The Right Way to Cook London Broil, According to a Butcher

Plus, a chef shares his tips for choosing the right steak.

Grilled rib eye Steak a.k.a London Broil Sandwich with sliced roast beef, arugula on grey background
Photo: Vladimir Mironov / GETTY IMAGES

London broil can be the beefy centerpiece to any meal: It's simple, affordable, and flavorful. If you grew up on chewy London broil, you might have some aversions—but it's time to reconsider this popular dish for a special dinner. Ultimately, it comes down to using the right beef and cooking it correctly so it's juicy and tender—not tough and chewy.

"Butchers love London broil because it's packed with beefy flavor and easy on the wallet," says Heather Marold Thomason, a butcher and the owner of Primal Supply Meats. And if it's a butcher's preference? You know it's going to be good.

What Is London Broil?

London broil is typically a thick steak cut from a lean muscle, intended to be marinated—which improves tenderness—and broiled, says Thomason. It's a bit of a misnomer: Supermarkets may label beef as London broil, but there is no actual piece of meat with that name. "It is often cut from the round, or leg muscles, of the beef, but the best London broil is cut from the top round, which is relatively tender and has great flavor," says Thomason.

As for the name? No one is sure. It doesn't appear to have come from over the pond—London broil has no meaning in England.

Cuts to Consider for London Broil

Making London broil lends itself to using cheaper cuts; you can get more value for your money because you are marinating the beef. If you want to splurge, Paddy Coker, grill chef at Hawksmoor steakhouse in New York, recommends working with dry-aged top sirloin. "The aging of beef can impart a robust beefy flavor that you would otherwise not get," he says.

Flank Steak

If you're making London broil at home, consider flank steak, says Coker. "Flank steak comes from the belly area of the cow. It's a relatively cheap cut with a consistent wide grain, which is great for marinating and penetrating flavor into a lean cut—making it perfect for London broil," he says. "It does have a bit more chewiness to it, but that can easily be tackled with proper cooking, a nice long rest, and thin slicing."

Flatiron Steak

Coker also likes flatiron steak. It may be pricier, but it's uniformly thick—which makes it easier to cook evenly—and very lean. "When cooked and rested properly, it can be a beautifully tender cut of meat," Coker says. "It works great for any additional marinating and seasoning you may prefer for your London broil, because of the lack of exterior fat and perfectly uniformed shape. Its thickness tends to slice very nicely for any kind of display you may wish to use for plating or putting into sandwiches."

Signs of a Good Steak

Whatever cut you pick, choose a high-quality, 100 percent grass-fed (also called grass-finished) beef. "It tastes better, is more nutrient-dense, and is better for the planet," Thomason says.

Ensure your steak is fresh by picking a cut with a deep ruby color. "Oxidized meats are not fresh and dark purple meats can result in bad texture and iron-y flavor. This could be due to stress the animal has endured in the buildup to slaughter," Coker says.

You'll also want to check for smell. "Rich, nutty [scented] beef will result in a great taste," he says. "If it smells sweet or sour, then the product is not at its freshest and will result in a bad meal."

How to Cook London Broil

The method for making London broil involves marinating the steak to tenderize it—then broiling or grilling it.

The Marinade

Yes, you can make London broil quickly without marinating it, especially if you use high-quality beef—but the acid in the marinade definitely helps tenderize the meat. For an easy marinade, Thomason suggests using a zesty Italian dressing. Let the meat soak in the dressing for at least four hours or overnight. Use a large sealable bag or container so all parts of the meat are covered.

Cooking Technique

When you're ready to cook the steak, remove the meat from the marinade and preheat your grill or oven. Thomason prefers to grilling the steak at high heat or sear it in a cast-iron pan until medium rare (your meat thermometer should read 130°F).

Whether you broil or grill, let the steak rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Always slice London broil against the grain; this makes the meat more tender and easier to chew.

How to Avoid Tough, Chewy London Broil

Whatever you do, don't overcook your meat, says Thomason—this is the most important tip, she says. "If you like your steak more well done, this is not the cut for you. Once London broil cooks to medium or beyond, the lack of fat in this hard-working muscle will cause your steak to become tough and dry," she says. "But when London broil is prepared to a nice, juicy medium-rare, allowed to rest, and sliced thin to share, you'll be wondering why you don't cook it more often."

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