When trying to decide what meat cut to use for your favourite steak recipe, the most popular options are usually flan steak vs skirt steak. So, let me help you decide which one is best depending on your preference and the type of dishes you are planning to make.
Skirt steak is cut from the plate, which runs along the side of the cow directly underneath the rib. Skirt steaks are long and thin like flank steak, but they tend to be more tender and flavorful than flank because it comes from a lower grade part of the cow. It has a very pronounced grain (the line running through the meat) as flank steak does.
Flank Steak, although it can be cut from several different places on the cow when in doubt, you’ll usually find the flank steak in the cow’s belly right under the loin. Because it is relatively flat and lies between two large muscles, you end up with a long and wide steak with an elongated oval shape. When cut, it usually doesn’t have the pronounced striped look of skirt steak because any muscle tissue does not separate it. It can be tough if not cooked properly, but it can be very delicious when appropriately tenderized (by marinating) or sliced thinly against the grain after cooking.
Skirt steak is an oblong and flat cut of beef that runs diagonally along the cow’s stomach. It is lean, has a high degree of marbling (intramuscular fat), and has more flavor than other cuts because more blood circulation through it lies close to the heart. According to most chefs, the fat content can vary from butcher to butcher, but 20% or less is considered good quality. Because it does not have much connective tissue, skirt steak needs moist cooking methods such as braising and comes from one of the least tender areas on the animal. In addition, skirt steak takes well to marinades.
Skirt steak has traditionally been very popular in Mexican, Central, and South American cuisine, used for fajitas or tacos. It is also gaining popularity in North America, with people catching on to the idea of grilling skirt steaks after marinating them for a few hours.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Flank Steak?
- 2 Which Cut of Beef is Better, Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?
- 3 What are the main differences?
- 4 Why would I choose one over the other?
- 5 What are the health benefits?
- 6 What are the differences in taste?
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What is Flank Steak?
Flank steak comes from along the cow’s side, but it does not run diagonally, unlike skirt steak. Instead, flank steak lies close to the hind legs of the animal near the ribs. Also, unlike skirt steak, which can be easily trimmed of its fat, flank steak has abundant connective tissues that need to be removed before cooking. This makes an untrimmed slice of flank steak look like a jagged edge. The meat itself is very lean with less marbling than other cuts. It has a wide, flat shape and measures about 7 to 11 inches long.
Flank steak is often grilled or broiled because it can handle the high heat needed to make those cooking methods work well. However, it also takes very well to marinades as well as dry rubs, which makes it a flavorful cut of beef for everyday cooking purposes.
Which Cut of Beef is Better, Skirt Steak or Flank Steak?
There isn’t a clear winner when comparing skirt steak and flank steak. They are both excellent choices if you’re looking for a piece of beef that tastes flavorful without much fat. In fact, their flavor and texture are similar because they share a lot of the same characteristics. Both cuts need to be cut across the grain (across the long muscle fibers), which makes them tender to eat. They also both work well for marinades, dry rubs, and braising.
As mentioned earlier, skirt steak becomes more flavorful as it has more fat than flank steak. Also, since skirt steak has less connective tissue than flank steak, it will always be more tender and easier to chew through compared to its counterpart since it just needs moist cooking methods such as braising or grilling. Flank steak can still be made into a good meal by cutting off excess fat and removing the tough membrane that covers one side before cooking, but this is not necessary if you’re going to braise it.
However, since both cuts are flavorful and lean, the choice of which cut to get depends on personal preference or on what types of food items you plan on preparing with your beef. For example, if you already have a marinade recipe in mind, skirt steak may be a better choice because it already has pre-marinated flavor from its high-fat content. In contrast, the flank steak will take more time for the flavors to sink in after being coated with a marinade. Also, if you want a quick meal such as grilling, skirt steak is easily identifiable by its long strip of the membrane, making it easier to work with. In contrast, there can be some difficulty trimming off excess fat from flank steak and removing the tough membrane.
So which cut of beef is cheaper, skirt steak or flank steak? Skirt steak is usually a little cheaper than flank steak, but this depends on where you get the meat from, so the more affordable option may vary over time.
In terms of preference, it also goes back to personal preference because both cuts need similar types of cooking methods. If you’re more familiar with working with skirt steaks, then that’s probably your best bet since you already have an idea of how to prep it. In terms of taste, both cuts are lean with similar marbling. It’s all up to how much fat you enjoy in your meat, how much money you want to spend and if convenience is important to you.
What are the main differences?
Cut of beef is where skirt steak and flank steak differs. While both come from similar cow parts, they are cut differently, so their size, texture, and cooking methods also change.
Skirt steaks are long, thin strips that run diagonally along with the cow’s abdominal muscles, while flank steaks are more expansive with a flat shape that lies close to the hind legs near the ribs.
Skirt steak is one of the most flavorful cuts because it has more fat than other types of lean beef. It also contains long muscle fibers, making it tender enough for quick cooking methods such as grilling or pan-frying. Since there are no complex parts of the cow, skirt steak is usually cut into smaller pieces with a thickness between 5/8 to 1-1/4 inches.
Flank steaks are more complex in structure. The meat cut from flank steaks has two sides that are protected by a tough membrane and can contain long muscle fibers or connective tissue. Flank steak also has less fat content than skirt steak, making it slightly less flavorful but still lean enough for moist cooking methods such as braising, grilling, or pan-frying if tenderized first.
Flank steaks are also larger than skirt steaks, with average weights of around 2 pounds each. They are usually sold whole, so cutting them up into individual size portions can be pretty challenging because of their flat shape.
Both types of steak can still be massaged with marinades to add flavor, but if you want to cook these types of beef quickly, then it’s essential that they are at least an inch thick.
You should also know that not all skirt steaks come from the abdominal area since some parts of the cow contain long muscles. This means there is a possibility of getting less fat content which can affect how your dish tastes, so it’s always best to ask your butcher where the meat is sourced from and how it differs in terms of taste.
Why would I choose one over the other?
Typically, skirt steak vs flank steak is a matter of personal preference. Each has its own distinct flavors and textures, although both are known for being rather tough cuts of meat. Skirt steak typically commands higher prices in grocery stores even though it is more rigid than flank steak because it has more flavor. However, cooking them correctly can make either cut turn out tender and delectable.
What are the health benefits?
Both steaks are very low in fat with no saturated fat or cholesterol per serving which makes them ideal meats to keep your diet healthy while enjoying beef at the same time.
Skirt Steak Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 176 Fat: 3 g Cholesterol: 65 mg
Flank Steak Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 215 Fat: 16 g Cholesterol: 62 mg
What are the differences in taste?
When it comes to flavorful beef, both of these steaks rank on top. Skirt steak has a slightly more pronounced flavor due to its higher fat content, while flank steak tends to be leaner with little marbling, which results in a less robust flavor. Both have a rich, meaty taste that is perfect for grilling or searing at high heat, followed by slow cooking until tender. Because they are tough cuts of meat, it is best cooked at lower temperatures to ensure maximum tenderness. It is also important not to overcook either type of steak since the meat will become dry and chewy.
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.