The REAL Difference Between Inside and Outside Skirt Steak

The REAL Difference Between Inside and Outside Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef. You can choose between two kinds of skirt steak as one might be better, so what is the difference between inside and outside skirt steak?

This goes with almost any cut of meat, you need to consider different factors before buying a cut of meat. You have to look for many things in a cut to see if it is the one for you. 

The skirt steak has two major cuts called the inside and the outside skirt steaks. While they appear very similar to each other, there are some differences that you might want to look into.


Outside Skirt Steak

It is great to have other choices as you can switch from one recipe to another. The skirt steak can be a little tricky to find or cook as they have complicated muscle structures.

The skirt steak is a muscle that never stops working, this is the cow’s part responsible for keeping the breathing in order by moving the animal’s diaphragm.

So the different areas where you find the skirt steak have some major differences in terms of texture and other things. So here, we will take a look at how you can differentiate them.


What Is Skirt Steak?

 In hindsight, inside and outside skirt steaks are very similar to each other. They are both long cuts of meat with a thick membrane running across the whole cut, making them hard.

 However, if cut and trimmed properly, these kinds of cuts are very soft. Unlike most meat labeled as ‘steaks,’ the skirt steak is thin, so they are still good for grilling or searing.

 For a full-grown cow, the skirt steaks usually measure between 20 and 24 inches long and three inches wide. That is if the butcher has trimmed off the membrane and grain. 

You will usually have an inside steak when you get one from your local butcher. They are sold separately for different purposes, which brings us to their first major difference.


Where Are They Used?

Not that you cannot use the inside or the outside skirt steak in the same environment but the outside skirt steak in common in restaurants.

Outside skirt steaks are usually sought after by restaurants as it has a different texture that also brings the beefy flavor. Mostly, inside skirt steaks are sold to regular customers. 

So if you find a skirt steak in your local butcher shop, it is most likely that it is an inside skirt steak. One reason behind this is that the outside skirt steak is a little bit trickier to cook.

The outside skirt steak is also a little bit harder to prepare, only a butcher knows how to do it as it is one of the parts of the cow with the grain.


Inside Skirt Steak


How Do You Prepare Them? 

Before we get into the other details, let us look at how you prepare these meat cuts. From a butcher’s perspective, you need to do different things before you can sell these.

The inside skirt steak is relatively easier to cut and trim than the outside skirt steak. You will only need to get the huge steak out of the middle of the body of the cow by trimming it slowly.

It can be tricky since other cuts of meat surround it and one slight mistake can ruin the skirt steak or the other cuts. However, after cutting it out, it will be easier to trim and clean.

 Since you have cut the inside skirt steak along a specific lining of fat, there would not be much trimming needed. There are some fats that customers might want to get rid of but that’s it. 

You do not need any special trimming or cleaning process with the inside skirt steak when sold to customers. In fact, as a regular customer, I can trim the fats off if I want to.

The outside skirt steak is a harder cut of beef that needs a professional or an expert to cut it properly. See, the first problem with it is that it has a thick membrane.

 It separates the ribcage from the skin itself which means that there is a coating. That is why the outside skirt steak has a long slab of meat but has a membrane.

You need a professional butcher to cut the outside skirt steak properly. Once the outside skirt steak is on sale, it should have as little fat as possible.

Some outside skirt steaks usually have some white lines that remained on the meat but those are not big issues. The steak just needs to be presentable for customers in commercial kitchens. 



If you ever spotted an outer skirt steak in the butcher shop and the membrane is still on, then you can buy it and remove the membrane yourself. There are some tricks to do that as well.

The most effective way or trick to remove the membrane is by dry-aging the meat. That way, the membrane will lose its rubbery properties and rip easily off the meat itself.

As the name suggests, the outside skirt steak is on the outside of the chest wall. It is the muscle responsible for moving the diaphragm and so it runs across the ribs of the cow.

To be more precise, the outside skirt steak is a slab of muscle that runs diagonally across the 6th and the 12th rib. It is a long steak with slightly more separate muscle tissues than most.

