Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos

Grilled skirt steak tacos. They’re slightly spicy with just a hint of sweet. And they’re so fast and easy. First the meat takes a quick bath in a marinade of chipotle in adobo, cumin, coriander, and lime and then it’s tossed on the grill. Weeknight friendly and oh so satisfying.

Cutting board with grilled skirt steak tacos, sliced jalepenos, tortillas, lime wedges, pickled onions, cilantro

We just found one more reason to adore tacos. Skirt steak takes a quick marinade before taking a quick turn on the grill and then being tucked inside warm tortillas. Heaps of pickled red onions, jalapeño, and cilantro don’t hurt anything. No need to wait until Tuesday.–Angie Zoobkoff

Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 30 M
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Serves 6
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Special Equipment: 1-quart mason jar


  • For the grilled skirt steak
  • For the pickled onions
  • To serve


Make the skirt steak

In a small bowl, mix the chipotle purée, brown sugar, coriander, cumin, salt, and lime juice until combined. Pat the skirt steak dry with paper towels, place it in a resealable plastic bag, add the chipotle marinade, and toss the meat inside the bag to coat. Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Remove the meat from the bag and discard the marinade.

Make the pickled onions

While the steak is marinating, pack the onions into a 1-quart mason jar. Fill the jar with cold water, leaving 1/2 inch (12 mm) of space at the top. Pour the water from the jar into a measuring cup (use a spoon to keep the onions in the jar) to calculate its volume. Discard half the water and replace with an equal quantity of vinegar. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt for every 1 cup liquid.

In a small nonreactive saucepan set over high heat, combine the vinegar mixture, garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes and then carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions in the jar, seal, and refrigerate for as little as an hour and as long as a month.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high.

Grill the skirt steak over direct heat until cooked to the desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the steak. While you’re grilling, feel free to toss the tortillas on the side of the grill over indirect heat to get them warm and taco ready.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve with warm or lightly charred tortillas, cilantro, jalapeño, pickled onions, and lime wedges.

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    • To make puréed chipotles, blend the entire contents of a 12-ounce (340 g) can of chipotles in adobo sauce in a blender. It will make much more than what you need, but that’s ok. You can stash the extra in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer until the next time you’re craving these smoky grilled tacos or any other recipe that calls for chipotle en adobo.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This is an easy and flavorful recipe for skirt steak tacos. My Texas-born boys didn't say much but they leaned back in their chairs and closed their eyes. They were back home for a minute and you can't ask for more than that.

    It was nice to grill the tortillas alongside the skirt steak and have everything ready at once. The pickled onions are so bona fide, I felt like I was home in Texas. Along with the cilantro, jalapeño, and lime, this is a perfect group of toppings.The pickled red onions recipe is very clever with the displacement volume method. You end up with the perfect amount of brine.

    A keeper. This is a terrific recipe that delivers great flavor and is easy to prepare. The marinade works perfectly with the meat, leaving a whisper of sweetness after grilling that isn’t overbearing. I marinated the steak for about 90 minutes and grilled over charcoal for about 5 minutes per side. Since skirt steak tends to be uneven I kept the thinner portion away from the most intense heat and ended up with slices that were nicely charred on the outside and ranged from rare to medium rare, which suited everyone.

    The big surprise was the pickled red onions and how well they worked with the steak and the cilantro in the tacos. I was able to get almost all the sliced onions into the jar and used a cup of liquid overall and then let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. The onions were still somewhat crisp but had lost their sharpness and become a bit milder. We thought the jalapeño added a little too much heat for our palates, but overall the combination, spritzed with a little lime, was a great combination on the warm tortillas. I thought I would miss a little cheese or crema but loved the balance among the ingredients and especially the bright, slightly vinegary onions against the steak.

    We had leftovers, which I served the next night with the onions and cilantro but no tortillas, for another delicious meal.

    The marinade is fabulous, and one which I am planning to try on chicken sometime soon. I was going to divide this recipe in half, not wanting to have 2 pounds of steak for the 2 of us. However, I may make the full recipe every time I make this in the future, considering how many delicious dinners and lunches we got out of that 2-pound piece of meat.

    I marinated my skirt steak for 2 hours, and the meat was infused with great flavor in that amount of time. I cut my skirt steak into 3 pieces. I was concerned that the whole thing would not easily fit into the bag in a way that the marinade could be distributed evenly on everything. Even in smaller pieces, it was difficult getting the marinade to coat all of the meat. You need to take the time to make sure that you are successful with that.

    The pickled red onions are delicious, but I had to take liberties with making them. Having everything in a 1-quart mason jar didn’t allow much room for 1 pound’s worth of onion slices to be immersed in the brine. At least I had difficulty getting it to work. I ended up taking the onions out of the jar and placing them in a bowl large enough to hold the onions comfortably and then let them “bathe” in the brine. I then placed the whole mixture in a glass container with a glass lid. The end result is onions that are crispy, spicy, and full of great flavors. The texture has not changed over time. A week and a half later, we're still enjoying them. Besides enjoying the onions with the steak tacos, we've been eating them with quesadillas (very, very yummy!).

