How to Cook Hanger Steak

If you like rib eye but are looking for something more affordable, hanger steak is a great alternative.

Hanger Steaks with Cabbage and Beet Salad
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee Montiel

When Angie Mar suggests a cut of meat, we listen. The executive chef and owner of NYC's Beatrice Inn, and a 2017 F&W Best New Chef, stopped by the Test Kitchen today to school us on all things steak, and when Culinary Director Justin Chapple asked her what her favorite cut of meat to grill is, she said it was rib eye steak. There's a reason rib eye is so popular: it's large, marbled, and versatile. But because rib eyes are so well-liked, they can also be expensive.

If you're looking for a more affordable alternative, Mar recommends hanger steak.

"It has a beefy flavor like a rib eye, but it's more cost-effective and a little bit different and it actually cooks quicker," she says.

The hanger steak is actually a slender individual muscle from the short loin primal that "hangs" from the cow's trailing rib, connecting to its diaphragm. Hanger is well-marbled and has a coarse grain, which takes well to marinades. Hanger steak is quite tender when you slice it on the bias, or against the grain.

The first step when prepping a hanger steak is removing the sinew, if the butcher hasn't already done so. Mar does this with a long sharp knife, pulling the sinew taught and slicing in long strokes. For a better grip, Chapple likes using a paper towel to grab the sinew. It's really simple to do, and it's cheaper to buy the meat with the sinew, so Mar and Chapple both recommend taking this route. A bonus? Instead of throwing it away, Mar suggests browning the inedible bits and throwing them into a pot with bones to make stock.

Once the meat is ready to cook, you should season it liberally with salt as you would any other piece of meat. (You can use black pepper, too, but Mar doesn't like the taste of burnt black pepper, so she sticks to just salt.)

While hanger steak does have a nuttier flavor than rib eye, the biggest difference between them is the texture and grain of the muscle, and here's where the crucial distinction in cooking comes in. Though Mar likes to cook rib eyes rare, hanger steak benefits from longer cooking, so she cooks them medium. "The heat helps all the tissue break down and you'll get a more tender piece," she says.

Though it used to be known as a butcher's steak, it's becoming an increasingly popular cut, Chapple points, out, so get on it. Here are eight recipes to get started with:

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