Sous vide skirt steak for fajitas, salads, and tacos! Check out this in-depth guide to making the perfect skirt steak every time!

Sliced sous vide skirt steak with dressing on a cutting board

Skirt steak is one of the toughest cuts of beef steak. However, this long and flat cut from the plate area right under the rib is known for its flavor rather than tenderness. Therefore, it doesn’t really get the spotlight in the grocery stores or the butchers because cooking skirt steak right is often challenging. 

The good news is that with the sous vide cooking technique, you’ll be able to bring skirt steak to its maximum potential—rich beefy flavor and uber tenderness—almost effortlessly every time.  

Flavor? Check. 

Tenderness? Check. 

Wallet? Happy. 

So next time you go to the grocery store or your local butcher, confidently pick up a skirt steak because you know exactly how to cook it to perfection.

Let’s do this! 

Why Does Sous Vide Skirt Steak Work So Well?

Sous vide skirt steak tacos

Skirt steak is traditionally prepared with quick and high-heat cooking methods such as grilling or pan searing. Since it’s quick to cook, you might think sous vide is unnecessary. 

To cook skirt steak with traditional cooking methods, you need to monitor the cooking process very closely to prevent burning or overcooking. Otherwise, your meat will be even tougher or potentially inedible. This is precisely why sous vide skirt steak works so well, as you’ll be able to:

  • Eliminate any possibility of overcooking the skirt steak;
  • Produce uber-tender steak from a very tough cut, cooked evenly from edge to edge,  because the slow cooking process tenderizes the meat;
  • Walk away from your kitchen stress-free while your steak cooks;
  • Control exactly how you’d like your skirt steak done. (This is very tricky if you cook it with traditional cooking methods but absolutely doable with sous vide. Read on.)

What Is the Best Temperature for Sous Vide Skirt Steak?

Due to the thinness and toughness of a skirt steak, cooking it to be medium-rare or rare is recommended, never medium or well-done if you grill or pan-sear it. With sous vide, all levels of doneness are possible with the right temperature. 

  • Rare: 125°F (51.7°C)
  • Medium-rare: 131°F (55°C) – 136°F (58°C)
  • Medium: 140°F (60°C) – 144°F (63°C) 
  • Medium-well: 145°F (63°C)
  • Well-done: 150°F (65°C)

How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide Skirt Steak?

It could be as short as 2 hours or as long as 24 hours. 

That’s a huge range. It depends on whether you marinate the steak or not. 


Free Bundle


All YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 

SOUS VIDE COOKING 

Get instant access to my Complete Guide to Sous Vide Cooking (backed by science) for beginners and enthusiasts, plus two sous vide time & temperature sheets for quick and easy reference. All free.

Unlike a ribeye or a sirloin, which typically takes an hour to sous vide, the recommended cooking time for sous vide skirt steak is between 18 hours to 24 hours due to the toughness of the cut. The meat will be fully tenderized during the slow cooking process at a precise temperature. You can even throw frozen skirt steak into the sous vide bath, and it will come out amazingly tender and juicy. 

But if you tenderize the meat by marinating it for at least two hours or even overnight before sous vide cooking, you can cut the cooking time down to 2-3 hours. The secret is the marinade. We’ll get to that shortly. 

In short, it takes 18-24 hours to sous vide skirt steak without marinating beforehand, and it takes 2-3 hours of cooking time after marinating. 

Sous Vide Temperature and Time Chart for the Best Skirt Steak

For your convenience, let me sum it all up in a chart. 

Doneness Temperature Cook Time
without Marinade
Cook Time
after Marinating
Rare 125°F (51.7°C) 18-24 hours 2-3 hours
Medium-rare 131°F (55°C) – 136°F (58°C) 18-24 hours 2-3 hours
Medium 140°F (60°C) – 144°F (63°C)  18-24 hours 2-3 hours
Medium-well 145°F (63°C) 18-24 hours 2-3 hours
Well-done 150°F (65°C) 18-24 hours 2-3 hours

Ingredients for Sous Vide Skirt Steak

The most basic ingredients are skirt steak, salt, and pepper, plus a little butter or oil in the bag and for searing post sous vide. Let’s get to know the main ingredient, skirt steak, better. It will indeed help you achieve successful sous vide cooking experiences. 

What’s the Difference between Skirt Steak and Flank Steak?

