All About Beef: Beef Plate (Skirt Steak)!

Plate steak is extremely flavorful and streaked with fat, skirt steak is the meat of choice for making fajitas.
Skirt Steak

Also indexed as: Hanger Steak

Extremely flavorful and streaked with fat, skirt steak is the meat of choice for making fajitas.

  • Varieties
  • Buying and storing
  • Availability
  • Preparation tips
  • Nutritional highlights

Skirt steak is a long, flat piece of beef cut from the diaphragm muscle. Extremely flavorful and streaked with fat, it makes it a juicy steak when properly cooked. Since it is one of the less tender cuts of beef, skirt steak is usually marinated and sometimes pounded before cooking. This steak is the meat of choice for making fajitas.


Skirt steak is also known as the "butcher steak" because it's rarely found on meat counters-the butcher takes this one home.

Hanger steak is so named because it is part of the diaphragm muscle that hangs between the loin and the ribs. Like skirt steak, hanger steak is a grainy, fatty cut that turns out beautifully if it's well-marinated before cooking.

Buying And Storing Tips

Look for skirt steak that has a clear, red color. The normal color of beef is purplish-red, but it takes on a cherry-red hue, known as the "bloom," when exposed to oxygen. While the exterior is bright red, the interior of the meat retains this darker color. Vacuum-packed skirt tip steak also shows this purplish color.

Packaged skirt steak should be cold and the packaging should be free of punctures or tears; vacuum-packed steak should have its seal intact. The beef should be firm to the touch. Check the label for the "sell-by" date and make sure to buy the meat before or on that date.

Store skirt steak in its original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator, where it will keep for 3 to 4 days. It may be frozen in this packaging for up to two weeks. For longer storage, wrap the steak in heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer bags. Skirt tip steak will keep 6 to 12 months in the freezer. Defrost the steak in the refrigerator, allowing 12 to 24 hours, depending on size. Cook as soon as possible after defrosting.


Skirt steak may be available in butcher shops. In grocery stores it is typically sold already cut up and packaged to use in making fajitas.

Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Skirt steak can be cooked using either moist heat or dry heat, if marinated first. Marinades are seasoned liquids containing tenderizing ingredients, and include either acidic foods such as lemon juice, wine, vinegar, and tomato juice, or natural tenderizers such as pineapple, papaya, or ginger.

To marinate, place the skirt steak in an acid-resistant container; add the marinade-1/4 to 1/2 cup (59-118ml) for each 1 to 2 pounds (0.45-0.90 kg)-and turn the steak to make sure the marinade touches all surfaces. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for six hours or overnight. Marinades may be added to skirt steak while cooking, but never consume marinades that have come in contact with raw meat unless they have been thoroughly cooked to destroy all microorganisms.

To broil, first marinate the steak, then preheat the broiling element. Place the steak on a broiler pan 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) from the heat source. Broil for five minutes, turn, and broil the other side five minutes for rare, allowing more time for medium. Remove the steak when it reaches the desired degree of doneness.

To grill, marinate the steak and then place it directly over the heat source. Grill for four minutes, then turn and grill for four minutes on the other side for rare, longer for medium. To pan-broil, marinate the steak, and then heat a skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat until hot. Place the steak on the skillet and cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. Remove the skirt steak when it reaches the desired degree of doneness.

To pan-fry, first cut the skirt steak against the grain into four pieces. Then heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté two minutes on each side.

To braise, heat oil in a skillet and brown the skirt steak on both sides. Add cooking liquid and seasonings. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours.

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