How to Cook Skirt Steak

Learn how to cook the juiciest, beefy skirt steak with this marinated skirt steak recipe!

This skirt steak recipe transforms one of the most underrated steaks into the resplendently juicy, buttery tender steak of your dreams!  Skirt steak is a beefy, thin, quick-cooking cut of steak that’s comparatively inexpensive, making it a choice cut when cooked right. This recipe is marinated in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar and seasonings to create melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, complex, savory, tangy, sweet and spicy bites of heaven.  And that’s even before the pesto butter. This marinated skirt steak recipe requires just 10 minutes of hand’s-on prep with zero clean up.  Marinate then grill – that’s it! (Stove top instructions also included.)  Serve your skirt steak with strawberry spinach salad, loaded potato salad and mixed berry cobbler for a complete feast!  

Steak is always a homerun favorite and arguably the easiest, quickest protein to cook! If you’re looking for ways to mix up your steak routine, don’t miss: Marinated Flank Steak, London Broil with Herb Butter, Grilled Sirloin Steak with Cajun Butter , NY Strip Steak with Harissa Butter or Steak and Potatoes.

HOW TO MAKE skirt steak VIDEo

how to cook skirt steak by marinating, cooking at high heat then slicing against the grain
skirt steak recipe marinated and grilled, then sliced across the grain on a cutting board
showing the how to cook skirt steak by showing the difference between outside skirt steak and inside skirt steak lying next to each other

Skirt Steak FAQS

Is skirt steak a good cut of meat?

Yes! Skirt steak boasts big, beefy flavor and soaks up marinades extremely well due to its looser structure.  Skirt steak is a tougher cut of meat due to a lot of connective tissue, so it needs to be handled correctly.  It should be marinated or tenderized with a meat mallet and cooked hot and fast on the grill, skillet or stir fried to maximize tenderness.

How should you cook skirt steak?

Skirt steak should be marinated for maximum tenderness then cooked hot and fast – either grilled, broiled or pan seared. This cut of steak can easily become tough when cooked too long either at high or low temperatures so target medium-rare.

How long does it take to cook skirt steak?

Skirt steak should be cooked at high heat, about 550 degrees.  If you are cooking thinner inside skirt steak, this should only take 2-3 minutes per side.  For thicker outside skirt steak, this should only take 4-5 minutes per side. 

How do you tenderize skirt steak? 

Skirt steak needs to be tenderized by pounding with a meat mallet or a marinade due to its extensive connective tissue. If using a meat mallet, cover the steak with plastic wrap and gently pound to tenderize.  Note, you’re not looking to flatten the steak, just to break up some of the tissues. 

marinated skirt steak sliced on a cutting board showing how juicy it is

HOW TO PURCHASE AND STORE SKIRT STEAK

  • Is skirt steak expensive?  Skirt steak is generally one of the least expensive cuts of beef. However, outside skirt steak will be significantly more expensive than inside skirt steak.  After all, it is an entirely different cut of beef!
  • How much skirt steak do I need per person? The general rule of thumb is to allow 4-8 oz. of steak per person; however, skirt steaks shrinks significantly when it’s cooked due to its loose structure.  So, I would plan on one skirt steak feeding 4 people.  If you are making fajitas out of it, with loads of sides like rice and beans, then you can probably can feed closer to 6 people with one skirt steak.
  • Where to purchase skirt steak? Contact your local butcher to locate outside skirt steak.  Otherwise, inside skirt steak is easily accessible at your grocery store in the beef section or at the butcher counter. Skirt steak sometimes comes packaged in marinade, so make sure to double check the packaging – for this skirt steak recipe, we want just the steak.
  • What to look for when buying skirt steak? First, always check for outside skirt steak and snatch it up if you can.  Next, look for choice and prime grades.  Avoid “select” grades because they will be tougher and less flavorful. Look for steak with a fair amount of fat (which you’ll remove most of) because underneath the steak will be lean but nicely marbled cut of beef.  Lastly, double check that the steak is not packaged in a marinade.  For this recipe, we are marinating the skirt steak ourselves for the best steak ever!
  • How do I store raw skirt steak? Uncooked steak should be stored in its packaging until ready to marinate or transferred to a freezer bag with all excess air squeezed out. Store in packaging for up to three days.

Skirt Steak marinade

This skirt steak marinade does all the heavy lifting!  It not only tenderizes the steak, but creates a steak so dripping with robust savory, tangy, herbaceous flavors with a kiss of sweetness, you will be obsessed!  And the best part, all you need is 10 minutes to whisk the ingredients together! 

