What’s the Best Cut of Steak for Fajitas? A Complete Guide 

November 25, 2022

The original fajitas are made by the Mexicans, native Spaniards, and south Texans with a specific cut of meat known as the skirt steak. This cut of meat was kept secret during the first years when fajitas got popularized in the late ’60s. Other popular cuts of steak for fajita include the flank steak, flap steak, and hanger steak.

The main difference between all these meats is where it comes from on the animal. This is not a butchery lesson, so we won’t get into that. Also, I’m not a Texan, nor am I Mexican. But I know the varieties and science of the steaks used. So today, I’ll show you what the best cut of steak for fajitas are.  

Best Cut of Steak for Fajitas

What Are the Best Cuts of Steak for Fajitas?

What cut of meat is great for fajitas? To keep it short, here’s what I think. Note: this list is in ascending order of importance.

Flap Steak

Flap meat is also a very popular as fajita meat. In south Texas, this cut of beef is called sirloin fajitas. Some places call it a “bavette,” and some call this an “arrachera” in Mexico and some other parts of the country. It’s also called a “ranchera” in Arizona and New Mexico. It’s much tougher than other types of steak. However, you can have it tenderized with a meat mallet.

Hanger Steak

The giant hanger steak is also a popular cut of meat for fajitas. It’s not as tough as a flank or skirt steak, but it’s more expensive than a flat iron steak, for example. Also, this cut of beef can get tough with an improper cooking method. It has tough muscle fibers.

It’s also called an arrachera in south Texas. But in some parts of Mexico and some parts of this country, they actually call this a fajita

Flank Steak

This cut of beef is popular for fajita beef, particularly up north, where they don’t get a lot of skirt steaks.

Flank steak has an intense and beefy flavor which makes it great for fajitas. However, it’s a bit tough. You can make this cut of meat tender when it’s cooked in a slow cooker or crock pot.

Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is best for fajitas. However, there are different types of this steak cut. The two most popular cuts of meat, in general, are the outside skirt and the inside skirt. The latter is a long piece of meat that’s normally quite a bit tougher.

They’re almost always like shoe leather. That’s one of the downsides to this type of skirt. Outside skirts come with a membrane on the outside that you have to remove. It’s more of a tender meat that ends up a perfect fajita meat.  

Other Steaks Used for Fajitas

Some people often ask, is top-round steak good for Fajitas? Or is a sirloin good for the recipe? The sirloin tip, sirloin flap, London broil, flat iron steaks are also used. However, these are not the best for fajitas.

The sirloin flap deserves a shout because it’s quite similar to the flank steak. If you’re choosing a London broil, you’ll need to tenderize this cut of meat. You should also marinate London broil in an acidic marinade or any other good marinade. Also, the flat iron steak may be common, but it makes a delicious fajita dish. You can grill, smoke, or pan-sear flat iron steak.

Fresh Raw Flap Meat

Why Are These Used as Steak Fajitas?

If you ask the Mexicans or Texans, they’ll tell you the flank and skirt cuts of steak are inexpensive. And that is why many use them for fajitas. 

Others say they make a great recipe because they soak up marinades well. When thinly sliced across the grain, they get super tender and flavorful

What Makes Each Fajita Steaks Special?

Suppose we have the flank steak, the flap meat, the hanger steak, the skirt steak on a table, and you ask me which is the best. I’d say they all have their own unique flavor profile and different texture.

Out of all these, I’m usually impressed by the flank steak. Flap beef, what we call “sirloin fajitas,” is probably the one I cook the most often because it’s always super tender

The hanger steak, which they call “arrachera” in south Texas, is also perfect. It has an amazing, beefier flavor than the others. It’s always tender than the other two, and it’s a very good piece of beef. 

As for the inside skirt steak, I don’t cook that one often. Even though I truly believe that it has a better flavor than all of them. When you cook the steak just right, it tastes amazing. 

And then we have the outside skirt steak, which I don’t cook very often. Two reasons. Number one, it’s very hard to find skirt steak of the outside type. Most restaurant chains scoop those up before they can ever go to a store. 

Secondly, it’s very expensive. I believe it’s more costly than rib eyes. It is an amazing piece of beef though, and it tastes fantastic. 

So, Which One Do I Like the Most? 

I like them all. I’m a beef-loving San Franciscan. I really love the hanger steak, and flap meat, just because they’re more tender. They’re easy to get and they cook perfectly every time. 

If I could only buy one piece of beef, it would be the outside skirt steak because it’s always tender and delicious

Now, before you go, I’d like to show you my recipe for an original fajita made out of skirt steak. 

