Skirt steak is a long, thin cut of beef prized for its big, beefy flavor and affordability. It is quite lean with a lot of connective tissue and a thick grain that runs across the length of the muscle. While these attributes make it a tougher cut, it still emerges juicy and tender when marinated and not overcooked.

Skirt steak can refer to two different types of beef - the outside skirt steak and the inside skirt steak. They are from two different muscles entirely, so they are two very different cuts of beef, even though they are often not distinguished between. It is important to know the difference, however, because they do differ in tenderness:

Outside Skirt Steak

The outside skirt steak is the more desirable cut of beef because it boasts more marbling, is thicker, more tender, and not chewy. It comes from the diaphragm muscle of the steer, is thin, quite long (noticeably longer than the inside skirt), and tapered. It measures upward of 24 inches long, about three to four inches wide, and 1-inch thick. It will weigh about 1 ½-2 pounds.

Due to its superiority, outside skirt steak usually is reserved for restaurants and specialty butchers. You likely won't find it at your grocery store, but it is worth sourcing. If your outside skirt steak comes with the fatty membrane intact, you'll need to remove it before marinating and cooking.

Inside Skirt Steak

When you find skirt steak at the grocery store, it is typically the inside cut because all of the outside cuts have been snatched up by commercial kitchens! The inside skirt is tougher with thicker connective tissue fibers that make it chewy. It benefits from a good pounding with a meat mallet in order to tenderize the tough muscle fibers.

The inside skirt steak comes from the transversus abdominis muscle of the steer, below the cow's ribs. It is shorter and wider than the outside cut, about five to seven inches wide, and half as thick, about 1/4-½ inches. It will weigh about 2 pounds.

Which Cut to Use?

Always go for the outside skirt if possible because it will be more tender, less fatty, less chewy with intense beefy flavor. If you can't tell which cut you're holding at the grocery store (because they're usually folded), ask the butcher. The tell-tell sign is if it's an extra great price.

The outside skirt will always be more expensive, and in this case, you definitely get what you pay for! 

What's the Difference Between Skirt Steak and Flank Steak?

Think of skirt steak as a loosely woven version of flank steak but with more flavor! Both skirt steak and flank steak are lean cuts of beef that benefit from marinating and are often cooked hot and fast over the grill, stovetop, or stir-fried.

Skirt steak and flank steak come from two different parts of the cow, which affects their flavor and toughness. Flank steak comes from the flank primal, is noticeably thicker but has less intense beefy flavor compared to the skirt. Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm muscle of the cow which contains more tough muscle fibers; however, it boasts an intensely beefy flavor—even more flavor than the flank steak.

If you aren't sure which cut of beef you're looking at, pay attention to the direction of the grain. The grain on skirt steak runs width-wise (like short wide stripes), and the grain of flank steak runs the length of the steak (like long stripes).

In both cases, you'll want to slice across the grain to shorten the tough muscle fibers to achieve tender slices. Once you have picked your Skirt Steak, time to marinate it to take the whole experience a level higher.

Skirt Steak Marinade

This skirt steak marinade does all the heavy lifting! It not only tenderizes the steak but creates a steak so dripping with robust savory, tangy, herbaceous flavors with a kiss of sweetness, you will be obsessed! And the best part, all you need is 10 minutes to whisk the ingredients together!

This marinade is the same marinade as my flank steak and London broil (as requested by you on my IG poll) because it's the best all-purpose marinade I've come across (fancier marinades such as Korean and honey sriracha coming soon). It contains both lemon juice and balsamic vinegar for complex tanginess, soy sauce and Worcestershire for grounded umami, all balanced with brown sugar, and a rainbow of garlic, onion, paprika, and herbs.

Skirt Steak Marinade Ingredients

  • Lemon juice: Brightens up the marinade and cuts through the richness of the steak.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Adds a deep, complex tanginess.
  • Soy sauce: Infuses savory umami.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Enriches the flavor with a hint of sweetness and tanginess.
  • Brown sugar: Balances the tang with a kiss of sweetness.
  • Olive oil: Helps carry and evenly distribute the flavors.
  • Paprika: Adds mild smokiness.
  • Garlic powder: Provides savory depth.
  • Onion powder: Enhances the savory flavor.
  • Dried oregano: Adds herbaceous notes.
  • Dried basil: Adds a touch of sweet herb flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes: Infuse a hint of heat (add more or less to taste).
  • Salt: Enhances all the flavors.
  • Pepper: Elevates the entire marinade.

A beautifully marinated skirt steak being seasoned with fresh herbs and spices before cooking

Now, let's delve into some delightful marinade ideas that can elevate your skirt steak to new heights:

Classic Garlic and Herb: In a mixing bowl, combine minced garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, olive oil, lemon juice, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. This classic combination enhances the steak's natural richness with aromatic herbs and a hint of citrus.

Asian-Inspired Sensation: Transport your taste buds to the Far East with an Asian-inspired marinade. Mix soy sauce, minced ginger, minced garlic, sesame oil, and a drizzle of honey. This blend introduces a delightful fusion of salty, savory, and slightly sweet flavors.

Tex-Mex Fiesta: Create a Tex-Mex flavor explosion by combining freshly squeezed lime juice with ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, and a touch of brown sugar. This marinade adds a zesty kick to your skirt steak.

Teriyaki Elegance: Craft a teriyaki masterpiece by blending soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, and minced garlic. The result is a sweet and savory marinade that brings out the steak's natural umami notes.

Vibrant Chimichurri Delight: Elevate your skirt steak with a vibrant chimichurri sauce made from fresh parsley, cilantro, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. This Argentinian-inspired marinade bursts with freshness and herbaceous flavors.

