What is Skirt Steak?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 4, 2022

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The skirt steak is an elongated strip of meat from the underside of the cow’s belly. It is a thin cut that has visible grain can be used interchangeably with flank steak. This cut is the most flavorful of all the cuts of beef, and even though it can be more robust because of many connective tissues, it is still the best cut for grilling.


Skirt steak is from either of the two muscles of the beef’s abdominal and chest cavity or what is called the beef plate primal cut. These two muscles can be the diaphragm muscle and are known as the outside skirt or the transversus abdominis muscle or the inside skirt.

The outside and inside skirt are almost identical because both of them are long and flat muscles. They have very thick grains that transverse the tissue. After they are trimmed, the meat can be between 20 to 24 inches in length and three or four inches in width.

Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak, What’s the difference?


Because steak is a staple for many people, connoisseurs can readily make a difference between two of the most famous steaks – flank and skirt steak. People can often get confused between the two because both of them came from almost the same part of the cow. However, there are many differences between them.

Flank refers to the part of the cow between the ribs and the hip. This part is thin and long, with many connective tissues. Although this part is not tender, it is full of flavors and juicy. To make the tough part tender, butchers cut them into thin slices and marinate it before broiling or grilling. This part is also deep red because it came from a part of the animal that is always in motion.

Skirt steak also came from the part of the cow between the abdomen and the chest. It is also cut thin and long, but it is more chewable compared to flank steak. The reason is that this part is the diaphragm muscle of the animal. It has more fat content and more flavorful, that’s why many people loved it.

Related: How to Grill Flank Steak

Sirloin tip steak is skirt steak alternative?


If the recipe calls for skirt steak and you cannot find any in your favorite butcher shop, you can substitute it with a sirloin tip cut that comes from the sirloin flap. It has a similarly big, beefy flavor that you are looking for. The meat is perfect for marinating because it has a similar loose grain as the skirt steak. It also has the chewy-but-not-tough consistency that you like.

Where to buy skirt steak?

When you are at the supermarket, look for the cuts that are labeled with “beef plate skirt steak” or just skirt steak. Just make sure to get the prime or choose grades because if the steaks are labeled ‘select,’ it can be less flavorful and tougher. A pound of skirt steak is enough to feed four people.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.