The 6 Best Skirt Steak Substitutes Plus 3 Vegan Options

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Got a fajita or carne asada craving but can’t find skirt steak at the grocery store? Don’t worry – there are plenty of tasty substitutes available. Whether you prefer to stick with good ol’ meat or opt for plant-based alternatives, we’ve got inspo on what to use in place of this popular cut. Keep reading to find the perfect replacement – no butcher required! Let’s explore the best skirt steak substitutes.

BBQ Roast sliced Skirt beef meat steak in steel tray with thyme. Black background. Top view

What is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is a cut of beef that comes from the plate primal, which is located in the belly area of the cow. It is a long, flat cut of meat with pronounced grain and is often referred to as “fajita meat” due to its popularity in Tex-Mex cuisine. Skirt steak is known for its rich, beefy flavor and chewy texture, and it is often marinated and grilled or seared quickly in a hot pan. It is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat but can be challenging to find at some grocery stores or butchers.

There are two types of skirt steak: outside skirt steak and inside skirt steak. The outside skirt steak is the more tender of the two and is located on the outer edge of the plate primal. The inside skirt steak is located closer to the cow’s center and tends to be a bit tougher than the outside skirt steak. While we prefer outside skirt steak, both cuts can be delicious when cooked properly.

Grilled Machete skirt steak on grill. Black background. Top view. Copy space

Why is Skirt Steak so Hard to Find?

Despite being popular in many countries, it can be challenging to find in some areas due to a combination of factors. Skirt steak can be expensive due to its popularity and demand in certain regions, which may deter some grocers from offering it. Additionally, it requires specific butchering skills to extract and prepare the meat correctly. Plus there are only two skirt steaks per cow, making it a relatively rare cut compared to other beef cuts. If you’re having trouble finding it, you may be able to source it from specialty meat markets.

The Best Skirt Steak Substitutes

1. Flank Steak

Flank is an excellent choice for substituting skirt steak. Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is similar in texture and flavor to skirt steak. It is a very popular substitute for skirt steak and can be used in many of the same dishes.

Flank steak is a bit thicker than skirt steak, so you may need to cook it longer than your skirt recipe calls for. Flank steak is great for dishes like beef fajitas, stir-fry, and steak salads.

2. Hanger Steak

The hanger steak, similar to the skirt steak, is obtained from the plate primal and has a similar texture and flavor. It’s another great alternative for skirt steak.

Compared to the skirt or flank steak, the hanger steak is typically more tender. However, hanger steak can still become tough if not prepared properly, particularly when exposed to high heat for too long. To maintain its tenderness, it’s best to cook the steak to medium-rare; cooking it beyond that point, to medium or well-done, may result in a tougher texture.

3. Sirloin Tip Side Steak

Another great replacement is the sirloin tip side steak which is cut from the cow’s rear muscle, also known as the round. This muscle is one used by the cow for walking, making it less tender than some of the other cuts of beef.

Typically, the sirloin tip side steak is sold boneless and lean, with any excess fat removed by the butcher. Therefore, it’s recommended to marinate the steak with a tenderizing marinade prior to cooking.

This cut of meat is versatile and can be used in many different applications, including as cube steaks, in stir-fries,or in stews, and can be substituted for skirt steak in most recipes. To achieve great flavor and tenderness, braising, stewing, and broiling are recommended cooking methods.

4. Tri-tip steak

Tri-tip steak is a good alternative for skirt steak. It has a tender texture with a slightly beefy flavor that also works well in fajitas or stir-fry. It comes from the bottom sirloin area of the cow and is one of the most versatile cuts of beef.

Tri-tip steak is also known as Newport steak or Santa Maria steak and has become increasingly popular due to its tenderness and flavor. It can cooked many different ways, including grilling, broiling, or roasting. Marinating tri-tip will help enhance the flavor and tenderness of the meat.

5. Beef Tenderloin Steak 

Tenderloin steak is a very tender cut of beef that comes from the loin region of the cow. It is one of the most expensive cuts of beef due to its high level of tenderness. Tenderloin steak is best cooked using methods that involve dry heat, such as grilling, broiling, or pan-frying.

6. Flat Iron

Flat iron steak can be a great option to replace skirt steak due to its similar texture and flavor profile. This cut of meat is obtained from the shoulder of the cow and is sometimes referred to as a top blade steak.

Like skirt steak, flat iron steak is a lean cut of meat, making it a popular choice for grilling, broiling, or pan-frying. It is also generally more tender than skirt steak due to the way it is cut, which helps to break down any tough connective tissue.