    I have made this recipe a handful of times since initially testing it a few months ago. Every time I have company, this meal is requested. It’s just that good—and since it’s super easy, I’m happy to oblige!

    I purée an entire 12-ounce can of chipotles in adobo and then portion out 1-tbsp cubes in a silicone ice cube tray for future use. I’ve also found you can mix the marinade right in the bag you’ll use to marinate the skirt steak; just squish it all around the bottom with your hands until mixed. Once you add the skirt steak, you’ll want to make sure the marinade is evenly distributed over the meat. There is not an overabundance of liquid, so seal the bag and go ahead and push the meat around in the marinade until it’s coated. I typically leave this on the counter to marinate 2 hours so the steak is room temperature when grilled.

    I pull the steak from the marinade and slap it dripping right onto the grill. The cooking time of 3 to 5 minutes per side is perfect. Feel free to let the steak rest up to 30 minutes before carving. As with all roasted and grilled meats, I’ve found longer is better when it comes to resting time (within reason!).

    Don’t skimp on the pickled onions. I’ve started making a double batch every time I cook this, since the steak is requested so often and the onions taste great with any grilled meat. I also add the sliced jalapenos to the onions when pickling—it takes a bit of the heat off of them so my self-proclaimed spice-hating friends can actually enjoy them!


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    1. These tacos are absolutely AAAAHHHHmazing. These tacos are full of flavor and the process seemed pretty easy (I was a bystander to all the cooking stuffs Kristen was doing). I’ve already asked when we’re having next taco night. 10/10. Would overeat again!

      1. It can be good to be a bystander, yes, Emily?! Laughs. Love that you are being well cared for by this recipe. We’re quite fond of it, too. And now you’ve got us thinking perhaps we need to find someone to make it for us…?! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you swoon to next!

    2. This recipe is so easy and so $%&# delicious it’s scandalous! I made it on a whim a few months ago and since then, it’s become the most requested meal at my house. If friends are coming over on the weekend, they ask if I’m making this. If I’m having an impromptu weeknight wine or beer tasting, my friends ask if I’m making this. They have the audacity to request it almost every party. It’s THAT good. The fact it’s super quick and simple is just the icing on the cake—or topping on the taco, as it were. The only things I’ve dared add are some sliced jalapeños when pickling the onions, and Cotija alongside the pickled veggies, cilantro, and lime wedges. And now you’ll have to excuse me because the grill is ready.

      1. BEST RECIPE! HANDS DOWN! I’ve never had a marinade give meat so much flavor! This is a must try recipe! The pickled onions get better with time too!

        1. Thanks so much, Jessica! We’re delighted that you enjoyed them so much. Thanks for taking the time to let us know.

      2. I didn’t make the recipe but I eat it all the time when Kristen makes it. She’s right, it’s so simple to make and so delicious that we have banned her from making sad excuses about why there is no time to make them. Keep these recipes coming…..they keep me fat and happy!

      3. Laughs. Where are the fireworks and hearts emojis?! Enthralled that you and everyone you know adore this recipe so, Kristen. Equally enthralled that you took the time to let us know. Many, many kind thanks…

    3. I don’t understand your need (talking about all American people) to add sugar to all the recipes. At least in Mexican food it is very, very rare to add sugar directly to the principal dish or the sauces. For a more Mexican feel, try to avoid the sugar. Plus sugar is very bad for the health.

      PS: Thanks anyway for your page, it is very good.

      1. Cesar, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the kind compliment. We readily confess that this isn’t traditional Mexican cooking. It’s more Tex Mex. No question. And you’re right, Americans do tend to add copious amounts of sugar to everything, which trains the palate to expect sweetness everywhere. Like you, I regard this tendency with frustration and try to resist it. As a yoga teacher who’s taken nutrition coursework, I’m incredibly moderate in my intake of sugar. Although as a home cook and someone who’s career has been spent learning about food, I respectfully would like to say that sometimes a small amount of sugar (1 tablespoon divvied among all the servings in this recipe) serves to underscore the other flavors and sorta smooth them all together. And when it comes to sugar and steak, I once wrote a feature for The Washington Post regarding the complex interplay of sweet and savory and how even one of the most noted chefs in America concurred that something magical happens when the two seemingly incongruous ingredients come together. Just a pinch is all it takes to facilitate a very complex reaction that brings about an almost umami-like taste.

        So in theory, yes, I completely agree with you. In practice, though, I sneak in a little moderation in all things, including moderation. I hope you try some of our other sugar-free recipes! We do have them in abundance! And again, thank you for calling us out on something that troubles you. We always welcome differing opinions!

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