What is the best way to cook a thin steak?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question: “what is the best way to cook a thin steak?”. With an in-depth analysis of what is the best way to cook thin steak. Moreover, we will also discuss different methods of cooking thin steak.

What is the best way to cook a thin steak?

The best way to cook flavorful thin steaks (boneless cuts of meat) is to soak them in a marinade, season with your favorite spice blend, and afterward, either grill or pan-fry them.

How do you pan fry a thin steak?

Start with quality meat:

If you want to cook a thin steak, look for flank, hangar, or skirt steak. 

Season the Steaks:

Before you get cooking, you’ve got to dry those steaks off; moisture is the enemy of that perfect glistening brown crust. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels, then season the steaks well with salt and pepper on both sides; use 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper per pound of meat. 

If you’re cooking thin steaks, you can also add chopped herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary and/or minced garlic to the steaks now; for larger steaks, leave the aromatics for later. 

Only season your steaks right before you’re about to cook them since the salt will start drawing out liquid from the steaks if they sit around for more than a few minutes.

Prepare a cast-iron pan:

To sear the steaks, you need a 12-inch cast-iron pan or the heaviest 12-inch stainless steel pan. A cast-iron pan holds and retains heat especially well, helping to brown the steak more evenly.

Sear the steaks:

Heat that large, heavy skillet over high heat until hot, then add 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, swirling the skillet to coat the bottom. Then continue to heat the pan just until the oil starts to smoke.

When the oil is ready, add the steaks to the pan. If you’re cooking more than one steak, make sure there are at least a couple of inches between them—you don’t want to crowd the pan. If it’s a tight fit, use two pans or cook the steaks in batches.

Thin steaks (anything less than 1 1/2 inches thick) will cook very quickly; cook until meat is deeply browned, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Rest steaks:

When the steak is glistening brown and cooked to your preferred doneness, transfer it to a plate and loosely cover it with aluminum foil. Although you will be tempted to eat it immediately, set the plate aside for 5 minutes for thin steak. Letting the meat rest produces the juiciest steak.

How do you cook thin steaks so they are tender?

If you want your thin-sliced steak just plain pan-fried, cook it for 30 to 60 seconds in a very hot pan with a bit of oil. When that side is done, flip it over. This is a very quick process, so keep your eye on it.

How long does it take to cook thin slices of beef?

Very thin-sliced meat should only take about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. If you use a grill pan, you can also add vegetables or potatoes.

Is steak better pan-fried or grilled?

Eating grilled steak is better than pan-frying it because you consume less fat which promotes weight loss. The excess fats from a steak drip off the grates as it cooks, unlike pan frying which retains it together with the additional oil.

How do you grill a thin steak?

1st Step: Patting the meat dry

Use paper towels to pat the meat dry first. The rationale behind this step is browning.

Dry steaks are more capable of browning compared to wet or moist ones. When the steak is wet, applying salt on the meat surface will draw out moisture, making browning of the meat difficult even when grilled.

Suppose you want an aesthetic, smoky-gray-looking steak. Then blot the fresh thin steak with paper towels first.

2nd Step: The salt and cornstarch combo

Set the dried-out meat aside for a while. Mix the salt and cornstarch in a container until well incorporated. Then rub the mixture to both sides of the steak until every portion of the meat is well-coated.

Some might overlook this step, but the salt and cornstarch complement each other. The added salt will draw out the water from the meat and inhibit browning.

The cornstarch will act as the moisture absorbent released from the steak. This way, the meat juice will not get in the way of grilling the steak.

3rd Step: Freeze the steak first

After coating the steak, place it over a wire rack, then put it in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

Using a flat sheet to freeze the steaks on is counter-intuitive.

Since the meats are coated with salt and cornstarch mixture, laying them flat on a bare non-wired rack might remove the mixture from the meat surface.

Chilling the steak will also allow for the meat to harden its surface in preparation for the grilling. The next steps will discuss how to cook thin steak on the grill.

4th Step: Peripheral preparations

Be sure to wipe over olive oil on the grilling grates before putting the meat. It will help the meat adjust to the temperature of the grills once placed over the grill.

It will also inhibit the meat from sticking to the grates as the oil will inhibit the direct contact between the meat and the grills.

Around 10 minutes before the chilling period is over, start preheating your gas to high settings.

At the 30-minute mark, remove the meat from the freezer and sprinkle over some black pepper powder on both sides before cooking.

5th Step: The proper grilling 

The process on how to grill a thin steak relies on three factors: time, temperature, and looks.

The time portion is highly dependent on the thickness of the slab of meat to be cooked. In this case, for grilling thin steaks, how long would it take? 

By convention, you should grill the thin steak for two minutes each for both sides. Then repeat the process by flipping the steak over but shifting the angle by 90 degrees to create diamond grill marks on the meat. Do the said process for another 2 minutes for both sides—all in all, 8 minutes to cook each thin steak.

As for the meat’s temperature indicator, to be utterly specific, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. It can give more accurate grill results.

For medium-rare steaks, the temperature ranges from 120° to 125° degrees Fahrenheit or 49° to 52° degrees Celsius.

As for the looks, the outside must have a smoky-gray-looking feel with no burns except the grill marks on the thin steak. Make sure to cover the steak with aluminum foil first for approximately 5 minutes before consumption.

Once you remove the foil and slice the steak open, the meat should show two distinctive layers, one grayish-brown layer on the outside indicating the crisp cooked feel.

Another layer on the inside is pinkish with juice that drips when pressed. There you have your medium-rare thin steak.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question: “what is the best way to cook a thin steak?”. With an in-depth analysis of what is the best way to cook thin steak. Moreover, we have also discussed different methods of cooking thin steak.



Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.