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Skirt Steak Vs Flank Steak, Which is Best? How do they Differ?

Skirt steak and flank steak often get confused, probably due to them being so little known. So we thought we’d clear up the confusion in this comparison. Read on if you want to know the differences between them, and become an expert in these two lesser-known cuts.

Mark Jenner profile picture
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Last Updated: February 15, 2024

skirt steak vs flank steak, in two photos side by side, both on a slate board with herbs and spices.

In this skirt steak vs flank steak battle, we’re going to go deep with a couple of lesser-known steaks that deliver fabulous flavor, cook easily, and offer plenty of options for serving.

We’re going to show where they come from on the cow, the differences between them and how best to use them. We shall also share tips for preparing and grilling them, nutritional info, and plenty of facts to help you choose the right cut for you.

To close it out, we’ll tell you which steak wins for flavor, ease of cooking, and more.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the line-up of steaks available consists entirely of the big names like filet mignon, T-bone and Porterhouse. But, there’s much more to the story than just those, wonderful as they are. There are more than a dozen different steaks for the adventurous griller to choose from!

Is your new favorite steak waiting to be discovered in the two we look at here? There’s only one way to find out…

Comparison Table

Here is a brief overview of the cuts, with their most important features side by side.

FactorSkirt SteakFlank Steak
DescriptionA long, flat cut known for its flavor.A lean and flavorful cut, less tender than skirt steak.
Also Known AsInside skirt steak, outside skirt steak.London broil (when marinated and broiled).
Average Size and Weight0.5 to 1 pound per piece.1.5 to 2.5 pounds per piece.
Average Servings Per Cut3-4 servings.4-5 servings.
Fat ContentHigher fat content compared to flank steak, which contributes to its flavor.Leaner with less fat.
TendernessLess tender than flank steak, but very flavorful.More tender than skirt steak if properly cooked.
FlavorRich beefy flavor, more intense than flank steak.Beefy and strong flavor, but slightly less intense than skirt steak.
TextureGrainy and fibrous.Lean and fibrous.
Location on CowLocated in the diaphragm muscles of the cow.Located below the loin in the abdominal muscles of the cow.
Preferred Cooking MethodBest when marinated and quickly grilled or broiled.Best when marinated and grilled or broiled, also suitable for stir-frying.
Best Used forTacos, fajitas, stir-fries.Stir-fries, salads, sandwiches.
Ease of CookingEasy to cook, but best when marinated to enhance tenderness and flavor.Easy to cook, versatile, benefits from tenderizing marinades.
Nutritional InformationPer 4oz (1/4 Pound): 269 calories, 16g fat, 28g protein.Per 4oz (1/4 Pound): 217 calories, 9g fat, 32g protein.
PriceGenerally cheaper than flank steak.More expensive than skirt steak.

Skirt Steak Vs Flank Steak in Further Detail

Two photos, one each of of skirt and flank, next to each ot.
Skirt on the left, flank on the right. Beautiful, huh?

Now that we know how to tell a skirt from a flank, and some of the key characteristics of each, let’s compare them head-to-head.

Is One Easier to Cook Than the Other?

Neither is especially difficult to prepare or to cook; barely any trimming is required, and you need just a few minutes over the flames.

Arguably, skirt steak is just a bit easier to cook. Because it’s so thin and even, you’ll only need about 2 minutes per side, and you’re done.

Is One Better for Grilling Than the Other?

Honestly, these are both great steaks for grilling. While the extra fat on a skirt can lead to flare-ups, you have to be very attentive with both these cuts, anyway.

Looking around the internet, there seems to be a slight preference for flank over skirt steaks among grillers, and we mean slight. Both are great options.

Difference in Tenderness

Comparing skirt and flank steak tenderness is a bit tricky. If you’re comparing inside skirt with flank steak, the winner is flank. You won’t mistake either cut for a filet mignon, mind you. Overall, the flank is a bit easier to chew.

However, if you’re able to snag an outside skirt, the playing field suddenly levels. In fact, it tips over to the skirt steak’s favor. If you see one, grab it!

Which is More Flavorful?

