Skirt Steak vs Hanger Steak (Know the Difference)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: March 22, 2024

Steaks are always a tremendous primary protein source for any meal; hanger and skirt steak are no exception.

You can try getting hanger and skirt steaks from ButcherBox and have them delivered to you.

But these two beef steaks usually get confused as they come from the same part of the cow.

Our experts have put together this easy-to-read article to show you the difference between skirt steak and hanger steak.

Quick Summary

  • Hanger and skirt steaks come from similar cow parts but have unique characteristics.
  • Skirt steak is tougher and chewier, while hanger steak is more tender.
  • The average price of skirt steak, as listed in the National Monthly Grass Fed Beef Report for February 2024, ranges from $14.00 to $31.50 per pound, with an average price of $19.74 [1].
  • Skirt steak is typically marinated or dry-rubbed, while hanger steak requires only salt and pepper.

What Is The Difference Between Skirt and Hanger Steak?

A woman thinking while looking at a cookbook

Butcher's steak shops used to toss aside hanger and skirt steaks on their way to become ground beef or kept by butchers for themselves to eat.

These two cuts of beef were under-appreciated and tossed to the side for decades.

However, both hanger and skirt steaks have been slowly sneaking their way into the hearts of people around the world in recent years.

This rise to fame meant they're now going beyond their status as ground beef candidates.

According to the National Retail Report for March 2024, skirt steak is advertised in 160 supermarkets, which is the lowest number compared to other types of steaks that supermarkets carry [2].

Nowadays, hanger and skirt steak are slowly making their way into restaurants and the kitchens of home cooks, as we are now seeing the value of using the whole animal.

These two cuts of meat were not prized for a long time, so they are usually cheaper to buy, meaning you can get your steak fixed without breaking the bank.

It may change as both hanger steaks and skirt steaks grow in popularity, especially with the former, so you need to enjoy them now while they are still reasonably priced.

Skirt and hanger are often confused as they are cut from the same part of the cow. However, these two steaks are far from the same; they have many differences that set them apart.

Let’s look at these steaks more in-depth to understand the difference between skirt and hanger steak.

Also Read: Beef vs Steak

Characteristics Of A Skirt Steak

Skirt steak on a plate with vegetables and a dip

Skirt steak is a fibrous and thin piece of meat that separates the cow’s chest from the abdomen, which is in the plate location on the cow.

This steak is the cow’s diaphragm muscle attached to the cow’s 6th rib through to the 12th rib on the underside of the cow’s short plate.

This means that the whole skirt steak muscle is a hardworking muscle constantly used throughout the cow’s life as it helps the cow breathe.

The cut of meat was a hardworking muscle, so the skirt steak meat can be pretty chewy if it is not cooked correctly, even as medium rare.

Skirt steaks are generally covered by a tough membrane that needs to be removed from the steak before you cook it, but usually, your butcher has already done this for you by the time you buy the skirt steak meat from the shop.

Skirt steak is often confused with flank steak and hanger steak due to their similar cooking time and preparation, but all three of these cuts are very different.

It is recommended that you marinate your skirt steak or apply a dry rub to help keep the steak tender and help flavor the meat. It applies regardless of your preferences, like medium rare skirt steak.

Skirt steaks are short but thick cuts of meat that usually weigh about two pounds, and they are thicker than hanger steaks, flank steaks, and flat iron steaks.

Skirt steak is the traditional piece of meat for various recipes like fajitas, which is a great meal to help you get acquainted with working with a skirt steak, as it can take some getting used to, more than flank steak.

Characteristics Of A Hanger Steak

Steak cut up on table

Hanger steak, also widely known as hanging tenderloin or butcher’s steak, is a cut of meat that is highly prized for its flavor.

The butchers often kept the steak for themselves rather than offering it to customers, where the steak gets one of its names: Butchers steak.

The hanger cut is also taken from the plate location of the cow, but its placement is much deeper in the cow’s loin, and the rib cage encircles it.

Hanger steak gets this name as it “hangs” between the ribs and the tenderloin of the cow. The location of the steak cut means that the muscle is not a hardworking muscle, like the skirt steak.

This means the steak is a relatively tender cut of meat, almost as delicate as the tenderloin itself.

The hanger steak resembles the flank steak in flavor and texture but is far more tender.

This cut also has an inedible membrane that runs through the middle of the hanger cut and must be removed before consumption. Your butcher will do this for you before buying the hanger meat.

As the hanger steak cut of meat becomes popular, the price of this cut rises, too. It is because there is only one hanger cut per cow, cutting a rarer commodity.

Hanger steaks weigh significantly less than flank steaks or skirt steaks and are not as thick as skirt or flank steaks.

With a hanger cut, there is no need to marinate it first as it is flavorful enough compared to its skirt, flank steak, or flat-iron steak counterparts.

Pepper and salt are the only “spices” you need to bring out the flavors of a hanger steak, even when it’s medium rare.

Can You Grill And Smoke Hanger And Skirt Steak?

A grill on fire

Both skirt steaks and hanger steaks are tasty cuts of meat, but can you grill and smoke both?

Grilled hanger steak is a superb piece of meat that takes well to various cooking methods, including smoking with meat seasoning. It doesn't matter whether you use a charcoal or gas grill.

Whether you choose to cook hanger steaks, you need to watch your time as these steaks are thin and do not take long to cook.

You don't want to end up with a burnt hanger steak, so your vigilance will go a long way.

However, most people prefer to grill hanger steak cuts, which brings out the flavor more than skirt curts.

You can grill and cook skirt steaks, but people generally like smoking them as this helps make the skirt cut tender.

The only difference between smoking and grilling hanger and skirt steak is the preparation time, as they are very different, with the skirt cut needing your favorite meat marinade and the grilled hanger steak needing salt and pepper, as well as other meat seasoning products.

As such, you might end up having a much longer time preparing a skirt cut before actually cooking it.

Besides the preparation time needed, both skirt and hanger steaks are great for grilling or smoking. It all depends on your available time to cook hanger steak.

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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