How to Cook a Perfect London Broil
When it comes to crafting a deceptively fancy but budget-friendly dinner for a crowd, the London broil has long been one of our go-tos. After all, this simple dish, which relies on a more affordable cut of beef, is one of the most effective ways to serve steak to a group without racking up a hefty bill.
Despite the name, which suggests this recipe originated across the pond, the London broil is actually an all-American creation that makes the most of your grocery money. While there’s a common misconception that ‘London broil’ refers to a specific cut, this misleading name actually refers to the technique used to cook the steak (the inclusion of London in the name is still a culinary mystery). This technique involves cooking the meat under an oven’s broiler, for a result that’s perfectly browned on the outside but just the right level of pink on the inside.
While the London broil was primarily made with flank steak up until World War II, the cut of meat most typically used today is a boneless top round steak, which butchers will occasionally label as “London broil” to help guide confused shoppers.
Although this recipe has become a popular dish among meat eaters thanks to its affordability, this precarious cooking method can either result in a tender, delicious cut of meat or something tough and borderline inedible if you’re not careful. Follow these these tips and tricks, and you’ll be well on the way to a perfectly executed broiled steak every time.
Watch: How to Make Broiled Flat Iron Steak with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
The Perfect Marinade
The first—and arguably most important—element to consider when making a London broil is the all-important marinade. Due to the top round being a leaner cut with a low fat content, the London broil can be tough and gamey, which is why the marinating process is essential for transforming this low-budget meat into something that feels luxurious.
The biggest tip for pulling off a perfect London broil is to allow ample time to marinade. The marination process is key for converting a tough cut of meat into something supple and flavorful, as the liquid works to soften the connective tissues and muscle fibers of the meat. A little acid in the marinade is also important, as it helps to quickly break down these tough fibers and tissue.
While you can opt to marinade your meat for as little as a couple of hours if you’re in a rush, for the best possible result allow the meat to marinate overnight for up to 24 hours before cooking. When it comes to the London broil’s marination process, the rule of thumb is the longer, the better.
Part of the fun of crafting a London broil is making your own customized marinade, which can vary widely from recipe to recipe. While you can feel free to play around with the marinade ingredients, most recipes include olive oil and either soy or Worcestershire sauce as a constant, some form of acid, and additional flavors like beef stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and lemon juice. Some even choose to keep it super simple with creative combinations like cola and teriyaki sauce.
While there are endless possible combinations to test out, we’d recommend starting with a flavorful mixture of ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, ½ cup chopped shallots, and 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme for a 2-pound boneless top round steak.
Before marinating, it’s important to pierce your meat all over with a fork, or use a chef’s knife to cut 1/8-inch deep criss-cross patterns across the surface. Either of these methods will allow the marinade to soak into the meat, rather than just rest on the surface.
Place your punctured steak and marinade in a plastic Ziploc bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours. Occasionally flip the bag over to allow the juices to shift.
Cooking Your London Broil
When your steak has been properly marinated and is ready to cook, remove the marinade by scraping off the excess garlic and shallots and patting the meat dry with a paper towel.
Add your meat to an oiled broiler pan or pre-heated cast-iron skillet and season with salt and pepper before placing the pan about 4 inches from the broiler, set to high. Broil for 6-8 minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 6-10 minutes. When the steak appears to be nearing completion, check the internal temperature of the meat with a thermometer, removing the beef when it hits 125 degrees Fahrenheit. While the ideal medium rare temperature is 135-145 degrees, since the steak will continue to cook as it rests, taking it out slightly before it reaches this temperature guarantees the meat won’t overcook.
After removing it from the oven, allow your meat to rest for about 10 minutes, tented with foil, before slicing into thin pieces. For the best result, cut across the grain—rather than with it—by slicing vertically through the lines running across the steak. Then, drizzle your slices with the pan juices before serving.
To take your London broil experience to new heights, create an herb butter that will complement your flavorful meat. To craft your butter, combine 4 tablespoons of softened butter with fresh chives, chopped parsley, chopped tarragon, salt, and pepper in a bowl, and refrigerate until you’re ready to top your cooked steak. Or, turn the discarded marinade into a perfectly paired sauce by bringing it to a boil in a saucepan, simmering for 10 minutes, and whisking in 2 tablespoons of butter.
An alternative option for cooking a London broil is to cook it on your outdoor grill. While this method is contrary to the name itself, the high heat form the grill mimics the effect of the broiler. Follow the same marination instructions, or simply season your steak with salt and pepper if running low on time, and grill for 4 minutes on each side before resting and slicing. If you choose to forego a marinade, make sure you have a flavorful sauce to accompany the meat, as in this London Broil with Chimichurri recipe.
Once you’ve perfected a classic London broil, step outside the box with recipes like London Broil with Texas Toast and Red Onion Jam, London Broil Sandwiches with Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce, or an Asian-inspired Soy Marinated London Broil. No matter how you cook it, you’re sure to be pleased with the bang you get for your buck when it comes to this affordable and approachable protein.