Both flank steak and skirt steak have a lot of beefy flavor. Skirt steaks, however, take top prize with a more robust taste than flanks, no matter if you’ve got inside or outside.

You can thank the extra fat for the flavor advantage.

Which is USUALLY Bigger?

They are entirely different shapes, so it’s a bit hard to tell which is generally larger. While skirt steaks are much longer than flank steaks, the extra thickness of the flank usually means it will weigh more.

Remember, though, you’re almost always going to serve both sliced, allowing you total control over portion sizes.

Which is Better — Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?

Skirt and flank steaks each yield similar results, and each one has its pros and cons. And, of course, each one has its supporters, proclaiming it to be the better choice for some reason.

While both are terrific cuts of meat, if we had to choose sides, we’d go with skirt. Yes, they’re less tender, but if you cook and cut them right, that won’t be an issue.

Skirt cooks faster, offers more flavor, and are usually less expensive than flank. It’s a close call, but we’re declaring skirt steak to be the winner of this showdown.

When Would I Pick One Over the Other?

As someone who enjoys both skirt and flank steak, I find each has its own time and place on my grill. For certain dishes, skirt is always my preferred choice, including fajitas, Cornish pastries, and stir-fry. It’s also the go-to for when I want bold, beefy flavor if I want to minimize add-on flavorings like sauces and marinades.

Now, if I’m making Philly cheese steak, I go with the flank steak. Also, the lighter flavor makes it the perfect vehicle for me to experiment with marinades and complex rubs. I find flank is great for its leaner profile and versatility. It’s slightly less intense in flavor compared to skirt steak but absorbs marinades beautifully, making it perfect for grilling and slicing over salads.

Honestly, I don’t play favorites with these two! I pick based on what I’m cooking and the flavor profile I’m after. I recommend giving both a try, and I reckon you’ll learn to love them both.

Let’s now look at each cut individually in more detail.

Skirt Steak Deep Dive

Inside Skirt Steak isolated on wh.
Courtesy of

When you picture a thick, juicy steak in your mind, you’re probably not picturing a skirt steak. Skirt is a long and skinny cut that’s dark in color, heavily marbled with fat and connective tissue, and with a pronounced grain.

All in all, not the most photogenic of cuts. But, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for with flavor.

Skirt is rich and beefy and is absolutely delicious. But, you have to cook it and serve it just right — all that connective tissue can make it very tough.

Odds are, you’ve eaten skirt steak already, even if you’ve never ordered it by name; it is commonly used in fajitas and Cornish pasties.

Incidentally, it gets its name from its position on the lower sides of the cow. There aren’t too many other names for skirt steak; you might see it listed as Romanian tenderloin — A highly deceptive moniker — or Arrachera if you’re in Mexico (or a Mexican restaurant).

It is often named interchangeably with flank steak. That’s just plain wrong, however, as you’ll soon learn.

“Skirt steak is a big treat when you cook it right. Sear or grill it quickly, slice it thin, and you’ll have a lean, juicy steak with plenty of flavor.” — Chef Richard Chamberlain

Where Does Skirt Steak Come From?

 Diagram showing the plate primal on a .

As mentioned above, the skirt comes from the side of the cow, specifically the plate primal.

As explained in our beef cuts guide, there are, in fact, two different skirts — inside and outside. The inside skirt is an abdominal muscle, and the outside comes from the diaphragm. They both work very hard during the cow’s life, which is why they’re tough and fibrous.

The outside skirt is usually wider, longer, and thicker than the inside, and it’s somewhat more tender.

Either cut may be as much as two feet long and anywhere from 1/4 to 1 inch thick.

How Much Meat and Fat Does Skirt Steak Contain?

No matter if you choose the inside or an outside, there’s going to be a lot of fat in your steak. So, don’t be fooled by the thin appearance of skirt; it is by no means a lean cut of meat.

That’s ok — that’s part of what makes them juicy and delicious!

Nutritional Information Per 4oz (1/4 Pound)

NutritionTotal Amount% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Total Fat16 g25
Cholesterol68 mg33
Sodium95 mg4
Protein28 g

Portion Size: How Much Skirt Steak Per Person?

