How to Cut London Broil and Other Cuts of Beef

Ribeye

Lindsay Kreighbaum

Steak is a great meal option for many meal-inclusive diets. If you’re on a low-carb diet, not only is steak a solid source of protein, it also provides a generous amount of vitamins B12, B3, and B6.

Depending on your dietary needs and preferences, keep in mind that how you purchase, prepare, and serve steak can affect its nutritional value. For example, you’ve probably encountered directions to "slice against the grain" when preparing meat for recipes, but do you know how to cut London broil?

Buying Steak

When you’re selecting a steak, deciding how much money to spend is the first choice you’ll make. How much you pay for a cut of meat is also the first indicator of its quality and may determine what you can (and can’t) do when preparing and cooking it.

The USDA categorizes beef in a number of ways, but there are three grades of interest to consumers: Prime, Choice, and Select.

USDA Prime beef is a high-quality marbled cut you’ll typically find in restaurants. It’s especially good for grilling and broiling.

USDA Choice beef has less marbling but is tender, juicy, and full of flavor. It’s a versatile choice for cooking, as it can be grilled, broiled, braised, or simmered in soups.

USDA Select beef is lean, tender meat but since it doesn’t have much marbling, it’s less flavorful than other grades. This grade works well for recipes that call for marinating.

In addition to grade, the way in which the cattle was raised can also influence the quality and cost of a cut of beef.

Grass-Fed v. Grain-Fed

While grass-fed or beef fed on pasture will cost more, it's also among the highest-quality meat you can purchase. Beef from grass-fed cows is typically darker in color than grain-fed.

Whether grass or grain-fed, the meat will be most vibrant in color when it’s been freshly cut.

“Marbling” refers to how fat is distributed throughout the cut. When the marbling is even and well-distributed, the meat will be juicy and tender. The amount of fat marbling also contributes to the meat’s flavor.

To maximize taste and presentation, prep and cooking for expensive cuts of meat will differ from techniques used for lower-quality cuts.

Cost

You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to prepare a great-tasting steak. There are definitely ways to make cheap steaks taste good and many recipes use inexpensive cuts of meat like skirt steak, flank steak, and top sirloin. 

While you can use these tips when choosing a cut of beef at your local grocer or deli, keep in mind that you may need to make a special trip to a butcher for top-quality cuts.

Choosing a Cut

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all the cuts to choose from at the meat counter, it can help to organize your knowledge of cow anatomy. Each cut of beef comes from a different part of the cow, and while some locations are very specific, having a general sense can help orient you when making a decision.

Chuck (shoulder) and brisket are at the front of the cow; rib and flank are in the middle; and round, shank, and sirloin cuts at the rear.

The tenderness of a cut of beef largely depends on the part of the cow it’s come from. Those from areas that bear most of the cow’s weight (i.e. muscles toward the back) work hard and become tough as a result, whereas the more protected parts, like ribs, are quite tender.

There are many cuts of steak you can choose from, depending on your diet and tastes, as well as how you intend to cook it. Some cuts are better for grilling, while others are best as part of dishes like pasta, stir-fries, or stews.

  • Tenderloin steak: Also known as filet mignon or chateaubriand, this is the most tender cut, though not as flavorful as less tender cuts.
  • Top blade steak: Also called flat iron steak, this cut comes from the shoulder and is extremely tender.
  • Top loin steak: Marketed as a New York City or Kansas City strip steak, this cut is lean and full of flavor.
  • Porterhouse steak: This giant steak is packed with tenderness and flavor, making it a great steak for grilling.
  • T-bone steak: Another flavorful choice for grilling, this cut is a good “middle of the road” tenderness option.
  • Ribeye steak: Thanks to its heavy marbling, this cut is more flavorful than tender.
  • Flank steak: A flat, thin cut, this is also known as London Broil. While it’s not particularly tender, it has a ton of flavor.
  • Top sirloin steak: Like London Broil, the powerful flavor of this cut makes up for the meat’s lack of tenderness.

If you’re not sure which cut is right for the meal you have planned, or you don’t see the right cut packaged up, ask the butcher for a recommendation.

How to Cut Flank Steak

While recipes may provide the instruction, they don't always explain “cutting against the grain” well. Certain cuts of meat, like flank steak, skirt steak, brisket, and London broil, have distinct lines. These long lines are actually fibers running through the meat—which you may encounter when you take a particularly “tough” bite.

When slicing these cuts of meat, either before or after cooking, going against the grain means cutting through those fibers to make the meat more tender and easier to chew.

Going Against the Grain

With a flank steak on the cutting board in front of you, look carefully: You should see some horizontal lines running from left to right throughout the steak above the knife.

If you slice the meat in the same direction as these lines, you'll end up chewing through the fibers—or you'll be left with shreds. However, if you cut across the lines, the knife will do the hard work of breaking through those fibers for you.

Cutting against the grain means slicing meat across the width instead of the length.

It’s often recommended to slice these cuts thinly at about a 45-degree angle. If the cut of steak is already thin (such as flank steak), you don’t need to worry so much about the angle for practical reasons—however, slicing the meat this way is more aesthetically pleasing for angled strips.

Cooking Tips and Recipes

The traditional perfectly cooked steak is seared on the outside and rare on the inside. This entails first placing the steak in a cast iron pan with butter over high heat for a couple minutes on each side before putting it in the oven. It’s easiest to achieve this with a thick-cut steak, like filet mignon. If you like your steak cooked to another level of doneness (medium rare or medium-well), a thinner cut may work fine.

In general, the thicker a cut of steak is, the more margin of error you’ll have when aiming for “cooked to perfection.”

When the time comes to get down to cooking, how you choose to prep the meat will depend on the meal and the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.

At the most basic level, both for ensuring the meat is cooked to your liking and for food safety, you need to check the meat’s internal temperature. While some experienced chefs can tell how done a steak is just by feeling it, the only way to be sure is to use a meat thermometer.

Once you have a number to aim for to reach the level of doneness, you’ll be able to cook a steak to your liking every time without overcooking it.

Internal Temperature for Cooked Steak
Rare

125 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium-Rare

130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium

140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium-Well

150 degrees Fahrenheit

Remember: The meat will keep cooking after you remove it from the heat! In fact, the internal temperature usually rises another 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit once you take it off the grill or pan.

This is why it’s important to allow the meat to “rest.” Setting it aside for 5 to 10 minutes before serving allows it to finish cooking and helps absorb the delicious juices that give it a rich taste.

The amount of time it takes for your steak to reach the desired internal temperature will depend on the cut, how thick it is, your method of cooking, and how you’ve prepared it. Keep this in mind if you’ve topped your steak with other ingredients, like veggies, sauces, or fresh herbs.

Once you know how to shop, cook and cut flank steak, you’ll be able to take on steak recipes to suit any taste.

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