Skirt steak is a long, thin cut of steak that comes from the plate section of a cow, which sits below the ribs. Although skirt steak is certainly not the most tender cut of beef, it’s exceptionally flavorful.
The trick with skirt steak is getting the texture right when cooking. This cut doesn’t have much fat, so toughness can be a concern, especially when it’s overcooked. Use this guide to learn how to pan sear skirt steak to preserve its flavor while cooking to a beautiful medium-rare.
Add salt to both sides of the skirt steak. Then, rest the steak at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. After resting, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat, adding a drizzle of oil to the pan. Just before searing, pat the steak dry and sprinkle ground black pepper on both sides.
We recommend cooking skirt steak to medium-rare to avoid overcooking and toughness. This cook only takes about 4-6 minutes to sear and another five minutes to rest. With preparation time, expect the process to take about 60 minutes, with just 4-6 minutes of active cooking time.
Skirt Steak Pan Searing Tips
We’ve listed a few tips below that will lead you to an excellent pan seared skirt steak.
Slice Skirt Steak the Right Way
Like flank steak and other thinner cuts, skirt steak can lean toward the chewier side. One way to cut down on the chew and enjoy more of the flavor and tenderness skirt steak can have is to slice it after cooking.
If slicing, cut against the grain. To do this, look for the long lines of fibers that run through the meat. Slice the steak using a steak knife going the opposite direction from those fibers. This process cuts the fibers, making the steak easier to chew.
Consider Using a Marinade
If you’d like to help skirt steak along in the tenderness department, use a marinade before pan searing it. A marinade can be especially helpful if you plan to cook your steak beyond medium-rare, as it can bring some tenderness to the meat.
Here are a few of our marinade recipes to try or to inspire your own:
A good marinade features acidic, oily, and herbal ingredients to create a mixture that tenderizes and flavors the steak. Submerge the steak in the marinade and leave it in the refrigerator for at least two hours before searing. Also, pat the steak dry before you sear it so it can crisp in the pan.
Use a Reliable Thermometer
Using a thermometer during the cooking process is an accurate way to determine if your steak is cooked the way you’d like it. Skirt steak should reach the final temperature range for your preferred doneness level, as noted below:
- Medium-rare: 130°F-135°F
- Medium: 140°F-145°F
- Medium-well: 150°F-155°F
- Well-done: 160°F-165°F
Remove the steaks from the pan when they’re about five degrees below your preferred doneness. They’ll rise in temperature while resting.
Choosing the Right Cut of Skirt Steak
You’ll probably find a few options when buying skirt steak from the store or butcher. The two highest-quality labels you’ll find are USDA Prime and Wagyu. USDA Prime has the highest quality ranking from the USDA, denoting its color, marbling, and overall quality and texture. Wagyu is a step above that, with only meat deriving from Japanese Wagyu cattle making the cut. American Wagyu is also a possibility; this label just means that the cattle has been bred with Japanese Wagyu and American cattle.
Skirt Steak Pan Searing Instructions
As a thinner steak, skirt steak doesn’t usually need to finish up in the oven. You can cook the steak from start to finish in a pan using the following instructions.
Step 1: Preparation
Salt the skirt steak on both sides and let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Near the end of this time, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil.
Step 2: Searing
Sprinkle black pepper on both sides of the steak. Then, add the steak to the pan (you might need to slice it in half to make it fit properly). Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, flipping just once. If your steak needs to cook longer to reach your preferred doneness level, turn the heat to low and continue cooking for another 3-8 minutes.
Step 3: Finishing Up
Remove steaks from the heat and transfer them to a clean plate. Tent the plate loosely with foil. Rest for five minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
Skirt Steak Pan Searing FAQs
How long does skirt steak take to sear?
Skirt steak needs 2-3 minutes to sear on each side. Then, depending on your preferred doneness level, it may need 3-8 extra minutes to finish cooking over low heat.
Should I marinade skirt steak before searing?
You don’t need to marinade skirt steak before searing it, but you certainly can if you’d like. Marinate the steak for at least two hours in the refrigerator for the best results. Before searing, pat the steak dry to allow it to crisp in the pan.
Do I need to use a cast-iron pan to sear skirt steak?
No, any quality pan that repels sticking can work for searing skirt steak. Be sure to use a drizzle of oil in the pan when searing to prevent sticking.
How long do you sear skirt steak on each side?
Skirt steak takes 2-3 minutes to sear on each side. Look for a golden brown crust to determine when it’s ready to flip to the other side.
Summing Up: How to Pan Sear Skirt Steak
At Chicago Steak Company, we offer a wide range of hand-cut and hand-selected steaks for you to order online and ship to your home. Once you practice pan-searing skirt steak using this guide, you can do the same with other types of steak, like ribeye or flat iron. Be sure to check out Steak University for more helpful guides, cooking tips, and recipes for all your favorite steaks.