How to Cut Skirt Steak for Maximum Tenderness

There's a right way and a wrong way to slice skirt steak. Learn the method that yields the most tender cut.

Published May 20, 2022.

Skirt steak is a long ribbon-shaped cut of beef that’s juicy with a rich, beefy flavor. After grilling or pan-searing skirt steak, your intuition might be to slice the beef off the short end (picture slicing coins from a banana).

You’d be slicing the steak wrong. Here’s why.

Do you slice skirt steak with or against the grain?

Always cut skirt steak against the grain. The grains of a skirt steak run crosswise, the short way. When you’re slicing skirt steak off the end, you’re cutting it with the grain. You’re biting into long strands of muscle, meaning it requires more effort to chew. Slicing against the grain, though, shortens the muscles and means you’ll get less chewy and more tender skirt steak.

Just how much more tender does slicing against the grain make skirt steak (and other cuts of meat)? To find out, Cook's Illustrated editor in chief Dan Souza cooked a whole flank steak sous vide to 130 degrees, cut equally thick slices both with and against the grain, and then used a CT3 Texture Analyzer from Brookfield Engineering to test how much force was required to "bite" into the slices.

The results? It matters. A lot. Get the full run-down of the experiment in this video:

The Right Way to Cut Skirt Steak

  1. For the most tender skirt steak, we recommend cooking the beef to a medium doneness (about 145 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Take the long ribbon of skirt steak and first cut it into manageable 4- to 6-inch pieces. Usually, this means dividing the skirt steak into three or four equal rectangular pieces.
  3. Slice the individual rectangular pieces the long way. You can slice straight down or at a diagonal.

Here are a few of America’s Test Kitchen’s favorite skirt steak recipes.

Grilled Steak Fajitas

This popular dish features tender strips of beef nestled into a soft flour tortilla along with onions and bell peppers.
Get the Recipe

Philly Cheesesteaks

We set out to reproduce this classic sandwich without the pricey rib eye, a deli slicer, or a flattop griddle.
Get the Recipe

Pan-Seared Skirt Steak with Zucchini and Scallion Sauce

This vibrant, no-cook blender sauce is the perfect accompaniment to quick-cooking skirt steak.
Get the Recipe

Cornish Pasties

Upper midwesterners have divisive opinions about this coal miner’s classic. We wanted our version to bring people together.
Get the Recipe

Grilled Mojo-Marinated Skirt Steak

If you're not grilling skirt steak, you should be: It's a great cut for marinating, it cooks in minutes, and it's especially beefy, tender, and juicy—as long as you buy the right kind.
Get the Recipe


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