Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: April 22, 2022

Steaks are always a great main protein for any meal; hanger and skirt steaks are no exception. But these two cuts of meat usually get confused with each other as they come from the same part of the cow.

Our experts have put together this easy-to-read article to show you what the differences are between these two steaks.

Quick Summary

  • Hanger steak and skirt steak have quite a few differences even though they are cut from almost the same part of the cow.
  • For example, a skirt steak is a hard-working muscle, so this cut is a bit tough and chewy, but a hanger steak is a muscle that is barely used, making it more tender.

What Are The Differences Between Hanger And Skirt Steak?

A woman thinking while looking at a cookbook

These two cuts of meat used to be tossed aside, 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, these steaks have been slowly sneaking their way into the hearts of people around the world in recent years.

These two underrated steaks 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.

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

This may change as they grow in popularity, especially with the hanger steak, so you need to enjoy them now while they are still reasonably priced.

Skirt steak and hanger steak are often confused with each other as they are cut from the same part of the cow. However, these two steaks are far from being the same; they have many differences that set them apart from each other. Let’s look at these steaks more in-depth to understand how they are different from each other.

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 skirt muscle is a hardworking muscle constantly used throughout the cow’s life as it helps the cow breathe.

As the cut of meat was a hardworking muscle, this means that the meat can be pretty chewy if it is not cooked properly.

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 meat.

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

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.

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

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.

This steak was often kept by the butchers for themselves, rather than offered to customers, which is where the steak gets one of its names: Butchers steak.

The hanger steak is also taken from the plate location of the cow, but its placement is a lot 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 this cut of meat means that the muscle is not a hardworking muscle, like the skirt steak. This means that the hanger steak is a relatively tender cut of meat, almost as tender as the tenderloin itself.

The hanger steak resembles the flank steak in flavor and texture, but it is far more tender. This cut also has an inedible membrane that runs through the middle of the steak and needs to be removed before consumption. Your butcher will do this for you before you buy the meat.

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

Hanger steaks are usually long pieces of meat that weigh significantly less than skirt steaks, and they are not as thick.

With a hanger steak, there is no need to marinate it first as it is flavorful enough on its own. Pepper and salt are the only “spices” you need to bring out the flavors of this delicious cut of meat.

Can You Grill And Smoke Hanger And Skirt Steak?

A grill on fire

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

Hanger steak is a superb piece of meat that takes well to various cooking methods, including grilling and smoking. Whether you choose to cook this steak, you need to watch your time as these steaks are thin and do not take long to cook.

However, most people prefer to grill their hanger steaks as this brings out the flavor of the steak.

You can cook with both grilling and smoking with skirt steaks, but people generally like smoking it as this helps make the cut tender.

The only difference between the two for smoking and grilling is the preparation time, as they are very different, with the skirt steak needing a marinade and the hanger steak just needing salt and pepper.

Other than the preparation time needed, both of these steaks are great for grilling or smoking; it all depends on your available time.

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Conclusion

Hanger steak and skirt steak are both delicious, flavorful cuts of meat that will always have their place in the kitchen.

Although they regularly get mixed up, they are very different steaks that require different preparation methods to ensure you have the juiciest, most flavorful steak you can get.

You can try to get these two cuts from ButcherBox and have them delivered to you.

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