Hanger Steak vs Skirt Steak
WHAT IS HANGER STEAK?
The hanger steak comes from the cow’s plate section below the rib. It’s called a hanger steak because it hangs from the cow’s kidney below the tenderloin on the inside of the hindquarters. With just one hanger per cow, it’s a highly sought after, prized cut that was typically only used by butchers who could access that portion of the cow.
Hanger steak has a hint of iron which gives it an ultra-rich, beefy flavor prized by steak lovers. In fact, its value has increased further as it offers much the same richness and flavor of famous cuts like the New York strip and ribeye, but at a more reasonable price. Because it comes from a rarely used part of the cow, the muscle doesn’t get much stress which helps lead to a very tender bite.
COOKING HANGER STEAK
Hanger steak is best when cooked at a high, dry heat. Giving it a nice sear on the grill or in a pan helps lock in flavor and maintain its tenderness. The distinctive, coarse grain excels at holding in marinades and seasonings, but this is a cut that does just fine with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
We recommend cooking the hanger steak to an internal temperature of 125-130 degrees. However, this is a cut that can quickly become both overcooked and undercooked, neither of which is desirable. Because this steak is so thin, it can easily be overdone leading to a tough and hard chew. Conversely, cooking a hanger steak too rare gives it a soft and loose bite which no one wants.
WHAT IS SKIRT STEAK?
Another butcher’s cut, the skirt steak also comes from the plate section of the cow near the diaphragm. There are two skirt steaks per cow – an inside and outside skirt. The inside skirt steak is located inside the body cavity, while the outside skirt is the diaphragm muscle.
Skirt steak features rich marbling and fat that when cooked bastes the steak with flavor. This steak also features a distinctive, coarse grain that is ideal for marinades. It is considered one of the more flavorful cuts of beef.
COOKING SKIRT STEAK
Because it holds marinades so well, and because it tends to be less tender than some other cuts, skirt steak is a popular choice for a wide variety of steak-centric dishes, from carne asada and tacos to fajitas and churrasco. Popular cooking methods like grilling and sous vide work great, but many people prefer to smoke their skirt steak, as this can help provide a more tender bite.
If you’re grilling your skirt steak, we recommend cooking it over high heat on a grill or cast-iron skillet. The skirt steak is extremely thin so you must be cautious not to leave it on the heat for too long – a quick sear on both sides should do the trick. You want a gorgeous char on the outside and a beautiful pink center for a medium-rare to medium steak.
HANGER STEAK VS SKIRT STEAK
Although these two cuts of meat are similar, there are a few key differences. Chief amongst them is their size and shape. Hanger steak is usually thicker than skirt but just 6-7 inches in length. Skirt steak is thinner and longer, with some clocking in at an astonishing two feet long. Skirt steaks usually weigh more than hanger steak, with many weighing about two pounds.
Both steaks are on the less expensive side with the hanger often costing more due to its higher demand and the fact that there is only one per cow. Each of these cuts offers delicious flavor and can be served alone or as part of a dish. However, if you’re looking for a standalone steak with rich, beefy flavor and a tender bite, the hanger steak is where it’s at while skirt steak is the optimal choice for making your favorite steak-inspired dish such as fajitas or carne asada.
OUR FAVORITE HANGER STEAK AND SKIRT STEAK RECIPES
Check out a few of our favorite hanger and skirt steak recipes.