How To Tenderize Skirt Steak (4 Easy Methods)

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Skirt steak is delicious, but boy, can it be a tough piece of meat. So, how does it become a flavorful and tender steak?

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

Here Are The Methods You Need To Tenderize Your Skirt Steak

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 and then cook as normal

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 rinse and pat dry. In a test we did to tenderize strip steak, we found that dry brining with salt was the most effective method.

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 using fresh lime, citrus, or vinegar marinade. A popular marinade for skirt steak is carne asada, which is a Mexican-style marinade.

4. Using Oil

Another option for tenderizing skirt steak is to marinade it with olive oil for a couple of hours or overnight. The oil also helps hold in moisture when grilling. 

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 marinate 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.

Outside Skirts Steak vs Inside Skirt Steak

There are two cuts of this steak. 

The inside: This comes from the flank. It’s narrower and thinner than the outside skirt and has the membrane removed.

The outside: is from the plate section, below the rib and between the brisket and flank, and usually comes with the membrane still attached, which needs to be trimmed before cooking. This cut is more tender, and longer than the inside cut. 

Which Type Should I Go For?

Knowing which one you have is important, 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 for cooking your skirt steak so it comes out juicy and tender!

Cook It Medium Rare

Medium rare on dry heat is perfect for cooking skirt steak. The steak cooks quickly, so it should take only a few 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 perfect if you want to 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 dry when the juices spill out. 

Slicing Against The Grain

When slicing cooked meat, you need to know a couple of things. 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 choose to cut it up, try it in salad, fajitas, quesadillas, or nachos. 

Our Favorite Sauce For Steak?

Chimichurri sauce is a popular accompaniment to skirt steak. This is a fantastic recipe if you’re looking for inspiration.

Some additional sauces;

  • 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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