Inside vs Outside Skirt Steak: How to Know What to Buy

Homemade Cooked Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Spices

Inside vs Outside Skirt Steak: How to Know What to Buy

Of all the types of beef and steak around, skirt steak is an extremely popular cut of steak. Many people find it intriguing because it's inexpensive and also very versatile in the kitchen. Most individuals enjoy grilling skirt steak, but it tastes good with different marinades or pan-seared. Although skirt steak is sometimes considered a “poor man's steak,” its popularity says otherwise. Restaurants and home chefs both enjoy the cut of beef, as it can be served as a meal on its own, or added to a cultural plate. Although many people enjoy skirt steak, not many people know there are two different parts of it.

Raw flap steak flank cut with Machete, Skirt Steak, on woods chopping board, with herbs tomatoes peppercorns over grey stone surface background top view
Skirt steak is best served when marinated and spiced.

©Ilia Nesolenyi/Shutterstock.com

What is Skirt Steak?0

Skirt steak is a cut of beef that is taken from the plate primal area of a cow. This section is located below the rib, between the brisket and the flank area. Other cuts of beef that come from this area are short rib, and also minced beef. Skirt steak tends to be 20 to 24 inches long in cut, and they have grain and marbling that is unique and special to the cut.

There are two different types of skirt steak: the inside and the outside. Both the inside and the outside of the skirt steak has different, unique, features to them. This includes the size, look, flavor, and even texture of the beef.

Grilled Skirt Steak sliced with Shallot Thyme Butter and asparagus on cutting board with fork and knife
Skirt steak is usually cut into strips and pieces.

©Michael Kraus/Shutterstock.com

Outside Skirt

The outside skirt is taken from the muscle's diaphragm. The outside skirt is longer than the inside skirt and it's also thicker. Many times, the outside skirt tends to be 50% thicker than the inside skirt. It also has more fat content and more marbling. In addition, the taste changes depending on which cut of skirt steak you have. The outside skirt, while being thicker and longer, also has a stronger bite. It's considered a luxury skirt steak in comparison to the inside.

Outside skirt steaks are not always sold at the grocery store. The skirt steak that is kept in the meat section at your local market tends to be the inside skirt steak. However, going to a butcher shop or a specialty meat department may lead you to an outside cut of steak.

Inside Skirt

The inside skirt is taken from the abdominal muscle of the plate primal. This happens to have more tissue in the area than the outside skirt which is cut from the diaphragm. It tends to be shorter and thinner than the outside skirt. It's also more mainstream and popular and found in local grocery stores and markets.

Due to its thin appearance and tender cut, the inside skirt steak is oftentimes used for quick and easy cooking methods. Many chefs and home cooks use the inside skirt cut for recipes such as fajitas, stir-fries, and other easy recipes that the skirt steak is being used alongside other ingredients.

Ker-u-sus , Armenian cuisine, dish made with fried beef skirt steak and peppers,Traditional assorted dishes, Top view.
The inside skirt is good for quick and easy recipes like stir-fry.


Cooking Tips

The best way to cook a skirt steak is to have it cooked hot and quickly. First, you should ensure that your skirt steak is dry and there's no moisture so that when you cook it, there's a nice sear and crust to the outer layer. You want to ensure that you don't overcook your skirt steak because it can become extremely tough quickly if it's on the heat for too long.

Due to the thinness of skirt steak, it takes far less time to cook in comparison to other cuts. The best bet for a skirt steak is to cook it to a medium-rare. If you cook skirt steak too long, such as a medium cook, it can become very tough and dry, which leads to an unenjoyable meal. You should aim to cook skirt steak over high heat for a short period of time rather than over low heat for a longer period of time due to the thinness of the steak. Thinner cuts of meat cook better over high heat, fast, because there is less connective tissue to break down.

Raw Skirt Steak
Cooking skirt steak should be done over high heat.

©Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock.com

A Quick Comparison of Inside vs. Outside Skirt Steak

Infographic comparing inside and outside skirt steak.
Many people don't know that there are two parts to a skirt steak.

The two cuts of skirt steak actually come from unique locations! The inside skirt steak is taken from the abdominal muscle of the plate primal, while the outside skirt steak is taken from the diaphragm. The inside skirt is shorter and thinner than the outside skirt. When you go to your local grocery store, you'll be more likely to see inside skirt steak being sold than outside skirt steak. If you want to buy some outside skirt, you'll likely need to visit a butcher or specialty shop.

Take a look at this delicious recipe:

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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: Moms Who Think
  • 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

More to Know About Skirt Steak

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