This grilled flank steak with chile rub relies on a quick and easy dry rub of cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, and cayenne rather than a long-soaking marinade so you can toss it together at the last minute without hassle. Perfect for tacos.
This grilled flank steak recipe with chile rub couldn’t be easier. As the authors explain, “Take a piece of meat, season it well, and put it on the grill. Turn it over a few times. Don’t overcook it. Let it rest before slicing it against the grain.”
Seriously, that’s it. No planning ahead. No lengthy marinade. No fancy techniques that require you to fuss with special equipment. (And if you don’t have access to a backyard and a grill, a grill pan will also do the trick.)
Just a readily available and relatively inexpensive cut of steak that turns out exquisitely whether you serve it on its own or in tacos. –David Leite
Grilled Flank Steak FAQs
Can I use a different cut of beef for this recipe?
This recipe is written specifically for flank steak and, obviously, will be the best with that delish cut. However…if you can’t manage it, then a slab of skirt steak will also make the cut. Finally, chuck steak is another option that will come pretty close. All 3 are leaner cuts that need to be prepared in the same way, as long as you slice them thinly across the grain.
How do you know when flank steak is cooked?
The best way to determine the doneness of your steak is to use an instant-read thermometer. For rare beef, pull it from the grill at 120°F (49°C), 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare, and 145°F (63°C) for medium.
What should I serve with this grilled flank steak?
Since you’ve got the grill fired up, try this grilled zucchini with mint salsa or this grilled avocado and peach salad with goat cheese. Some roasted potatoes on the grill, a baked fennel potato gratin, or a loaf of bread would round out the meal nicely.
Grilled Flank Steak with Chile Rub
For the spice rub
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt or more to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
For the steak
- One (3-pound) flank steak
- Olive oil for the grill
Make the spice rub
- In a baking dish large enough to fit the steak, stir together all the ingredients.
- Add the steak to the spice rub, turning to coat the meat thoroughly with the rub and pressing with your fingers to help the rub adhere to the meat. If you have the time, cover and toss the steak in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.
Grill the steak
- When you’re ready to cook the steak, let it rest at room temperature while the grill is heating. Build a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to high. Using a grill brush, scrape the heated grill rack clean. Lightly coat a paper towel with oil and, holding it with long tongs, carefully rub the oiled towel over the grill rack.
- Place the flank steak directly over the flame or heating element grill and let it cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes. Rotate the steak 90° and let it cook, undisturbed, for another 3 minutes. Flip the steak and repeat on the other side so it cooks another 3 minutes undisturbed, is rotated 90°, and then cooks 3 more minutes. If you like your steak medium-rare, it should be done at this point [an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the steak should read 130°F (54°C)]. If you like your steak medium or well done, move the steak to a cooler part of the grill for a few more minutes to cook to the desired doneness.
- Move the steak to a cutting board, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve it against the grain into slices about 1/2 inch thick, pile them onto a platter, and serve immediately.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a flavorful grilled flank steak! The dry rub has a fantastic punch of flavor which tantalized all my taste buds. The rub can easily be doubled for keeping extra on-hand. Grilling the steak gave it an unmatched smoky flavor that further enhanced the seasoning.
The only thing that I might modify the next time I make it is reducing the amount of salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons. I also think that 3 pounds of flank steak could serve more people, perhaps even 6, although the 2 of us never tired of the leftovers.
I’m still salivating, 2 days later, just thinking about this delicious recipe for grilled flank steak. The spice rub creates a wonderful flavor, although, I’d cut down on the amount of salt next time. I grilled the steak in my Big Green Egg, adding soaked hickory chips to flavor the meat. So delicious and perfect dinner party fare.
Great learning moment: the technique used for seasoning the meat is brilliant…mix the spices together in a dish large enough to hold the piece of meat and press the meat on the spices, turning to coat. Why hadn’t I ever seasoned things this way before? Usually I rub the spices onto the meat and end up with more spices on my fingers than on the meat!
I loved this recipe. With the exception of coriander seeds, I use those same spices on a lot of my grilled items, including veggies. I used a Hungarian smoked paprika. I also used the garlic powder because I would never consider garlic to be optional.
My grill was extremely hot and left nice hatched grill marks. I find flank steak has a different “feel” for doneness than other meats, so using the meat thermometer is important to not overcook the steak. The next time I try this, I’ll add the salt to the meat right before cooking. I’m curious to see if having the meat marinate without the salt for the time suggested will result in a more tender piece of meat.
I have a new favorite way to prepare steak that’s as easy as can be. The chile spice rub comes together quickly with regular pantry ingredients, nothing special required. For the paprika I used a smoked hot paprika. The grilling technique needs nothing more than a hot grill and a reliable watch.
The aroma of the grilled flank steak was torture as we faithfully waited the required 10 minutes for it to rest. Although most of us thought the seasoning was just right one taster suggested that perhaps a small reduction in the amount of salt (I used a full tablespoon) or substituting onion powder for the garlic powder might be just as tasty.
The results of this simple rub and technique gave us a steak that we just could not stop eating. It was spicy, tender, juicy, and compelled us to keep reaching for the remaining pieces on the plate. The steak was gone in mere minutes with greedy requests for more. All in all, a real keeper recipe for both the novice and experienced griller in the family. This is one we will be having frequently over the spring, summer, fall and winter.