When you shop for skirt steak, it’s easy to mistake it for flank steak, which is cut from directly under the loin—right next to the plate where skirt steak is from. They are both lean, tough, and with similar long and flat shapes. But they are also different. 

Skirt and flank steaks come from different parts of a cow, as explained above. Flank is thicker and wider than skirt steak with less fat content. As a result, flank steak requires a longer cooking time on the stove or on the grill. But both cuts can be cooked sous vide using the same temp and time chart mentioned above. 

Skirt steak reacts to marinade better than flank steak due to its more fibrous structure. Both cuts have a very strong beefy flavor, with the skirt being a bit more intense. To learn more about the difference between skirt steak and flank steak, check out this article.

Inside Skirt and Outside Skirt

Did you know that skirt steak is usually divided into the inside skirt and the outside skirt? 

The inside skirt steak comes from below the cow’s ribs on the wall of its body, and the outside skirt steak is the cut that comes from the cow’s diaphragm muscle, located between the sixth and twelfth ribs. The cow doesn’t use those muscles very often, so the meat is thicker and more tender. It has a more uniform shape. Unfortunately, the outside cuts are not sold in grocery stores, because commercial kitchens and steakhouses love them. 

One skirt steak tacos with mango pico and feta

When you find skirt steak at the grocery store, it is typically the inside cut. This fatty, chewy cut of meat is typically sold with its membrane removed, making it easier to work with. It is thinner, tougher, and more irregularly shaped than the outside skirt steak.

As you can see from the photos and the video of this recipe, my skirt steak was so thin and shaped so irregularly that I had to fold it to have a reasonable thickness for sous vide. I didn’t unfold it when searing, and it worked out well. 

Sous Vide Skirt Steak Marinade

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of cooking skirt steak sous vide is that the cooking process tenderizes the tough meat perfectly from edge to edge, but it does take over 10 hours for the effect to kick in. 

To speed up the cooking process, you can marinate the steak using acidic ingredients like vinegar, wine, or lime or lemon juice, which will tenderize the meat by denaturing or unwinding the long proteins in the muscle.

Here’s my preferred marinade and dressing for a skirt steak that weighs between 1½ pounds and 2 pounds. Use half of the combination as the marinade and reserve the other half as the dressing when serving. 

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
Marinated skirt steak cooked sous vide and sliced

The muscle fiber and collagen from the skirt steak is not only broken down by the combination, but the thin cut also picks up the flavor from the marinade, making a very flavorful steak.

You will want to marinate your skirt steak for at least two hours. I usually leave it in the fridge overnight before cooking it sous vide. 

Essential Equipment

How to Sous Vide Skirt Steak Step by Step

Sous Vide Skirt Steak (Tacos)
Sous Vide Skirt Steak (Tacos)
  1. Marinate the skirt steak: Cut the steak in half. Place it in a shallow dish or a large Ziploc bag. Combine the marinade ingredients and pour half of it over the steak, reserving the other half as the dressing. Turn the steak to coat both sides. Cover the dish or seal the Ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  2. Sous vide the steak: When ready to sous vide, preheat the water bath to your desired temperature according to the temp and time chart. Prepare two sous vide bags. Remove the two pieces of steak from the marinade and transfer them to a sous vide bag. Discard the marinade. Vacuum-seal the bags and submerge them in the preheated water bath. You can also use Ziploc bags and the water displacement method if you don’t have a vacuum sealer. Set the timer for 2 hours.
  3. Finish the steak: Once the steak is done, transfer it to a cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until really hot. Add a knob of butter, and sear the steak for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Slice it against the grain, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Enjoy! 

How to Serve Sous Vide Skirt Steak

There are many ways to serve this perfectly tender and tasty skirt steak. Here are a few ideas for you to consider. 

Skirt steak tacos lined up on a large oval plate

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Does skirt steak get more tender the longer you cook it?

In a sous vide water bath, the answer is yes. The sous vide cooking process slowly tenderizes the meat evenly. You can cook skirt steak sous vide for up to 24 hours. 

How long does it take to sous vide a flank steak?

Sous vide flank steak takes about two hours as it’s thicker and has less muscle fiber and connective tissues to break down compared to a skirt steak. However, for a more tender steak, you can also sous vide a flank steak for up to 24 hours. 

What temperature should I use to sear skirt steak after sous vide?

