Say hello to one of my favorite cuts of beef of all time: The Skirt Steak. Yes, even more than filet mignon (which, in fact, is my least favorite cut of steak because, though buttah-tender, I think it has the least flavor). So now that you know I’m all about the flavor, it’s no surprise that skirt steak has one of the fullest beefy flavors. It’s the cut favored in fajitas and tacos.
Skirt steak can be a tricky little devil if you don’t know the secret tricks to preparing and slicing the cut. Handle it wrong, and you’re left with the shoe leather that takes five years to chew through. But just two simple secrets turn it into tender ribbons of beef.
I bet most people know that slicing across the grain does the trick, but I’ve got another one up my sleeve.
Here is a fine piece of skirt steak. See the striations running up and down the steak? That’s the grain. Take note, we’ll get back to that later.
Okay, now turn that piece of steak over. Oh, what’s that membrane!? That’s called a great way to ruin tender steak! You don’t want that.
Luckily, it’s easy to remove. Just use your fingers to peel it away and discard. That’s your first trick.
We normally like to cook skirt steak on our outdoor grill, but if it’s cold or raining outside (like this day), you’re welcome to come indoors. One thing’s for sure, you want super high heat. You want the steak to sear on both sides like nobody’s business. The searing creates flavor, and because the steak is so thin, you’ve got to get that pan superhot. You’ve only got minutes each side.
Notice that when I flipped the steak, I put it on a new section of the frying pan, where it’s hotter. Most people, when searing, flip over the piece of meat and put it right back on the same spot. If there’s plenty of room in the pan, why not use a new, hot spot?!
Grill for a few minutes on each side until it reaches your desired temperature, and then let it rest. This is a fine time to pour yourself a drink.
Okay, remember the grain? It’s running vertically. We want to cut across the grain so that we don’t get stringy stripes of meat.
In addition to slicing across the grain, I also like to cut at an angle. See how my knife is at a pretty sharp angle? That’s what I want.
Let’s start slicing!
I like my skirt steak sliced very thinly.
Like this thin!
Yummmm skirt steak for my tacos!
Ready to try your hand at skirt steak? Lookie what I found on Tasty Kitchen!
Clockwise from top left: Spicy Orange Glazed Skirt Steak Lettuce Wraps from Bob, Steak Sandwiches from calliemakesdo, Triple Citrus Skirt Steak from Kelly @ EvilShenanigans, and Ginger Steak Salad from Ree.
Jaden Hair is a food writer, television personality, and food photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Find more of her recipes in her blog, Steamy Kitchen, where you can also read more about Jaden’s new book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, and the rave reviews it’s received!
Comments are closed for this recipe.
John B on 5.9.2010
Flank steak is from the beef hindquarter and skirt steak is from the frontquarter
Joan Kuree on 5.5.2010
It was very interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on this site soon. By the way, rather nice design that blog has, but what do you think about changing it once in a few months?
Beth Kraemer on 3.17.2010
I actually found two pieces of skirt steak; however, they didn’t have the striations as pictured. Was I supposed to cut the steak into strips prior to frying? I didn’t and it ended up in one piece being extremly chewy and the other being less chewy but too well done (medium) for my taste. Ugh!!!
Kimmie on 3.16.2010
Is skirt steak the same cut as flank steak?
WenDee Riffe on 3.14.2010
oh gosh~~i cant wait to try making skirt steak!!! i have never been good with any type of steak so i think this is one i can reach success with!!!! thank you for this post!!!!
Brenda on 3.13.2010
Skirt steak can be called fajita meat, inside skirt steak, outside skirt steak, Philadelphia steak. Outside skirt steaks have the membrane as shown in the picture and the inside skirt steaks are trimmed of fat and the membrane. The skirt steak is also called Romanian Tenderloin or Romanian Strip in NY delis and steak houses. Hanger steak (also called hanging tenderloin, butcher’s steak, and hanging tender) is a plate cut, as is the skirt steak, but it is not the same steak. Hanger steak is shaped like a tenderloin and is thicker and has less fat than a skirt steak. The hanger steak also has a different flavor because its location near the kidneys can cause it to retain a bit of their flavor. There is only one hanger steak per cow and it is often taken home by the butcher, hence the name “butcher’s steak”. In many locations, both the hanger and skirt steaks are purchased exclusively by restaurants, but if you go to a butcher shop or at least a grocery store with an on-site butcher, you might get lucky. If they don’t have any available, they most likely will let you order a few for next time.
Also, in case anyone is wondering . . . the angled cut shown in the picture is referred to as cutting on the bias. I thought I’d let you know in case you see it in a recipe and wonder what it means.
jackies on 3.13.2010
Is this also called flank steak? I haven’t seen skirt steak in Canada. Could be blind.
mamabear5 on 3.13.2010
I just bought some skirt steak!! Thank you for the tips.
Anna Maria on 3.13.2010
From the photos- Consider using a dedicated plastic cutting board instead of your wood, when working with meat. Easier to clean sterilize after placing raw meat on it. And especially since it looks like the cooked meat went back on the same board where the raw meat had been.
Lynette Cornell on 3.12.2010
I’m so glad to see you talking about a cut of meat that doesn’t get a whole lot of coverage. It makes me more willing to go out and try cooking something new.
I agree with Michael about using a cast iron pan. There is no comparison to the beautiful sear you can get with cast iron.