Flank steak has to be about the easiest possible thing to grill. You get a high reward for very little effort, and it’s easy on the wallet, as well. While the steak would be just fine seasoned with salt alone, the rub given in this recipe only takes a few seconds to mix up, and adds a lot of extra flavor.
I used a hot Hungarian paprika for the rub, which when combined with the cayenne, made for a fairly spicy steak. While the recipe works as written, I do have a few comments about the process that may help make it even more foolproof. I’d mix up the rub in a small bowl, instead of the baking dish, and then sprinkle it on the meat (both sides). It will be easier to get the ingredients evenly mixed in a bowl, and then you can make sure that most of the rub gets on the meat, instead of being scattered around a large pan.
The cooking time specified will give you a medium-rare steak if your cut is about 1-inch thick. With flank, it is usually going to be a bit thinner at one end, so that end will get a bit more done (about to medium).
This grilled flank steak recipe works very well as written, with the right balance of spices and the correct grilling times. (We grilled this recipe outdoors on a gas grill.) I used a smoky Spanish paprika in the spice rub. The cayenne pepper gave the spice rub quite a bit of heat, abit too much for my taste. I suggest adapting the amount of cayenne based on your own preferences and taste.
This simple recipe resulted in a mighty fine piece of beef. We cooked the steak on the grill and were very happy with the final product. Both my husband and 7-year-old daughter enjoyed the steak, even though it did have a pronounced kick.
A couple of ingredient notes: I used smoked paprika (one of my all-time favorite spices) and granulated garlic in place of the garlic powder. My steak was smaller than 3 pounds, so I adjusted the spice rub ingredient amounts accordingly.
The directions for preparing the spice rub and coating the steak were straightforward and well-written. I let my spice-rubbed steak sit in the fridge for 2 hours before bringing it to room temperature. For us, the steak needed a couple more minutes on the grill than the recipe specified, but that may be because our fire wasn’t hot enough.
This is a simple dish to make and it sure packs a lot of flavor. I used smoked paprika, which paired well with the other ingredients. I mixed the spice rub in a bowl, applied it to the flank steak, and let it sit in the fridge for about 6 hours. Because of the lateness that evening, we didn’t bother getting the grill started. The steak didn’t suffer from being cooked in a cast-iron grill pan. Just 3 1/2 minutes on each side gave us a beautifully medium-rare steak.
I had questions as to how spicy this would be. It seems unusual for a rub to have as much cayenne as it does other spices such as cumin and paprika. The spiciness was apparent but not overbearing.
I served this with oven-roasted potatoes and a salad with sliced fennel and orange segments. We had a Dry Creek Sonoma County Zinfandel with this meal. Zin, usually a big, bold, fruit-forward red wine, is a very good choice for pairing with spicy food. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Our tester did, indeed, try this recipe again. Here’s what she thought: Just as I suspected, this steak was great with chimichurri sauce. No need to look any further for a recipe. This one is great.]
Although I’m a fairly experienced cook and baker, the grilling in my family has always been left to others, so I approached this recipe as a novice griller. This recipe is an excellent introduction to basic grilling techniques; namely, don’t move the meat around except when you have a purpose, rotate it, and let it rest after it’s done.
It also gave me very specific instructions on timing and optimum temperature. I used the full amount of cayenne and will cut it in half the next time I make this recipe—and there will definitely be a next time. The flavor was great (I used smoked paprika) and the doneness was perfect thanks to the very specific instructions on timing and optimum temperature.
This recipe, with very specific and well-written instructions, easily turns a grill novice into a grill master. The dish requires a simple preparation but results in a perfectly cooked flank steak that has the most beautiful sear marks. The spice rub is definitely worth trying, but the seasoning is really up to you. The main takeaway is knowing how to prepare a lovely grilled flank steak in only 12 minutes.
NOTES: I marinated the steak for an hour and a half, wanting to see if this could be made on a weeknight. I wouldn’t have marinated it any longer. The spice rub was definitely spicy. It was really good on the thicker parts of the meat, but the end cuts tasted almost like jerky. The 3-minute technique works really well, and the criss-cross pattern was a very nice detail. All-in-all, I felt like this was a very successful recipe, and a technique that I will definitely use again.
All the ingredients are easy to find and, for a seasoned cook, would probably be on hand. I used a smoked paprika from Penzey Spices. Rubbing the spices into the steak insures the spices adhere to the meat and will be there through the grilling process. If I were to make this again I’d use less cayenne pepper, as the pepper continues to build in your mouth. Grilling added a nice flavor to the meat.
This is a simple way to bring a lot of flavor to a piece of steak, and a great quick dish for the oncoming summer season. The spice rub has good spice. You certainly noticed the cayenne pepper in the mixture. I used Hungarian hot paprika because that’s what I had and I included the garlic powder, which I recommend. I used a gas grill and had it going at about medium heat. I cooked the steak to medium rare and I’d say the cooking times are correct. Next time I’ll try this on a charcoal grill.
Originally published June 10, 2013
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This grilled flank steak cooks up perfectly. I did use the garlic powder and my paprika of choice was Spanish. The chile rub was great, as was the timing. My steak was done perfectly medium-rare and was quite nicely seasoned.
We found that 1/2-inch slices were a good thickness. The texture reminded me of a sirloin or a somewhat denser strip loin. Now, the amount of cayenne may seem like a lot, but I found it to be quite nice. However, if you have a sensitive palate, you could ease off somewhat, without affecting the final product.