This article will discuss the differences between skirt steak and flank steak. Both cuts are long and tough, with a rich beefy flavor profile – these characteristics confuse many people. Let’s look in detail at how they’re alike and how they differ.
Skirt Steak vs. Flank Steak: Key Similarities and Differences
Both cuts come from a different area on the cow; the skirt steak comes from a short plate primal, while the flank steak comes from the flank primal. Skirt steak is thinner but has a higher fat content than leaner, thicker, and slightly chewier flank steak. Skirt steak has short but fatty muscle fibers, while flank steak has long and large fibers. In terms of flavor profile, the flank steak may have a slightly beefier taste, but skirt steak seems a bit more flavorful and juicier due to its higher fat content.
Flank and skirt steaks are cut against the grain when serving and eating. This style of cutting makes it easier to chew. Another similarity is that they are both prepared using the same methods. They can both be grilled, stir-fried, stuffed, or seared. Likewise, marinating works well for both steaks, resulting in a much tender and tastier dish.
When eating both steaks, you can consume them as a whole or cut them into long strips. Slicing them lets you make great sandwiches or fajitas and burritos.
|Skirt Steak||Flank Steak|
|Taste||Beefy flavor||The more rich beefy flavor|
|Fat content||Low to medium||Low|
|Average weight||1-3 lbs||1-2 lbs|
|Location on cow||Partially from the plate primal and flank primal||Flank primal|
|Best cooking method||Quickly over high heat||Quickly over high heat|
|Fibers||Short and fatty muscle fibers||Long and large fibers|
What Part of The Cow Did They Come From?
Skirt steak refers to two types of cuts: outside and inside. The outside skirt steak comes from the diaphragm, while the inside skirt steak comes from the transverse abdominal muscle (partially from the plate primal and flank primal sections on the cow). As the name suggests, flank steak comes from flank primal (below loin and sirloin primal).
Appearance, Size & Fat Content
Skirt steak is long flat meat with short and coarse muscle fibers with decent fattiness. Unlike a flank steak, skirt steak is thinner but has a higher fat content. Meanwhile, Flank steak is a relatively thick and lean cut with a slightly more oval shape and long muscle fibers.
They are tough and lean cuts that can be used interchangeably in recipes. This meat has a lot of hard-working muscles and tough fibers that see a lot of action as the animal twists and walks.
Skirt steak is slightly smaller than flank steak. A raw flank steak weighs between 1 and 3 pounds (usually around 2 pounds). In contrast, raw skirt steak weighs 1 to 2 pounds (usually about 1.5 pounds).
Flavor and Texture
From the looks alone, you cannot notice that skirt steak is slightly more tender than flank steak. You can only perceive this when you bite into the two types of steak. Although both cuts are tough and have a solid beefy flavor, skirt steak is superior to flank steak in juiciness and taste, resulting from the higher fat content.
The toughness may be a challenge, but that should not worry you. You can marinate your cut to make it more tender and then cook it over high heat. It is best to cook both cuts only to rare or medium rare for the best tenderness. When serving, cutting it against the grain will make it much easier to chew.
|Nutrition||Inside Skirt||Outside Skirt||Flank Steak|
|Total Fat||13 g||18.4 g||7.91|
|Protein||24.6 g||22.5 g||23.5|
|Zinc||6.76 mg||5.92 mg||4.07 mg|
|Potassium||249 mg||240 mg||277 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.393 mg||0.371 mg||0.467 mg|
|Vitamin B-12||2.6 µg||6.77 µg||1.55 µg|
Data source: USDA.
Skirt vs. Flank Steak: Cooking
Skirt steak and flank steak are best cooked quickly over high heat. They are tough cuts, so you should not cook them like standard steaks. Both cuts take marinades very well, which adds more flavor and tenderizes the meat.
Skirt steak has a higher fat content making it more forgiving than flank steak. The loose grain structure makes it take the marinade better than flank steak. Skirt steak can be cooked quickly at a high temperature but also slowly. It is best grilled and a great ingredient in other recipes (fajitas and stir fry).
There are many ways of preparing flank steak. You can grill it, cook it in a skillet on the stovetop, sear it, cut it into small slices, and stir-fry it to your desired outcome. However, the best way to prepare flank steak is to cook it quickly over high heat.
Flank steak, similar to skirt steak, takes marinades well. Marinating makes your steak less chewy and tastier. Remember to cut the cooked steak against the grain for maximum tenderness.
Skirt and flank are common cuts of beef, though people sometimes confuse them. You can produce fantastic meals when you know what characterizes them, what recipes to use, and how to prepare them. However, both steaks require much more effort than, for example, rib eye or new york strip and may be less forgiving when you cook them incorrectly. They are worth the effort, especially if you fancy a beefy flavor with a meaty chew.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Better: Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?
Flank and skirt steaks are cuts from different parts of the cow. Choosing between these two steaks is more about picking which cut suits the dish you’d like to prepare.
Flank steak has a more beefy flavor and is less tender than juicy skirt steak. If you prefer a slice of tender meat, go with the skirt steak, which has a richer and juicier flavor. But if you want an intense beef flavor, flank steak is the right choice. Many prefer skirt steak because of its higher fat content.
What is More Expensive: Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?
Note that prices are seasonal and dependent on supply, demand, and location. However, skirt steak is usually more expensive these days than flank steak. Flank and skirt steaks are relatively expensive also compared to other beef cuts. The rise in popularity of Mexican cuisine and slow cooking has contributed to the price increases of both cuts in recent years.
What is More Tender: Skirt or Flank Steak?
Generally, flank steak is a bit less tender than outside skirt steak. When it comes to the inside skirt steak, flank steak is more tender.
Which is More Flavorful: Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?
Skirt steak has a more juicy and sweet taste (due to its higher fat content) than flank steak. However, flank steak has a beefier flavor (due to the leanness of the cut). Go for the skirt steak if you need a more juicy and sweet flavor. Or, go for the flank steak if you prefer a more intense beefy flavor.
Which is Better for Fajitas: Flank or Skirt Steak?
The skirt steak was traditionally used to make fajitas and is still considered the best for this dish. However flank steak is also excellent for making this fantastic Tex-Mex dish, but the final choice depends on your preference – we recommend trying two versions to see which will taste better.
Can You Substitute Skirt Steak for Flank Steak?
Of course, skirt and flank steaks are tough with beefy solid flavor and can be used interchangeably in many recipes. However, remember to cook them properly; the two cuts are pretty different in this respect.