Have your hand on some thin steaks? You’ve got options.
“Thin” is a broad term, but thin steaks are generally considered any steak less than 1″ thick. Sometimes steaks are thin due to the nature of the cut, other times steaks are sliced thinly for dishes like fajitas, stir fries, or schnitzel.
Flank steaks, skirt steaks, hanger steaks, and flat iron steaks are thin out the gate. Other cuts like ribeye are thicker but often cut thinly.
You’ll also see cubed steak, which is steak pounded with a meat mallet and used for dishes like chicken fried steak, and “minute steaks” or “shaved steaks”, which are very thin steaks that can be taken from any variety of cuts, but they are often cut from tougher primals like the round.
Regardless of the type of thin steak you have, there are a variety of ways to use them, including for:
12 thin sliced steak recipes
Here are 12 recipes from different cuisines that are perfect for almost any thinly sliced steak, whether that’s skirt, hanger, flank, or any other cut.
Looking for the fastest possible weeknight meal? Whip up these garlic butter sizzle steaks from Chef Alli and serve them with steamed frozen vegetables. The whole thing takes maybe 10 minutes flat.
Serious Eats shows you how to make the dream chicken fried steak. If you love diners as much as I do, this will transport you right to a small town in East Tennessee. Pair it with absurdly sweet tea and mashed potatoes to complete the experience.
Craving take-out but don’t want to break your diet? Use this healthy Mongolian beef recipe from The Fresh Cooky. The recipe just cuts some of the sugar and sodium from the usual mongolian beef recipe, which includes ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, corn starch, scallions, garlic, and red chilis.
This blog from Epicurious is all about the fundamentals and shows you exactly how to make a good steak. No frills, nothing fancy, just good technique. If you’re feeling a steak for steak’s sake and want to pair it with some classic sides like green beans and mashed potatoes, this is for you.
Swap tortillas for lettuce wraps to cut the calories in this recipe from our friends at Primal Palate, although you could argue that cutting the tortillas just makes room for the chipotle aioli. You can always offer both tortillas and lettuce wraps for a group, too!
6. Carne asada
Carne asada, or grilled beef, is usually made with flirt or skirt steak, but you could substitute any thin steak for this recipe. It’s just seasoning and a hot grill, after all! Laylita shows you how to do it right.
For the German equivalent of chicken fried steak, try this beef schnitzel recipe from Cooking Professionally. You don’t need a meat mallet if you don’t have one — just use a rolling pin or other flat tool and go to town. And don’t skip the lemon wedges! The brightness makes a big difference.
This sour, spicy, and sweet recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook is to die for. You get crispy, thin beef strips, green and red bell peppers, and thick onion strips — all tossed in a sauce made from soy sauce, chili oil, fermented chili beans, black Chinese vinegar, and Shaoxing wine. Serve it over rice and prepare to love your life.
Using a smoking hot grill or cast iron isn’t always an option, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip fajita night. Megan Barrett shows you how to make fantastic fajitas from the oven. You won’t get that characteristic grill taste, but it’s still easy and delicious!
For the nerdiest, most complete breakdown of fajitas possible, use this recipe from Jessica Gavin. This recipe is a borderline cookbook in density, and I mean that in the best way.
Thin sliced steak is also perfect for steak sandwiches, so why not start with a cheesesteak? Fresh Cooky shows you how to take shaved steak and turn it into an amazing sandwich without an enormous amount of effort. This would be great for a Saturday party!
Another classic Chinese dish is beef with broccoli, and this recipe from The Woks of Life breaks down exactly how Chinese cooking gets those deeply delicious and characteristic flavors. Use fresh broccoli and grass-finished flank steak for the best results!
How to cook thin sliced steak like a pro
Here are a few more tips on how to get the most from your thin steaks.
Get your grill or cast iron ripping hot
Blasting your pan or wok on high is the name of the game with thinly cut steak. That’s how you get a dark crust quickly without overcooking the meat!
Use a bit of oil to help with sticking
Sometimes if you skip your marinade or have extra thin steaks, they can stick. If you’re in the less than a ¼” range and you weren’t planning on stir frying, try using a little neutral-tasting oil like canola or vegetable to help prevent the steak from sticking.
Make crosshatch stitches to help the seasoning
For fajitas and stir fries, you can help the seasoning pack a little more punch by cross-hatching little marks on the steaks before seasoning them. You could also poke holes with a fork.
Always rest the meat before slicing
Steaks are still cooking when you take them off the grill or pan, and waiting 5 or 10 minutes lets the protein strands that have stiffened from the heat relax and reabsorb all the juices. Not waiting is how you get spilled juices, and it’s criminal to lose all that flavor! You can tent the steaks with aluminum foil to keep them warm, too.
Cut across the grain
After waiting 5-10 minutes for the meat to rest, make sure you cut across the grain. This means cutting perpendicular to the muscle fibers that run parallel across the steaks. Sometimes they can be tough to spot in more tender cuts, but it’s easy with most thin steaks. Snapping those strands is what makes the meat a lot more tender!
Choose meat from healthy cows
It’s not much of a surprise anymore, but organically raised, natural beef tastes better than industrial beef. When the meat you eat doesn’t have additives, preservatives, and other chemicals from industrial production, the meat is healthier, the texture is better, and it’s better for the environment.
The ideal thin steak marinade
All good restaurants that make fajitas and stir fries marinate their steak in advance. Marinades help tenderize the meat before cooking, and the oil helps distribute seasoning across the meat while providing a uniform cooking surface.
You should aim to marinate your steaks for at least an hour, and not more than a day — ideally between 5 and 8 hours. If you go beyond a day, the acid can turn the meat tough because you’ve overcooked it with acid.
All you need for a good marinade is:
- A bit of oil (match to your cuisine)
- Something acidic (balsamic, Worcestershire, vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, etc.)
- A mix of your favorite spices (cumin, chili, paprika, etc.)
- Sugar (if you want)
The best recipes start with the best ingredients
Regardless of what type of steak or specific recipe you use, most of the battle is won by choosing good meat and fresh vegetables. Even if you cook low-quality steaks perfectly, the taste doesn’t compare to grass-fed and grass-finished beef.
US Wellness Meats was founded in 2000 in Monticello, Missouri (pop. 98) by visionary farmers, who saw that big-business cattle-raising practices were taking a toll on our animals and our health. By returning to rotational grazing practices that are good for the planet and good for our cattle, we’re bringing the unmatched taste, tenderness, and healthiness of grass-fed beef to America’s doorstep.
Experience the tastiest and most humanely-raised thin steaks America has to offer.
Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.