Difference Between Skirt Steak And Flank Steak

Did you know that there are different types of steak? Among them include skirt steak and flank steak. However, if you simply take a quick look at these two types of steak, you may not be able to know their difference. To untrained eyes, steaks may all look the same.

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Thankfully, in this post, we will settle once and for all the skirt steak vs flank steak debate. Let’s discover how these steaks differ and which one you should choose depending on your needs and preference.

Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak

Anatomy

The cow is perhaps the largest land animal that humans commonly consume as food. Thus, it is not surprising to see that it has a lot of different body parts meant for various recipes.

For the purpose of our discussion, let us talk about the skirt steak and flank steak.


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Skirt steak is the meat part of a cow that is cut from the diaphragm area. It is found on the underside of a cow and located near the lungs and forelegs.

On the other hand, the flank steak is located near the hind legs of a cow. It is, too, found on its underside.

While the locations of skirt steak and flank steak are different, they are somewhat similar in terms of their biological structure. These steaks are made of more tough muscle fibers that support the internal organs of the cow. Thus, both skirt and flank steaks don’t have much fat and are considered lean cow’s meat.

Size and weight

Because skirt and flank steaks are both found on the underside of a cow, their difference in appearance may not be too evident. Nevertheless, if you look closer, you will see that skirt steak is broader and thinner than the flank steak.

When it comes to weight, flank steak is considered to be heavier. The reason is that flank steak is slightly meatier than skirt steak. On average, skirt steak may weigh about 1.25-1.5 lbs (0.57-0.68 kgs). Flank steak may reach up to 2 lbs (0.91 kg) in weight.

Meat content

Flank steak is considered to be meatier. Skirt steak, though meaty, comes with more fat. That’s why when you cook skirt steak, it shrinks a little bit since the fat content is dissolved in the process. This is different from flank steak where you get almost the same amount of meat after cooking.

Fat content

Flank and skirt steak are lean meat. Thus, it has low-fat content. However, skirt steak comes with greater fat content.

Pattern

Flank steak has an even distribution of muscle lines and fat. The muscle of flank steak tends to slightly run diagonally. On the other hand, flank steak has straighter and more vertical lines of tough fibers of muscles, from the top to the bottom of the cut.

Toughness

Flank and skirt steaks are lean meat because these muscles are often used by the cow. Take for example the skirt steaks. It is used for breathing. Moreover, the flank muscles are used to support the internal organ of the cow.

With this in mind, both flank and skirt steaks can be a slice of tough meat to eat. You would need to chew them a few times to really digest them.

Taste

Generally speaking, most people would say that skirt steak tastes better than flank steaks. The difference is not too significant, though. Both steaks boast distinctive and nice beefy flavors.

Of course, most people won’t really feel the difference in taste for these two types of steaks. One reason is that these steaks are often served with seasonings and other dishes.

Cooking

There are advantages and disadvantages when you cook flank steak and skirt steak.

Let’s start with their taste. Because skirt steak is fatter than flank steaks, the former is considered to be tastier. The reason is when you cook skirt steak, its fat content is dissolved, adding flavor to the meat.

This is the reason that you might want to stir fry first flank steaks using butter. The additional fat would give your flank steaks more flavor and taste.

Additionally, please note that both skirt and flank steaks are considered lean meat. So, they are tougher to break down. With this in mind, you would need a longer time to cook these meats. However, when it comes to cooking time, skirt steaks are quicker to cook. It’s worth noting though that the difference in cooking time isn’t too big. There are just about 2-3 minutes of difference.

To improve the consistency and tenderness of these meats, try to marinade or slow cook them.

When to choose skirt steak or flank steak?

Most people would agree that skirt steak is a better choice when you prepare Cornish pasties, fajitas, and stir-fried foods. Because skirt steak comes with a bold, beefy flavor, it is an ideal option if you don’t have many add-on flavorings such as marinades or sauces.

On the other hand, flank steak is known to be the better choice when you’re making Philly cheesesteak. Because flank steak comes with a lighter flavor, you should pick this type of meat if you want to use complex rubs and marinades.

Best kitchen tools to use when cooking steaks

While choosing the right steak for your next recipe plays a vital role in the success of your cooking, you should also not underestimate the need for the right tools. It’s not enough to simply know who is the winner in the skirt steak vs flank steak contest.

That’s why we have also gathered some of the best kitchen tools you should use whether you’re cooking skirt steak or flank steak.

Jaccard meat tenderizer

When you think of meat tenderizer, you probably think of the good old hammer that you pound the meat with to make it softer. 

The meat tenderizer of Jaccard is quite unique. It comes with 48 retractable blades that will pierce through the meat’s muscle strands. This tenderizing action comes with a lot of benefits.

One, Jaccard’s meat tenderizer makes your meat easier to chew and eat. Two, it allows seasonings and flavorings to better penetrate your meat. So, your meat will taste good inside out. Three, the meat tenderizer shortens your cooking time. Thereby, it saves you not just time but also energy and money.