To sear on the stove, use medium-high heat or high heat. Wait until your pan is really hot, then add oil or butter. Immediately place the skirt steak that you’ve patted dry into the pan. Sear each side for 45 seconds or one minute. 

To sear on the grill, preheat it to 450°F (230°C). Sear each side for about one minute. 

What is the best way to sous vide skirt steak?

In my humble opinion, the best way to sous vide skirt steak is to marinate it first. This not only helps with tenderizing the meat but also adds more flavor to the steak. 

Is skirt steak best cooked rare?

Skirt steak is best cooked rare or medium-rare since it’s so thin. With sous vide, you have more room to play with because it eliminates the possibility of overcooking it. 

Can I sous vide skirt steak with the marinade?

You could, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the sous vide process intensifies the flavor of your food. You might find the sourness in the marinade overpowering if you don’t discard the marinade before sous vide cooking. 

Can I sous vide skirt steak ahead of time? 

Of course!! Just remember to rapidly chill your sous vide skirt steak in an ice-water bath if you don’t serve it right away. This is where I’d highly recommend that you vacuum seal your steak for sous vide cooking because it will stay fresh in the fridge for seven days, compared to three days if it’s not vacuum sealed. You can also freeze your sous vide skirt steak for up to two years without worrying about freezer burn. 

When ready to enjoy, simply sear on both sides to finish and warm it up at the same time.

Print

Sous Vide Skirt Steak Recipe

Sous vide skirt steak for fajitas, salads, and tacos! Check out this in-depth guide to making the perfect skirt steak every time!

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus marinating
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Sous Vide
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Units Scale

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds skirt steak
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

For Skirt Steak Tacos:

  • Corn/flour tortillas
  • Pineapple mango pico de gallo
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Marinate the skirt steak: Cut the steak in half. Place it in a shallow dish or a large Ziploc bag. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, green onions, capers, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour half of the marinade over the steak. Reserve the other half as a dressing. Add the parsley and mint to the reserved dressing, stir, and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to use. Turn the steak to coat both sides. Cover the dish or seal the Ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Sous vide the steak: When ready to sous vide, preheat the water bath to your desired temperature according to the temp and time chart. I opted for 136°F (58°C) for a medium-rare steak. Remove the two pieces of steak from the marinade and transfer them to a sous vide bag. Vacuum-seal the bag and submerge it in the preheated sous vide water bath. Set the timer for 2 hours.
  3. Finish the steak: Once the steak is done, transfer it to a cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until really hot. Add a knob of butter and sear the steak for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Slice it against the grain, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Enjoy!
  4. Enjoy the steak in a taco form: Warm up tortillas in a microwave for 10 seconds on high. Place a generous amount of steak in the middle of a tortilla, add a big spoonful of pineapple mango pico de gallo followed by some crumbled feta cheese, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Now fold it up and go stuff your mouth.

Notes

  • If not serving right away, rapidly chill the steak in an ice-water bath for about 20 minutes, then transfer it to the fridge. It can last for one week in its vacuum-sealed bag.
  • Keep the reserved dressing in an air-tight container in the fridge. Add fresh parsley and mint to it when you are ready to serve.
  • The nutrition facts information does not include the mango pico and the tortillas. It’s for the skirt steak only.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 698
  • Sugar: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 316.6mg
  • Fat: 51.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 16.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.7g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Protein: 55.2g
  • Cholesterol: 206.3mg

Free Bundle


All YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 

SOUS VIDE COOKING 

Get instant access to my Complete Guide to Sous Vide Cooking (backed by science) for beginners and enthusiasts, plus two sous vide time & temperature sheets for quick and easy reference. All free.

Sous Vide Skirt SteakSous Vide Skirt Steak
101 Shares

5 thoughts on “Sous Vide Skirt Steak”

  1. I love skirt steak, and this sous vide steak looks amazing! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  2. This is an amazing steak recipe with some great tips. As a big meat lover I enjoyed your recipe, thanks!

  3. Fantastic recipe! Thank you for not only sharing a wonderful method for making tacos, but also for the very thorough explanation of sous vide cooking. Another winner from StreetSmart Kitchen!

  4. I LOVE my sous vide, and I”m always looking for new recipes to make with it. I can’t wait to try this one. I’ve never made skirt steak with it before.

  5. I haven’t tried sous vide cooking before! But this recipe and post are so comprehensive I feel confident I can do it! Great looking steak too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating