Pan Seared Skirt Steak

Making this pan-seared skirt steak is super easy and quick. It’s a simple recipe without any marinade or anything fancy. Perfect for when you just want to sear up some skirt steak in the simplest way to enjoy with some chimichurri sauce on top.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

To prepare a flavorful skirt steak on your stovetop, you’ll need:

  • Skirt steak
  • High-smoke point oil (I recommend avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The Tools You’ll Need

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer

How to Cook Skirt Steak on a Stove

First, get all your ingredients together from the recipe. Then, follow the steps I’ve laid out for you below. Please don’t skip the extra tips I’ve thrown in; they’re super helpful.

all ingredients for pan seared skirt steak
Ingredients: Black pepper, salt, avocado oil, chimichurri sauce, and skirt steak

Step 1: Prepare the Skirt Steak

Naturally, a whole skirt steak is pretty long, so you must cut it into smaller pieces that fit in your pan. Grab some paper towels and dry the steak off well. Then, it’s time to salt it, and you’ve got a few ways to do that:

  • The best way: Salt that steak generously on both sides and let it rest on a wire rack in the fridge overnight. The next day, just take it out about half an hour before cooking.
  • The quicker way: In a bit of a rush? No problem. Salt the steak, then let it sit on a rack in the fridge for, say, 45 to 60 minutes. Before you get to the next step of the recipe, pat it down again quickly with paper towels.
  • The speedy way: Super short on time? Alright, you can skip the salting for now. Just go straight to the next step of this recipe.

After you salt the steak, it will get wet on the surface. That’s normal. But if you let it sit for an hour or so, the meat will reabsorb most of that moisture again. Keep in mind that moisture is a sear’s worst enemy. The steak needs to dry out to get that great crust. That’s why leaving your salted skirt steak in the fridge overnight works best. It dries out just right, making it perfect for a killer pan-sear the next day.

skirt steak seasoend with salt
Skirt steak, 24 hours after salting

Step 2: Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet

Heat that cast-iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the skillet warm for 2-3 minutes. Then, pour in a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and wait a minute to let it get hot. In about 3-4 minutes total, your skillet should be very hot, somewhere between 400-475°F, which is the perfect temperature for a nice sear.

While waiting for the pan to heat up, it’s the perfect time to season your steak. Give it a good sprinkle of finely ground black pepper. If you haven’t salted it yet, now’s your chance. A quick sprinkle of salt on both sides before you place the steak in the pan should be perfect.

Cast iron skillet heated to 473 degrees F.
Cast iron skillet heated to 473 degrees F.

Note: Make sure to use the right oil. Double-check the label to ensure it’s refined avocado oil. You’ll crank up the heat high when cooking skirt steak in a skillet. So, picking an oil that can handle that heat is super important. Refined avocado oil is a great choice. It’s got a high smoke point, around 500°F.

Step 3: Place the Skirt Steak in the Skillet

Place your seasoned skirt steak in a very hot cast iron skillet. Keep flipping it every 30-60 seconds for an even cook. Use a thermometer to check the inside temp if it’s your first time with skirt steak. Remove it from the skillet when it hits 15°F lower than the target temp.

Note: When checking the temperature, poke the thermometer right into the thickest part of the steak. Remember, skirt steak is pretty thin, so it usually hits that medium-rare sweet spot in just 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how thick your steak is.

pan seared skirt steak

Step 4: Let the Pan-Seared Skirt Steak Rest

The last step is a breeze. Just let your pan-seared skirt steak rest for at least 5 minutes after you remove it from the pan. Why? Well, it lets the juices spread out evenly inside the steak. That means you won’t lose all that tasty juice when slicing.