Liz on 3.12.2010
I have also seen some packages labled as “London Broil” steak, which looks a lot like flank steak. I cook it the same way – quickly over a hot fire.
I like my meat rare-med rare, so when I cook it for friends, I cook the meat to the stage I like, cut it and then let the others return it to the grill for a few seconds to where they think it’s done.
Nina C on 3.12.2010
First Paige on 3.12.2010
Skirt steak or flank steak is used alot in Cuban cooking (I’m from Miami). It’s the best tasting meat. Marinating overnight with a sour solution (vinegar or lime juice or sour orange if you can get it) along with lots and lots of garlic is also a fine way to cook it. I do cut it with the grain though…
shellsonvancouverisland on 3.12.2010
I actually went to the meat counter today and inquired about skirt steak …”not going to find it here” is what I was told. I was also told that flank steak, while not the exact same, would be the closest to skirt steak. I asked if Canadian cows just didn’t wear skirts, due to the cold and what not …. but I am told that is not the case. I am told that “skirt steak is part of the trim and its usually cut away and sent to Asia, where they like that sort of thing.”
Next on my research …. visiting an actual butcher shop and see what they say about skirt steak.
Michael on 3.12.2010
nice post and great cooking tips. One concern however: non-stick pans are never recommended for use over high heat because it can release fumes of cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Non-stick is great for medium heat but I always use my cast-iron for searing.
Lisa Bryant on 3.12.2010
Can I just say that in all of my years of grilling, I never quite understodd the grain thing. DO YOU know how many cuts of meat I’ve ruined. Thanks for the detailed photos. I feel stupid now.
jedibo75 on 3.12.2010
I use skirt steak to make fajitas all the time. I marinate it overnight in Italian dressing and fajita seasoning. Then grill for about 4 minutes a side. It is juicy and tastes like it was cooked in butter. Big fan!!
Diane7 on 3.11.2010
Fajita meat is the same as Flank Steak
audreyinez on 3.11.2010
Jaden, when you are pan cooking it do you use any olive oil in there or just the hunk of meat?
audreyinez on 3.11.2010
oh wow! i was just telling my mom about this cut of meat I just heard about on the food network called a skirt steak… and here it on the blog! I think its a sign. I must go eat steak.
elizabuf on 3.11.2010
@amy & @shells: in texas and louisiana i used to buy this labeled “flank” or “skirt flank.” here in australia it’s labeled “taco steak” and is pretty much all exported..
this cut is from around the cow’s lower stomach i’m told. this diagram may help:
Liesel on 3.11.2010
I love this whole post. I too love skirt steak and think the flavor kicks tail over fillet. What a great tip to cook the second side in the unused hot spot on the pan! I’m going to do that from now on. Thanks!!
Sasha on 3.11.2010
awesome! thanks for those tips.
windruffle on 3.11.2010
Oh my, thank you so much for posting this!! You have just taken ALL the fear of cooking this piece of beef from me! Bless you!
Amy S. on 3.11.2010
Nichole on 3.11.2010
thanks for sharing these tips. i have not had much luck with skirt steak in the past and i suspect this will help.
steamykitchen on 3.11.2010
@AmyS @shellsonvancouverisland- sometimes skirt steak is hard to find! Try asking for fajita meat or Philadelphia cut. Hangar steak is also similar to skirt steak, both are from the “plate” area.
@Kenny yeah! skirt steak FTW!!!
@Tya- oh I haven’t written up recipe yet – it’s a future blog post, so stay tuned!
@Carolina Girl – you must try – if cut right (and only cooked to medium rare to medium) it’s the best ever.
3 Baking Sheets on 3.11.2010
When I read instructions on how to “read” and cut against the grain, I always mess it up.
This post has made me a new, confident (and hungry) lady.
callimakesdo on 3.11.2010
I love skirt steak. It has the best, totally classic, steak flavor. I must a be a meat and potato kind of girl with a twist, because give me a good skirt steak in tacos or on a salad and I’m happy.
shellsonvancouverisland on 3.11.2010
I have the same question as Amy S. What other names would I find it under?? I am on the West Coast of Canada and have never seen anything called Skirt Steak.
Carolina Girl on 3.11.2010
I haven’t tried skirt steak yet, definitely plan to soon!
Tya on 3.11.2010
Where can I find a recipe for your first photo? [at the beginning of the post w/the title through it] That looks YUMMY!
Kenny on 3.11.2010
Skirt steak is the Best! Just the real honest to goodness beefy flavor is what does it for me. I’m with you, filet mignon doesn’t have any flavor. That’s why you see it wrapped in bacon so often. Skirt steak FTW!
Amy S. on 3.11.2010
Does skirt steak have any other names? I’ve had a hard time finding it in the west (Utah and Nevada) any suggestions for an alternate name or similiar cut?
Amy from She Wears Many Hats on 3.11.2010
Yummy, yum, yum! Totally one of my favorite cuts too. I actually prefer to cook it indoors in an iron skillet. The aroma! Oh my! What appeals to me – other than the fantastic flavor – is that, like you said, it’s so quick and easy to cook.
tish on 3.11.2010
This is a terrific post! Not only the subject of how to prepare skirts steak, but the great photos and clear directions make it easy to follow. My mouth is watering — might try it tonight!! Thanks.
Eileen on 3.11.2010
We just had skirt steak last night (fajitas) and I’m *still* thinking about it — so your pictures made me drool. Thanks!