Skirt steak is a wonderful cut of meat that can be used in many different ways, aside from the part that it does need to be specially prepared. This has led many to consider if there is a substitute for this cut of meat that is just as tasty. Let’s see if there are great substitutes for flank skirt steak.
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What is flank skirt steak?
When you go into your meat section at the market, you’ll often find flank steak or skirt steak marked on the package of meat. This is where the name deserves to be analyzed a bit closer and define what this cut of meat is telling you. In actuality, there are two defined factors for this cut of meat. There is inside skirt steak and then there is outside skirt steak. Both of these come from an area of the cow that is located at the side of the abdomen close to the thigh.
Both of these cuts are very similar to each other and are commonly labeled as skirt steaks. Because they are both lean cuts of meat they are primarily a great source of ground beef that will have added fat ground into these mixtures. Sold alone by itself, it tends to be labeled under fancier names including fajita steak meat or Carne Asada steak. But despite the name, these cuts need to be tenderized so they don’t overcook and are hard to chew.
According to Texas brisket meat smoker Aaron Franklin, he has also advised that the problem with skirt steak goes beyond being similar to shoe leather if it becomes overcooked. He recommends tenderizing skirt steaks with a meat mallet and also using a good marinade to ensure the meat is tender to chew. This will make either of these types of flank and skirt steak easy to chew even after they are grilled or seared.
Another ‘Pro Tip’ he recommends is to cut against the grain when slicing this meat before or after it’s cooked. Using a freshly sharpened chef knife will get the best results due to the fibrous level of lean meat mass in these cuts. Because the beefy taste between these two similar cuts is nearly identical, there are similar cuts that share this flavor profile. Of course, the tenderness issues are resolved easier for those who want an alternative meat choice.
Best Flank Skirt Substitutes
1. Top round steak
This cut of meat comes from the round part of a cow’s leg and is ultra-lean. It still needs to be tenderized despite having little marbling making it nice and juicy to eat. This is a healthier alternative for those who are looking for lean meat that’s affordable. It has a beefy flavor that is nearly the same as skirt steak without the risk of getting too chewy. It will cook much better when it’s marinated to preserve the juiciness when it’s cooked, broiled, or grilled.
Pricewise, any cut of Top Round is just three-quarters the cost that you would pay for flank skirt steak. This puts a top round into the top category for the best being a cost-efficient substitute.
2. Hanger steak
Hanger steak and skirt steak share a similar history since they were often tossed off to the side for quality. Hanger steaks were also called butcher steaks because this meat was typically the cut that butchers took home as cheap meat, but- times have changed greatly. Hanger steaks are much more tender compared to skirt steak because of where hanger steak meat is located.
This makes it easier to cook and doesn’t need marinating like skirt steaks. Cost-wise, a hanger steak will be nearly the same price depending on where you buy your meat. Since there is less hanger steak that comes from a cow, expect it can be priced slightly more for this reason.
3. Tri-tip steak
Although you might need to request a tri-tip from your butcher, the cost is nearly identical to flank steak. This meat has a generous marbling but still contains long muscle fibers that can give resistance just like skirt steak does. The only taste difference is that Tri-tip has a buttery-rich meat flavor that is considered by many to be better than flank steak. The level of chewiness also gives a chewing enjoyment that you would get with skirt and flank steaks.
Overall, it’s a firm steak that makes a great substitute that doesn’t always require marinating. How it’s prepared will only depend on how often you can find this cut being sold, since it’s one of the harder cuts of meat to find.
4. Top sirloin steak
Sirloin comes from the hip of a cow making it an ideal choice for getting lean and tough meat similar to skirt steak. It’s perfect for searing and grilling and does need tenderizing to keep it from getting too tough. The flavor is nearly the same and will be hard to tell the difference when it’s cooked. Because top sirloin is found underneath tenderloin, this cut will be tender meat that does have a lot of connective tissue.
The cost difference is more affordable than skirt steak and is a healthier choice for those looking to eat leaner cuts of meat.
5. Flat iron steak
You will find the main difference between flat iron steaks and skirt steak comes from their location. The flat iron steak comes from the chuck shoulder and gives you a marbled cut of meat that is tender. Don’t let that fool you because the flavor is very beefy and doesn’t need nearly as much tenderizing as flank steak. It needs to be cooked similar to flank steak, so never overcook this past medium rare or medium for the best results.
It’s slightly more expensive than top round steak but is still cheaper than flank skirt meat. Considering it’s so tender, it’s an excellent choice for being a good substitute for the flank skirt.
6. Flap steak
Here is steak meat that is easily confused with hanger steaks, but is not the same at all. Flap steak meat is located underneath the bottom sirloin and for this reason, is very fibrous, thin, and often chewy. It’s also full of flavor which makes it a great choice for replacing skirt steak. This makes it perfect for grilling when it’s marinated beforehand. While skirt steak can have an overpowering beef flavor, flap steak has a steady beefy flavor that never goes overboard.
Flap steak meat will cost almost the same as flat iron steak meat, so this is welcome budget-minded meat to consider.
7. Ribeye steak
You might find ribeye being sold as bone-in or boneless, so it’s best to request a boneless from your butcher. If you know how to remove the bone, you might save yourself some money and have a nice bone to get beef broth from. Ribeye steak is obviously going to be juicier since this is served as a traditional whole steak. This means there is no marinating needed to get excellent results.
The price difference puts ribeye at the bottom of this list since the cost is double when compared to flank steak. But for tasty flavorful meat that’s just as beefy, it’s a good choice without so much hassle if you really enjoy the beefy flavor.
A worthy mention for those who are looking for a meaty substitute that’s not actually meat! The best substitute for skirt steak is of course the Portobello mushroom or Oyster mushroom. Because these meaty and fibrous fungus cooks up similar to flank steak, it has plenty of chew and takes on plenty of meat marinade. These are best when grilled to have a vegetarian or vegan substitute that will give a near-meat experience that is giving your jaw a real workout.
Portobello mushrooms are very cheap and don’t compare to the price of meat at all. The only question is finding a place that is selling them locally.
Here is my vegan fried chicken recipe made with oyster mushroom.
Most people would never expect that ostrich is the best non-beef substitute that tastes like rich beef and is very lean just like flank steak. It’s also red meat that is very fibrous no matter which cut you get, but there is no need to marinate your ostrich meat whatsoever. It can be grilled or broiled and doesn’t need to be cooked past medium-rare to be perfect. And though many people feel ostrich tastes similar to filet mignon, it’s incredibly beefy.
The price of ostrich meat will depend on your supplier and can be similar in price to skirt steak pricing. It’s still considered exotic meat however many local ostrich farms in your area may sell their meat at affordable pricing.
Kangaroo meat is also on this list because it’s getting a lot of attention for its health benefits. Because kangaroo is caught wild, this red meat is very lean and tends to have a deep beef flavor. It also needs to be marinated because it’s so lean. This will help purge some of the gaminess that many people dislike about kangaroo meat. It cannot be cooked past medium rare and should be prepared similar to grilling a steak.
California is the only US state that has a ban on Kangaroo meat currently, but it’s easy to find being sold online as frozen steaks. The cost difference is pricier depending on which supplier is adding on more than they should. Typically, kangaroo meat sold as steak is slightly above the cost the price of the skirt steak meat. It may not be the best of our substitutes for a flank skirt but will give you higher protein and lower fat benefits as a result.
Owner and Food blogger on The Cookware Geek. She loves cooking, baking, traveling, playing with the cats, and knitting. She believes that eating delicious meals doesn’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef in your kitchen.