Blog BBQ Breakdown Unmasking the Culinary Underdog: The Rise of the Flat Iron Steak
BBQ Breakdown

Unmasking the Culinary Underdog: The Rise of the Flat Iron Steak

If the meat market were a movie industry, the Flat Iron Steak would be that cult classic that’s gradually gained recognition, steadily inching its way from the dimly lit corners of butcher shops to the spotlight of gourmet menus. Slowly but surely, this steak has transitioned from an unassuming participant in the meat market to a cherished culinary delight.

Meet the Flat Iron Steak, a culinary underdog that’s finally having its day in the sun. It stands out among lesser-known, but equally delicious cuts such as flank, hanger, or skirt steak, each having their distinct appeal. But what sets the Flat Iron Steak apart?

The name itself, “Flat Iron”, is derived from its resemblance to an old-fashioned metal flat iron. Cut from the shoulder, or ‘chuck’, of the beast, this particular steak mirrors the flat, triangular shape of the aforementioned laundry appliance. Its moniker also varies across regions, known as ‘butler’s steak’ in the UK and ‘oyster blade steak’ in Australia and New Zealand – names that further lend intrigue to its narrative.

Historically, the Flat Iron Steak was part of the chuck and round cuts of the carcass, which were not as highly valued. However, in the early 2000s, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, initiated research aimed at increasing the value of these cuts. They ranked muscles throughout the carcass by tenderness and tested different cooking techniques to identify overlooked cuts with great potential. The Flat Iron Steak emerged as one of the star discoveries of this research.

This newly identified cut faced challenges in gaining acceptance in foodservice and retail, and in educating consumers. The Beef Checkoff funded efforts to overcome these challenges, including developing promotions with retail partners, creating cutting charts and videos for the industry, and working with foodservice operators to increase demand for the new product.

The Flat Iron Steak, being tender, well-marbled, flavorful, and affordable, quickly became a hit in restaurants, eventually earning a reputation among customers who began to request it in grocery stores. Word of mouth among consumers further amplified its popularity.

The Flat Iron Today: Why it’s Worth a Try

Today, the Flat Iron Steak offers more than just an affordable alternative to pricier cuts. Its compact size and shape make it effortless to prepare. Yet, its true appeal lies in the intricate flavor profile and tenderness that have captivated steak enthusiasts. The excitement of uncovering and mastering a lesser-known cut adds to its charm.

In our modern culinary landscape, the choice to cook a Flat Iron Steak goes beyond economics. The steak’s marbling makes it a canvas for seasoning and various cooking methods, while its tenderness guarantees a delectable bite. The opportunities for customization are endless, from the seasoning choice to the cooking technique.

Recipe: Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Reverse Marinade

For those eager to try this culinary delight, here’s a detailed guide to grilling a Flat Iron Steak:


  • 1 Flat Iron Steak
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garlic, crushed or granulated, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon whole ground mustard


  1. Preheat your grill to high heat.
  2. Season your Flat Iron Steak on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Grill each side for 5-7 minutes for medium-rare or until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. While the steak is resting, prepare the reverse marinade by mixing the olive oil, lime juice, chopped green onions, and whole ground mustard in a bowl.
  6. Once the steak has rested, submerge or brush it in the marinade and let it sit for another 10 minutes before serving.

Beyond grilling, alternative cooking methods like sous vide or pan-searing can provide unique variations to the steak’s flavor and texture. Sous vide can maximize tenderness, while a hot cast-iron skillet can sear a crispy crust, preserving the steak’s juiciness and enriching each bite.

Sourcing Flat Iron Steak

When it comes to sourcing your Flat Iron Steak, both quality and freshness are key. Your local butcher should be your first port of call, and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. They can guide you to the best cuts, and might even share a few tips on how to prepare it.

The Flat Iron Steak serves as a tantalizing example of culinary diversity amidst a world often focused on mainstream choices. It has emerged from its position as a hidden gem to become a coveted favorite, inspiring us to continue our gastronomic adventures. Does this not embody the exhilarating spirit of culinary exploration?

Next time you’re at your grill or stove, consider the Flat Iron Steak. Let it enthrall you not just with its affordability and simplicity in preparation, but also with its robust flavors. As it steps out from its cult status into the limelight, it encourages us all to step away from the usual and embrace the unexpected. The journey of the Flat Iron Steak reminds us that sometimes, the most surprising delights come from the unexplored corners of our world.

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