The thick membrane that coats the outside skirt steak is the diaphragm. That is why you cannot cook it with the membrane as it will only harden it and make the meat tough.

It is a little bit thicker than the inside skirt steak and has a more uniform shape. This is one of the reasons why commercial kitchens buy it for making grilled steak recipes.


Where Does The Inside Skirt Steak Come From?

The inside skirt steak is just below and a little further back the outside skirt steak. It goes deeper into the body wall which is where the name comes from and is wider because of fats.

It is in the middle of the body of the cow and is right below the ribs. Because of its relatively higher fat content, the inside skirt steak extends to the lower part’s ribs.

This cut of meat extends to the beef flank primal cut. However, when a butcher prepares it properly, it is cut from the ribs, leaving the other part of the meat to the flank.

The inside skirt steak usually weighs more than the outside skirt steak. However, when cooked, the inside skirt steak shrinks more because of the more compact muscle content. 

The outside skirt steak, since it has a bit of space between the muscles, shrinks less. Along with its evenly cut shape, the lesser shrinkage is what makes it great for restaurant meals.


How Do You Cook Them?

Both of the skirt steaks contain a good amount of fats in between the muscles. That means that they do not easily dry out when grilled, making them great for a fast meal.

 The inside skirt steak has a thicker grain included in it so it contains more fat, this is also why it shrinks more than the outside skirt steak when cooked in the grill.

Compared to most cuts of meat, skirt steak is generally looser in terms of muscles. That is why most recipes include marinating the skirt steak for maybe 10 minutes or even longer if you want.

 The loose meat in the skirt steak allows it to absorb more of the flavors from the marinade. However, you do not need to marinate it for long periods as it will hardly tenderize.

 The best way to cook a skirt steak is to grill it over high heat because the steak is tough so you do not need to cook the whole cut of meat with a well-done finish or it will become hard. 

Before serving the steak, you will need to cut it between the grains, this will help the steak become softer when eaten as you do not have to deal with mini membranes in between.


How Does Skirt Steak Taste? 

This depends on the marinade that you put in the steak. Skirt steak is the perfect cut of meat if you want the marinade’s flavors absorbed by the meat when cooked. 

The skirt steak is usually beefier in flavor compared to the flank steak. Aside from that, it has the perfect consistency to absorb other flavors to also do good when smoked.

 Skirt steak might not be the best kind of steak but it is one of the most flavorful ones. Although it can absorb flavors from marinades, it does not overpower the skirt steak’s beefy flavor.


How To Store Skirt Steak?

If you want to store the skirt steak right from the butcher shop, your best bet is to put it in the fridge or the freezer. That way, you prolong the shelf life of the steak for as long as you want.

The first thing you need to do is wrap the steak with plastic wrap and put it in a sealed container. This will prevent bacteria from getting into the meat and prevent moisture loss.

If you put it in the fridge, the longest you can go without cooking is five days. Beyond that and the steak might have gathered some bacteria or may have spoiled beyond safe for eating.

When you use the freezer to store the skirt steak, wrap it in tin foil instead of plastic wrap. This will do the same things as the plastic wrap, but it also prevents freezer burns.

 If you freeze the skirt steak properly, it can last up to a year. It is best to cook the steak within the first 3 months of being stored inside the freezer.

The same process goes for storing cooked skirt steak. However, it does not need to be stored for a long time as it is more prone to getting bacteria that spoils it.

Cooked skirt steaks can stay in the fridge for up to four days. Beyond that, the bacteria would have started acting on the meat and made it spoiled.



Skirt steak is one of the best cuts from a cow that are also not that common. They are flavorful and the beefy taste that you always want to get from a steak is prominent with these cuts. 

Inside skirt steak is a great cut of skirt steak that contains more fats. It shrinks a lot when cooked, so it is not my favorite, but it is still juicy because of the decent fat content. 

The outside skirt steak is a more even cut of skirt steak, which is the favorite restaurant. It is very tasty, and if I were to choose between the two, the outside skirt steak is my pick.

However, it is all about preferences so you might want to get the inside skirt steak because of the juicy texture it provides or simply because it is more accessible, so it is completely up to you.

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