Skirt Steak vs. Flank Steak

Last Update: May 14, 2024

Steak for dinner? You might need to get a little more specific. Today we’re breaking down two of the most popular cuts—flank steak and skirt steak. They’re often used interchangeably in recipes, but there are a few key differences. Keep reading, and you’ll be ready to fire up the grill in no time.

All About Flank Steak

Flank steak comes from the bottom of the cow’s abdomen. Since it’s such a hard-working muscle, it’s lean with lots of tough fibers running through it. Flank steak is thicker than skirt steak, and a wider cut of meat, too. For ultimate tenderness, slice it thinly, against the grain.

How to Cook Flank Steak

Flank steaks absorb marinades incredibly well, and they can even help tenderize the meat. This cut makes a great choice for weeknight meals because it cooks in a flash over high heat. Whether you grill it outdoors, sear it on the stove, or prefer a stuff-and-roll approach, flank steak is ready when you are.

Ways to Use Flank Steak

  • Burrito Bowl: Turn your burrito inside out and build a bowl with your favorite fillings, including chopped flank steak.
  • Asian Salad: Swap the protein in your usual Chinese Chicken Salad with slices of flank steak instead.
  • Plain and simple: Seared with salt and pepper, serve this alongside an elegant salad and a pour of homemade shallot mustard sauce.
  • Curry: Stew flank steak and veggies in a fragrant coconut broth, curry paste, and fresh lemongrass for extra flavor.

All About Skirt Steak

Just like flank steak, skirt steak is also a lean cut with tough fibers running throughout (but it comes from the diaphragm muscles). It has extra beefy flavor that comes through best when cooked quickly to a medium-rare temperature, and should also be cut against the grain before serving.

How to Cook Skirt Steak

Skirt steak soaks up marinades just like its flank counterpart, and it’s the best way to ensure maximum flavor. But since it’s high on flavor, you can also get by with a simple dusting of salt and pepper. Use high heat for a quick sear, and pull it off the flame at a medium-rare doneness.

Ways to Use Skirt Steak

  • Fajitas: Paired with colorful peppers and red onions, skirt steak will fire up your next fiesta
  • Sandwiches: Grab your favorite bread, add a smear of garlic aioli, a handful of greens, and steak. Perfect for picnics!
  • Tacos: Try a dry rub with cumin, chili powder, and salt for a flavorful, hand-held dish.
  • Stir fry: Chop your favorite veggies and sauté them with a dash of soy sauce or coconut aminos, then add the steak until just cooked through. Serve over rice!

Recipes for Flank Steak and Skirt Steak

We thought you might be hungry! Here are a few of our favorite recipes—feel free to use flank steak and skirt steak interchangeably!

Peruvian Beef Stir Fry

A traditional Peruvian stir fry, lomo saltado is one recipe that’s big on flavor and small on cooking time. This recipe comes from Los Angeles chef Ricardo Zarate, who grew up eating lomo saltado as the ultimate comfort food.

Beef and Broccolini Stir Fry

This 30-minute meal uses a sweet and spicy garlic-ginger sauce to liven up flank steak, broccoli, and carrots. Just make a pot of rice and you’ll have a meal.

Beef and broccolini

Grain-Free Burrito Bowl

This dinner is Paleo-ready! Nix the tortilla and swap in cumin-scented cauliflower rice, then load your bowl with spice-rubbed steak, onions, and lots of avocado.


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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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