When it comes to throwing a steak on the grill, flank steak, skirt steak, and hanger steak are three of our favorite choices. These boneless cuts from the belly area of the steer are full of rich beefy flavor and chewy texture. Because they’re relatively thin with a coarse and loose grain, they absorb marinades well. And since they’re thinly sliced across the grain before serving, portion sizes are flexible—a real advantage when you have a mixed group of steak lovers and light eaters coming to dinner.
As its name implies, flank steak comes from the flank area of the steer, which is just in front of the hind legs. Marinated, grilled flank steak was the original London broil, a name now used for many other beef cuts.
Skirt steak comes from the belly area in between the flank and the brisket, which is near the front legs. Its long, thin, belt-like shape reflects the fact that it’s the preferred cut for fajitas—fajita means “belt” in Spanish.
Popular in French bistros, hanger steak is an interior cut that hangs off the kidney and supports the diaphragm. Hanger steak is also known as butcher’s steak because butchers tend to save this prized cut for themselves. Because there’s only one per animal and it’s not well known outside France, it can be hard to find. If you do come across it and it still has its center membrane (as shown here), trim it out before cooking—you’ll end up with two large pieces of hangar steak after trimming.