Though it’s tasty, the chewiness of skirt steak makes it a treat to enjoy in smaller portions than more tender steaks. Since it’s so rich, though, you don’t need a lot, anyway.

It is often served sliced and inside a taco, as part of a stir-fry, or on top of a salad.

Being part of another dish means you could probably get away with a 4-ounce serving per guest. If the meat is your main, up it to 5 or 6 ounces.

How to Prepare Skirt Steak for Grilling or Smoking

How you prepare your skirt makes a huge difference to the ultimate edibility of your meat. Here’s how to get it grill ready.

If you’re lucky enough to find an outside skirt (they’re usually snapped up by restaurants), you’ll find a papery membrane attached. Remove and discard this unnecessary add-on. For an inside cut, you may have a bit of excess fat sticking out — trim it to keep the shape even.

Because it is tough, it will benefit from a marinade, despite being so flavorful. Let it sit in your mix for several hours to overnight for maximum impact. If you prefer, you can just go with a dry rub, including kosher salt, to tenderize the meat.

How to Cook Skirt Steak

Sliced, grille skit with chimichurri in a white rame.

The trick to grilling it perfectly is cranking up the heat. Get your grill screaming hot before the meat meets the metal.

Once you’re up to temperature, place your steak on the grill, but do not go anywhere!

Because skirt is so thin, you’ll have it cooked to medium-rare within 2 minutes per side or less, depending on the thickness. Absolutely do not cook past medium rare if you want to be able to chew through it.

Once cooked, slice it thinly, cutting against the grain. Doing so will make it much easier to eat. It’s also great for serving over sides or salads, or tucking inside pitas, fajitas, wraps, and so on.

We’ve seen recipes that call for about 45 minutes of smoking before finishing with a reverse sear.

Try it if you like, but, honestly, we doubt you’ll see enough benefit from that to the effort. You’ll risk drying it out, too. Sorry, smoke-lovers, but we recommend skirt steak for the grill only.

Where to Buy Skirt Steak Online

Porter Road

Two photos of Porter Road skirt steaks side by side, one a small skirt, the other la.

Porter Road skirt steaks are pasture-raised and devoid of antibiotics and hormones. They are sent fresh after dry-aging for at least two weeks to intensify the taste and tenderize before sale.

The smaller skirt steak weighs between 0.63 and 0.88 pounds, whereas the larger steak weighs between 0.88 and 1.33 pounds.

Check Price on Porter Road

Crowd Cow

Two photos of skirt steaks from Crowd Cow, one 'normal', and one wa.

Crowd cow sells flank steak in two varieties: regular and Wagyu, which has much more marbling and intramuscular fat.

These always sell out rapidly, so you’ll have to sign up for a waiting list to be notified when they restock.

Check Price on Crowd Cow

Flank Steak Deep Dive

Flank steak isolated on white backgro.
Courtesy of

Shifting towards the rear of the cow, we find the flank steak. That’s perhaps why in Brazil, it’s called fraldinha, or “little diaper.” More appealingly, the French call it babette, or “bib.” Other alternative names include beef flank, plank steak, and, our favorite, Jiffy Steak. It’s also a big hit in Colombia, going by the name sobrebarriga.

Being from low on the belly, the muscle from which this cut comes from gets a serious workout, for a bovine, toughening it up over the life of the cow. Despite that, it can be cooked into a delicious meal, and has terrific flavor. It often finds its way into fajitas (if there’s no skirt steak) or London Broil.

“Flank steak is what cooks and chefs love the most. A beautiful marbled meat, it’s also one of the best values for your money.” — Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Where on the Cow Does Flank Steak Come From?

 Diagram showing the flank primal on a .

Flank steak is cut from the flank primal, naturally, and it’s an abdominal muscle. You generally get the whole muscle from the butcher, and it’s thicker and wider than skirt, but not as long.

You’ll notice right away that this cut is heavily grained, not unlike the skirt. It is, however, much leaner.

How Much Meat and Fat Does Flank Steak Contain?

One look at a flank steak is all you need to see how low in fat it is. A lean cut, there may be half as much fat as there is on a skirt.

You may see some fat at the edges and very light marbling, but the rest is all meat.

