How to Cook Skirt Steak

How to Cook Skirt Steak

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What is skirt steak, how to cook it and useful tips for preparing each type of skirt.

Outside skirt steak Argentinian style with chimichurri.

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  • Read on for relevant information, tips and links to other recipes.

What is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is a name that applies to two quite different cuts of beef – outside skirt steak and inside skirt steak. They come from the plate primal cut. There are a total of four skirt steaks per animal – two of each type per side (see diagram below).

Beef Skirt Steak Types – Inside vs Outside Skirt Steak

The two skirt cuts look similar and can easily be confused with each other. However, once you understand what to look for it becomes easier to recognize which is which.

Below we have photographed them side by side and have slightly folded on side of the outside cut in order to make it fit on the board – it is a bit longer if fully stretched.

Raw putside skirt steak next to raw inside skirt steak.

Outside skirt steak. A thin cut located on the periphery of the animal’s diaphragm. Also known as thin skirt or outer skirt. It is very tender and boasts a rich beefy taste. Longer and thinner in comparison with inside skirt:

  • it runs from two to just over four inches wide
  • its length can easily surpass two feet
  • on average about an inch to half an inch thick (thinner towards the ends)
  • it has an accordion like coarse surface, good marbling and is typically covered by a thick memberane on one side and a layer of fat on the other (both removed from the retail cut in the US)
  • average weight is twelve ounces but can easily reach twenty ounces

Inside skirt steak. A thicker cut contained partially within the plate and partially within the flank primal cuts. It is a flat, transverse abdominal muscle used to stabilize the rib cage and in result the meat is a bit tough.

  • inside skirt is wider, about five to seven inches wide
  • it contains more connective tissue and is tougher, it is a good idea to tenderize it before cooking
  • inside skirt is less flavorful and a marinade is always recommended
  • it only has a thin, minor membrane which is easy to peel; its muscle fibres are much more pronounced
  • its average weight is about seventeen ounces, bigger cuts can reach thirty ounces

Which One is Better?

Outside skirt steak is by far the superior of the two cuts – it is more flavorful and more tender than inside skirt. Consequently it commands a higher price per pound.

And as far as spectacular appearances go – when the outside cut is grilled in the style of Argentinian entraña and presented in its full length as shown below – it absolutely steals the show.

Outside skirt steak served family style with bowl of chimichurri .

Inside Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak

Because inside skirt steak sits near flank steak from the primal cut of the same name, the two are often mixed up.

Flank steak is easy to tell apart – here are the main differences between flank and inside skirt:

  • flank steak is much wider and visibly tapered on one end
  • the muscle fibers of the flank cut run lengthwise, not across
  • flank has less connective tissue which makes it a bit more tender in comparison with its counterpart
  • while flank is a flavorful cut, it lacks the robust beefy taste of inside skirt

How to Store

Frozen skirt steak can be stored for up to four months and even longer if vacuum sealed in thick plastic. Raw skirt steak should be refrigerated for up to four days, five if marinated or brushed with oil. Once cooked leftovers should be refrigerated for no longer than three days.

How to Cut Skirt Steak

  • Always cut cooked skirt steak, regardless of which type, against the grain. This shortens the muscle fibers and makes the meat more tender and much easier to chew.
    • For example, slice grilled or pan seared entraña at a forty-five degree angle to its width. Because the grain follows the width you will create more succulent pieces of steak by cutting the steak diagonally.
    • Or, an inside skirt steak that has already been marinated and cooked will be considerably less chewy when cut against the grain, again diagonally to the width.
  • Before grilling outside skirt steak cut it into sections (with the grain) where it transitions from thin to really thin. This will allow you to perfectly cook each section in accordance to its thickness.
  • If making inside skirt steak stir fry or fajitas in a skillet, cutting the meat across the grain first and then marinating allows the marinade to work its magic much better. For one, this creates much more surface area for the marinade to access. In addition the looser meat structure absorbs more flavors.

How to Cook Skirt Steak

The best way to cook skirt steak is quickly and at very high heat. To that end grilling, pan searing and broiling are the top three methods that offer the needed ‘fast and furious’ approach.

1.Grilled Skirt Steak

Grilling skirt steak is suitable for both the outside and inside cuts, but because inside skirt is tougher you should always marinate it prior to searing it over a very, very hot grill. With outside skirt marinating is not as important of a step, a touch of salt and pepper before grillig is sufficient. You can use this Grilled Outside Skirt recipe.

2. Pan-seared Skirt Steak

For best results use a cast iron skillet large enough to accomodate the cuts of skirt (it should be appropariately sectioned). The skillet should be pre-heated for a couple of minutes, a little bit of cooking oil with high burning point added and the steak should be seared no longer than 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

If pan-searing pre-cut slices, for example for stir fry, this time should be less because they will cook faster.

3. Broiled Skirt Steak

The broiler should be set to high and the steak positioned in the lower part of the oven. About 2-3 minutes per side (see Recipe Card below for detailed instructions).

Skirt Steak Marinade Recipes

Chimichurri marinade. The zesty Argentinian condiment is great for marinating in addition to being an excellent companion to grilled beef cuts. Make a full batch (use this recipe) and use about a quarter to a third cup as a marinade – simply spread it over the skirt steak, cover it and refrigerate.

Skirt steak marinade with beer. Our beer marinade for steak is great for pourous cuts such as skirt and flank.

Fajita skirt steak marinade. Use your favorite fajita marinade.

Asian stir fry marianade. Use the marinade from this recipe, it is very flavorful and works really well with pre-sliced inside skirt (against the grain, just to reiterate).

Skirt Steak Recipes You Might Like

Grilled Outside Skirt Steak (Entraña) Inside Skirt Steak Fajitas