Preparation for Marination:

Now that we've explored the science of marinades and the significance of skirt steak's visual quality, let's delve into the essential steps for preparing skirt steak before marinating. Proper preparation ensures that the marinade can work its magic effectively, resulting in a tender and flavorful steak.

Trimming and Slicing: Start by inspecting the skirt steak for any excess fat or membrane. Trim off any unwanted portions to achieve a clean and uniform cut. Skirt steak is typically long and flat, so it's a good practice to slice it into manageable pieces for marination. This allows the marinade to penetrate all surfaces of the meat evenly.

Crosshatch Scoring: To enhance the absorption of the marinade, consider creating shallow crosshatch cuts on both sides of the skirt steak. These cuts not only help the flavors to permeate but also allow for even cooking and the development of a beautiful sear.

Container Selection: Choose an appropriate container for marination, such as a glass dish or a resealable plastic bag. This selection prevents any undesirable reactions between the acidic components of the marinade and metal containers, ensuring the integrity of the meat.

With skirt steak properly prepared and marination techniques understood, let's move on to explore the exciting world of flavorful marinade recipes that will elevate your skirt steak to new heights.

How Long to Marinate Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak should be marinated for at least 30 minutes, but it can be marinated overnight for best results. The length of time depends on your schedule. The longer it marinates, the more flavorful and tender your steak will become.

If you're in a rush, 30 minutes to 2 hours of marinating will still yield delicious results. If you have the time, marinate it overnight for the most incredible flavor and tenderness. You can even freeze it in the marinade for an easy make-ahead meal.

With skirt steak properly prepared and marination techniques understood, let's move to cooking your skirt steak to perfection.


Perfecting the Cooking Methods for Marinated Skirt Steak

Now that you have your marinated skirt steak prepared and ready to go, it's crucial to choose the right cooking method to ensure it turns out perfectly juicy and bursting with flavor. Grilling skirt steak is quick and easy, making it perfect for Marinated Skirt Steak. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to grill skirt steak to perfection:


  • 1 skirt steak (about 1.5 to 2 pounds)
  • Skirt steak marinade (see above)
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill grates
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to high heat (about 450-500°F or 230-260°C). Brush the grill grates with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Remove from Marinade: Remove the skirt steak from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off.

Season: Season the steak generously with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.

Grill: Place the skirt steak on the hot grill and cook for about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on your desired level of doneness. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F (55-57°C).

Rest: Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for about 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier steak.

Slice: Slice the skirt steak against the grain into thin strips. This ensures tenderness.

Serve: Serve the grilled skirt steak with your favorite side dishes or use it in tacos, fajitas, salads, or sandwiches.

You can further elevate the experience by choosing a suitable side pairing to go along with you skirt steak. We have already tried a few and you can pick one as per your liking.

A beautifully marinated skirt steak sizzling on a hot grill, sending up aromatic smoke


What to Serve with Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments. Here are some delicious options to consider:

1. Grilled Vegetables: Serve your skirt steak with a side of grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, and zucchini. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper for a flavorful side.

2. Rice or Quinoa: Create a bed of fluffy rice or quinoa to serve alongside your skirt steak. You can also add some herbs or spices to the grains for extra flavor.

3. Fresh Salad: A light, fresh salad is a great complement to skirt steak. Consider a simple mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing or a tomato and cucumber salad with herbs.

4. Salsa and Guacamole: Elevate your skirt steak with homemade salsa and guacamole. These condiments add a burst of flavor and freshness to each bite.

5. Tortillas or Bread: Skirt steak is perfect for making tacos or sandwiches. Warm up some tortillas or bread and create your favorite wraps with the grilled steak.

6. Chimichurri Sauce: If you're looking for a zesty sauce to drizzle over your skirt steak, chimichurri is a fantastic choice. It's a flavorful blend of herbs, garlic, vinegar, and oil.

7. Roasted Potatoes: Roasted potatoes make for a hearty side dish. Season them with herbs and spices for a tasty accompaniment.

8. Corn on the Cob: Grilled or roasted corn on the cob is a classic choice to serve with skirt steak. Don't forget the butter and seasoning!

9. Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw adds a delightful contrast to the savory flavors of the steak. It's a popular side for barbecue-style meals.

10. Avocado Salad: Combine diced avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice for a refreshing avocado salad.

Pairing your skirt steak with the perfect side dish can elevate your dining experience. Whether you prefer a light and healthy option or a hearty and indulgent spread, there are plenty of choices to enhance your meal. But before we get into those delectable side dishes, let's take a moment to explore the difference between skirt steak and its Premium Counterpart Wagyu skirt steak.

Experience the Unparalleled Richness of Wagyu Skirt Steak

While skirt steak is undoubtedly a flavorful cut of beef, upgrading to Wagyu skirt steak introduces you to a realm of extraordinary marbling and unparalleled tenderness. Wagyu Skirt Steak takes the richness and tenderness to a whole new level.

Renowned for intricate marbling, with fine streaks of fat dispersed throughout the meat, offers a buttery texture and a flavor profile that's beyond compare.

If you're in the mood for the ultimate culinary indulgence, consider savoring the luxurious Wagyu skirt steak. At Plum Creek Wagyu, we offer the finest quality Wagyu Meat, directly delivered from our farm to your table. Elevate your dining experience to new heights by choosing Wagyu skirt steak and discover a world of flavor and tenderness that will leave you craving more.

The next time you're planning a steak night, consider the choice that suits your palate, and let your taste buds guide you.

January 17, 2024