Nutritional Information Per 4oz (1/4 Pound)

NutritionTotal Amount% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Total Fat9 g14
Cholesterol89 mg30
Sodium64 mg3
Protein32 g

Portion Size: How Much Flank Steak Per Person?

Flank steak is meaty but lean, so a larger portion may be in order. Consider up to 8 ounces per guest if the meat is the star of the show.

How to Prepare Flank Steak for Grilling or Smoking

Set yourself up for success by prepping your flank before you start grilling. Just follow these simple steps.

You should not need to trim anything off your flank steak since there’s very little fat already. That means you can move straight to marinating or rubbing.

The heavy grain allows this cut to take marinade nicely, adding a lot of flavor and tenderness. You could also opt for a seasoned rub, including salt, to tenderize and flavorize (if that’s a word) before grilling.

For a more hands-on approach to tenderizing, you might want to hammer your flank steak with a tenderizing mallet. Unlike the skirt, the flank is thick enough to make this is an option.

How to Cook Flank Steak

Sliced flank steak with a grilled lemon, and some herbs on a cutting bo.

Your best bet for perfectly grilled flank steak is to cook it over medium-high to high heat for just a few minutes per side. You don’t want to go past medium-rare, or you risk making it inedibly tough; it’s a fine line between delicious and disaster!

A quick smoke is an option to add a little extra flavor to your flank steak. Just be sure to take it out of the smoker when the temperature is still low enough to finish with a sear.

Like with the skirt, the length of time in the smoker is very low and may not be worth your while. We’d suggest it’s not, but that’s up to you.

Once it’s cooked and rested, be sure to slice the flank steak thinly and against the grain to create easy to chew morsels for yourself and your guests.

Where to Buy Flank Steak Online

Crowd Cow

Two photos of crowd cow flank steaks side by side, one standard and one wa.

Crowd cow stocks three different varieties of flank steak for you to choose from:

  1. Pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free — approx. weight 16 oz
  2. 100% grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free — approx. weight 1 lb
  3. Wagyu cross from the Mishima reserve — approx. weight 1.5 lb

The pasture-raised and grass-fed steaks have amazing marbling, will be flavor-packed, and full of beefy richness. Whereas the wagyu cross takes marbling to another level, is a premium product and is a good deal more costly, best saved for the occasional treat.

Check Price on Crowd Cow

Snake River Farms

Two photos of Snake River Farms flank steaks side by side, one raw, the other gilled medium-rare and sli.

Snake River Farms flank steak comes from their American Wagyu Black grade line of wagyu cross cattle, with a higher degree of intramuscular fat and marbling than USDA prime.

Each steak is trimmed to a uniform shape and weighs an average of 2 lbs.

Check Price on Snake River Farms

Final Thoughts

If skirt and flank steaks weren’t on your radar before you read this article, we’d bet they are now. There’s a lot of bang for your buck locked up in both cuts, and the cooking could not be simpler.

For anyone who wants to do more than just grill a steak and plate it, they offer ample opportunity to get creative with marinades, rubs, and serving choices.

Have we answered all your questions and given you the knowledge you need to expand your beef repertoire? If so, mission accomplished! If not, be sure and get in touch via email or the comment section below. We’ll do our level best to answer all questions. Tips and advice are also welcome — we’re all in this together.

While you’re still here, please take a second and click the link to your favorite social media platform. Stay current with what’s new at FFF and get ideas for taking your grilling and smoking to the next level.

Thanks for reading — now go get that steak!

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Mark Jenner profile picture

Written By: Mark Jenner

I'm a BBQ fanatic and have been barbecuing and grilling since 2005. I founded FoodFireFriends in 2017 and have extensively written for the site since.

I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke whatever the weather, and I currently own over 30 grills and smokers of all varieties that I frequently cook on to produce epic food.

My goal with this site is to help as many people as possible enjoy and be good at doing the same.

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  1. Which is better for Bracciole?

    My Mom always used Flank steak

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Hi Tony,

      I’m honestly not sure. In my mind it’s usually top round that’s used…have I got that wrong? Either way, I’m not really sure which would be best, sorry.

  2. Avatar for Kirk Ciorba Kirk Ciorba says:

    Very easy to follow along with all the information

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