Skirt steak is a cut from the diaphragm muscle and has an intense beefy flavor. This coarsely-grained steak is suitable for pan-cooking, grilling, and broiling, as long as you don’t overcook it.
This steak is a bit hard to find because it’s a hot commodity. There are only 4 skirt steaks in the cow’s body, and this means that finding a good skirt steak substitute is a must.
Luckily, there are multiple flavorful options available, so you can enjoy every recipe when skirt steak isn’t within reach.
The best substitutes for skirt steak
Although skirt steak is one of the toughest cuts because of all the connective tissues, it’s one of the most prized steaks, thanks to its intensely delicious flavor. The meat is long and flat and is cut from the short plate under the ribs.
There are two types of skirt steak: outside and inside skirt steaks. Both are delicious and rich in flavors, so you can use them in multiple recipes.
Outside skirt steaks are the ones usually served in restaurants and are covered with a thin membrane that needs to be removed before cooking. Removing the membrane is easier when the meat is aged. Inside skirt steaks are more common to find at the butcher’s or at the grocery store.
Both outside and inside skirts are marbled, and the fat makes them perfect for grilling. In addition, the meat has a loose structure, and it absorbs marinades and spices quickly, which helps intensify its flavor in various recipes.
You can grill skirt steak directly on coals because it gives it a nice brown crust. You can also cook it in an iron skillet as the high heat cooks the outside of the steak without overcooking the inside, so the meat stays tender and juicy.
Skirt steak is the most popular cut used to make tasty churrasco as its fats melt to add a rich flavor. Moreover, you can also slice it against the grain to make delicious fajitas, stir-fries, or a Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Because of all the connective tissues, it’s best served rare or medium-rare, as it can be too tough or difficult to chew.
Despite its amazing flavor and being reasonably priced, skirt steak can sometimes be difficult to find since it’s highly desirable. But in this article, you will find several other alternatives that can be incorporated into your recipes if you can’t get your hands on a skirt steak.
1. Striploin Steak
Striploin steak comes from the short loin and has an intensely beefy flavor, making it a good substitute for skirt steak in several dishes. Although it’s mainly cut to be served as a roast, striploin steak can also be grilled or broiled.
Since it comes from the lower part of the lion, this steak is more tender as the muscle doesn’t do much work. It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture, so it’s a good choice for fajitas, pan-searing, and slow-cooking. It can also be used in a steak salad or wrap.
The main difference between the striploin steak and the skirt steak is that it’s thicker. So, you can either ask the butcher to make a thinner cut, so you can do it at home.
2. Flank Steak
Flank steak is an excellent substitute for skirt steak, whether you want to serve it grilled, broiled, pan-seared, or sliced in a fajita dish.
It comes from the abdominal muscle, which is located close to where skirt steak comes from. However, it contains less fat, so it doesn’t have to be trimmed, unlike skirt steak.
However, you need to be careful while cooking flank steak, as it also becomes rubbery and chewy when overcooked. As a result, you need to serve it rare, medium-rare, or medium, or it will become difficult to swallow.
To make this lean cut more tender, you can pound it a little as this will help it absorb marinades well. The meat can also be cut and slow-cooked for a delicious buttery finish.
3. Sirloin Tip Side Steak
This steak is lean because all the fat is usually trimmed before it’s sold. It comes from the side part of the sirloin and can hold its shape well while it’s being cooked.
Because it’s less tender than other cuts, this meat is a good choice for pan-frying and slow cooking methods.
It has a strong beefy flavor, and the loose grain holds marinades well, making it a great choice for all recipes that call for skirt steak. It can also be used in stir-fries, tacos, fajitas, churrasco, and other delicious recipes that combine the meat with a rich sauce.
4. Ribeye Steak
Ribeye steaks can be boneless or bone-in. The bone-in steak is more difficult to cook because the meat next to the bone cooks more slowly. It comes from the muscle that runs from the cow’s shoulder to hip bone, and the meat is marbled because it doesn’t get much exercise.
Known for its buttery and tender texture, ribeye steak is a convenient skirt steak alternative because it’s always easy to find. It delivers the perfect balance between a rich beefy flavor and a creamy taste that makes it an excellent choice for multiple recipes.
It can be served medium-rare or medium, but no more, or it will become too tough. You can use ribeye steak instead of skirt steak if you want to grill or pan-sear your meat. It also makes a perfect topping for salads and pasta dishes.
5. Flat iron steak
Flat iron steak comes from the shoulder of the animal, so it contains more marbling that gives it a lot of texture and flavor when cooked right.
This steak is thicker than skirt steak, which makes it a good option for grilling. However, it should be marinated first to become a little bit more tender. Just like skirt steak, it shouldn’t be overcooked to retain its juiciness.
If you’re pan-searing your flat iron steak, start with high heat to give it a nice crust, then continue cooking on low heat until the meat is ready. You can even put it in the oven to make sure that it’s tender and buttery.
The marbling gives it a buttery finish when served in tacos or sliced as a fajita. You can even cut it into thinner slices if you want to prepare a casserole or a slow-cooked dish.
6. Flap Steak
Flap steak is a cheaper alternative to skirt steak and comes from the bottom sirloin butt. It’s a tender cut that is juicy and flavorful.
Compared to skirt steak, flap steak is leaner, so there will be no risk of flareups when it’s grilled. However, it’s still rich in flavors and can be marinated to enhance its texture and taste.
You can incorporate flap steak into a recipe of noodles, soup, casserole, or a Mexican-inspired dish. It’s such a diverse cut that works perfectly for several dishes, especially when it’s sliced.
7. Hanger Steak
Hanger steak comes from the diaphragm, very close to the location of skirt steak, but to most people, it has a more intense flavor. This is why it’s usually called the butcher’s steak because butchers like to keep this delicious piece of meat to themselves.
The muscle isn’t well-exercised, and this makes hanger steak more tender and juicier than skirt steak. However, the marbling gives it an intense flavor when grilled or seared. It’s also an excellent choice for fajitas and tacos.
Hanger steak pairs well with pungent spices, so it should be spice-rubbed or marinated before grilling or pan-searing. However, it cooks pretty fast because it’s thin, so you need to be careful not to overcook it, or it will become tough and chewy.
8. Beef Tenderloin
The beef tenderloin comes from the short loin of the animal. It’s pretty tender and juicy because it doesn’t contain a lot of connective tissues, unlike skirt steak.
However, its tender texture makes it a decent skirt steak substitute in recipes where you want your steak to taste buttery and rich.
Because it’s already tender, you don’t really have to marinate this meat before cooking it. However, using a spice rub will help bring out its delicious flavor as you cook it fast on high heat. It’s best used to replace skirt steak in recipes that require the meat to be extra tender, like a soup or a casserole.
How to choose a skirt steak substitute
Skirt steak has a rich and intense flavor, so you need to keep that in mind when you’re looking for a skirt steak substitute for your recipe.
Striploin steak has the most similar rich beefy flavor to skirt steak and can replace it in many recipes. Flank steak is another excellent option as it’s tender and juicy.
If you want an alternative that works for grilling and pan-searing, you can try sirloin tip side steak and ribeye steak.
For fajitas, tacos, casseroles, and slow-cooking methods where the meat needs to be sliced, you can use flat iron steak, flap steak, hanger steak, or beef tenderloin.