Inside vs Outside Skirt Steak: What’s the Difference?

outside skirt steak

If you know what skirt steak is then you probably know that there are two types of skirt steaks including inside skirt steak and outside skirt steak.

From which part of the cow they come, what is their flavor, how they are prepared, which one is better for consuming, and why they are different you are going to read in this article. First, let’s learn what skirt steak is so we could find the differences between inside and outside skirt steaks.

Skirt steak is a muscle in the cow that is located between the chest and the abdomen. This cut from the cow’s diaphragm is long with a lot of marbling and connective tissue.

You can choose between inside skirt steak and outside skirt steak. They both have a lovely beef flavor, but the outside skirt steak is more flavorful than the inside skirt steak.

You can cook them on the grill, under the broiler, or in a cast-iron skillet. The crucial thing is to cook the skirt steak on a very hot surface, very fast so it doesn’t get overcooked.

Outside skirt steak and inside skirt steak are pretty similar, but they also have some differences. That said, let’s learn more about these types of skirt steak.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Inside and Outside Skirt Steak?

skirt steak

There are few differences between inside and outside skirt steak. The first one is the place where they are located in the cow’s body.

Outside skirt steak is placed diagonally between the 6th and the 12th rib, and it is covered with a membrane that should be trimmed before cooking.

The inside skirt steak, on the other hand, is placed in the body wall, across the lower part of the ribs, and beyond them. It is usually sold with a removed membrane so it is easier to trim it.

Another difference between the outside and inside skirt steaks is in their appearance. Outside skirt steak is thinner and longer, while inside skirt steak is thicker and wider.

They are flat muscles 20-24 inches long and 3-7 inches wide if the membrane is trimmed. Inside skirt steak is tougher than the outside skirt steak which is tender and more expensive.

They are expensive because one cow has only four skirt steaks (two inside skirt steaks, two outside skirt steaks). Outside skirt steak is available in restaurants because it is more tender than inside skirt steak. You can find inside skirt steak in the butchers’ shops and stores.

Which is Tougher Inside or Outside Skirt Steak?

Inside skirt steak is tougher than outside skirt steak.

Both inside skirt steak and outside skirt steak have a fat between and within the muscle strands that helps them to be moist during the grilling. Because grilling it over high heat is the best way to prepare a tender skirt steak.

You will get a skirt steak with a nice brown crust and perfectly medium-rare cooked inside. But because inside skirt steak has more fat than the outside skirt steak and has a thicker grain it will shrink more than the outside skirt steak and become tougher.

You can marinate the inside skirt steak to make it more tender and give it flavors. Even if we know that marinade doesn’t go very deep under the meat’s surface you can try to marinate the inside skirt steak for about 30 minutes.

Inside skirt steak is thin and will marinate better than other meat pieces that are thicker. The salt in the marinade will season the inside skirt steak, dissolve the proteins and make the meat more tender.

Another important thing you should do to get more tender meat is to cut it against the grain after it is cooked and left to rest. Because cutting the skirt steak against the grain will break up the fibers inside the meat and make it nice and tender.

What is the Most Tender Skirt Steak?

The most tender skirt steak is the outside skirt steak. It has a good marbling, which gives a beautiful flavor and keeps the meat juicy while it cooks.

It is harder to find and buy outer skirt steak because it is often sold to restaurants, where it is used to prepare dishes like Carne Asada and fajitas.

Meaning, the skirt steak you are purchasing in the stores is inside skirt steak, which is less tender than the outside skirt steak. However, with proper methods, you can turn it into a nice and flavorful skirt steak.

Which is More Expensive Inside or Outside Skirt Steak?

Outside skirt steak is more expensive than the inside skirt steak. The reason that outside skirt steak is expensive is that it is more tender and flavorful than the inside skirt steak.

It is also exported to Japan and other Asian countries. That makes a shortage of outside skirt steak in the US that has a higher demand for it. That is also one of the reasons why outside skirt steak is more expensive than the inside skirt steak.

Tips for Cooking the Best Skirt Steak

Slice up the skirt steak into pieces. Marinate the skirt steak for about 30 minutes, or if you want to enjoy the real flavor of the skirt steak just sprinkle some salt and black pepper over it.

After you remove the skirt steak from the marinade, pat dry with a paper towel. This will remove any excess moisture, so the meat can make a crust easily.

Make sure to heat the grill properly before you put the steak on. For a medium rear cooked steak, you need to cook each side of the steak for 2-5 minutes depending on its thickness.

Remove the steak from the grill and leave it on a warm plate to rest for a few minutes, so the juices can redistribute inside the steak.

Slice the skirt steak against the grain, and enjoy the perfectly tender piece of steak.

You can serve the skirt steak with grilled vegetables or grilled potatoes. You can also slice it and put it in a salad, or fajitas with some sauteed onions and peppers.


Skirt steak has a very intense beef flavor and you can easily prepare it in just minutes. You can grill it, broil it or simply sear it in a cast-iron skillet. Just don’t overcook it. Otherwise, it will become tough and chewy. Also, always buy outside skirt steak so you can make the best meal.

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