This marinade is the same marinade as my flank steak and London broil (as requested by you on my IG poll) because it’s the best all-purpose marinade I’ve come across (fancier marinades such as Korean and honey sriracha coming soon).  It contains both lemon juice and balsamic vinegar for complex tanginess, soy sauce and Worcestershire for grounded umami, all balanced with brown sugar, and a rainbow of garlic, onion, paprika and herbs.  

Skirt Steak marinade ingredients

  • Olive oil: I prefer using a good-quality extra virgin olive oil since it’s the most flavorful.
  • Soy sauce: use reduced sodium soy sauce so you can control the amount of salt.
  • Balsamic vinegar: use quality balsamic vinegar of Modena for the best flavor.
  • Lemon juice: freshly squeezed is best, but you can use bottled.
  • Brown sugar: balances the tangy lemon juice and umami of the soy with light caramel notes.
  • Worcestershire sauce: adds a depth of complex umami, slightly tangy flavor.
  • Dijon mustardI promise it won’t make your skirt steak taste like mustard!  It adds a depth of tanginess.
  • Herbs and spices: you will need common seasonings such as paprika, pepper, dried parsley, dried oregano and dried thyme to round out the flavor profile.
showing how to make skirt steak by whisking the marinade together of soy sauce, balsamic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce together

TRim and CUT the steak

The butcher will often remove the top fatty membrane before it’s packaged, but if your steak is covered in fat, you’ll need to remove it. Underneath the top layer of fat will be a lean cut of meat with nice marbling with a few small channels of fat.  Make sure to leave these fat pockets, they will melt away during cooking, and provide succulent flavor.  

After you trim the fat from the skirt steak, cut it into portions for easier marinating and grilling.  It doesn’t matter how many portions, but I typically cut one skirt steak into three portions.  If you notice the steak starts to become thinner at one point, then that is a good place to divide the steak.  

showing how to cook skirt steak recipe by slicing the steak into three sections

tENDERIZE the SKirt steak if needed

If you have purchased inner skirt steak instead of outer skirt steak, then you’ll need to tenderize the steak with a meat mallet. This does wonders at breaking down the connective tissue, transforming it into a tender cut of beef. 

To tenderize, place the steak sections in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it evenly with a meat mallet or side of a can until it is about ¼ inch thick. This may seem extra thin, but due to the loose accordion structure of the steak, it pulls back together as it cooks instead of shrinking as much.

Marinate the SKirt steak

Even if you’re short on time, don’t skip marinating your skirt steak for at least 30 minutes. This will help soften the tough muscle fibers and infuse your steak with unbelievable flavor.

Skirt steak is a boldly flavored cut of beef, so it stands up to a bold marinade.  You can choose any style of marinade, but I’ve included my favorite in this recipe.  Simply whisk the marinade ingredients together directly in a freezer size Ziploc bag (yay for no dishes!).  To make this easier, I like to prop the plastic bag in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl to help it stand up. 

Add the steak, press out excess air and seal.   Massage the marinade into the steak with your hands through the outside of the bag.  Turn the bag over a couple times so it wraps around the steak.  Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

showing how to make skirt steak by adding steak to a freezer bag with marinade

BRING SKirt STEAK TO ROOM TEMPERATURE

Steak (or any protein) should not be cooked cold. Instead, the steak should be transferred to the counter 30-60 minutes before grilling or pan searing to help bring it to room temperature.   This helps the steak cook more evenly, otherwise you are left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior, especially because the steak should only be cooked to medium rare.

Bringing the steak to room temperature also relaxes the cold muscle fibers so they release natural moisture which is then reabsorbed into the muscle for juicier results.

Prepare the Grill if Using

If grilling, start by heating the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes.  Once the grill is fully heated, clean it thoroughly with a wire grill brush.  A clean grill ensures direct contact with the heat to create a beautiful sear and grill marks and helps prevent sticking. 

It is important to grease your grill with a high smoking point oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil.  To do this, first clean grill per directions above.  Next, make a wad of paper towels, drench them in oil, then use tongs to rub it along the grill grates. NEVER spray a firing grill with cooking spray.

COOK OVER HIGH HEAT 

Skirt steak is thin and relatively lean, so it should be cooked quickly over high heat whether on the grill or in a cast iron skillet.  Cooking over high heat will create an intensely flavored, signature crust while keeping the inside medium-rare and tender.

