When you like eating meat, you love eating a good piece of steak. There are cases too when a specific cut of beef needs to be used, or the whole dish can fall apart. This may be the case with flank steak, which is delicious, but often expensive.
If you find yourself about to cook and can’t find flank steak, then it is time to find some good substitutes. Next time, you won’t even realize that the food you are cooking doesn’t have flank steak, and the flavor and texture will be just the same.
What Is Flank Steak?
When you hear the word flank steak, you should know that it is referring to the lean and boneless part of beef with very intense flavor. This part of the cow is close to the hind legs and belly, which is why it is very soft and not fibrous. This steak is best for marinades, light grilling, and stir-frying.
You can usually find flank steak in any grocery store, but you may have better luck going to a butcher’s shop directly. When cooking with flank steak, it is best to slice it very thin, cutting along the muscle lines and not against them.
If you like fajitas, Philly cheesesteaks, or a good noodle stir-fry, then you surely have had flank steak before.
Why Replace Flank Steak, Anyway?
There are various reasons why you would need to replace flank steak. Here are some of the common ones:
- Expensive: While it isn’t the most praised cut of beef, flank steak can be a bit overpriced sometimes. This means that buying this type of meat is out of their budget.
- Unavailable: It is an easy cut of steak to work with, so flank steak is very popular and can be scarce at times.
- Vegetarian/Vegan Diet: If someone follows a plant-based diet or vegetarian diet, then eating a flank steak is impossible. In this case, no beef or animal products are acceptable.
What Can I Replace Flank Steak With?
Regardless of the reasons, if you need to change this main ingredient, these flank steak substitutes will come in handy:
For Mongolian Beef, Fajitas, Tacos, and Ropa Vieja
#1. Skirt Steak
This cut of beef comes from the chest into the abdomen of the cow. Because this is a very used muscle for cows, skirt steak is a bit chewy and more fibrous. However, this is a good option for replacing flank steak when cooking fajitas, taco meat, and making ropa vieja.
You can probably find skirt steak in any grocery store, but you may have more luck in a butcher’s shop. This type of cut usually comes in a very long log, so you may want to cut it into pieces, and freeze what you won’t be using.
#2. Flat Iron Steak
This is the flat muscle of the shoulder blade of the cow, which is a very tender part as it is not as used. You can find flat iron steak in most butcher shops, but it may be more difficult to come by in a grocery store.
This cut of steak works well when cut thinly, so you can use it in making fajitas, tacos, and slow-cooked for ropa vieja.
If you want to use this choice instead of flank steak, make sure you slice it thinly and save up any leftovers in the freezer. Keep in mind that this cut can be a little more expensive, so you may want to look for a cheaper option.
#3. Sirloin Tip Side Steak
This is also a boneless and lean cut that also comes from near the hind legs of the cow. Since these muscles are used often for movement, this cut can have more fiber and is a bit tougher. This cut may not be as easy to find, but you may have luck in the grocery store or a butcher’s shop.
Use sirloin tip side steak when cooking fajitas, tacos, ropa vieja, or marinades. You can slice this type of meat very thinly as well, and cook it on the grill, skillet, or broil it, or roast and bake it. Make sure you cut along the muscle lines as well.
For Stir-Fry, and Slow Cooker
#4. Ground Beef
While this is not the usual choice when it comes to replacing a piece of steak, using ground beef can be much cheaper and easier. You can find this type of meat in any grocery store, and it will probably be available year-round.
Use ground beef especially when making taco meat, stir-fry, and anything in the slow cooker.
You can spice things up by using more marinade and seasoning, as this meat will absorb flavors pretty easily. Make sure you buy a type of ground beef that contains some fat, otherwise, your dish may be a bit too dry.
For those that follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, seitan is the best choice to replace flank steak. This meat substitute is just hydrated gluten, which makes it high in protein and gives it a meaty texture. Seitan tastes a bit like chicken or mushrooms, so it can mimic the flavor of the meat.
You can buy seitan in any health or organic market, and you may also have some luck at your local grocery store.
Use this option when you want to cook a stir-fry, Mongolian beef, slow cooker recipes, and tacos. Because seitan is bland, it absorbs flavors very well, so make sure you use the right seasoning and marinades.
At a grocery store, you will usually find flank steak under this name. However, it may also be named as London Broil. Be careful when you buy it, and make sure you double-check, as some stores may mislabel top round as flank steak.
While flank steak is more tender, you can use it in place of top sirloin. This is especially true if you are braising or slow cooking the meat. Top sirloin can be a little too tough and wide to use in place of flank steak.
Flank steak is not as expensive as other cuts of meat, and that is probably because it is very thin. Still, it can be a bit pricey at times, and that is because it is very popular and the demand may be higher than normal. If you want a cheap cut of beef, this may be the one to go with though.
Flank steak is one of those cuts of beef that allows you to prepare plenty of recipes, no matter how different. That’s why it is hard to think of other options if you can’t find any at the grocery store. These 5 choices are all good substitutes that can be easy to use and will result in a very similar flavor.