How Do You Cook a Thin Steak?

Published Categorized as Cooking Tips
Artur Verkhovetskiy /Depositphotos

Cook thin steaks in the oven, stove, or on a grill for no longer than 12 minutes. Flip halfway. Use a skillet to add a sear.

Thin steaks are quick to cook and easy to combine with other recipes as a side dish or part of a larger meal. I made a thin steak sandwich as a wrote this.

How long it takes to cook a thin steak depends on which method you use and any additional preparation you want to do beforehand.

The oven is the longest method, and the stove is the quickest method. That said, whichever method you use will be far quicker than cooking a regular steak.

How to Cut Thin Steak?

Chances are you have a good side of meat ready for cooking and you’re brave enough to try cutting by yourself (bravo for not buying pre-cut thin steak!).

Locate the grain and divide up the meat into segments following the seam. This will make everything so much easier.

If you’ve ever had trouble slicing up uncooked meat, it’s probably because you were cutting across the seam and multiple grain types at once.

Chef Justin Chapple of Food & Wine has a quick video where he showcases an impressive technique for cutting meat super thin. 

Place your meat on a tray with baking paper and stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes have passed, get a knife and you’ll be able to cut the steaks as small as you’d like.

Though for thin steak we don’t need to cut them as thinly as Chapple has, his technique makes the process much easier.

If you have cut meat before, especially large parts, you’ll know that it can move around a lot. When it has been chilled in the freezer, it’ll stay still.

Make sure to place the meat on a surface that won’t stick. I wouldn’t recommend putting meat in the freezer on a metal surface—it may stick and that will be frustrating.

How Thin Is a Thin Steak?

To avoid overcooking, thin steaks should ideally not be thinner than one inch.

As Chicago Steak Company explains, “the heat has to travel less to reach the steak’s center.” So, don’t go too crazy carving up thin steak!

Give your thin steak a bit of wriggle room. Too thin could mean you are left with steak too crispy and without a juicy center.

The thickness of your thin steaks also depends on what you want to make and how you are going to cook them.

The Chicago Steak Company also points out that naturally thin cuts such as flank and skirt are an exception to the 1-inch thickness rule.

And Harold McGee explains in his book Keys to Good Cooking that when slicing meat, ‘chewier’ cuts should be sliced very thin.

How Do You Quickly Marinate Thin Steak?

There’s a wealth of steak marinades you can find online. But just remember that thin steaks are smaller than your regular thick steaks, so don’t go too crazy with the marinade.

The most common ingredients for a thin steak marinade are: 

  • Soy sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce.
  • Olive oil.
  • Vinegar—red wine or balsamic.

Jaclyn of Cooking Classy has in-depth tips for making a steak marinade that you can use for thin steaks. She recommends marinating steaks for 30 minutes to eight hours.

Others recommend marinating steaks for up to 24 hours, but Jaclyn explains that the acidity can break down proteins and turn outer layers mushy.

Note that if you want to cook the thin steak in the pan, you don’t necessarily have to go through all this. Marinating is an optional extra.

If you’re just looking to season thin steak, olive oil, salt, and pepper are the best and easiest to use. 

Cooking Thin Steak: Top Methods

Once your thin steak is prepped, it’s time to get cooking. There are three primary ways to cook a thin steak—in the oven, on the stove, or over the grill.

1. How to Cook Thin Steak in Oven?

When it comes to cooking thin steaks in the oven, the broiler setting delivers the best results, as suggested by Bobby of Blogchef.

As you prepare your thin steak, preheat the broiler to 450 °F (232 °C) and only add the steaks after they have reached room temperature. 

Place the thin steaks high up in the oven and it should take a max of 12 minutes, though you must flip them halfway.

Pay close attention because it doesn’t take long. Look for a nice toasty edge to be sure you’re done.

Also worth noting about Bobby’s recipe is that they recommend cooking first and then slicing, but this is of course up to you.

