Skirt steak is not particularly tender, but its intense beefy flavor makes up for its textural shortcomings.
Briefly marinated in an olive oil mixture, then quickly grilled, it's the perfect cut for meat lovers!
While I enjoy tender cuts of beef such as fillet mignon, ribeye, or New York Strip, I find that the intense beefy flavor of some of the tougher cuts is sometimes even more pleasing.
I love grilling a skirt steak because it's easy and stress-free. As long as you marinate it (just briefly), then cook it quickly over high heat, you'll be rewarded with meat that might be a bit on the chewy side, but is very, very flavorful.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this wonderfully flavorful steak. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Skirt steak: Most are 1.5 to 2 pounds. I get mine at Whole Foods.
Olive oil: Used for the marinade. Such a flavorful oil, and in combination with vinegar and spices, it adds great flavor to the meat.
Red wine vinegar: Massage the marinade well into the meat, and the vinegar will help break down the meat fibers. I also like its sharp flavor.
Hot pepper sauce: It doesn't make the meat spicy. Rather, it adds an extra layer of flavor. It contains vinegar too, so that's another tenderizing ingredient.
To season: I use kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and ground cumin. You can definitely play with other spices - see the discussion below.
A skirt steak only needs a few minutes on the grill. You definitely don't want to overcook it. 3 minutes per side should work for medium-rare (though it's worth noting that the CDC recommends cooking meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly.)
I use a dual-contact George Foreman grill. So I can make this recipe anytime, regardless of the weather. And it's ready even faster than on a regular grill.
But you can obviously use any grill you like, including an outdoor grill or a grill pan that you use on the stovetop.
Because the tough muscle fibers run along the width of this cut, and you really want to sever them when you slice the meat, you can't just slice it crosswise as you normally would.
Instead, you need to cut it into a few manageable pieces, rotate each one of those pieces 90 degrees, and then slice. This way, you'll be cutting the meat across the grain, not with the grain.
Frequently asked questions
It's a thin, elongated cut that comes from the short plate of the cow, just under the rib section and next to the flank.
They are actually very similar. Both are thin cuts with prominent muscle fibers, tough but flavorful. The main difference is that in a flank steak the fibers run lengthwise, and in skirt steak, they run along the width of the cut.
In contrast, another thin cut of steak that I make often is flat iron steak. That part comes from the shoulder of the animal. It's well-marbled, less fibrous, and more tender.
I have four tips for you:
1. Marinate it in a marinade that contains vinegar, and massage the marinade into the meat. This helps break down the tough muscle fibers.
2. Cook the steak briefly on high heat. Aim for medium-rare.
3. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting it.
4. Slice it thinly across the grain. Because the muscle fibers run along the width of the cut, you can't just slice the steak as you normally would, crosswise. Instead, you need to cut it into a few manageable pieces, rotate each one of those 90 degrees, and then slice. This way, you'll be cutting the meat across the grain, not with the grain.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But if you'd like to vary the basic recipe, the best way to do that is by using different spices.
One spice that I didn't mention here but I really like is chili powder. Sometimes all I use for the marinade is olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon of chili powder. It's REALLY good.
Recommended side dishes
Almost anything goes with this tasty steak! It's a truly versatile main dish. But since I cook it on the grill, I like to serve it with grilled vegetables, such as:
Keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to four days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. Sliced leftovers are also delicious cold in a steak salad.
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Grilled Skirt Steak with an Olive Oil Marinade
- 1 ½ lb. skirt steak
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Cut the steak in half crosswise into two parts. This will make the ultra-long steak easier to handle and help it better fit on your grill.
- In a small bowl, mix together the rub ingredients. Rub the mixture on both sides of the steak, massaging the rub well into the meat.
- Let the meat marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your grill on medium-high heat.
- Grill the steak about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare (2 minutes per side on a dual-contact grill).
- Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Make sure to slice it thinly against the grain, as shown in the video below. Cut each piece crosswise into 3 or 4 smaller pieces, then rotate each of the smaller pieces 90 degrees, and then slice it. This way you'll be cutting the tough muscle fibers, making the meat easier to chew.