10 Substitutes for Skirt Steak [Vegan & Budget Options]

Skirt steak is a very lean, long cut of beef that can be cooked in many different ways. It is highly prized for its strong flavor and unique fat content. There aren’t many cuts of skirt steak per cow so it can be hard to find and is sold  in smaller quantities than other cuts of beef.

The good news is that if you can’t find skirt steak or you want an alternative there are many substitutes to choose from. If you are on the hunt for a good substitute for skirt steak, or even a vegan alternative, then read on. 

Is Flank Steak The Same As Skirt Steak?

Flank steak is not the same as skirt steak but is very similar. It is likely that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two once they are cooked, as long as they are cooked well. Flank steak is a similar cut of beef that comes from the side of the cow underneath the ribcage.

Skirt steak is cut from inside the chest cavity and contains more fat and connective tissue. 

Skirt steak is considered to be a little bit more tender than flank steak when prepared properly. Both cuts are best when cooked rare to medium rare. If overcooked they can get tough.

Marinades go great with these cuts of beef because they absorb liquid well and the marinade helps to tenderize the meat.

If you are looking for a substitute for flank steak or a replacement for skirt steak you can usually swap either one for sirloin strips. Sirloin strips or Tri-tip steak are best for Mexican dishes and stir fry. Ribeye steak, hanger steak, or chicken breast can be good alternatives too, especially for fajitas. 

If you are looking for the best substitute for the slow cooker then you will want to stick with either chuck roast or round top beef. If you are looking for a vegetarian alternative you can use mushrooms or soy products like tofu and seitan. 

Best Substitute For Flank Steak In Stir Fry

1. Sirloin Strips

Sirloin steak or sirloin roast is cut from the sirloin primal, which is near the back of the cow between the loin and the hip bone. Sirloin is great cut in strips for stir fry because it is a juicy, lean cut of beef that is easy to prepare. It is less tender and more lean than ribeye, but the firmness stands up well to the sauces and acids added to stir fry.

No one wants mushy meat or chewy hunks of fat in their beef and broccoli. Sirloin is firm without being tough or chewy.

2. Tri Tip Steak

This unique cut of beef is called tri-tip because it is cut from the point where the sirloin meets the round and flank primals. It is a great cut of beef that is usually less expensive than sirloin but still tender and flavorful. It is similar to skirt steak because it has a good amount of marbling from fat content and should not be overcooked.

This cut of beef isn’t always available at the grocery store, but your local butcher should be able to provide it at a good price.

3. Chicken Breast

If you are trying to reduce your red meat consumption then chicken breast can be substituted for most stir fry recipes. That’s the beauty of a stir fry, you can mix and match ingredients based on what you feel like or what you have in your cupboard.

The base flavors of most asian stir frys, such as soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, will go well with either beef or chicken.

Chicken breast has a similar firm texture to skirt steak and can be easily cut into strips before or after cooking. An advantage of chicken breast is that it is readily available at most grocery stores.

Just remember that chicken breast needs to be handled with care and cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Tofu

For any vegetarians or vegans out there tofu can be used as a substitute for skirt steak in any stir fry recipe. Tofu is gluten free and is made from soybean curds. It is high in protein and low in calories.

Just be sure to use a firm variety so that it will hold its shape in your stir fry.

The more soft varieties will break apart and are more suitable for soups and smoothies. Tofu sometimes comes pre-cooked or smoked. These varieties can be good in stir fry but just be careful to choose something with the right flavoring for your dish.

5. Mushrooms

This might sound odd to any meat lovers out there but mushrooms can be a great alternative to skirt steak, especially in stir fry. Mushrooms have a firm texture that can taste meaty when prepared well. They absorb sauce and marinade very well and aren’t too soft like other vegetables.

If you put enough mushrooms in your stir fry you won’t even notice the lack of meat, especially if you use shiitake mushrooms or oyster mushrooms.

Best Substitute For Flank Steak In Slow Cooker

6. Round Top Beef

Top round roast beef is a large cut of meat that comes from the rump and leg of the cow. The slow cooker brings out the best in this cut of beef because it is very lean. When not slow cooked it can be very tough.

It is the same cut of beef that is usually used to make roast beef deli meat.

Round top beef makes a good alternative to skirt steak because it is delicious and tender when slow cooked. It is also a very affordable cut of beef and usually comes in larger cuts so it’s great if you are feeding a crowd.

Best Substitute For Flank Steak In Ropa Vieja 

7. Chuck Roast 

Ropa Vieja is a national dish of Cuba. In English Ropa Viega most closely translates to old clothes. It  is called this because the colorful shredded beef and vegetable dish resembles cut pieces of fabric tangled together.

It is a very flavorful dish that is slow cooked with traditional Cuban spices, peppers, onions, and olives. 

Skirt steak is often used in this dish because it can be sliced in long strips that are indicative of the name, but chuck is arguably a more delicious option. Chuck Roast is cut from the top front of the cow, above the brisket. It is great for any dish that is slow cooked and shredded.

Best Substitute For Flank Steak In Fajitas

8. Ribeye Steak

You really can’t go wrong with ribeye steak. The fat content and strong flavor are similar to skirt steak so it is an easy substitute, and some might consider it an upgrade.  It is cut from the meat at the top of the rib primal, the same area that is sometimes cut to make prime rib.

It is tender and very flavorful no matter how you cook it but it is best prepared on a grill. If you are using it for fajitas you can grill it first and then slice it when serving. It will be a different, more tender version of the traditional fajita but I would bet that no one would complain.

9. Hanger Steak

Hanger steak comes from the underside of the cow between the ribcage and the loin. It is a thick strip of meat that is very similar to skirt steak in texture, though it has the tendency to be tougher. This steak needs to be marinated to help make it more tender and less grainy.

It is a good alternative for skirt steak, especially in fajitas which usually involve a tasty marinade.

10. Seitan

It is a great option for vegetarian fajitas but if you eat gluten free then you should stick to tofu or beef. Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten and gluten flour. It is better than tofu in fajitas because it is more firm and holds its shape better.

It also tends to come in a marinade already, which makes it convenient.

Final Words

When considering substitutes for skirt steak there are many varieties to choose from. If you are looking for a high quality and tender cut of beef for a stir fry you can try rib eye steak, sirloin strips, or Tri-tip steak. If you are looking for something that you can slow cook for a Mexican or Cuban dish then you should seek out chuck roast or round top beef. 

For those who are vegetarian and gluten free, tofu is the way to go. If you are vegan but can eat gluten then seitan makes for a more meat-like alternative. And for stir fry the versatility of chicken breast and even mushrooms cannot be ignored. 

One option is not the best overall, it all depends on your dietary preferences, budget, creativity, and taste. Skirt steak has its own unique qualities but it is not absolutely necessary for any recipes and can easily be swapped out for something else. 

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