Smoked Skirt Steak [Easy Barbecue Beef]

Beef skirt steak smoked low and slow over fire. Prepared in a citrus and garlic marinade, this simple barbecue steak recipe is rich in flavor and easy to make.

Smoked Skirt Steak [Easy Barbecue Beef]

Smoked skirt steak is the perfect way to enjoy this underrated beef cut. While most people opt for grilling this beef gem, barbecue smoking takes the meat’s naturally buttery flavors to a new level. The large grain that runs through the beef is beautifully tenderized as we cook it low and slow over fire, giving you a melt-in-the-mouth steak with an outer crunch that’s unlike anything else.

Our easy smoked skirt steak recipe is much faster than other primal beef cuts, needing less than an hour on the smoker before we give it a quick sear over high heat to lock in the flavor. The steak can then be enjoyed sliced and served on its own, or as a beefy taco filling.

From how to buy the best skirt steak and barbecue advice, discover how to smoke skirt steak today.

barbecue smoked beef skirt steak

What is Skirt Steak?

One of the most flavorful cuts of beef, skirt steak comes from the diaphragm region of the steer, and is the muscle that helps the animal breathe. Because of this placement, it’s a well-worked muscle that is boasts large fibers, thick grain, and incredible flavor.

The term skirt steak refers to two different beef cuts:

  • the outside skirt, which is the cow’s diaphragm muscle
  • the inside skirt, which is the transversus abdominis muscle

Because of its substantial amount of connective tissues, skirt steak is one of the tougher cuts of meat. However, if prepared correctly, it can be a perfectly tender cut of meat that lends itself perfectly to tacos or fajitas, or can even be enjoyed on its own.

sliced smoked skirt steak cooked medium rare on white plate

How to Smoke Skirt Steak

Traditionally, skirt steak is cooked quickly over high heat. However, as long as you take care not to overcook your steak, a smoker can be the perfect tool to create a flavorful and perfect skirt steak. The process will impart the distinct smoky flavor that will make your meal incredible.

  1. Prepare the steak by trimming off excess fat along the surface. Dry brine the steak with kosher salt and leave the meat in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  2. Prepare the marinade and pour into a gallon-sized ziplock bag or airtight container. Add the skirt steak, submerging the meat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Fire up smoker to 225°F (107°C) and smoke skirt steak for 45 minutes
  4. Finish the steak off by searing over high heat for a few minutes
  5. Rest in aluminum foil and slice against the grain to serve

How to Buy Skirt Steak

raw trimmed beef skirt steak on wooden chopping board
Beef skirt steak contains thick and tough muscle fibers running throughout the muscle

While two cuts of skirt steak do exist, you will likely only find steaks simply labeled “skirt steak” at your grocery store or butcher. 

Which Side Are You On?

Skirt steak could technically refer to either the outside skirt or the inside skirt, and you will most likely only find inside skirt at your grocery store. The outside skirt is thicker and more uniform in size, so it is more sought after by restaurants and other commercial kitchens, leaving primarily inside skirt available for home chefs.

Don’t Get Outflanked

Although skirt steak and flank steak are similar and their names are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two distinct cuts of steak. Your butcher should have them labeled correctly. While the flank steak can vary in size from one to four pounds, skirt steak is right around two pounds in weight.

Outside Skirt vs. Inside Skirt

If you do find a butcher that carries outside skirt, it will be more expensive than inside skirt. The outside skirt is encased in a membrane that needs to be removed before preparation. A good butcher will remove this membrane before the sale of the steak.

Inside skirt is thinner and has a more irregular shape. Other than the shape, the two cuts of steak are very similar. You can use outside skirt and inside skirt interchangeably in recipes.

Smoking Wood

The best woods for smoking steak are robust and durable hardwoods like oak, hickory, or mesquite. The thick smoke produced by these woods complements the deep beefy flavors of steak perfectly and can last for the duration of your smoke without needing to be replenished frequently, if at all.

Quick Tips

  1. Because one side of a skirt steak tends to be thicker than the other, be sure to test temperature at the steak’s thickest point.
  2. Always slice your steak against the grain. This will help break down the tough fibers in the beef, giving you a beautifully tender steak.
barbecue smoked beef skirt steak
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Smoked Skirt Steak

Beef skirt steak smoked low and slow over fire. Prepared in a citrus and garlic marinade, this simple barbecue steak recipe is rich in flavor and easy to make.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • kosher salt

Marinade

  • 3 oranges juice of
  • 3 lemons juice of
  • 3 limes juice of
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves minced

Instructions

  • Dry-brine your steak, sprinkling it with about ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Place the entire pan in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients.
  • Place your skirt steak in a gallon ziplock bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and massage it into the steak, coating the entire surface of the steak. Push all air out of the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Discard the marinade and pat your steak dry. Do not rinse your steak.
  • Liberally apply your dry rub to the entire surface of the skirt steak.
  • Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, ensure you set up for 2-zone indirect cooking.
  • Place your steak on smoker racks and cook until the steak's internal temperature is 110°F (43°C), about 45 minutes.
  • Fire up your grill to at 500°F (260°C), or a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Place skirt steak directly over fire and sear for 1-2 minutes per side, until internal temperature is 130°F (55°C).
  • Remove steak from smoker and tent in foil. Rest for 10 minutes.
  • To serve, thinly slice the skirt steak against the grain at a 45-degree angle.

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