Pan Seared Flank Steak With Herb Butter

Pan Seared Flank Steak With Herb Butter.

Pan Seared Flank Steak With Herb Butter.

Sometimes you just need some steak and potatoes. And here at the farm, after a few weeks of experimenting with kale recipes and creative Mixology Monday cocktails (think of it as a simultaneous mix of indulging and cleansing), a good back-to-basics dinner is always welcome. And this is where simple recipes really shine, a few good ingredients, a touch of extra time, a little technique and you have a very lovely meal. And there are few simpler, and few better, dishes than pan seared flank steak with herb butter (potato recipe coming soon).

flank15flank14flank12Flank steak, even with its recent surge in popularity, is a relatively affordable cut of meat with deep, beefy flavor. The key to flank steak is to choose the right cooking method and to serve it thinly sliced against the grain. We can’t stress this enough. But unlike some cuts, the grain on a flank steak is very easy to see, just cut across it. And while it will look prettier if you cut diagonally (or “on the bias”), thin vertical cuts will give you the most tender meat.

flank11flank10flank8As for the cooking method, we are all for outdoor high-heat grilling (or even a long, slow sous-vide cook, followed by grilling or pan-searing), but the quick, easy way to cook a flank steak is to pan fry it briefly in a very, very hot pan. Just be sure it is a heavy pan (cast iron is very good here), your kitchen is well-ventilated and you use a high-heat cooking fat like bacon fat or peanut oil. Then you cook the flank steak for 5-7 minutes (for medium-rare) on each side, until well-browned, then let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. The meat will finish its cooking during the rest, and the juices will also settle and not run all over your cutting board when you slice. Again, a little extra time makes a difference.

flank7flank6There are a few other steps that will help take this dish over the top. Pre-salting the meat at least 4 hours, and preferably 6-12 hours, before you cook will amplify the already excellent flavor of the steak. Wiping the steak dry with a paper towel, right before cooking, will remove excess moisture and help brown the outside of the steak and form a beautiful and flavorful crust. And if you want to be a bit fussy (and sometimes we do), take the steak out of the pan when you flip and wait 1-2 minutes before you cook the other side of the steak. The pan cools while you cook, so letting it reheat will help you evenly brown both sides. A few little things, but you will notice the difference.

flank4flank3The flank steak will taste great with most sauces, or even a dash of salt and a squeeze of lime, but we prefer to use a simple herb butter. Making herb butter, or any compound butter, is as easy as it gets, it just takes a little time. You just let butter soften and then mix in salt, pepper, chopped herbs (we usually use parsley, chives and another herb like thyme or oregano) and a bright element like lemon zest and/or minced shallots. Then place the herb butter on plastic wrap and roll/twist it into a log. Chill in the fridge for a few hours and then you have “instant sauce”. The herb butter works with fish, over veggies, on eggs and even splashes up your morning toast. As for us, we will serve it on our flank steak and be very, very happy. Now about those potatoes…

flankPan Seared Flank Steak With Herb Butter:

Notes Before You Start:

  • Cooking times will vary slightly based on thickness of your steak. If using a meat thermometer, pull the steak from the heat when the thick part of the steak reaches 120-125 degrees. The internal temperature will go up another 5-10 degrees. If you do not have a meat thermometer, you can test doneness by feel (tricky) or simply make a small cut in the steak and check visually.

What You Get: A very tasty steak. A good dish for an informal dinner party.

What You Need: A heavy skillet. No other special equipment required, but you will want to be sure your kitchen is well-ventilated.

How Long? The steak can be ready in about 20 minutes. But you will need at least a few hours to pre-salt the steak and make the herb butter. A good dish to prepare in the morning and then cook in the evening.


(Serves 4-6)

Herb Butter:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt (a little more if using unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest


  • 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons high heat cooking fat like bacon fat or peanut oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 lime (optional)


Herb Butter:

  1. Combine the softened butter, salt, pepper, chopped herbs and zest in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface and then put the butter mixture on the plastic wrap. Roll the plastic around the butter and twist at the ends to form a log. Chill in the fridge until hard, about 1-2 hours.


  1. If pre-salting, rub the olive oil and salt all over the steak and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Place a large heavy skillet over very high heat. Turn on the kitchen fan and/or open some windows. When hot, place the cooking oil into the pan.
  3. Dry the steak with a paper towel and then place in the pan. Cook, without moving, for 5-7 minutes. Then remove the steak from the pan and place it on a plate. Let the pan reheat for 1-2 minutes and then place the steak back in the pan, uncooked side down, and cook another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove the flank steak from the pan, plate it on a large plate or cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak, across the grain, and then saeson and sprinkle with some fresh lime juice, if you like. Slice the herb butter and serve 1 or 2 pats of the herb butter on the steak.

33 thoughts on “Pan Seared Flank Steak With Herb Butter

    • Thanks! We cook most nights and 2-3 meals each week are “blog-worthy”. Mostly, we have 2 growing boys to feed- so a lot of this is what we do to keep them going..

    • Hi. The biggest thing with any red meat is the resting time. (5 min for small steaks, 10 min for medium size cuts, 15+ for roasts). It makes a huge difference. If you undercook, the rest finishes the cook. If you overcook, all the juices stay in the meat and the end result will still be juicy.

      As for presalting, it only works with extra time. The salt first pulls moisture out, but if given time the meat re-absorbs the moisture, but with added salt. You literally get salt into the meat.

  1. Never seen a beef that big .. but I know they can come very big over there. Not a beef person, but that top photo made me drools. I also used lemon in my herb butter – got that idea from one of my bosses, he was from Germany.

    • Thx! The herb / lemon butter works well in just about anything…great with light fish as well.

      We like beef in moderation, but when we have it, we want it to be good!

      • The only animals we have are bees. We do have a number of local grass-fed beef and lamb ranches and we get much of our meat from them.

        We can barely keep up with the garden and orchard…so animals have to wait…

      • Bee, my favorite little bug … think they are absolutely fantastic .. working so hard, just like ants.

        I can image that … what you have is more than enough without animals. But some chickens … and fresh eggs maybe soon. *smile

      • We are tempted to have chickens but so many neighbors have them we can trade if we need to…also lots of coyotes around here and the find chickens very attractive…

  2. Pingback: Fried Fingerling Potatoes With Vanilla Salt « Putney Farm

  3. Lovely! I obviously prefer to do this sous-vide (more tender and thinner layer of overcooked meat at the outside), but you are definitely providing an excellent recipe for those without a waterbath. I like the trick of allowing the pan to reheat after flipping.
    Have you ever used clarified butter?

    • Thanks. Reheating the pan does help you get a deep brown crust on both side. And we will do this sous-vide as well. The flank steak has such good flavor and sous-video would be very tender.

      We do use clarified butter occasionally, but should do it more. Good flavor and the high smoke point.

  4. “Sometimes you just need some steak and potatoes.” This is my philosophy of life!

    One thing I appreciate about your blog are the “Notes Before you Start”. Believe me, they are super helpful for someone like me!

    Also, it’s just occured to me that I’ve never made herb butter before. Well, I’ll be on it before long, thanks to your fab recipe!

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