Skirt Vs Flank Steak: Which Is More Tender?

Both flank steak and skirt steak are similar in a lot of aspects. They're both bargain pieces of meat, affordable, and easy to prepare with a bath in a flavorful marinade. They also cook great on the grill. Still, there are also some important differences.  For one, skirt steaks are thinner than flank steaks and come from a different part of the cow's underside, but the most important and notable difference between the two is when deciding on tenderness.

According to the experts at Seven Sons Farms, flank steaks are generally more tender than their skirt steak cousins. Flank steaks are also typically larger, thicker cuts that are more forgiving for amateur grillers. However, there's one important caveat. There are two types of skirt steaks — the outside and inside portions. The outside skirt steak is noticeably more tender than the inside skirt steak and can be comparable to or even more tender than flank steaks in some cases.

No wrong choices with skirt vs. flank steak

While flank steaks may generally be more tender, chefs shouldn't write off skirt steaks either. America's Test Kitchen reports that many people prefer a skirt steak due to the higher amount of fat and connective tissue, which can make the meat even juicier and full of beefy flavor. It also cooks in just a few minutes on each side, meaning it's a fast cut to get onto the table for delicious fajitas, steak sandwiches, or other recipes. However, ATK finds it's necessary to get the meat to a slightly higher temperature than many other steaks (130 degrees Fahrenheit compared to 125 degrees) to reach the ideal level of tenderness. Unfortunately, it can also be more difficult to find than flank steak.

Skirt steak should also only be cooked to lower levels of doneness (rare or medium rare) to ensure it doesn't get too tough. Those who prefer a more done piece of meat should choose a flank steak instead. It's also important to remember that neither is among the most tender cuts of beef out there, especially compared to filet mignon, ribeyes, and porterhouses. Still, whether chefs choose flank steak or skirt steak in the end, they'll enjoy two of the most underrated and budget-friendly cuts of steak out there.