Cut from the plate section of a cow, skirt steak is long and thin compared to other steaks. You might hear it compared to a hanger steak or flank steak because their appearances are similar. Skirt steak can be tough if not cooked properly, but its strong beef flavor is what keeps people coming back to this unique cut.
Grilling skirt steak can be especially tricky for first-timers, but our guide is designed to help you learn all the right techniques so that you can learn how to grill skirt steak at home.
Preparing The Grill
Before grilling skirt steak, spend a few minutes preparing the grill. Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, the right preparation can prevent skirt steak from sticking and ensure that your steak cooks at the right temperature.
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to start grilling, brush the grill grates with a little bit of olive oil. Then, preheat the grill to 450 degrees or high heat, whichever temperature gauge your grill offers. If you prefer your steak cooked to medium or medium-well, also prepare a low-heat side of the grill, if possible.
Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent sticking. Charcoal grills usually need about 15-20 minutes to preheat thoroughly, which happens when the coals turn white and become ashy. First, place the coals in a pile in the center of the grill’s bottom and use lighter fluid to help them light. Or, use a chimney starter if you prefer. Once they turn white and ashy, spread the coals evenly on the bottom of the grill.
Expect skirt steak to cook for about 10-15 minutes on the grill, depending on your desired level of doneness. You’ll also need 5-10 minutes for the steak to rest and about 45 minutes to prepare the steak with a dry brine. Alternatively, you can use a marinade to tenderize the steak before grilling, which can add at least two hours to the full cooking process.
While we suggest cooking skirt steak to medium-rare to keep it tender and juicy on the grill, we know that not everyone prefers this level of doneness. Refer to the table below to find the temperature ranges for your preferred doneness level.
|Doneness||Temperature to Remove from Heat||Final Temperature|
Medium Rare Skirt Steak
To grill skirt steak to medium-rare, make sure your grill is thoroughly preheated with a high-heat area of 450-500 degrees. Transfer the steak to the grill and let sear on one side for 3-5 minutes. Flip with a pair of tongs and sear the other side for 3-5 minutes. Move the steak away from the flame to check the temperature of the thickest part of the steak. For medium-rare, it should reach 125-130℉. Move steaks to a clean plate tented with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to rest.
Skirt Steak Grilling Tips
Before following the steps to learn how to grill skirt steak, read through the tips below.
Marinate It First
Skirt steak is on the thin side and it contains lots of tough fibers that remain tough without the right preparation and cooking techniques. One way to break down these fibers before cooking is with a marinade. The acidity of the marinade helps tenderize the meat, while other flavors penetrate the skirt steak. Try our grilled steak marinade recipe or make your own using your favorite herbs, spices, and other ingredients.
If there’s one thing to avoid when grilling skirt steak, it’s cooking it for too long. To reach medium-rare, you’ll probably need no more than 10 minutes. Cooking longer can cause those naturally tough fibers to tighten even more, making the steak chewy. For best results, leave some pink in the middle.
Check the Temperature
Before pulling skirt steak from the grill to let it rest, use a meat thermometer to check its temperature. Place the probe in the thickest part of the meat — usually near the center — to get an accurate temperature.
Choosing the Right Cut
Dry-aged skirt steak is one of the best versions of this cut. Dry-aging takes several weeks, causing natural enzymes to break down the toughest fibers in the meat. Consider looking for dry-aged skirt steak when purchasing from the store or butcher. Also, opt for USDA Prime or Premium Angus skirt steak. These are premium versions of skirt steak that tend to be tastier, more tender, and better to cook with on the grill.
Grilling Skirt Steak Instructions
Now, we’re ready to start grilling! Follow these instructions to grill skirt steak or use the recipe below.
Step 1: Marinade the Steaks
Skirt steak benefits from a tasty marinade that helps it become its most tender version of itself. First, season the steaks with salt and pepper. Then, whip up your favorite steak marinade. Place steaks in a bowl or food storage bag and cover them completely with marinade. Allow steaks to marinate at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before grilling or in the refrigerator for at least two hours (overnight is best).
Step 2: Prepare the Grill
While you marinate the skirt steak, prepare the grill. Brush olive oil on the grates to prevent the steak from sticking. Then, about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the grill to 450-500 degrees.
Step 3: Grill Skirt Steak
Remove the steaks from the marinade, allowing as much marinade as possible to drip off them. Transfer steaks to the grill. Let sear on one side for 3-5 minutes. Flip with tongs and sear on the other side for another 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Check the Temperature and Let Them Rest
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steaks in their thickest part. For medium-rare, the steak should reach 125-130℉. If you’d like them a little more done in the middle, turn the heat to low or move the steaks to a low-heat area of the grill. Close the lid, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until your desired doneness level is reached. Rest steaks on a clean plate tented with foil for 5-10 minutes.
Grilled Skirt Steak
- 1 lb skirt steak
- your favorite steak marinade
- Season skirt steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Then, place steaks with the marinade in a bowl or storage bag, ensuring that they're completely covered. Let it marinade at room temperature for 30-45 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least two hours
- Preheat the grill about 15 minutes before you're ready to start cooking. Let the temperature reach between 450-500 degrees
- Transfer steaks to the grill. Sear for 3-5 minutes on each side until a golden-brown crust forms, flipping only once with tongs
- Check that the internal temperature reaches your ideal doneness level (125-130℉ for medium-rare). If not, lower the temperature on the grill, close the lid, and grill for another 1-2 minutes or until steaks reach your ideal temperature. Transfer steaks to a clean plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes
Other Ways to Cook Skirt Steak
The grill is great for a quick skirt steak meal, but sous vide and slow-cooked skirt steak can tenderize the cut more. Here are a few additional ways to enjoy skirt steak:
- Oven-baked skirt steak
- Reverse seared skirt steak
- Sous vide skirt steak
- Pan-seared skirt steak
- Slow-cooked skirt steak
- Skewered skirt steak
Looking for steak similar to skirt steak but more tender? Try Chicago Steak Company’s Premium Angus flat iron steak.