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What is Flat Iron Steak? Where to Buy and How to Cook it

Flat iron steak is a well-marbled, rich tasting thick cut taken from the chuck primal, that would make you think it's tough as old boots? But it's surprisingly tender! Learn all about it here.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: July 23, 2020 | 6 min read

Grilled flat iron steak, sliced and on a black bg

What is Flat Iron steak?

If you’ve been to a great steak restaurant recently, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the Flat Iron steak on the menu. If you haven’t, then you might be wondering it is, is it a good cut, and one you should explore?

In a nutshell, it delivers in both beefy flavor and succulent tenderness. Thick and uniform looking, it is perfect for grilling and is an outstanding looking steak with a distinctive character.

Steak connoisseurs have long chosen the likes of the porterhouse and fillet for a juicy, succulent meal and gasped at the price. But with flank, it’s possible to have the flavor and tenderness of a top-rated steak for an agreeable price.

In this guide, we will fill you up with flat iron facts so you can understand what it’s all about, track it down and enjoy it in all its value for money goodness.

And at the end of this article, we’ve added our favorite way to prepare it and included a few of our favorite recipes for good measure. Enjoy!

What is Flat Iron Steak?

Here is a brief but information-packed video overview of the cut, including butchering and cooking:

In brief, this is another one of those steaks whereby the name gives us no clue as to what it is or where it comes from on the steer.

The name comes from its similar appearance to an old-fashioned flat iron that was heated on an open fire and used for ironing clothes. Nothing to do with cooking steak.

It is a thick cut that is uniform and rectangular in shape, with an average 8oz cut and around 1 inch thick.

With its uniform thickness, it cooks evenly and quickly, making it a joy to slap on the grill.

Where Does Flat Iron Steak Come from on the Cow?

Diagram showing the chuck primal on a cow

It comes from the chuck primal, which is right up front by the shoulder.

Originally attached to the Top Blade roast, this part of the animal was thought to be a tough cut that needed slow cooking.

That is until it was discovered that by removing the central fatty connective tissue, you’re left with two distinctly different cuts of meat:

  1. The Top Blade steak which is tough
  2. and the Flat Iron steak that is full of marbling for flavor and tenderness.

The appearance is similar to the Ribeye with its extensive marbling, a term that refers to the thin white strips of fat that run through the meat, and it is these intramuscular fat ribbons that give it an intense flavor.

Other Names for the Flat Iron Steak

There are only a couple of other names it’s known by in various places for differing reasons.

Here are a few alternatives name that you may recognize:

  • Butler’s steak, so-called in the UK as it was the cheaper cut of meat that in-house waiting staff, also known as butlers, would get if they were lucky.
  • Oyster Blade steak, as commonly referred to as in Australia and New Zealand. A cross between the standard cut it comes from and a reference to the fact it is found hidden within the shoulder blade and removed.

If your butcher still isn’t quite sure, just use the recognized butcher’s ID number to get the correct cut: IMPS/NAMP – 1114D PSO 1, UPC – 1166.

Whichever name you know it by, you can rest assured that this steak is sure to please your guests!

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content and Tenderness

The Flat Iron has become popular for two main reasons. It’s extensive marbling gives it plenty of flavor and it’s tenderness.

The tenderness is a result of it being located towards the top of the shoulder, where it gets less exercise than the rest of the shoulder muscles.

There is no fat cap on it traditionally. Still, some butchers do now present it with some of the interconnective fat attached to give it extra flavor when cooking.

Typical Uses

As a popular cut being served more and more, the Flat Iron is typically used as a stand-alone cut, but coming from a slow-cooking heritage, it can be used in any recipe that calls for beef.

Nutrition

NutritionTotal Amount (Based on 3oz Serving)% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Calories1809%
Saturated Fat3.8g20%
Sodium70mg3%
Protein23g46%
Iron2.6mg15%
Zinc8mg50%

Buying Flat Iron Steak

Readily available from butchers to supermarkets and online meat markets, you will have no problem tracking this cut down. Most will sell it in its various weights, and with or without the extra fatty bit if you fancy it.

If you choose to buy steaks online, you will be given a choice of good, better, or top-quality beef with varying prices. So be sure to understand what is right for you and your stance on cattle rearing and production.

Paying for higher standard accredited meat is always a good choice to support sustainable farming, is better for the environment, and usually means better flavor and presentation of the meat.

