What is Beef Skirt? A Guide to This Flavorful Steak

Beef skirt is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef. It comes from the plate primal cut located on the underside of the cow’s abdomen. Skirt steak has a very beefy taste and is fairly affordable, but it does require proper cooking to maximize tenderness. Read on to learn all about beef skirt, how to cook it, and some delicious recipes.

What Part of the Cow Does Skirt Steak Come From?

There are two separate muscles that are both referred to as “skirt steak”:

  • Outside skirt – Also called the diaphragm muscle. This is attached to the 6th through 12th ribs on the underside of the short plate primal.

  • Inside skirt – Also called the transversus abdominis muscle. This lies underneath the outside skirt, also in the short plate primal.

The short plate primal is below the rib primal and above the brisket/flank. When butchered from the carcass, the two skirt steaks are long, flat muscles, around 20-24 inches in length. They are thin, usually around 3-4 inches wide when trimmed.

Since there are only two skirt steaks per side of beef, the outside skirt is more commonly found in restaurants while the inside skirt is what you’ll typically find at the grocery store.

Why is Skirt Steak so Flavorful?

There are a few reasons why skirt steak has such an intense beefy flavor:

  • It contains a good amount of fat marbled within the muscle strands which keeps it juicy and flavorsome when cooked.

  • Being a working muscle of the cow, it gets more exercised and develops flavor. Less used muscles tend to be milder.

  • The loose, open-grained structure allows it to absorb flavors from marinades very effectively.

Many chefs consider skirt steak to have even more flavor than other premium steaks like flank, hanger, or flat iron steak. It’s excellent for grilling, marinating in Tex-Mex spice rubs, or using in stir fries.

How Should You Cook Skirt Steak?

While skirt steak has big beefy flavor, it does contain a lot of tough connective tissue. So it must be cooked properly to maximize tenderness:

  • Marinate – Marinating for 30 minutes up to overnight will allow the flavors to penetrate while also slightly softening the meat.

  • Sear over high heat – Whether grilling, broiling, pan searing or cooking over coals, use very high heat to quickly brown the exterior.

  • Don’t overcook – Cook skirt steak to medium-rare at most. Any more than that and it will become tougher.

  • Slice thin against the grain – This is absolutely essential to make sure each bite of skirt steak is tender.

Salting the meat before cooking will also help enhance juiciness and flavor. Allowing the steak to rest after cooking enables the juices to redistribute evenly.

What Dishes Use Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak works wonderfully in a variety of global recipes:

  • Fajitas – The classic use for skirt steak – just marinate and slice into strips.

  • Stir fries – Quick cooking maintains tenderness.

  • Tacos – When sliced thin, skirt steak makes fabulous carne asada tacos.

  • Kebabs – Alternating with veggies allows the meat to stay tender.

  • Steak sandwiches – Sliced thin against the grain, skirt steak is perfect layered on bread or rolls.

  • Brazilian churrasco – Skirt steak is commonly grilled as one of the meats on the skewers.

  • Stew meat – Slow cooking renders out the connective tissue in stews and curries.

What Does Skirt Steak Taste Like?

Thanks to its loose texture and heavy marbling, skirt steak is one of the juiciest steaks when cooked properly. The flavor is intensely beefy, rich, and savory. It has a bit more iron-like flavor compared to tenderloin and ribeye, which tend to taste mildly beefy. When marinated, it readily absorbs those flavors as well.

Where to Buy Skirt Steak

  • Grocery store – Inside skirt steak can often be found in the refrigerated meat department. It may also be labeled as Philly steak, fajita meat, or carne asada.

  • Butcher shop – A butcher should have both inside and outside skirt steak cuts. They may also be able to custom trim and portion the steaks.

  • Latin grocery – Stores specializing in Mexican, Central and South American ingredients will carry high quality skirt steak for carne asada.

  • Asian grocery – Can sometimes carry pre-sliced skirt steak ready to stir-fry.

When shopping, look for steaks with good marbling and a reddish color. Avoid those that look gray or brown. For maximum freshness, cook skirt steak within 3-5 days of purchasing.

How Much Does Skirt Steak Cost?

Skirt steak is relatively affordable compared to premium steaks like ribeye or tenderloin. Exact pricing will vary by region but on average:

  • Inside skirt steak costs $7 – $12 per pound
  • Outside skirt steak costs $9 – $14 per pound

When trimmed and portioned into individual steaks, expect to pay a little more per pound. High quality Wagyu skirt steak can cost over $25 per pound.

How to Store Skirt Steak

  • Store fresh skirt steak tightly wrapped for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

  • For longer storage, freeze the steak for 3-4 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

  • Cooked skirt steak will keep fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freeze for 2-3 months for longer storage.

Delicious Skirt Steak Recipes

Here are some excellent recipes that showcase the big, beefy flavor of skirt steak:

  • Fajitas – Marinated grilled skirt steak, sliced and served with peppers, onions, guacamole, etc.

  • Chimichurri skirt steak – Bright parsley and garlic chimichurri sauce pairs perfectly with charred skirt steak.

  • Korean grilled skirt steak – Marinated in a sweet and savory Korean-style marinade.

  • Carne asada street tacos – Simply grilled over high heat then sliced for tacos.

  • Skirt steak salad – Sliced steak served over a fresh salad of greens, tomatoes and avocado.

  • Stuffed peppers – Filled with rice, veggies, cheese and sliced skirt steak.

  • Skirt steak stir fry – Quickly cooked with vegetables and served over rice.

  • Brazilian churrasco – Charred skirt steak sliced thin straight off the grill.

  • Skirt steak stew – Simmered until fork tender in a red wine mushroom stew.

  • Skirt steak sandwiches – Piled high on crusty baguettes for French dips or Philly cheesesteaks.

With its thin shape and intensely beefy flavor, skirt steak is a wonderful cheaper cut that’s perfect for marinating and grilling. Follow the proper cooking methods to keep it tender and it will deliver excellent flavor to many dishes.

Skirt Steak – Where it comes from and what to do with it.


What cut of meat is beef skirt?

Skirt steak comes from either of two separate muscles inside the chest and abdominal cavity, below the ribs, in the section of the cow known as the beef plate primal cut. The two muscles are the diaphragm muscle, called the outside skirt, and the transversus abdominis muscle, or inside skirt.

What is another name for beef skirt steak?

It has a well-defined grain structure with plenty of loosely packed, tough fibers. While most commonly known as skirt steaks, this cut goes by different names, including: Romanian tenderloin. Philadelphia steak.

What does beef skirt taste like?

Because there are only four skirt steaks per cow—two inside and two outside—it can be a little hard to find. What Does Skirt Steak Taste Like? Skirt steak’s abundant marbling makes it taste especially beefy with buttery richness.

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