Finding the Differences and Choosing Your Favorite – Skirt Steak vs. Flank Steak

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If you're new to the whole cooking world and you're just discovering about the different recipes, grills, and products that are at your disposal, it is only natural to come across some terms that you're not familiar with and want to know more about them.

We've all been to countless restaurants and tasted many meals, but we rarely wonder how they're made and what they're made of unless they leave an incredible impression.

In this case, we'll go over some of the concepts and the recipes regarding the most popular beef meals made from the skirt steak and the flank steak.

We'll also include some recommendations on how to cut the meat properly and the ways you can utilize a well-prepared steak.

So, stay tuned for our detailed skirt steak vs. flank steak review!


Skirt and Flank Steak - What Are They?

Before we go into a comprehensive comparison between these two, we'll first have to establish some key information about them and explain what they are exactly.

So, let's start!

1. Skirt Steaks

skirt steak or flank steak for fajitas

One of the most common beef steaks you'll find in many Central American specialties is, in fact, a skirt steak.

They come from the upper side of the animal's abdomen, right below the ribs and right next to the flank.

In layman's terms, these steaks actually come from the diaphragm, but they are skinned, trimmed, and have no bones since the meat comes from the section between the 6th and the 12th rib on the underside of the plate.

Many people often confuse the skirt with the flank steak due to their physical similarities and the way they're prepared, but skirt steaks are actually much thicker and harder to prepare.

Skirt steaks are not known for their tenderness, as is the case with flank steaks, but they have excellent flavor, especially if they're marinated before grilling.

Since the meat is quite thick, expert chefs usually slow cook it or marinate it, or even pan-sear it to make it more tender.

2. Flank Steaks

On the other hand, we have flank steaks that are taken directly from the flank muscles in the lower abdomen.

The meat is usually heavily grained and elastic since the flank is much more exercise than the plate muscles.

Due to this, flank steaks have less fat content than skirt steaks, and they're often prepared and served rare or medium-rare.

Since it's tender, it can be prepared in numerous ways, from grilling and broiling to braising in order to increase its tenderness.

Flank steaks are served all around the world, and the chances are you've definitely eaten it if you've tried Asian cuisine since they prepare many dishes with flank beef steaks.

Step by Step Comparison: Skirt Steak vs. Flank Steak

So, now that you're aware of some of the attributes of these steaks, we'll go in-depth about some of their properties and the way they're prepared and try to find as many similarities and differences as possible.

1. Quality

skirt steak or flank steak for tacos

In terms of sheer protein and muscles, the flank steak is much more potent, considering that it comes from the more exercised part of the animal.

The skirt steak is often crisscrossed with fat contents that some people prefer, but flank steaks will usually be completely raw in meat.

However, this means that you have to be careful when you prepare the flank steak to get the most out of it.

If you're grilling it, you'll have to do it in high temperatures and relatively fast since it's tender and you don't want it to burn.

On the other hand, skirt steaks are more flexible and have increased beef flavor since it has more tough muscles than the flank ones.

This means that you'll have to spend a bit more time preparing it, which is where marination comes into play.

Of course, you can always choose to grill or sear it and make some tremendous fajitas.

Moreover, both types of steaks have highly expressed grains and fibers that go along the muscles, but the flank steaks are quite thick and pure meat, which means that you'll have to be careful when you cut it after you've prepared it.

The best way to do it is to go against the grain under a small angle while cutting small pieces.

Overall, they're both quality pieces of meat, and it depends on the type of meat you like and the way you like to prepare your meals.

2. Price

Based on our research, skirt steak is definitely the cheaper type of meat.

Even though it's thicker and has a tough structure, you'd assume that it's pricier, but people often prefer flank steaks due to their tender nature.

Therefore, you'll find that flank steaks are more often used in restaurants, especially Asian ones.

Generally, the prices for the skirt steaks vary somewhere between $8.99 and $13.99 per pound, while flank steaks go for somewhere between $10.99 and $15.99, depending on where you're looking at.

In essence, the price to quality ratio seems reasonable considering that flank steaks are more flexible in terms of dish preparation and their general reception among customers.

3. Processing

skirt steak or flank steak for grilling

In terms of processing, it's obvious that the skirt steak takes more time and effort to be made available and prepared.

Once it's separated from the animal, the top layer of fat has to be removed and then comes the preparation, which will usually take longer considering the thickness in comparison with the flank steak.

However, even though flank steaks are thinner and more tender, they have less taste on their own, which is why you'll have to experiment with recipes to get the most of it.

Naturally, Asian cuisine is known for its abundance of spices and herbs that give the meat new dimensions, so it makes sense that they focus their meals around the flank steak rather than the skirt one.

4. Fat Content

Skirt steaks have more percentages of fat content than flank steaks, which is why they're much easier to cook and work with.

For example, once you cook the flank steak, you have to be careful when you cut it so that you make thin slices that can be ripped apart by hand.

If they're too thick, they'll be hard to chew and swallow, which is a major problem.

In terms of concrete numbers, flank steaks have around 8 grams of fat at 100 grams, while most skirt steaks have around 12 grams of fat at 100 grams.

In fact, some dishes are prepared with the outer layer of fat intact since many people prefer eating their dishes greasier.

Famous Recipes You Can Try With Flank and Skirt Steaks

1. Steak Skirt Recipes

a. The Brazilian Skirt Steak

This is one of the meals that take less than ten minutes to prepare, and it's extremely delicious.