Where to Buy Flat Iron Steak Online

Online food shopping is a revelation for the seasoned griller who wants to find the best cuts of meat. Not only does it allow you to sit back, relax and browse all available cuts from the comfort of your own home, but they’re delivered straight to your door!

This takes out all the hassle out of enjoying your grill at the weekend.

Here are three online outlets that sell some of the best Flat Irons available:

  1. Snake River Farmshttps://www.snakeriverfarms.com/flat-iron.html
  2. Holy Grail Steak Cohttps://www.holygrailsteak.com/
  3. Omaha Steakshttps://www.omahasteaks.com/shop/

Average Price

Due to its popularity and relatively common availability, this cut is well known and sought after, but the price is yet to reflect its popularity, so what are you waiting for?!

At the time of writing, the price mostly falls between $22 to $30 per lb. across different online outlets.

Portion Size: How Much Flat Iron Per Person?

How much meat you need per person is dictated by their appetite and whether they decide to eat additional sides, or just fill up on the good stuff.

But for ease of reference, it’s available as a standard 8oz steak in most outlets, and this should be plenty for most people with just a small side of potatoes and vegetables.

How to Prepare Flat Iron Steak for Grilling or Smoking

Three flat iron steaks isolated on white
Courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com

From a good butcher, it will come ready to place straight on the grill or smoker, needing just a simple seasoning with oil and salt in preparation to cook it.

If you do intend to smoke it, you could try smoking the whole Top Blade roast and then removing the Flat Iron steaks after it has slowed cooked, and the result is a delicious cut that will always impress.

How to Cook Flat Iron Steak on a Grill or Smoker

It is best cooked on a hot grill or hob in a sizzling hot pan but take note reader, do not use a griddle.

We want the meat to cook in its own fat from the marbling so that it retains all the flavor. A griddle drains the fat away from the meat, which means flavor and juiciness is compromised, and this is a meat crime no one should commit!

Here is our simple guide to cooking your Flat Iron steak:

  1. Pat the steaks dry and bring to room temperature.
  2. Heat your grill to maximum heat, anywhere from 450-600f grill dependent.
  3. Season with oil and salt and place them onto the grill.
  4. Cook until internal temperature hits 130F for medium-rare, being careful not to overcook it as it will render it dry and flavorless.
  5. Remove from the grill, it will continue to cook for a few minutes after until a final 135F. Add a knob of butter and tent in tin foil to retain heat while resting.
  6. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Slice against the grain and enjoy.

3 Best Flat Iron Steak Recipes from Around the Web

Now that you know how good this cut really is in all its unadulterated glory, let’s take a look at a few recipes that show alternative ways to cook it for different dining experiences:

Savory Sweet Life’s Asian Flat Iron

This simple recipe starts with typical Asian ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, but the trick is the half cup of good quality sherry to make the sauce really pop and the meat taste divine.

Full recipe and instructions can be found here: https://savorysweetlife.com/

Kitchen Magpie Crockpot Flat Iron and Mushroom

Against the grain of grilling, this recipe cooks it low and slow.

This results in a melt in your mouth steak, coupled with big flavored mushrooms and onions for a genuinely delicious heartwarming recipe that will warm the coldest of people in the remaining winter months.

Click here to see Kitchen Magpie’s recipe: https://www.thekitchenmagpie.com/crockpot-flat-iron-steak-with-portobello-mushrooms-potatoes/

Life’s Ambrosia Rosemary Balsamic Flat Iron

This one will really tickle your taste buds with rich red wine and balsamic vinegar scented with rosemary, which makes for a delicious sauce that compliments the strong beef flavor.

Be sure to use a good quality wine to reduce the sugar content, as you don’t want it too sweet.

Head here to see how fantastic it really is: https://www.lifesambrosia.com/grilled-balsamic-and-rosemary-flat-iron-steak-recipe/

Conclusion

The Flat Iron is a real crowd pleaser and taste bud teaser! Big flavor, good value, tender and awesome.

If you haven’t tried this great cut as yet, what are you waiting for? Head to one of the online shops above or nip out to the supermarket and grab yourself a piece of the action.

Whether you plan to break out the BBQ or cook it low and slow in the kitchen, be sure to follow our cooking instructions and recipes to get that steak tasting amazing.

However you decide to do it, let us know about your successes, or if it’s fallen flat, in the comments below!

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