Flank steak and skirt steak are both excellent tough and lean cuts and most people confuse one for the other when making a variety of steak recipes. However, these two are very distinct, and in this piece, we get to bring to the light the differences between flank vs. skirt steak;
Generally, the main difference between these two types of steaks falls in their toughness. While skirt steaks tend to be a bit tougher with a more beefy flavor, flank steak is softer and generally considered to have a less intense flavor.
Nevertheless, they can both be cooked to perfection. So when deciding which cut you will use for your next favorite steak recipe, make sure to take into consideration your personal preference.
What is a Flank Steak?
A flank steak comprises three muscles; the flatus muscle, the lumbar portion of the pelvic flexor muscle, and the iliotibial band. It’s generally a cut of meat from the belly area of beef cattle. A flank steak has an appealing tenderness and succulent flavor when properly handled. It’s great grilled or fried with just about any type of seasoning on it.
To get the best results with the flank, ensure to slice it across the grain instead of slicing it straight through the flank. This way, you’ll not only retain more marbling but also increase its overall tenderness. If sliced correctly, it should almost resemble sirloin steak.
The key here is to avoid cutting parallel slices because this could lead to dry and excessively chewy meat.
What is a Skirt Steak?
Skirt steak is sometimes called filet mignon, bottom rib steak, Chicago-style short ribs, New York strip steak, or Texas strip steak. Generally cut from the plate or chest area of cattle, skirt steak is a thin, long piece of meat known mostly for being tender and flavorful. Like other types of steak, it can be served rare, medium rare, medium, well done, etc., depending on how you like to cook it.
Skirt steak is mostly used in preparing dishes such as fajitas, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, stir-fries, meatloaf, chili, soups, stews, salads, breakfast items, pasta dishes, burritos, tacos, pizza.
To prepare and serve a skirt steak at its finest, keep in mind how important it is to handle it right since it gets dry very quickly.
And most importantly, remember to remove the tough membrane before cooking. You may find out that it turns into leathery chewiness by leaving it intact.
Differentiating Flank steak from Skirt Steak
Now that you know what these two cuts are, the question still lingers: How do I tell them apart? Well, here are some easy steps to help you differentiate these two different cuts.
Step 1: Where are they cut from?
The flank steak is taken from the lower part of the front of the cow’s body, while the skirt steak comes from the upper part of the back of the cow’s torso. Usually, you can tell when looking at the sides of the animal where each one belongs.
Although the two look pretty similar, each has a unique texture and taste, so keep them separate if possible when cooking.
Step 2: Flavor and texture
In general, flank steak is much leaner, darker colored, and fattier than skirt steak. It tends to have a strong aroma over the top of the meat, whereas skirt steak tends to be softer, sweeter, and lighter in color.
Therefore, flank steak pairs better with bold flavors like garlic, cumin, chilies, lime, tomato, lemon, and herbs. On the other hand, skirt steak pairs nicely with sweet aromas like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, maple syrup, and butter.
Step 3: Shape
Since the two steaks are pretty similar, their shape is another notable difference. While both steaks are long and skinny, flank steaks tend to be thicker and oval-like, while skirt steaks are usually thinner and triangular-like.
Flank steak vs. Skirt steak, which is better?
While both flank and skirt steaks are great cuts of beef, they’re pretty different from each other. In terms of flavor, skirt steak tends to be sweeter and brighter tasting than flank steak due to all the fat content.
However, the latter is also a bit less fatty, fattier, tender, and with a more beefy flavor. Also, the latter is generally considered more delicate and easier to eat.
Nevertheless, none is considered better than the other. The choice wholly depends on your personal preferences of flavor and tenderness.
Which is the best for fajitas, flank, or skirt steaks?
As we said earlier, fajita refers to having cooked meat cut into strips and then wrapped up with onions and peppers or any other vegetables or ingredients of your preference.
Usually, people use flank steak because it’s a really good choice for this dish. However, flank steaks lack the ability to absorb marinades, making it harder to bring out the best flavor.
On the contrary, skirt steaks hold onto marinade better than flank ones but are left out because of their tougher nature.
Which is more expensive?
Although they might seem similar, flank and skirt steaks differ in price and more. So whether you want to splurge on them or not really depends on how much money you have available.
Generally, though both cuts are of good quality, skirt steaks are cheaper than flanks since flanks are mostly used by restaurants in preparing fajitas.
However, flank steaks tend to be cheaper compared to other steak types, probably because they are overlooked due to their thin appearance.
Despite being similar, these two very popular and versatile beef cuts don’t exactly share the same characteristics. Whether you prefer your food mild or spicy, rich and creamy, or savory and tangy, the choice of steak you want wholly depends on your preference. And with our guide on the differences between flank vs. skirt steak, we hope you make a choice that you desire.
Here are some highly recommended and delicious steaks!
Grass-Fed Beef Flank Steaks – 2 Pieces, 2.25 Lbs Ea
Skirt Steak | Approx. 7.5 lbs. | 5 Steaks