Cheap (and Delicious!) Steaks on the Grill

For summer grilling many of us naturally reach for the pricey steaks–strips, rib-eyes, filet mignons–but they aren’t the only cuts in the case. In this week’s USA Weekend video we introduce you to 5 of our favorite less expensive steaks.

Beef loin flap steaks resemble boneless ribs. They’re full of flavor and take well to spice rubs. Thin steaks like flank, skirt, and flatiron are perfect candidates for marinades. Thicker top sirloin is wonderfully beefy. Just grill it as you would one of the pricier steaks and smear it with the horseradish parsley butter. Using moist peppery parsley and horseradish means you need very little butter to bind it.

Fire up your grill this July 4th! And enjoy a steak…and the long weekend!

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Beef Loin Flap Steaks
Serves: 6
  • 2 teaspoons each: kosher salt, coarsely ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and ground cumin and coriander
  • 2 pounds beef loin flap steaks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Rub steak with oil and pat on spice mixture; let stand while grill is heating or up to 2 hours. (Can be refrigerated overnight; return to room temperature.)
  2. Heat gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes or build a hot charcoal fire. Clean grate with a wire brush and then lubricate with an oil-soaked rag. Add steaks, close lid, and grill, turning only once, to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare and 3 ½ minutes per side for medium. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve, making sure everyone knows to slice the steak against the grain.

Grilled Marinated Flat Steak
Serves: 6
  • 2 tablespoon each olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ pounds thin, flat steak, such as flank, skirt or flatiron
  1. Mix oil, vinegar, Worcestershire and soy sauces, mustard and garlic powder; pour into a gallon-size zipper-lock bag, along with steak and let marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. (Can be refrigerated overnight; return to room temperature.)
  2. Heat gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes or build a hot charcoal fire. Clean grate with a wire brush and then lubricate with an oil-soaked rag. Add steak, close lid and grill, turning only once, to desired doneness, 3 ½ minutes for medium-rare and about 4 minute per side for medium. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thin and serve.

Grilled Top Sirloin with Horseradish-Parsley Butter
Serves: 6
  • 2 top sirloin steaks, a generous 1-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch for the butter
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground black pepper, plus extra for butter
  • ⅓ cup bottled horseradish, lightly squeezed of excess liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  1. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. Wipe off excess salt and moisture then rub with oil and sprinkle with pepper. Make horseradish butter by mixing horseradish, parsley, butter, rice vinegar, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper; set aside.
  2. Heat gas grill igniting all burners on high for at least 10 minutes or build a hot charcoal fire. Clean grate with a wire brush then lubricate with an oil-soaked rag. When ready to grill steaks, sprinkle very lightly with sugar (to enhance grill marks). Add steaks, close lid and grill, turning only once, to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare and about 5 minute per side for medium. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thin, smearing each portion of steak with a little of the flavored butter. Serve.

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  1. Sharon says

    Yes, I’m a poor grad student, but even if I weren’t I would still buy these cheaper cuts. Simply put, I think they taste better. I like my beef to taste like beef, and those tender, expensive steaks just don’t have the flavor of the less expensive ones. Once you add a spice rub, herb butter, or marinade, these less steaks are a party on the palate and easy on the wallet.

  2. Maggy says

    I can’t believe these are the cheap steaks! They’re every bit as tasty and you can have a lot more fun with them than the expensive cuts.

  3. Rachael Warrington says

    Could you talk a bit more about the “flap steak”? I cook with the flat iron steak all the time. When it goes on sale at 4.99 lb I purchase 10-15 of them. They are the perfect size for our family dinner. Flank steak is another favorite, but they have gone up to 7.00 a lb and never go on sale.
    I have never seen the flap steak, but it looks like my kind of cut.

  4. Christa D. says

    Pam…you read my mind! My husband and I were craving flank steak and your marinade was all the inspiration we needed to make it happen. Tried it last night and it was just fantastic. Perfect way to kick off the holiday weekend. Hope you enjoy!