Authentic Mexican Style Fajita Recipe

I’ll be using skirt steak for this original fajita recipe. You’re free to use a flank, hanger, or flap steak. Now let’s get fired up. 

Ingredients

  • 2.5lbs of flank or skirt steak
  • Seasoning
  • BBQ rub 
  • 1 ball of onion
  • 3 balls of red pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato 
  • 2 flour tortillas 
Beef Fajitas with Sides

Method 

Step 1: Trim and Cut the Steaks 

The first step is to have the skirt steak trimmed up and cut. Specifically, you should cut them into about two and a half-inch thin strips, more or less. Then, trim them lengthwise. 

Cut across the grain, and it doesn’t have to be very big. They’re going to shrink a little, but remember, you want them to be bite-sized. A sharp knife and cold meat make the job much quicker and easier. 

Step 2: Cut Your Veggies 

For veggies, tomato, onion, and bell peppers: the green, the red, and the yellow. Specifically, a Roma tomato will be great if you can find one. So will some chili powder. Some don’t use tomatoes in their recipes, but I like tomatoes on my sizzling platter. 

Step 3: Turn on the Plancha Grill

Get your plancha flat top grill fired up and hot to around 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can sear your fajitas on it.

Fajitas, and pretty much all beef tend to release a lot of moisture. So you have to get the plancha hot. Otherwise, you’re not going to get that delicious sear. 

Step 4: Add a Tablespoon of Oil or Butter 

Add a little cooking oil to the plancha. Regular old vegetable oil will do. A tablespoon is enough.

Step 5: Add the Fajitas on the Grill 

Now, get those fajitas over the plancha. As you drop them over, they should make a nice sizzle. Spread them out a little bit first. If your grill has two burners, lower one side and keep the second high. 

Next, you have to season the meats with your favorite rub. Some people like to add soy sauce with the seasoning but I don’t use that.

After adding seasoning, keep the meat moving because that plancha would be very hot. And you don’t want them to stick.

Step 6: Sear the Diced Onions 

Once they start turning brown, shift the meat onto the side of the burner that you turned down high. Then throw some diced onions on the other side of the plancha that’s not so hot. I like to put the onions first, ahead of other veggies. This is because they take a little longer to get soft. Keep turning them, so they don’t get burnt. Do this for about 30 seconds or maybe a minute. 

Step 7: Mix the Seared Onion With the Fajitas 

After that, get the onions over to the side of the meat where it’s hotter. Turn them over with the meat for a few seconds and taste for seasoning.

Step 8: Add the Rest of the Veggies on the Fajitas 

By now, the meats are about done. Go ahead and add the rest of the veggies on top of the chopped meats. You should also dump your tomato slices on top. 

Next, keep mixing them up for one to two minutes, and it should be pretty much done. Turn off the heat completely when the meats are medium rare (around 135 degrees Fahrenheit) so you don’t overcook the fajitas or the grilled vegetables.

Step 9: Introduce Your Tortilla 

It’s time to get the tortilla warmed up. Gather the meat on to one side and place the tortillas on the plancha so it can warm up with a little bit of oil. 

Step 10: Fill Your Platter and Then the Tortilla With Neat 

Use that time to start filling your platter with sizzling and delicious fajitas. Once you’ve filled your wooden platter with the seared meat, add some on top of the warmed flour tortilla. You can add a half cup of salsa, pico de gallo, or any of your favorite toppings on top of the fajitas. Now your tacos steak is ready to be tasted. 

Beef Fajitas and a Bowl of Salsa

FAQs

Which is Better for Fajitas Flank or Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is better than flank steak for fajita because it’s great for searing and makes a good stir-fry recipe. It’s also the classic cut or original fajita steak.

What Meat is Traditionally Used in Fajitas?

Mexicans traditionally used skirt steak for fajitas. Flank steak was also used at some point and today but skirt steak was the original type.

Is There Another Name for Skirt Steak?

Outside of the US, skirt steak is also known as arrachera, Romanian tenderloin, Philadelphia steak, or Romanian steak.

Should I Cut Steak for Fajitas?

Yes, you should cut the steak thinly before preparation. Also, it should be sliced across the grain so as to become tender.

Conclusion 

The skirt steak is the authentic fajita steak, whether it’s inside or outside. Then, you can also use a flank steak

The good thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to cook. You can have it pan-seared or stir-fried. Buy a steak, and chop it. Keep the grill hot, then sear it, make it work, and make it wow! You’ll have an amazing recipe that you can call a “fajita.” 

Don’t forget to serve steak fajitas with a warm tortilla. The combination is a treat you’ll keep coming back for.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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