Flank vs Skirt Steak: Which Is More Flavorful, Tender, and Cheaper

August 26, 2022

If I were to advise you, I'd say the flank stick has the best quality of the two. It has a thicker, wider, and heavier meat than the skirt steak. The skirt steak is just a thinner and longer cut, although with more flavor than the flank steak. The problem I have with skirt steaks are their tough muscle fibers, especially the outer skirt steak. 

At the butcher store, I've seen several instances where the skirt and flank steaks are used interchangeably. But to me, the difference is as day and night. Yet you still come across people confusing one for the other. So, are the flank and skirt steak really the same? If not, what are the differences? In this article, I'll  try to end this debate once and for all. 

Flank vs Skirt Steak

What Is Better, Flank or Skirt Steak?

The skirt steak has a better flavor and a higher fat content, which is why many people think it's an overall better steak. 

However, the flank steak has a thicker, wider, and heavier meat than the skirt steak. Also, it's a versatile cut. It's more expensive and is a top choice for restaurants. You don't see them go for skirts even when both cuts can be used to make the same steak recipes

The skirt steak is just a thinner, tougher, and longer cut, although with more flavor than the flank steak. The tough fibers are the reason I choose flank steaks for my recipes. If I have to go for skirt steaks, I often choose to cook the steak rare or medium rare. 

The flank steak is bright red in color. It has a full beefy flavor and a much wider grain. It's got a finer grain than the skirt steak. A skirt steak is darker in color. 

Regardless, when these are cooked and thinly-sliced correctly, both skirt and flank steaks are wonderful cuts of meat. Each cut to its benefits and taste. 

Raw Flank Steak With Knife

Cut

The edible part of the cow is divided into several regions. The flank region is low and towards the hind legs, below the sirloin and ribs.  

However, the skirt is nearer to the front legs, towards the chest. The area is more exercised, making the muscle fibers difficult to chew if the steak is not cooked correctly. 

Availability and cost

Skirt steak is widely available at butcher counters or in the grocery store's meat aisle. However, skirt steak is an affordable cut due to its tough fibers. 

Flank steak is more expensive due to its use by restaurants. Some butchers sell pre-marinated beef flank. These cost more, but you save the time needed to tenderize the steak. Marinated steak can be taken home and cooked immediately.

Flavor

I mentioned earlier that the skirt steak is better here. It has more flavor thanks to its higher marbling and fat content. However, it's chewy and tough, especially if you make the terrible mistake of cutting along the grain line.  

Try a lime-based marinade for your flank steak; the citrus acidity quickly softens the meat. Don't marinate your flank steak longer than 24 hours, as the meat may break down to a soft consistency.

Although a flank steak is more tender than it is flavorful, with preparation, the taste of a cut of flank steak can be enhanced. In addition, the steak is thin and shouldn't require much chewing. 

The thin flank of beef also has more surface area than larger cuts of meat. This larger surface area takes on the flavor of a marinade or meat rub, and a marinade softens the connective tissues.

Preparation

Flank steak often comes with a strip of connective tissue on one side. This strip must be removed before cooking. You can cook flank steak on the grill, griddle, or broiled. 

It should be watched closely as it cooks quickly and burns. Flank steak has a cooking time that is much shorter than other cuts.

On the other hand, you can grill, broil, or prepare your skirt steak on a skillet or use the sous vide method.  

Which Is More Expensive, Flank or Skirt Steak?

Without a doubt, the flank steak is more expensive. It's widely chosen by restaurants for the famous steak fajitas recipe and costs top dollar. A piece of flank steak costs up to $12.39 per pound, about $2 more than skirt steaks. 

So, if you have a lower budget, I'd ask you to choose skirt steaks. They're a bit less expensive. However, if you love quality and more lean meats, why not go for a flank steak?

Raw Skirt Machete Beef on a Cutting Board with Knife

What Is a Flank Steak?

Flank steaks are also called London broil steak or falda. This steak typically comes from the abdominal muscles. It is a lean, boneless cut that tastes delicious every time. 

The flank steak is often used in Mexican, Asian, and South Asian cuisine, in dishes such as carne asada tacos, fajitas, and beef curry.

It is also a somewhat tough muscle (a little bit fibrous). This is why I like marinating or cooking it over moist heat. 

When you don't overcook it on dry heat and properly prepared, flank steak is a pleasure to eat.

You can grill, roast, stir-fry, smoke your flank steak, or cook it using the sous-vide method. 

The flank steak is an excellent piece of meat that can be used for multiple purposes. It's probably one of the most commonly used steaks. 

Any kind of beef you find in a Chinese restaurant whether it's beef and broccoli, or beef and beans, I guarantee that 99% of them use a flank steak. 

The flank steak is stretchy meat cut from under the belly. It probably has a lot of elasticity because the region it's taken from supports much of the cattle's weight. That's why it has long fibers. 

Also, when slicing this cut of meat, it's essential that you cut across those fibers. Just make sure that you stick with the choice or prime. Do not go with any other quality because you'll be disappointed.

What Is Skirt Steak?

The skirt steak is also known as a diaphragm. This comes from the plate primal below the ribs across to the shoulder. I think it's one of the fattiest steak cuts

Skirt steak is divided into the outside skirt and inside skirt. The outside skirt steak is generally a tender, thicker, and tasty piece of meat. Unlike the outside skirt steak, the inside skirt is tougher and has more muscles. 

However, in general, the skirt steak has more flavor than the flank steak, but I don't feel it's as tender as the flank steak. 

Although people go crazy for the taste of the flank one, it can be used for anything.

You can never make any wrong choices with this steak. However, you have to slice it properly at an angle that you're cutting across the grain structure. 

Otherwise, your skirt steak recipes will be just a stretchy piece of meat – a very rubbery piece of meat that is very chewy. 

Skirt steak is a popular cut of meat due to its low cost and flavor possibilities.

It takes a little marinating to bring out the best. However, with some work, this inexpensive cut can become the centerpiece of any meal. 

FAQs

What's the Best Way to Cook Flank Steak?

Flank steak recipes are often done over high heat. You can stir-fry or sear-fry when preparing flank steak recipes. You can grill medium rare for 9 to 12 minutes. 

Are Skirt Steaks Cheaper?

Skirt steaks are cheaper than flank steaks as the latter is more used by top hospitality businesses. Surprisingly, skirt steaks have more fat and marbling, but also tough muscle fibers and are best cooked medium rare until 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Raw Flank Beef Meat Steak

Final Thought 

Skirt steak is known for its tough fibers and stringy muscles. Despite that, it has one of the best flavors.

Flank steaks come from the diaphragm region of the bovine and have a great beefy flavor. However, this is a more expensive cut of meat. Restaurants use it for the fajita recipe. It's also a pretty versatile cut. 

The fact that the flank steak is more expensive doesn't automatically make it the best cut. Butchers intentionally make it more expensive due to its commercialization and the higher demand by fajita chefs. 

So, if you're not making this recipe, go for the cheaper skirt steak. If you run a restaurant or want to jump on the fajita bandwagon, be ready to cough up the extra dollars!

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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