How to Cook Skirt Steak Perfectly

Skirt steak is a super-tasty, deliciously beefy cut, but there are a few tricks to doing it right. Learn them, and your skirt steak will be amazing every time!

I’ve long been a fan of rib-eyes and New York steaks, but skirt steak is fast becoming my new favorite. It has an intensely beefy flavor that’s truly delicious—it’s what I always dreamed a steak could taste like—and is amazingly inexpensive compared to those others.

Skirt steak is also incredibly quick and easy to make. But it’s also easy to make tough and dry. So here’s what you need to know to make great skirt steak every time.

Sliced skirt steak on wooden cutting board.

What Is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak comes from along the rib area of the animal, not too far from where a flank steak comes from. Like flank steak, it’s rectangular-shaped and not very thick. But skirt steak is even narrower at just 3 or 4 inches wide and thinner at just 1/2- to 1-inch thick.

Your butcher might have two types of skirt steak, the outside skirt and the inside skirt. If you have a choice, go for the outside skirt—it will be more tender.

Also like flank steak, skirt steak has a visible grain running through it. But while a flank steak’s grain runs lengthwise, a skirt steak’s runs width-wise. That comes into play when it’s time to cut the meat, so before cooking, take a sec to notice those width-wise grains—they’ll look like stripes of muscle running across the meat.

Cook It Hot And Fast

Because it’s thin and relatively lean, a skirt steak can become dry and chewy if overcooked. So your target is rare to medium-rare. And to get a nice crust on the outside before it’s past medium-rare on the inside, the best strategy is to cook at a really high temperature but only for a short time. A cast iron skillet is ideal, as is a hot grill—but both should be preheated until they’re good and hot, so the steak sizzles when it hits the heat and starts to form that crust immediately.

Another trick to getting a good crust—pat your skirt steak dry before cooking.

Over high heat, it’ll take just 2 or 3 minutes on the first side and 2 more on the second before your skirt steak is done.

Slice It Right

The other strategy for amazing skirt steak is to slice it right. That is, relatively thinly and against—or a 90° angle to—the grain. Why? Because slicing against the grain breaks the long muscle fibers that make the grain into smaller pieces, avoiding stringiness. And that makes skirt steak more enjoyable to eat.

As we established earlier, a skirt steak’s grain goes width-wise, so that means you want to slice lengthwise. But that’s a little awkward because the steak is so long and skinny. So what you do is cut the length into smaller pieces, then—either before or after cooking—turn each one 90° and slice. (Here’s a good video on slicing a skirt steak.)

That’s exactly what I did for the photo in this post, but then I rearranged the slices in a row to better show off the rareness of the meat. It’s a little misleading because it looks like I sliced width-wise even though I didn’t (sorry about that!).

Of course, before you do any slicing, you want to let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes. This helps the meat stay juicy, even after it’s cut.

Tip: This electric knife is my favorite tool for perfect, even slices.

Seasoning And Using Skirt Steak

This steak has so much flavor, I usually like it with just salt and pepper. But you could add whatever additional herbs and spices you like. Garlic powder and onion powder, for example. Or chili powder and cumin. It’s also nice with rosemary and thyme.

And while you could enjoy your sliced skirt steak as-is, perhaps with some potatoes or a salad on the side, it’s also great for tacos, burritos, and fajitas. Try it in a sandwich—a cheesesteak, for example. Or as part of a steak and eggs breakfast.

Try to avoid reheating it, though, because that can lead to the meat becoming more than medium-rare—in other words, overcooked and dry.

Skirt steak is versatile, quick, easy, inexpensive (perfect for a crowd!), and really, really good. Use these tips to cook and slice it right, and it just might become your new favorite steak too.

Enjoy!

Christine

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How to Cook Skirt Steak Perfectly


  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 servings
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Skirt steak is a super-tasty, deliciously beefy cut, but there are a few tricks to doing it right. Learn them, and your skirt steak will be amazing every time!


Ingredients

  • 1 lb. skirt steak, ideally outside skirt

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. pepper

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil


Instructions

  1. Before you do anything, notice that the grain of the meat (the stripe of the muscle fibers) runs width-wise. This will come into play when you slice it later. Now cut the steak into 2 or 3 5- to 7-inch lengths.

  2. Preheat a large skillet (large enough to hold the steak pieces without crowding) over high heat.

  3. Meanwhile, pat the steak pieces dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

  4. When the skillet is good and hot, add the oil.

  5. When the oil is good and hot, add the steak pieces and cook undisturbed until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. Turn the pieces and cook until the other side is well browned, about 2 minutes.

  7. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest about 5 minutes.

  8. Notice the grain, or the stripes in the meat, again. Thinly slice the steak pieces across the grain (at a 90° angle to the stripes) and serve (see note).

Notes

Note: My photo is a little misleading because it looks like I sliced the steak width-wise, or with the grain, even though I went against the grain exactly as I’m advising you to do. I just rearranged the slices in a row afterwards.

How to Cook Skirt Steak Perfectly

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