2. How to Cook Thin Steak on Stove?

Cooking thin steak on the stove requires a little more effort than in the oven, though it’s much faster.

Chef Jackson Lamb has a straightforward video that shows how to ‘pan-grill’ thin steaks. It’s about as long as it should take to cook thin steaks on the stove.

Lamb recommends that before you start, heat the pan beforehand, pat the steak dry, and add seasoning.

When you add the thin steaks to the pan leave them for a minute to a minute and a half—remember, these are not thick steaks, they’ll cook a lot faster all the way through.

Flip to cook the other side of the thin steaks for another minute to a minute and a half and you’re done. Very quick, remarkably simple.

Lamb also notes that when you cook thin steak on the stove, you will likely get a medium to medium well cook. Cooking thin steak on the stove will also make it much easier to get a sear.

3. How to Grill Thin Steak?

Yes, you can grill thin steak. While grilling is the longest of the three methods, it’s still pretty quick.

First, bring the thing steak to room temperature, pat dry, and season it to your liking.

If you’ve just taken your thin steaks from the fridge or used Chapple’s cutting method above, you’ll need to wait longer for the meat to warm up before cooking.

Renaldas Kaveckas of Avant-Garde Kitchen says the grill should be at approximately 450 °F (232 °C)—just like in the oven.

He also explains that you should first put the thin steaks on the grill directly at a high temperature to create a brown crust (a sear—more on sears below!).

Once this is done, you can cook the thin steak indirectly by moving it further from the source of the heat.

Grilling thin steak doesn’t take very long. For rare, 3-4 minutes is all you need, for well done, you can expect it to be ready by 9-11 minutes, according to Kaveckas.

How to Sear a Thin Steak?

The best way to add a sear on a thin steak is with a skillet. While you can sear the thin steak in the broiler or on the grill, the pan is the easiest.

You can do this one of two ways—sear the thin steak first in the pan and then move it over to the oven or grill or cook in the oven or grill first and sear it at the end.

Either way, the pan must be pretty hot beforehand. You should also pat down the thin steaks, and they should ideally be at room temperature.

For the best results, you will want a hefty amount of seasoning, typically salt, and black pepper—this is what delivers the crunchy crust.

Cook on the pan for a minute to a minute and a half—remember, these are not thick steaks; they’ll cook a lot faster—then flip and do the other side for another minute to a minute and a half.

After searing both sides, you can either serve your thin steaks if they were cooked beforehand or put them in the oven or grill to finish the job at a lower heat.

How to Keep Thin Steak Juicy?

To keep thin steak juicy, cook it at a medium-high temperature and cook it fast. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking in the oven, pan, or grill.

People can mistakenly cook thin steak slowly at medium heat which dries the steak out. Ideally, you want crust on the outside and a juicy inside.

Harold McGee also adds that we can achieve a crisp brown surface and maintain a ‘moist interior’ if the surface reaches 500 °F (260 °C) and the interior cooks at 130 °F (55 °C).

And lastly, when you have finished cooking your thin steak, let it rest for five to seven minutes before cutting.

Janine Jones of Webstaurant tells us that juices need to be “reabsorbed and redistributed” after cooking. If you cut meat immediately, juices will flow out and they will dry out.

How Long to Cook Thin Steak?

The amount of time it takes to cook a thin steak entirely depends on how you cook it, though, grilling, broiling, or frying take no longer than 12 minutes.

This also depends on prep time and if you marinated the steaks beforehand. On top of that, smaller pieces will cook faster than larger pieces.

The quickest way to get thin steaks ready is to buy them pre-cut, skip marinating, and cook on the stove. Assuming you added a bit of seasoning, you could plausibly be ready in just three to four minutes.

By Craig Britton

As children, we’re told not to play with our food. But I find that food tastes best when you experiment with it. I love trying out new recipes and cooking techniques almost as much as I love eating the end result.