Remember, even after you take the steak off the pan, it’s still cooking a bit. The heat keeps going, and the steak’s internal temperature might increase by around 15°F within a few minutes during the resting period. For this reason, it’s advisable to remove the steak from the pan when it reaches approximately 15°F below your desired doneness. Doing so prevents overcooking, ensuring a perfectly cooked skirt steak.

skirt steak internal temperature 125 F
Skirt steak internal temperature: 125°F

After waiting for at least 5 minutes, move to slice the steak. Remember, skirt steak should always be cut thinly against the grain to maximize its tenderness. Then, you can enjoy the thinly sliced steak with, for example, chimichurri sauce – this is my favorite way to serve it.

cooked skirt steak and sliced thin
Cooked skirt steak and sliced thin
skirt steak with chimichurri sauce
Skirt steak with chimichurri sauce

FAQs

When’s the best time to remove a skirt steak from the pan?

The best moment to remove a skirt steak from the pan is when its internal temperature is about 15°F below your target final temperature. Why this specific point? Because the steak doesn’t stop cooking when it leaves the pan. Due to carryover cooking, its temperature can increase by another 15°F.

What is the best way to slice skirt steak?

The slicing skirt steak technique makes a huge difference in its tenderness. The key is slicing the skirt steak thin and always against the grain. Skirt steak is known for its pronounced, long grain, and cutting along these lines can make the meat tough, almost like chewing leather.

Below, I’ll show you the difference in the appearance of the skirt steak when it’s cut against the grain compared to along the grain.

Sliced skirt steak: Against the grain vs. along the grain
Sliced skirt steak: Against the grain vs. along the grain
Raw skirt steak with yellow lines indicating the grain direction in skirt
The grain direction in a raw skirt steak
cut skirt steak against the grain
Cut skirt steak against the grain: The yellow line indicates the grain direction, while the red line shows the cutting direction with the knife

What is the best doneness for a skirt steak?

Medium-rare doneness is your best bet for the perfect skirt steak. This temperature range is ideal as it allows the skirt steak’s fat to melt, enhancing its juiciness and tenderness.

Which is better, pan-seared or grilled skirt steak?

For me, grilled skirt steak is better than pan-seared. Grilling is not only easier but also excellent for marinated recipes. Grilling allows you to achieve a perfect crust without overcooking the inside, which is challenging to replicate in a pan. However, pan-searing is the way to go if you’re looking for speed and convenience. It’s especially good for a simple skirt steak seasoned with just salt and pepper, served with your choice of sauces.

pan seared skirt steak

Pan-Seared Skirt Steak

Adam Wojtow
This pan-seared skirt steak recipe is extremely easy and quick to prepare. It's a marinade-free recipe, ideal for those who prefer simply cooked skirt steak.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • skirt steak
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper finely ground
  • 1 tablespoon High-smoke point oil I recommend refined avocado oil

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the Skirt Steak:
    Cut into pieces that fit your pan, then dry thoroughly with paper towels and salt it using one of these methods:
    Best Way: Generously on both sides, rest overnight in the fridge on a wire rack, then let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
    Quicker Way: Salt, rest in the fridge for 45-60 minutes on a rack, then pat dry again.
    Speedy Way: If pressed for time, you can skip this step.
  • Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet:
    Heat skillet over medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of refined avocado oil and heat for another minute. In the meantime, season the steak with black pepper and salt now if you haven't already.
  • Cook the Skirt Steak:
    Place the steak in the hot skillet. Flip every 30-60 seconds for an even cook. Check the internal temperature and remove from the skillet when it's 15°F lower than your desired final temperature.
    The typical cooking time for medium-rare is 2-4 minutes, depending on steak thickness.
  • Rest the Skirt Steak:
    Allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking. Then slice thinly against the grain and serve with your favorite sauce (for example, chimichurri sauce).

Notes

  • Salting the steak the night before is highly recommended for the best sear.
  • Choose refined avocado oil due to its high smoke point.
  • Check the steak’s internal temperature in the thickest part of the skirt steak.
  • Resting is crucial for juice distribution.
  • Always slice against the grain for the best tenderness.

More Pan-Seared Steak Recipes To Try

Photo of author

Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam Wojtow is a Polish entrepreneur and writer who founded Steak Revolution in 2020 because of his passion for steaks. Adam has been cooking steaks for over 5 years, so he understands well all aspects of steak, from the types of steaks and their cooking times to choosing the best cooking technique for any steak.