Arianna Foster
Published by Arianna Foster
Last Updated On: July 17, 2023

If you're unfamiliar with skirt steak, don't worry – you're not alone. I understand the confusion and uncertainty that can come with cooking a new cut of meat.

As a seven-year carnivore diet devotee, I’ve learned that this flavorful and versatile beef cut is perfect for various dishes, from tacos to stir-fry.

With my expertise in preparing skirt steak, I'm here to tell you what you need to know about this meat.

Quick Summary

  • Skirt steak is a long, thin cut of beef from the cow's plate section.
  • Skirt steak benefits from marinating before cooking.
  • Mexican cuisine has many skirt steak recipes like fajitas and carne asada.

What Is Skirt Steak?

A raw skirt steak together with different ingredients and spices

Skirt steak is a thin, long cut of meat that comes from the plate section of the cow, located between the brisket and the flank [1].

It's a tougher cut with long muscle fibers and connective tissue, but great when you cook it properly.

There are two different cuts of skirt steak: inside skirt and outside skirt.

  • The inside skirt is trimmed from the cow's belly and comes from the transversus abdominis muscle. It is thicker, has a defined, thick grain, and may even extend into the flank primal.
  • The outside skirt is closer to the ribs, arising from the diaphragm muscle. Outside skirt steak is thinner and has a looser structure.

Skirt steak has unique characteristics that set it apart from similar cuts. Flank steak, for example, is a leaner cut that is typically larger and thicker than skirt steak.

On the other hand, skirt steak has a more intensely beefy flavor and a more tender texture when you cook it correctly. It is also a thinner cut than flank steak, making it an excellent option for grilling or searing.

You can find skirt steak in the butcher shop or grocery store. You can store skirt steak in the fridge for 2 days and still eat it, or freeze it for up to two months before it may lose its beefy flavor.

The Right Way to Cook Skirt Steak

A skirt steak being cooked on a pan

There are various ways to cook skirt steak, but grilling or pan-searing in a cast iron skillet are popular methods for achieving the best results.

Grilling may be the easiest way to cook a skirt. It should be grilled over high heat on each side for just a few minutes to achieve the desired level of doneness via a meat thermometer.

Like the grill, pan-searing also requires a hot surface and should be done in small batches to prevent overcrowding.

Regardless of the cooking method, it's important for home cooks to remember a few cooking tips to achieve a perfectly cooked skirt steak:

  • Season the meat well with salt and pepper to enhance its beefy flavor.
  • Skirt steak is a lean cut of meat, so it's important not to overcook it.
  • A simple marinade of lime juice, vinegar, or your preferred acid, along with some oil and spices, can do wonders for tough skirt steak.
  • Preheat the pan or grill to ensure the skirt is cooked evenly.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure a perfectly cooked skirt steak. Aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F for medium-rare or 135-140°F for medium [2].

Maximizing Tenderness and Flavor

Marinating skirt steak with lime juice

While skirt steaks may be considered a tougher cut of beef compared to others like filet mignon or ribeye, there are ways to maximize tenderness when cooking this protein-packed cut.

Marinating skirt steak is one way to maximize tenderness. The marinade helps to tenderize the skirt and make it more flavorful in your favorite recipe.

A good marinade should have an acid component, such as lime juice or vinegar, that helps break down the meat's tough grain, making it more tender.

Many skirt steak recipes call on you to marinate, but you must give the meat enough time to absorb the flavors. Generally, I recommend marinating the meat for at least 2-3 hours, but overnight is even better.

"Inside and outside skirt steak is a chef's dream - it's full of beefy flavor, is ready fast, and can hold up to any seasoning or marinating you throw at it."
- Gordon Ramsay, British Chef

Another critical factor in maximizing the tenderness of skirt steak is for it to be sliced thinly against the grain with your knife.. Skirt steak has long fibers, and cutting against the grain shortens these fibers, making it more tender and easier to chew.

Resting the steak is essential to achieving a tender skirt steak. Once the skirt steak is removed from the heat source, you should let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes so it will not be tough.

If you slice into the meat with a knife immediately after pulling it off the heat, the juices will escape from the looser structure of the grain, resulting in a drier steak.

The Best Way to Use Skirt Steak

A close up shot of skirt steak being used as meat in tacos

Skirt steak is a versatile cut that can be used for many meals, such as tacos, quesadillas, and other Tex-Mex dishes.

One of the most popular ways to use skirt steak is by making fajitas. This is a Tex-Mex dish that typically includes marinated and grilled steak strips, sautéed onions and peppers, and a side of warm tortillas.

Skirt steak's versatility extends far beyond Tex-Mex cuisine. For example, in Asian cuisine, skirt steak is often used in stir-fry and noodle dishes. Its thin cut makes it perfect for absorbing the bold flavors of soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

Skirt steak can also add depth to a serving of hearty sandwiches or as a protein-rich salad topping.

Though rarely done so, you can even eat this flavorful meat on its own when cooked to perfection, making it a great dinner option packed with protein.

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Is Skirt Steak a Good Cut of Meat?

Yes, skirt steak is a good cut of meat. Skirt steak is leaner than other meat, such as ribeye or filet mignon, and it is perfect for marinating and grilling.

What To Use Skirt Steak For?

You should use skirt steak for fajitas, tacos, sandwiches, and stir-fry.

Why Does My Skirt Steak Taste Like Liver?

Your skirt steak might taste like liver because it is low quality. Skirt steak is obtained from a muscular part of the cow and has a lot of myoglobin, which gives the cut a livery flavor.

How many calories are in a skirt steak?

There are 187 calories in one serving of skirt steak [3].

Is Skirt Steak Worth Cooking?

Skirt steak makes a terrific meal, particularly when marinated. This versatile cut can be used in dishes from fajitas to stir-fry, making skirt steak an excellent choice for a fun evening meal.

Getting a quality cut should be your top priority when making a skirt. Over the past three years, I’ve been ordering my cuts from ButcherBox, a meat delivery service that sells sustainably sourced and GMO-free cuts.

The frequency and contents of the boxes are entirely up to you, so you can experiment with different types of steaks to perfect your recipes.




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