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Meat tenderizer mallet tool by Cave Tools

Now, here’s the traditional meat tenderizer mallet that we are all familiar with. This mallet comes with a professional design. With a non-slip silicone handle for pounding, it allows you to safely and effectively soften your skirt or flank steaks.

Cave Tool’s mallet is made with stainless steel. It is also dishwasher safe. Each purchase of their products comes with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee.

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Grapeseed oil

There are a lot of reasons why grapeseed oil is the best option if you’re cooking skirt steaks and flank steaks. Grapeseed oil is tasteless. This means it’s a neutral oil that doesn’t affect your meat’s flavor. You then get more freedom to customize how your meat should taste.

Another important property of grapeseed oil is its high smoke point of 420° F. this means that you can create more delicious crusts on your meat without actually searing it off completely.

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Honing steel

Everyone knows the importance of keeping your kitchen knives sharp. If you don’t have sharp knives, you’ll have great difficulty cutting meat. Dull knives will not only make your work difficult, but they will make your steak look bad. You need the right knives if you want to cut through your meat and not actually tear them apart.

So, as a way to improve your knife’s blade, you need the right honing steel. Honing steel allows you to keep your blade’s edge beautiful, shiny, and sharp.

There are two types of honing steel: ceramic honing steel and diamond honing steel. The ceramic honing steel comes with ridges that sharpen your knife. On the other hand, the diamond honing steel looks smooth on the outside, but actually, it comes with tiny and gritty diamond particles on its rod to sharpen your knife.

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Cast iron skillet

Cast iron pan or skillet is the best type of cookware you can use to cook meat. It is super heat resistant and can withstand long use. Since it is made with cast iron, it can handle the heat from the oven, stovetop, campfire, and grill. Another great thing about cast iron is that it can evenly distribute heat to your steak.

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Meat thermometer

When precision is vital in your cooking, then you need a meat thermometer. For some experienced chefs, they may already have the skills to know how much heat and how long they need to wait for their meat to cook. However, for most of us, a meat thermometer will give us a better way to measure results. It allows us to achieve that well-done or medium rare finish.

A meat thermometer should be able to tell you both the temperature of inside skirt or outside skirt steak. It makes your cooking time more predictable. There are even some meat thermometers that come with an alarm, which will alert once a certain temperature is achieved.

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Butcher block

When cutting, chopping, and tenderizing your meat, you want a reliable and sturdy space. That’s where a butcher block comes in. 

A heavy and reliable butcher block should be able to help you in preparing your meat. Generally speaking, a wooden block is better than the ones made in plastic. The reason is that wooden butcher blocks are friendlier to your knife.

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Skirt steak recipes

Here are some inspirations for you to start cooking skirt steak:

  • Beer-marinated grilled skirt steak – as a steak recipe, it might sound weird, but yes, beer and steak can come together. All you need is to marinate your skirt steak with beer and you should get a beer-flavored steak.
  • Argentinian skirt steaks – Argentina is home to some of the most delicious grilling recipes. This recipe includes a blend of jalapeño peppers, garlic, and herbs.
  • Thai grilled skirt steak – this one is going to be a great steak as you add Thai-inspired staples such as peanuts, cilantro, black pepper, and brown sugar.

Flank steak recipes

Thinking of how you can cook and prepare flank steak? Here are some ideas:

  • Asian grilled flank steak – you can add a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil to this grilled flank steak. It’s inspired by Eastern cooking. So, it’s a great way to start exploring international cuisine.
  • Coffee-grilled flank steak – this is kind of unique. With the blend of brewed and ground dark coffee, you get to bring out a powerful umami flavor to your flank steak.
  • Rosemary flank steak – while it is true that rosemary is best used for pork and poultry, it can also be used for steak. Rosemary’s slightly bitter and aromatic taste instantly improves your flank steak’s flavor.

Skirt steak vs flank steak: Which one should you choose?

Now that you have a better idea of the difference between skirt steaks and flank steaks, you should be able to identify them. Keep practicing and you should be more familiar with their differences.

Moreover, don’t be shy to ask. When shopping for steak, ask the butcher or meat seller. They are more than happy to explain to you the different types of steaks.

Depending on your recipe, needs, and preference, you should be able to find the right steak for you by applying the tips and information mentioned in this blog.

ProductBrandNamePrice
Cave ToolsMeat Tenderizer Mallet ToolCheck Price on Amazon
Baja PreciousBaja Precious - Grapeseed Oil, 1 GallonCheck Price on Amazon
Virginia Boys KitchensVirginia Boys Kitchens - Made in USACheck Price on Amazon
cuisinelPre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 2-Piece Set (10-Inch and 12-Inch) Oven Safe CookwareCheck Price on Amazon
KIZENKizen Digital Meat Thermometers for CookingCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.