Have you ever got the munchies to cook delicious homemade fajitas? You enthusiastically purchased skirt steak from the grocery store, but once you took it home, the meat was really rough and nothing like the soft, delicate slices you have at your favorite restaurant.
It’s not that you’re a lousy cook. The problem is that restaurants purchase an entirely different skirt steak from the one you get from the supermarket.
There’s an inside, and then there’s an outside skirt steak — both look the same, both have very similar flavors, and both come from similar parts of the cow.
At the grocery store, you’re more likely to find an inside skirt steak. The outside skirt steak is usually reserved for food service and that’s the stuff restaurants are using.
So why are they called differently, and just how similar are they? That is the topic of this post, and we have some mind-blowing information to back it up. So let’s go straight into it.
Difference Between Inside and Outside Skirt Steak
The main difference between inside and outside skirt steak is that inner skirt steak comes from the cumberbun muscle of the cow, while outside skirt steak comes from the cow’s muscular diaphragm.
Generally speaking, the muscle that makes up skirt steak is found in the cow’s chest and belly. This diaphragm cut from the cow is lengthy and has a lot of muscle tissue and marbling.
The flavor of both cuts is wonderful, however, the outer skirt steak has a slightly stronger taste. Both of them are also prepared in the same way — boiled, roasted, or grilled — quickly and at very hot temperatures.
Let’s look at each difference in great detail.
The outside skirt steak is positioned between the sixth and twelfth ribs diagonally. It is covered by a membrane that has to be cut before cooking.
On the other hand, the inner skirt steak is positioned within the body wall, past the ribs, and across their lowest portion. It is usually sold with a thicker membrane making it much more recognizable.
Inside skirt steaks and outside skirt steaks are flat muscles that are around 20–24″ long and 3–7″ wide.
The inner skirt steak is a bit smaller. However, it is far thicker than the outside skirt steak, which is slightly longer and broader but thinner.
The inside steak skirt is typically sold with a tough fat and membrane that must be removed. An outer skirt steak will require less trimming because of its thicker and more sensitive membrane.
Each skirt steak has a distinct advantage. The thinner outside skirt steak cooks more quickly and doesn’t need as much cleanup. Marinade and searing work better with the inside skirt steak’s thickness.
The outside skirt steak is more flavorful, juicy, and soft than inner skirt. Given that it contains a significant amount of connective tissue fibers, the inner skirt steak has a somewhat chewy feel.
The inside skirt steak also contains that beefy flavor, but it typically isn’t as tasty or soft as the outside skirt steak. As a result, the outside skirt steak is the more costly and sought-after cut.
Both steaks are best grilled over high heat. They are both extremely fatty beef slices, which makes them both incredibly moist and tasty.
The inner skirt steak will somewhat shrink in size and get very chewy during cooking since it is fattier and has a thicker membrane than the outer skirt steak.
The outside skirt steak remains the same size once cooked, and the texture is heavenly tender. These are the two top reasons why restaurants prefer to favor the outside skirt steak.
However, you may marinade the interior of the skirt steak to enhance its taste and tenderness. Even if the marinade doesn’t penetrate the meat’s surface very deeply, if you allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before cooking, the meat will undoubtedly absorb the flavors of the marinade.
Bonus tip — cutting the cooked meat against the grain and letting it rest is another crucial step toward softer meat. That way the inner fibers will be separated, and the skirt steak will become softer.
Outside skirt steak is more tasty and juicy, hence, it is more costly and in greater demand. As a result, professional kitchens buy the majority of the outside skirt steak, and some are also exported. This makes purchasing an outside skirt steak more challenging than getting an inside skirt steak.
Supermarkets typically sell only inside skirt steak. To find a high-quality piece of outside skirt steak, you’ll probably need to go to a specialist retailer or online store — for instance, Meat n’ Bone, SnakeRiverFarms, and WildForkFoods. Expect to pay considerably more than the usual price for an inside skirt steak but nevertheless worth it.
Inside vs Outside Skirt Stake Comparison Table
|Muscle from the cow’s chest and belly
|Muscle from the cow’s chest and belly
|Type of cut
|Between the sixth and twelfth ribs diagonally
|Within the body wall, past the ribs, and across their lowest portion
|Fat & muscular membrane
|Less fat & muscular membrane
|More fat and muscular membrane
|Tender & juicy
|Chewy & harder
|Preferred way of cooking
|Needs less time to marinade
|Needs more time to marinade
|Size of the meat once cooked;
|Remains the same
|Shrinks and becomes smaller
By looking at the nutritional table below, we can see that inside skirt steak has slightly fewer calories, fat, and sodium but a bit higher cholesterol levels than outside skirt steak.
The protein content of the inside skirt steak is also slightly higher. As a result, the inside skirt steak is a somewhat healthier alternative, although the differences in nutrition are minor and almost unrecognizable.
Inside and Outside Skirt Steak Nutritional Profile Comparison
|Inside Skirt Steak
|Outside Skirt Steak
|Vitamins & Minerals
You can absolutely substitute inside skirt steak for outside and vice versa. However, if you want the inside skirt steak to be as juicy and soft as an outside one, you might want to make a few adjustments.
Prior to cooking, ensure that the outside skirt steak has marinated for at least 30 minutes. Allow it to rest for five to ten minutes, and don’t overcook it. If you want to substitute an outside skirt steak for an inside one, you’re in luck because you don’t have to do literally anything and still achieve a better texture and flavor!
Similar comparison: Pork Sirloin vs Loin
While we are pretty sure most steaks taste great right off the grill, skirt steaks were made for the job — they got a wide shape that provides plenty of surface area for picking up the beautiful charred, grilled flavor.
Our marinade recipe starts off with half a cup of fresh orange juice and 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice. Next in line come six minced garlic cloves, and to flavor this, you’ll need a teaspoon of ground cumin, a teaspoon of dried oregano, and a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Finish off with two tablespoons of soy sauce and 2-quarters of rock salt. Quickly mix everything, layer the steaks, and flip them over on each side to make sure they’re coated evenly.
And that’s it. This marinate is ideal for preparing around four skirt steak slices. The steaks should marinate on a 13×9 baking dish because a bowl will make the steaks flop over, and the inner bits may not get marinated evenly.
Want to know how to cook the perfect skirt steak? Then follow these simple tips:
- To maintain its juiciness, take the skirt steak out of the refrigerator to rest for 10 minutes before you cook it
- Season it heavily since the moment it goes in the pan, 35% of the seasoning is lost
- Consider the fragrance and include aromatics like crushed garlic, thyme, and rosemary
- Make sure the steak has a fantastic sear and don’t flip it over until it has a nice color since taste is only present when the meat develops a beautiful colored crust
- Before removing the steak from the pan, add a little knob of butter, as it will caramelize and give the steak a lovely, nut-brown taste
- Never cut a steak too thinly since the taste will be maximized and the meat will stay juicy with bigger pieces (at least half a centimeter thick)
Overall, outside steak is more delicious and tender, whereas inside skirt steak is chewier. Although they have comparable nutritional values, the inside skirt steak is said to have fewer calories.
The outer skirt steak is a rarer kind, so if you happen to find it, you’re in for a treat. Just be prepared to spend a little extra to enjoy its delight.
However, an excellent marinade will make up for the flavor and lack of texture in the inside skirt steak. So try out our marinade recipe and see how it goes! Good luck.