Hearing that sizzle as fajitas are served is part of the experience that makes eating them so appealing. But what really matters is the taste and having quality meat is the key.
Here are the six best cuts of steak to use the next time you’re ready to enjoy this one-of-a-kind dish.
1. Skirt Steak
Skirt steak is a great cut of meat to use for fajitas. In fact, it is generally the most common cut to use for this recipe.
This cut of meat is often confused with flank steak, and while they are similar, the skirt cut tends to be a bit juicier because of its marbled fat content.
This cut makes a great fajita because it can be thinly sliced.
When cooked, it becomes really juicy and is considered one of the more flavorful parts of the animal. Additionally, it soaks up marinades, making it even more delicious.
There are multiple ways to prepare this cut of meat, but grilling is one of the most popular methods.
- For perfectly juicy meat, it is best to grill the meat for around 4 to 5 minutes on each side. It will still be slightly pink in the middle and super tender.
- Letting it rest anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes will lock in the juices as well, making for a truly tasty bite.
- At this point, it can be thinly sliced and stacked on a tortilla with various fajita toppings.
For more, don’t miss The 14 Best Types of Steak for Kabobs.
2. Flank Steak
While flank is similar to skirt, this cut of beef can be delicious in a fajita as well.
Like the skirt cut, the flank can benefit from a good marinade. Many fajita marinade recipes are out there, and many of them can pair perfectly with a flank.
Just keep in mind that this cut of meat is a bit thicker and requires a little more cooking time. However, it is possible to cut the meat as thin as possible before cooking to help speed up the process.
This cut of beef can be cooked similarly to a skirt steak, but the best way to prepare it is by searing it in a hot skillet. This is always an excellent choice for a thicker cut of meat because it locks in a lot of flavors and caramelizes the outside of the steak.
It can also be pan-seared after it has been sliced into thinner pieces. However, this should be done at a little bit higher temperature to produce a juicer result. Cooking it for too long can make the meat too dry.
3. Hanger Steak
A hanger steak is a cut of beef that is from the cow’s upper belly. It is named so strangely because the meat “hangs” over the stomach area.
This popular cut of meat is known for its tenderness because the portion of the cow doesn’t experience a lot of movement. The price of this cut meat can be a little high depending on the specific market. However, it is totally worth it.
Much like the flank or skirt, hanger meat can soak in a marinade and be grilled up to perfection. It is considered a great piece of meat for a fajita because of the tenderness level. A great fajita benefits from tender meat that can be sliced into thin strips rather than being cut into chunks.
Pro Tip: Much like the preparation of other cuts of beef, perfect fajita meat should be cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time to really achieve a flavorful bite. It is also important to cut against the grain or against the muscle fibers of the meat. This results in a perfect slice every time.
4. Sirloin Flap
This “flap” of meat is from the rear of the cow, near the bottom sirloin area. It is similar to the skirt meat in that it is longer and flatter in appearance.
While it has the appearance of the skirt cut of meat, it is most similar to a flank cut in terms of texture. If no flank or skirt is available, the sirloin flap is a perfectly acceptable alternative for whipping up some fajitas.
The flavor of the sirloin flap is said to be beefier than other beef cuts (with the exception of the skirt), which also makes it a delicious choice.
How to Make It Stand Out
The best way to prepare this meat for a fajita recipe is by using a dry rub. Dry rubs are suitable for cuts that are a little thicker because they help create a nice seasoning crust once cooked.
5. Flat Iron
The flat iron cut of beef is a less commonly used piece of meat for fajitas. However, it is possible to transform it into a delicious meal.
This cut of meat specifically comes from the shoulder area of the cow, which makes it a bit tougher than the other options on this list. However, fajita recipes are an excellent way to make tougher pieces of meat more flexible through thinly slicing, marinading, or dry rubbing them.
How to Prepare It Right
Flat iron meat, like most others, can be grilled, smoked, or pan-seared. For a fajita recipe, this cut of beef would benefit best from being grilled to a medium rare (no more than 5 minutes per side). Additionally, it can be pounded with a meat mallet to help make the texture a little more tender and comparable to other cuts of meat.
6. London Broil
I bet you never expected this cut to make the list.
London broil is a variation of a flank steak and is basically the same cut of meat. However, the London broil is often marketed as its type of meat because it is a top-round cut of beef compared to a flank cut of meat.
When it is a top-round portion of beef, it tends to be a lot tougher in texture. However, it can be used for a fajita recipe if it is prepared just right.
The Keys to Success With the London Broil
- The best way to prepare London broil for a fajita is by using an acidic marinade for no more than an hour’s time.
- The meat should then be broiled (as the name implies) for around 10 minutes.
- After letting the meat sit for an additional 10 minutes, it should be cut diagonally (or against the grain) to get superb slices of beef.
Pro Tip: Like other steak variations on this list, London broil cuts can benefit from a little bit of tenderizing from a meat mallet before marinading and cooking. While it is a tougher piece of meat, it doesn’t need a lot of tenderizing before sticking it in a marinade.
I hope this list will help you create a unique fajita experience. No matter which cut you choose, I’m sure they’ll be a hit!
Thanks for reading!
Main photo courtesy of Missvain, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.