Flap Meat vs Skirt Steak: How to Know What to Buy and Cook

Traditional barbecue skirt steak sliced as close-up on a wooden board

Flap Meat vs Skirt Steak: How to Know What to Buy and Cook

Flap meat, also known as flap steak, and skirt steak are two cuts of meat that many people enjoy. Whether you are going to a restaurant or cooking your steak at home, there are many reasons why you would buy each of these cuts of meat. However, while the two may seem similar when shopping, they are incredibly different in taste, texture, flavor, and fat content. Flap meat and skirt steak, while both popular cuts of beef, have differences that are key in their cook and preparation.

Raw wagyu bavette beef steak offered as top view on rustic black board with copy space
Flap steak is a leaner cut than skirt steak.


What is Flap Meat

Flap meat, or flap steak, is a thin cut of beef. It comes from the bottom sirloin portion of the cow. This is located specifically behind the hind legs of a cow. It is often mistaken for flank steak or skirt steak due to its look and texture. The meat differs from both cuts in a variety of ways. Flap meat is also known as sirloin tip(s). It isn't the “prettiest” cut of meat, unfortunately. But, many chefs claim that there is far more than meets the eye with this cut of meat.

Origin of Flap Meat

The history behind flap meat is not one that is very crystal clear. However, beef and meat have been cut from cows and used in culinary kitchens and cultures for centuries. There is a popularity of using flap meat and similar thin cuts of beef in Mexican and Central American cultures. This is because of its thin appearance and easiness to cook. For these reasons, many South and Central American cultures use it for recipes such as fajitas and tacos.

Prime Black Angus Skirt steak with cranberry sauce and grilled garlic on wooden board. Medium Rare degree of steak doneness.
Skirt steak used to be known as the “poor man's” steak.

©Davidchuk Alexey/Shutterstock.com

What is Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is a cut of beef that is taken directly from the plate primal of a cow, which is located directly below the rib. There are two different types of skirt steak that a person can purchase or cook. This is known as the inside skirt and the outside skirt. The inside skirt comes from the inside of the chest cavity of the cow. The inside skirt is also much more tender and juicy than the outside. The outside skirt comes from outside of the chest cavity; hence the difference in names. The outside skirt tends to be less tender.

Origin of Skirt Steak

For centuries, butchers have tried to use all cuts and portions of the cow in order to minimize waste and maximize consumption and profits. The skirt steak portion of the cow is taken from the diaphragm muscle and has been used for a long time. Its cultural traditions can be traced back to both Central America and Asia. Many Central American countries use sliced skirt steak in recipes such as Carne Asada, while Asian countries use skirt steak in many dishes such as Korean bulgogi.

Raw beef machete steak with meat axe on a wooden Board with seasoning. Stone background.
Skirt steak is high in fiber and fat.

©Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock.com

Differences Between Flap Meat and Skirt Steak

Cut Location

Flap meat and skirt steak mainly differ in all places due to the area of the cow from which they are cut. Flap meat is cut from the bottom sirloin portion of the cow, which means it is very lean. Skirt steak, on the other hand, is cut from the diaphragm muscle and the abdominal muscle. Skirt steak is known for its marbling.


Texture plays a huge role in steak when cooking and eating it. In comparison to each other, flap meat is more tender than skirt steak. Skirt steak is oftentimes known for being tough. However, the tenderness of the meat, of course, depends on how you prepare and cook it.


Skirt steak typically has a beefier and more profound flavor than flap meat. Flap meat usually has a more subtle flavor, and takes on the flavor of what you are cooking it with or in. Due to the leaner nature of flap meat, it does not give off the intense flavor palette that skirt steak does.


If you are looking to cut costs or looking to save money, flap meat may be the better option for you. Skirt steak tends to be more expensive in comparison to flap meat. The lean nature of flap meat allows for a lower cost.

Raw, flap or flank, also known Bavette steak near butcher knife with pink pepper and rosemary. Black stone background. Side view vertical
Flap meat is a leaner, thinner cut of meat in comparison to skirt steak.

©Ilia Nesolenyi/Shutterstock.com

The Consensus

Infographic comparing flap steak against skirt steak.
These might not be the most well-known steak cuts, but they both have their merit.
  • The places on the cow that these steaks are cut from differ. Flap steak comes from behind the cow's hind legs, while skirt steak comes from the plate primal. There are two types of skirt steak, inner and outer.
  • Flap steak is more tender than skirt steak. Skirt steak can be tough, but if it's prepared correctly it can still have just enough tenderness.
  • Skirt steak has a beefier and stronger taste on its own, while the taste of flap steak is more subtle. Flap steak has a tendency to take on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with or in.

Flap meat and skirt steak are both easy, inexpensive cuts of beef that any chef or home cook can make in the kitchen. Flap meat tends to be a leaner cut of meat with less robust flavor, but can be purchased, cooked, and used in a variety of recipes. Skirt steak tends to be a beefier, fattier cut of meat that gives off intense flavors and texture. Overall, both steaks have their benefits, depending on what you are looking to cook.

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Traditional barbecue skirt steak sliced as close-up on a wooden board

Peppercorn Skirt Steak with Thyme Butter Sauce

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak
  • 2 Tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt


  1. Coat a stovetop grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat.
  2. Season both sides of the steak with salt and the cracked peppercorns.
  3. Place the steak on the hot pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium.
  4. Remove the steak from the pan and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing crosswise (against the grain) into ¼-inch-thick slices.
  5. Melt the butter, thyme and Worcestershire sauce together in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Serve the steak slices with the butter sauce spooned over the top.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
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