Inside skirt steak will cook more quickly because it is thinner, so sear for just 2-3 minutes per side.  Outside skirt steak is thicker, so sear for 4-6 minutes per side, however, the thinner, tapered end will cook closer to 2 minutes per side.  As always, use a meat thermometer so you don’t overcook your steak!

showing how to cook skirt steak by grilling the steaks over high heat on a gas grill

cook skirt steak to medium-rare

Skirt steak is a lean cut of beef so it is best not to cook above medium-rare or else it will be dry, tough and chewy.  The ONLY way to cook your steak to perfection is with a meat thermometer.  An internal thermometer should read 130-135 degrees F for medium rare. Here’s the complete steak temperature breakdown:

  • Rare steak:  120-125 degrees F
  • Medium rare:  130-135 degrees F *RECOMMENDED*
  • Medium: 140-145 degrees F
  • Medium well:  150-155 degrees F (not recommended)
  • Well done: 165 degrees F (not recommended)

NOTE: The USDA recommends steaks and roasts be cooked to 145°F and then rested for at least 3 minutes for safety.

LET THE STEAK REST 

Remove the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. While the steak cooks, the juices are forced away from the heat to the middle of the meat.  The resting time allows for the redistribution and reabsorption of the juices throughout the whole steak for optimal flavor and juiciness.  If you don’t allow for this calming period, valuable juices will seep out and be lost when you slice into the steak, resulting in less juicy steak.

showing how to make skirt steak by letting the steak rest before slicing

SLICE the SKirt steak Acorss THE GRAIN

Skirt steak absolutely must be sliced thinly across the grain (meaning the opposite direction/perpendicular to the grain) or you’ll end up with chewy bites of steak.

Skirt steak has dense muscle fibers that you can see running through the steak in one direction – this is called “the grain.”  Slicing across the grain shortens the fibers, so you’re not biting through the tough, long, stringy fibers yourself.

Skirt steak is an unusual cut of beef because the grain is running width-wise, instead of cuts like flank steak, in which it runs length-wise.  That means you can’t slice the steak like you typically would, slicing down the length of the steak. Instead, you’ll need to first cut the steak into shorter sections and then slice those sections across the grain.

For example, place the steak horizontally on the cutting board in front of you. You’ll see the muscle fibers running north to south.  Slice the steak into sections (however long you want your steak slices), then rotate those sections 90 degrees, now the grain is running west to east.  Hold your knife straight in front of you and slice the steak thinly across the muscle fibers.

showing how to make skirt steak with a diagram showing how to slice across the grain

Skirt steak is popular for grilled fajitas, steak tacoscarne asada as well as Asian stir fries such as beef and broccoli, pepper steak, Szechuan beef and Mongolian beef. It is equally delicious simply marinated and grilled like in this recipe alongside your favorite backyard barbecue favorites.

That being said, skirt steak is also a chameleon and delicious in salads, pastas, etc. Here are some fun ideas to mix up how you serve this skirt steak recipe: 

  • Skirt steak salad: pick your favorite greens and load with thinly sliced steak and your favorite veggies such as sweet grilled corn and peppers.  Throw in some buttery croutons for crunch and top with your favorite dressing such as balsamic dressing or blue cheese dressing. 
  • Skirt steak pasta:  add chopped steak to any of your favorite creamy pastas such as Fettuccine AlfredoSun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine,  Cacio e Pepe, Creamy Mushroom PastaPepper Jack Mac and Cheese or Homemade Mac and Cheese.  You can also swap it for the protein in any of your favorite pastas such as Linguine with Sun-Dried tomato Sauce, Buffalo Mac and Cheese, Beef Stroganoff.  You can also go low carb and serve skirt steak with zoodles or spaghetti squash.
  • Skirt steak risotto: stir chopped steak into any of your favorite risotto recipes:  Mushroom RisottoParmesan RisottoSpinach Risotto – yum!
  • Skirt steak grain bowls: add your favorite grains to a bowl and pile with steak and your favorite veggies. The veggies can be roasted/cooked like roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, or raw such as fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced radishes, sprouts etc. or pickled like pickled jalapenos, carrots, etc. or a combo of all three!  You can also top with a fried or soft-boiled egg.
  • Skirt steak baked potatoes: poke holes in washed, dried potatoes. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and the skin is crispy.  Slice open the potatoes, top with chopped steak and cheese then place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with sour cream, green onions, etc.
  • Skirt steak scrambled eggs or omelettes:  chop up steak then add to scrambled eggs along with mozzarella cheese when the eggs are almost set.
  • Skirt steak frittata: add chopped steak to this scrumptious frittata recipe.
  • Skirt steak wraps:  wrap sliced steak in flour tortillas or flatbread with lettuce, tomatoes and any other desired veggies/toppings along with something creamy like Greek yogurt.
  • Flank steak quesadillas: sandwich steak, cheese, black beans and cilantro in between two flour tortillas and toast in a skillet to golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with pico de gallo, salsasalsa verde, and/or guacamole.
marinated skirt steak recipe sliced on the cutting board showing how juicy and tender it is
top view of marinated skirt steak recipe being served on a plate

WANT TO TRY THIS Skirt Steak RECIPE?