Flat iron steak is also a more affordable option than some of the other cuts on this list, making it a great choice for those looking to save some money without sacrificing flavor or quality. It can be prepared in many of the same ways as skirt steak and is a common substitute in dishes.

metal taco holder with three mexican carne asada street-tacos

Vegan Skirt Steak Substitutes

1. Seitan

Seitan is a high-protein vegan meat alternative made from wheat gluten. It has a chewy, meat-like texture and can be sliced thinly and used as a substitute for skirt steak in dishes like fajitas or stir-fry. Here’s a vegan steak recipe by Seitan Society.

2. Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and a rich flavor of umami, making them a popular substitute for meat in vegan dishes. They can be sliced and grilled or sautéed as a substitute for skirt steak.

3. Tofu

Tofu is a versatile vegan protein made from soybeans. It has a soft texture that can be pressed and sliced thinly, making it a good substitute for skirt steak in dishes like stir-fry or tacos. Try these easy vegan fajitas by Hannah Magee RD.

How to Substitute Skirt Steak in a Recipe

When substituting skirt steak in a recipe, choose a cut of meat that has similar characteristics in terms of texture, flavor, and cooking method as the recipe you are trying to achieve. Here are some general guidelines for substituting skirt steak:

  • Choose a cut of meat that is similar in texture and flavor to skirt steak. This includes flank steak and hanger steak.
  • Be mindful of the cooking method of the recipe. If the recipe calls for grilling or searing the skirt steak, choose a cut of meat that can be cooked in a similar way.
  • If you are substituting a thick cut of meat, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time or temperature to ensure that it is cooked through.
  • If you’re using a leaner cut of beef, you may need to marinate it to add flavor and tenderness.

In general, cuts of beef that are too tender, too tough, too fatty or very expensive may not work well as a substitute for skirt steak.

  1. Filet Mignon: This is a very tender and expensive cut of beef, but it lacks the flavor and texture of skirt steak.
  2. Ribeye Steak: Although ribeye has good flavor and marbling, it is not as thin as skirt steak and can be too fatty for some dishes.
  3. Chuck Roast: While chuck roast is also a very flavorful cut of beef, it is too tough and requires a long cooking time, which makes it unsuitable as a substitute for skirt steak.
  4. Brisket: Brisket is a flavorful cut of beef that can be used in a variety of dishes, but it is also tough and requires a long cooking time, which makes it a poor substitute for skirt steak.


How do I know which substitute to use in a recipe?

When choosing a substitute for skirt steak, consider the recipe and its cooking method. Look for a cut of meat or plant-based alternative that has similar characteristics in terms of texture and flavor, and can be cooked in a similar way. For example, if the recipe calls for grilling or searing the skirt steak, choose a cut of meat that can be cooked in a similar way.

How do I prepare a substitute for skirt steak?

Preparation will depend on the specific substitute you are using. Some cuts of beef may need to be marinated for tenderness or flavor, while others may require a different cooking method than skirt steak. For plant-based alternatives, like seitan or tofu, consider seasoning and marinating them to enhance their flavor.

How do I prepare skirt steak?

Skirt steak can be prepared in several ways, including grilling, broiling, or searing in a hot pan. It is often marinated to add flavor and tenderness. Skirt steak should be cooked to medium-rare or medium for the best texture and flavor. Anything higher in temp will result in a dry, overly chewy piece of meat. No, thank you!

What does skirt steak taste like?

Skirt steak has a rich, beefy flavor and chewy texture. Skirt steak also has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that sets it apart from other cuts of beef.

When cooked properly, skirt steak has a tender and juicy consistency with a nice char on the outside.

Where can I buy skirt steak?

Skirt steak can be found at your local grocery store or butcher shop. However, it may not always be available or may be labeled under a different name, such as “fajita meat” or “beef plate.”

Is skirt steak a healthy cut of meat?

Skirt steak is a relatively lean beef cut, with about 10 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving. It is also a good source of protein and iron. Like all red meat, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Grilled machete or skirt beef steak. Wooden background. Top view

In conclusion, these are the best substitutes for skirt steak. With some experimentation, you’ll be able to find the perfect alternative that fits both your dietary needs and flavor preferences. So don’t be afraid to try something new – with the right substitution, you can still enjoy all your favorite dishes typically made with skirt steak!

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Meet Dee

I love to share recipes with real ingredients that are both sweet and savory (especially sweet:) My mission with Gimme From Scratch is to inspire you with recipes that will bring your families together in the kitchen. I'm introverted at heart but know how important socializing can be for maintaining good relationships, when writing not only am looking forward to sharing information - It's also building connections between readers who love good food as much as I do!

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