Flavorless on its own and doesn’t mimic the texture of a flank steak.
|Common vegetarian meat substitute, lots of umami, readily available.
|Neither the flavor nor the texture really mimics flank steak, but it can serve the same roll in many recipes.
|Affordable, easy to get, and familiar to most people.
|Chicken as a flank steak replacement is going to have a different flavor and texture, but, it’s a versatile ingredient that works in most meals.
|Cauliflower or Broccoli Steaks
|Cauliflower and broccoli, well seasoned and cooked, can have a surprisingly meaty taste and texture.
|Visually these steak alternatives don’t resemble steak. Also, if you’re using them for a recipe that relies on beef fat, you’ll need to add butter or another replacement.
|Homemade Vegan Steaks
|Vegan steak recipes can give you surprisingly realistic taste and texture, a lot of health benefits, and are a closer alternative than most vegan options.
|Homemade vegan steaks can take a lot of work and prep time, and store-bought vegan steaks are expensive and may not be as flavorful.
Why Would You Want To Substitute Flank Steak?
The most common to want to substitute a flank steak is because you can’t find a flank steak when you need one. But you might also prefer a different cut of meat, or want to get a different flavor from a favorite dish.
Not to mention that some people don’t eat red meat, or are vegetarian or vegan and need a workable alternative to this popular cut of beef.
Also, knowing what kinds of cuts of steak work well in different dishes, make it a lot easier to be versatile and effective in the kitchen!
The Best Flank Steak Substitutes And When To Use Them
We’ve focused on steak alternatives for flank steaks, but we do have some vegetarian and vegan options at the end of the list as well.
We’ve also concentrated on steaks that offer similar results to a flank steak. So no ribeye’s in this list. If you’re looking for a very different steak texture, it’s a good idea to think about what qualities you want in the steak, and then choose the type from there.
Skirt steaks are a good option if you’re looking for a flavorful and tender alternative, and can even be an upgrade in recipes with a lot of sauce or a more acidic flavor.
Skirt steaks aren’t usually as dry as flank steaks and stay tender longer when you’re cooking. However, that also means that the texture is a bit different, softer and less meaty, while flank steaks are often a chewier texture.
Flat Iron Steak
Another pro-flavor steak alternative, flat iron steaks tend to have rich beef flavor and are wonderfully tender. They are good for grilling, sauteeing, or using in a slow cooker.
Roughly an inch thick, this is also a good steak for cubing and using in soups and stews. But that’s more thanks to the convenient size and shape rather than anything in particular about how it cooks.
Just watch out, this is a steak that can go tough quickly if you overcook it or don’t give it some cooking fat or acid to stay tender.
Looking for more slow-cooker meals? We’ve got you covered.
Sirloin Tip Steak
Sirloin tip as opposed to sirloin strip steaks can be a good replacement as well. Sirloin is a flexible cut of steak, and the tip tends to be a little on the drier and tougher side, which works well since flank steaks have similar qualities. It’s a good 1:1 replacement and is often available at the same price as a flank steak.
These are a little smaller than the tri tip steak, which uses the same cut of meat, and is another cut of meat that used to get turned into ground beef rather than being sold as a separate cut of meat.
It’s not necessarily a good replacement for recipes where whole steak is the star of the show – but neither are flank steaks!
Tri-tip steaks are a little larger, which makes them a good option if you want a meatier dish or are buying to feel more people.
Of course, you can also go one better, and get a beef roast and cut it into steaks, and then into whatever smaller size pieces you need for a large recipe.
As a tip if you do decide to use a roast, look for a roast with a good fat cap for flavor, but minimal marbling if you want to replicate a flank steak.
Hanger steaks are another thin cut of steak, which is cut near the loin. Like other steaks from that are of the cow, it’s a flavorful but highly textured bit of meat, which means that hanger steaks often work best cut thin, marinaded, or both.
This is a fantastic cut of meat for making fajitas and stir fry since it can be sliced thin without compromising the texture or flavor of the meat.
However, it’s a little less forgiving than flank steak if you want to grill it whole. A hanger steak can go very tough if it’s overcooked.
The big benefit of this replacement is the incredible beef flavor of the steak. Known as the butcher’s cut, this was often one of the most popular cuts for butchers to take home themselves, because it’s delicious if you know how to cook it, but tough and stringy if you don’t.
Top Round Steak
Round steaks are a pretty standard cut of meat for dishes like soups, stews, and pastas where chucky pieces of meat work well, but you don’t need the best flavor or texture.
Like flank steaks, round steaks can get tough quickly, but they can be a bit more variable than flank steaks. Marbling varies on round steaks, from well-marbled to almost no fat. It's really down to the specific steaks you choose.
This isn’t necessarily the cut you want to throw on the grill and serve as a centerpiece. But, it’s a great utilitarian cut of meat that can work in a lot of recipes from tacos to slow cooker stews.
Want more round steak recipes? Here’s a collection of round steak recipesll you can add to your repertoire.
Scrap Beef Or Stew Beef
Scrap beef is another good option for recipes where you’re cutting up your flank steak anyway. It’s actually also a good alternative to ground beef in some recipes.
Just remember that store-bought stew beef is often a little older, and you don't know what cut of meat it was originally.
Extra firm tofu is a good choice if you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative that can stay somewhat chunky and takes up flavor well. Marinated and seasoned, you can get a lot of different flavors from tofu that all work.
However, the texture isn’t the same, and tofu will continue picking up any flavors you add throughout cooking.
For steak meals and steak sandwiches, portobello mushrooms provide a chewy texture and good umami. They bake and grill well, but they don’t necessarily take on new flavors as well as other vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives.
Chicken breasts are a good option if you’re cooking a flank steak recipe for someone who eats meat, but not red meat. Chicken breasts are common, offer good meaty texture, and take on marinade and sauce flavors incredibly well, so these are a great versatile alternative.
Cauliflower or Broccoli Steaks
If you want a simple to prepare but chewy, meaty, delicious vegetable alternative to steaks, both cauliflower and broccoli work well. Cauliflower takes on marinade flavors better than broccoli does but has a slighty bitter flavor. Broccoli does a better job replicating the texture of tender steak cuts, but doesn’t take on new flavors as well, and goes limp if you overcook it.
Homemade Vegan Steaks
There are a lot of recipes out there to turn ingredients like chickpeas, quinoa, jackfruit, or potatoes into a good vegan steak alternative. These are probably the closes vegan alternative to a flank steak, but they are either expensive when you buy them from a store or are time-consuming to make at home.
That said, if you’re willing to put in the work, vegan steak alternatives are getting better and better, both in terms of texture and flavor, and how they are for your health.
Flank steaks are a versatile cooking ingredient, but fortunately, there are a lot of great alternatives out there. Remember, when you're replacing a steak with a different cut of meat, it's important to think about the most important qualities of that steak in your recipe.
Are you looking for flavor, texture, cooking hardiness, a protein and fat ratio that works well in your recipe?
Those details will determine which kind of replacement works best.