PIN IT TO YOUR steak recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

skirt steak recipe marinated and grilled, then sliced across the grain on a cutting board

Marinated Skirt Steak

This skirt steak recipe transforms one of the most underrated steaks into the resplendently juicy, buttery tender steak of your dreams!  Skirt steak is a beefy, thin, quick-cooking cut of steak that’s comparatively inexpensive, making it a choice cut when cooked right. This recipe is marinated in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar and seasonings to create melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, complex, savory, tangy, sweet and spicy bites of heaven.  And that's even before the pesto butter. This marinated skirt steak recipe requires just 10 minutes of hand’s-on prep with zero clean up.  Marinate then grill – that’s it! (Stove top instructions also included.)  Serve your skirt steak with strawberry spinach salad, loaded potato salad and mixed berry cobbler for a complete feast!
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 2 hrs 16 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 6 mins

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

Steak

  • 1 ½ -2 pounds skirt steak, preferable outside skirt, see notes
  • vegetable oil for grilling or pan searing

Marinade

Pesto Butter (optional)

  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Instructions

  • Prep steak: If the skirt steak comes in a long strip, cut it into 2 or 3 smaller pieces. If using inside skirt steak, cover with plastic wrap and pound with a meat tenderizer or side of a can to tenderize.
  • Marinate: Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a freezer size Ziploc bag. Add steak, press out excess air and seal. Massage marinade into the steak with your hands through the outside of the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours.

TO GRILL:

  • Let the steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat grill to high heat, (550 degrees F with the lid closed). Clean, and grease grill grates with vegetable oil.
  • Grill steaks for 2-5 minutes per side depending on thickness, or until an internal thermometer reads 130-135 degrees F for medium-rare. The tapered end of the outside skirt will grill the most quickily. Grilling times will vary depending on thickness of your steak so please always use a meat thermometer! (This is the exact one I use.)

TO PAN SEAR:

  • Let the steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat until smoking.
  • Working in batches as needed, use tongs to carefully add the steak to the pan. Press firmly down with a spatula to ensure full contact. Grill for 2-5 minutes per side depending on thickness, or until an internal thermometer reads 130-135 degrees F for medium rare. Grilling times will vary depending on thickness of your steak so please always use a meat thermometer! (This is the exact one I use.)

To Slice:

  • Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice steaks into thin strips across the grain (perpendicular to the long strands). To do this, place the steaks horizontally in front of you (the grain is running north and south). Slice the steak into sections, then turn the sections 90 degrees, so the grain is running west to east. Hold your knife straight in front of you and slice the steak thinly across the grain.

Pesto Butter

  • Using a spatula, combine the pesto and softened butter in a bowl until combined. Serve alongside the steaks if desired.

Video

Notes

Outside vs Inside Skirt Steak:  Skirt steak can refer to two different types of beef -the outside skirt steak and the inside skirt steak. They are from two different muscles entirely, so they are two very different cuts of beef, even though they are often not distinguished between. 
The outside skirt steak is the more desirable cut of beef because it boasts more marbling, is thicker, more tender and not chewy.  Due to its superiority, outside skirt steak usually is reserved for restaurants and specialty butchers.  You likely won’t find it at your grocery store, but it is worth sourcing.  I found mine at a butcher shop in town (Tip Top Meats).  Costco sometimes carries it as well, but make sure it is not packaged in a marinade. 
You may still use inside skirt steak for this recipe, but it will be more chewy.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Storage: Transfer skirt steak to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • To Freeze Marinating Steak: Add steak to the marinade in a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air, label and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then use immediately. 
  • To Freeze Cooked Steak: After you have cooked the steak, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Microwave: Transfer sliced steak to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 20 seconds then at 10 second intervals as needed. Take care not to overcook.
  • Skillet:  Warm sliced skirt steak in a skillet on the stove with some melted butter or oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Cyndi in NC says

    I love Tip Top meats and restaurant!! It’s been 6 or so years since I’ve been there. Whenever we are in the area we eat there. Sorry but had to comment on Tip Top. But I will be making this recipe. Thanks for good memories.

    • Jen says

      That is awesome, such a small world!

5 Secrets to
30 Minute Meals

Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!

FREE EMAIL BONUS