If you're having a partner or some friends come over and you're not sure what to make for dinner, this is your go-to dish.

To prepare it, you'll need at least a pound of skirt steak (or more, depending on the number of people you're having over), six cloves of garlic, some parsley, four tablespoons of butter, and seasoning; including the grounded black pepper.

Before you get started on preparing the meat, you'll first have to cut the garlic cloves and smash them with a chef's knife while also sprinkling some salt over the top.

Put that aside and move on to the meat.

The steak will need to be patted and seasoned on both sides before placing it on the standard frying pan or a 12-inch skillet.

Once the oil is shimmering hot, you'll put the steaks on and cook each side for around three minutes.

Once the steaks are medium-rare, you can take them off and leave them to rest while you move along to make the thing that makes this dish special - the garlic butter.

It'll be best if you use a smaller frying pan for this, preferably an 8-inch one.

Turn your cooker to low heat and add the butter and add the garlic when the butter's all melted.

You'll cook it all together for about four minutes while adding some salt.

When it's done, you'll smear the garlic butter over the steaks with a spoon and throw some parsley over the top.

There you go, you're a certified chef!

skirt or flank steak recipes

b. Grilled And Marinated Skirt Steak

As skirt steaks are thicker than flank steaks, it only makes sense to include a recipe for a marinated dish since you'll undoubtedly be in a situation where you'll require a recipe of this kind.

The things you'll need for this culinary extravagance are 1.5 lbs of skirt steak, olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, garlic, optional jalapeno, and lime.

First, you'll take a bowl and whisk the necessary ingredients, which are olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and lime.

Then, you'll remove a quarter of the cup for later use and then place the skirt steak inside the bowl.

You'll then take some plastic wrappings, place them over the bowl, and let the meat rest.

You can also use a ziplock, but it's much easier with a bowl.

Finally, you'll let it marinate for about 24 hours, after which you'll continue with the preparation.

When it's time to continue, you'll light up the grill, use a dry cloth to gently soak up a bit of liquid on the outskirts of the steaks if you don't like the burns, and grill each side for about three minutes.

When you see the grill marks appear, it's time to repeat the process, and when it's fully done, give it a couple of spins while grilling each side for about ten seconds, just in case.

You can also sear the meat for a couple of minutes on both sides and even broil it if you have an oven broiler.

Finally, you'll cut it against the grain and sprinkle some additional seasoning and parsley, and you're good to go!

2. Flank Steak Recipes

a. Fajitas

skirt steak flank steak difference

Of course, this segment couldn't go without some old-fashioned fajitas.

It's one of the most popular dishes that you can make with flank steaks, and everyone can do it, except it'll take some time if you want to make a good marinade.

Before you start, you'll have to purchase the following things - 1-2 lbs of flank steak, two garlic cloves, and a couple of bell peppers (preferably different colors).

As far as the marinade ingredients go, you'll need the following - lime and pineapple juice, Worcestershire sauce, one tablespoon of minced garlic, smoked paprika, and a quarter of a cup of chopped cilantro.

Naturally, you'll take all the ingredients and whisk them together in a bowl until everything's smooth.

Then, add the steaks and let them refrigerate for the next day - the more you leave it, the better the marination will be.

The following day, take out the bell peppers and the onions, chop them while the steaks are cooking.

As always, you'll fry-pan each side for a couple of minutes at high temperatures until it gets brown.

Give it a small slice just to check if it's well-done, and then let it rest for a bit.

Then, put some olive oil in a different pan and fry the peppers for a couple of minutes and then add the steaks.

Give it a couple more minutes, and then place the ingredients on some homemade tortillas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you substitute a skirt steak for a flank steak?

Since they are similar in taste and structure, you can do it, but there are some conditions. 

Firstly, you can't prepare a flank steak in the same manner that you would a skirt one.

Flank steaks are cooked at higher temperatures in less time, and you'll cut them against the grain at a 45-degree angle.

Also, take a look at the recipe for the dish you're preparing and see if the ingredients will match well with the flank steak's flavor since it is generally quite bland.

Which is better for fajitas - flank steak or skirt steak?

Fajitas can be prepared with various meat products, even chicken.

Generally, flank steaks are the best to use due to their tenderness, so if you plan on using skirt steaks, you've got to make sure to cook them right.

Which is cheaper - a flank or a skirt steak?

beef flank steak vs skirt steak

Skirt steaks are cheaper, but not by a wide margin.

Generally, both types of meat are quite affordable, even if you disregard the shop where you're buying from.

Why is a skirt steak so expensive?

Skirt steaks are used in many dishes around the world, and they are perfect examples that you can make a decent meal for a reasonable price.

However, you will have to set aside some money if you're preparing meals for more people, but the outcome will be phenomenal.

Which is more flavorful - a skirt steak or a flank steak?

Before preparation, a skirt steak exhibits more intense flavors due to its natural positioning in the animal's abdomen.

However, it depends on how you prepare a certain meal and the way you season it.

Final Thoughts - Summary

We're hoping that you now know everything about skirt steaks and flank steaks and that you're informed enough to make your first purchase.

When it comes to the winner of this article, we'll have to divide it into categories.

As far as the quality goes, they are equal, and it all depends on the person.

However, in the skirt steak vs. flank steak price challenge, the winner is obviously the skirt steak since it's more affordable and there are so many recipes that you can try out with it.

Finally, in the overall conclusion, we'd have to give an advantage to the flank steak since there are too many exotic meals you can prepare with it and be left amazed.

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