Beef flank steak smoked low and slow over oakwood. Prepared in a soy sauce and garlic marinade, this simple barbecue recipe is rich in flavor and easy to make.
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Smoked flank steak is the perfect way to enjoy this underrated beef cut. While grilling or reverse searing flank steak remain the most common cooking approaches, the rich connective tissue found in the flank makes this tender beef cut equally suitable for barbecue smoking.
Our easy smoked flank steak recipe is much faster than other primal beef cuts, needing only 90 minutes on the smoker. We prepare it with a simple soy sauce and lemon marinade to add an extra layer of flavor to the beef, before letting the coals and smoke do the rest.
From how to buy the best flank steak and barbecue advice, discover how to smoke flank steak today.
What Is Flank Steak?
Flank steak is a very lean cut of meat that comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow. The cut is about a foot long and an inch thick, and unlike most steaks, you would want to cook it as a whole instead of cutting it into individual steaks. You can identify flank steak by its visible cross-grain and fibrous texture.
Many expensive cuts of steak are sought after because of their marbled fat content, which results in a very tender mouthfeel. Because it contains hardly any fat, flank steak is a much tougher meat cut. However, if cooked properly, this inexpensive cut of meat can transform into a juicy, tender, mouthwatering meal.
Flank steak is delicious on its own or can be used in any recipe that calls for beef strips such as fajitas, stir-fry, or steaks in gravy.
Benefits of Smoking Flank Steak
One way to break down the toughness of a flank steak is to marinate it for several hours. After marinating, it’s is grilled over high heat. However, the low and slow cooking of a smoker also helps break down the connective tissues in the beef, resulting in a steak that is no longer tough but is rather remarkably tender.
Fans of barbecue will agree, nothing beats the smoky flavor that only a smoker can give to beef. Flank steak absorbs that smoker flavor perfectly, resulting in an easy and delicious meal.
How to Buy Flank Steak
Beef flank steak can vary in size, ranging from one pound to four pounds. When choosing a steak, pick a cut uniform in thickness to ensure even cooking throughout the steak. If you buy more steak than you can use at once, it can be vacuum-packaged and frozen for six to twelve months.
When at your butcher or supermarket counter, look for flank with visible marbling and large muscle fibers (you’ll use these as a guide when you slice the meat against the grain). Also, look for a flat shape and dark red color.
Flank also comes by different names, depending on where you live. It may often be referred to as London broil or jiffy steak. It’s sometimes mistakenly referred to as Bavette, despite them being different beef cuts.
It’s also sometimes confused with skirt steak. Skirt, however, is a different beef cut from the cow’s nearby diaphragm region. Skirt steak does share the distinctive grain of the flank and we can substitute the two for one another in a pinch. See our guide on the differences between flank and skirt steak to find out more.
Times & Temperatures
Beef flank steak needs to be smoked at 225°F (107°) for one hour per pound of meat. Our flank steak is 1 ½ pound, so we should be smoking for around 90 minutes. However, we need to gauge ‘doneness’ by internal meat temperature, so will use a digital meat thermometer for accuracy. For a medium-rare steak, we will aim for 135°F (57°C) but if you prefer your beef rare or more well-done, use these temperatures for reference:
- Rare: 125°F (52°C)
- Medium-Rare: 135°F (57°C)
- Medium: 145°F (63°C)
- Medium-Well: 155°F (68°C)
- Well-Done: 165°F (74°C)
Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat for the most accurate results, and remove the steak from your smoker when the internal temperature is 5°F below your desired temperature. When you remove the steak from the heat, it continues to cook for several minutes. Cover your steak in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for at least five minutes to allow for this ‘carry over’ cooking.
Oak, hickory, and mesquite are the best hardwoods for smoking steaks. In addition to complementing the beefy flavors of steak perfectly, this thick smoke can last for the duration of your smoking session without having to be replenished often.
Side Dish Ideas
The best flank steak sides balance out the rich beefy flavors of the meat without overshadowing them. Think creamy dishes, grilled vegetables, or roasted potatoes. Here are some of our favorite steak sides:
- Mac & Cheese: Everyone has their go-to version of this all-American classic, but our smoked mac and cheese takes things to a new level by infusing it with delicate charr and woody flavor.
- Grilled Corn: Simple sides are often the best, and grilled corn on the cob fits the bill perfectly. Add a squeeze of lime juice for acid and a touch of sour cream to balance out your barbecue beef.
- Baked Beans: An upgrade on traditional beans, this smoked baked beans recipe adds in bacon, brown sugar, and barbecue sauce before cooking low and slow on your smoker.
- When slicing to serve, always cut your steak against the grain. This will help break up the muscle fibers, giving you a plate of meat that’s much more tender and easy to eat. For a full walkthrough, see our guide to cutting flank steak.
Smoked Flank Steak
- oakwood smoking chips
- 1.5 lbs flank steak
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients
- Place flank steak in a large airtight container or gallon-size ziplock bag. Pour the marinade ingredients over the steak, coating it as evenly and fully as possible.
- Close container or bag and place in refrigerator. Leave to marinate overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
- Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, ensure you set up for 2-zone indirect cooking.
- Remove flank steak from marinade and use paper towels to pat dry any excess sauce
- Place flank steaks on smoker grates. Close smoker lid and smoke for 90 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135°F (57°C).
- Remove flank steak from smoker and place on chopping board. Tent in foil and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- To serve, thinly slice the flank steak against the grain at a 45-degree angle.
- Serve with your choice of chimichurri, sour cream, grilled asparagus, or mashed potato.