How To Tenderize Skirt Steak (4 Easy Methods)

Skirt steak is delicious. But boy can it be a tough piece of meat…How does it become a flavorful and tender steak to eat?

Cooking skirt steak doesn’t need to be difficult and we’re going to break down how to make it happen. Have a read of the guide below to figure out the best way to tenderize your skirt steak. 

Here are the Methods You need to Tenderize Your Cut of Meat. 

1. Pounding

Pounding is ideal for achieving tenderness with skirt steak. Use the bottom of a pan, meat mallet or meat tenderizer to pound the steak

Pound skirt steak a couple of times on each side. 

2. Salt It

Salt: it’s not just a tasty seasoning. It can also give the steak a tender texture by breaking down the proteins in the steak

Coat the meat in salt for 15-20 minutes and then then rinse and pat dry. In a test we did for how to tenderize strip steak we found that dry brining with salt was the most effective method for tenderness.

3. Using a Marinade

For skirt steak, an acidic marinade can help to break down connective tissue. This means that they are perfect for tenderizing tough meat.

We recommend going with fresh lime juice, citrus juice, or a vinegar marinade. 

A popular marinade for skirt steak is carne asada, which is a Mexican-style marinade.

4. Using Oil

Skirt Steak with olive oil is another option for tenderizing skirt steak. 

It also helps hold in moisture when grilling. 

Marinade the meat with oil for a couple of hours or overnight. 

5. Fruits

The enzymes in fruits like kiwi, pineapple and papaya can tenderize skirt steak. 

It doesn’t need much (about 2 tablespoons per cup). 

Be careful not to marinade with fruit for too long or the meat will become mushy. 

What Is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is a long and flat steak. It comes from under the rib section, close to the diaphragm.

This cut has some tough muscle fibers, so it lacks tenderness. 

Why Choose Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is similar to flank steak or NY strip steak (all great types of meat). 

It’s cheaper than other cuts and quick to cook.  

Here is my favorite recipe for skirt steak.

The Inside And The Outside

There are two types of this beef steak. 

The inside: is wider, chewier, and about half as thick. 

The outside: is less coarse, more tender, and longer than the inside cut. 

Which Type Should I Go For?

It’s important to know which one you have, as it will inform you how much tenderizing the steak will need. When in doubt ask your butcher what you’ve ended up with. 

Both cuts are useable, but we recommend going for the outside if you have a choice. 

Bonus Tip! Cooking Skirt Steak Properly

Below are 4 tips to cooking your skirt steak so it comes out juicy and tender!

Medium rare on dry heat is perfect for cooking skirt steak.

The steak cooks quickly, so it should only take a couple of minutes on each side. 

Don’t cook it too long as it will become too chewy. 

You Can Try Sous Vide

Skirt steak works well with the sous vide method. 

Sous vide will help the steak become more flavorful and juicy. 

A long slow cook is a perfect method if you want to go do other things in the meantime!

Make Sure You Rest It!

After removing the steak from the heat source, let it rest for at least 10 minutes. 

Letting steak rest will help it to absorb juices and beefy flavor. 

If steak is cut too early, the meat will become dry when the juices spill out. 

Slicing Aginst The Grain

There are a couple of things you need to know when slicing up your cooked meat. 

Here are some notes for this final crucial step. 

  1. Slice thinly. 
  2. Go perpendicular to the grain.
  3. Don’t cut straight down, go at an angle instead.

How To Serve Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak works well as a main dish. 

Accompany it with grilled vegetables or roasted potatoes for a hearty meal. 

If you’re choosing to cut it up, try it in salad, fajitas, quesadillas or nachos. 

Our Favorite Sauce For Steak?

Chimichurri sauce is a popular option to serve with skirt steak. 

This is a fantastic recipe if you’re looking for inspiration.

Some additional sauce could be:

  • Butter Garlic Sauce
  • Gorgonzola Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Citrus Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Garlic Wine Sauce

Making your skirt steak tender doesn’t have to be challenging.

There are plenty of methods out there to help you. So why not give it a go for your next meal?

How do you tenderize your skirt steak?

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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