  5. D Butts says

    Just read your July 3rd article in USA Weekend. Why do you write about cuts of meat that are extremely difficult to find? I shop meat all the time and have never seen a Flap steak! I doubt that you could buy one anywhere in the state. I looked in six cook books for it and three illustrated books on cuts of beef and there was no mention in any of them. We all don’t live in NYC with a meat shop right around the corner!
    I was confused with your reference to Flat steak. Was that a cut of meat-never heard of this one either-or was it a type of meat?

    • Pam says

      Hi D,

      I don’t live in NYC either. I live in suburban CT and rural PA. I regularly find top sirloin, flank, and flatiron steaks at my local Stop and Shop and Giant. Flap steaks are a big seller at Costco. Here’s some wikipedia info on flap steaks. Also, not sure if you watched our video–all the steaks we featured are pictured there.

      Flap steak, or Flap meat (IMPS/NAMP 185A, UNECE 2203)) is a beefsteak cut. It comes from a bottom sirloin butt cut of beef,[1] and is generally a very thin steak.
      The flap steak is sometimes confused with hanger steak (IMPS/NAMP 140, UNECE 2180) as they both are thin and come from similar parts of the cow. The item consists of the obliquus internus abdominis muscle from the bottom sirloin butt.

  6. Jennifer says

    We had Grilled Marinated Flat Steak last night. I followed your recipe exactly. It was yummy and my husband said, “This is a keeper.”

  7. says

    Mmm nothing is better than a great steak on the 4th of July! What a fantastic recipe! I’m loving your blog and so glad to be your newest follower! :)

  8. Liz says

    can i leave the horseradish out of the butter? I am afraid my picky kids won’t eat it! or can i substitute something or just cut it down? this is my new favorite blog! when we get closer to school starting can you come up with some good, quick, will sit through soccer practice recipes??

    • Pam says

      Sure Liz, you can leave out the horseradish. Feel free to add extra herbs and some thinly sliced green onions would be nice. As you can see from our cookie butter post a few weeks ago you can add just about anything to butter!

  9. Liz says

    Thanks Pam! I did substitute chopped garlic, rosemary from the garden and your suggestions sliced green onion….my kids loved it, they did not even want the usual steak sauce! These were delish and I will definitely follow the process again!

  10. Susan M. says

    Used the Flat Steak marinade on London Broil. My basic marinade was 2 Tbsp. each of lemon juice, red wine, mustard, and Worchestershire sauce, but we like this one even better!

  11. Andrew S. says

    I recently discovered this cut, and being a HUGE fan of skirt steak, I treated it accordingly. Here is a great marinade:

    2-3 #/s flap steak
    1-2 bottles Guinnes stout
    3 tbs Brown sugar
    3 cloves garlic chopped
    1 onion sliced
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 tbs red wine vinegar
    3 tbs hot sauce
    Combine all and seal in ziplock bag or tupperware.
    Marinate 12 hours min.

    grill 5 minutes per side, high heat.

  12. says

    Wow this marinade is too good! been using it at my tastings and it just makes the flat iron so tender and delicious!!! All of my customers want a copy of it!! Thanks Pam! I will continue to use this one for a long time! I also grilled some shrimp and used the flat iron marinade as a dipping sauce.YUMMY!

  13. Renetta Herrin says

    Is it possible to put this on an electric grill? I am a first time user of this cut of meat, and since it fit my budget I decided to try it. However I don’t have the space for my outdoor grill at my apt.(it’s currently in storage) and the electric grill is all I can depend on for right now. If so, what is the cooking time? If you’re not sure on the time I can play by trial and error.

    • says

      Hey Renetta, I think an electric grill would work fine as long as it’s got a lid. The steaks rely on the direct heat from the grill as well as the enveloping heat from the closed grill lid. If you’re grill doesn’t have a lid, I’d suggest covering the grill with heavy duty foil as the steaks cook, but I don’t think this will hold in the heat like a grill lid, so I think I’d add a couple of extra minutes cooking time to each side. Hope this advice is helpful! Take care and good luck.

  14. Joshua says

    The Marinade for the Flat steak also works great for dehydrating flat steaks. But i love it on grilled steak too!

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