Grilled Skirt Steak with a Garlic Cilantro Rub

Spice rubs are one of the easiest things you can do to a piece of meat to make it go from ho-hum to weeknight spectacular.  All you need is a fresh herb, oil, salt and pepper.  Add in garlic and you have a really simple spice rub that is great on skirt steak.

Grilled Skirt Steak with a garlic, cilantro and lime juice rub

Making the Garlic Cilantro Steak Rub

Truth is this is more of a paste than it is a rub.  A rub is technically just dried spices.  But since we’re rubbing it on the steak to bring it extra flavor, I think it’s fair to call it a rub.

The rub itself gets you 80% to making homemade guacamole as the base is garlic, cilantro and lime juice.  If you have a lot of limes and cilantro, you can also make an awesome salad dressing.  You’ll be adding just enough olive oil to hold it together so that it can be rubbed onto the meat.  The olive oil has an extra benefit that it helps to raise the surface temperature of the meat to create and crispier exterior.

The lime juice will also help to tenderize the meat, so you can do this as much as 6 hours in advance of grilling to really build wonderful flavors.

Garlic Cilantro Rub for Skirt Steak

Tenderizing the Skirt Steak

There is a taqueria near our house that has the most amazing carne asada.  While I’ve never directly asked for their secret (other than lots of salt), I’ve tried to recreate it as closely as possible.  One things I’ve noticed is that it’s always very thinly cut while the skirt steak from our butcher is anywhere from a 1/4 to 1/3 inches thick.  Pounding it out with a meat hammer is clearly one part of the solution.

I don’t have a fancy metal meat hammer with the spikes on the end, but I do have a rubber mallet. Around here, this is now known as my Skirt Steak Hammer.  To make it easy to clean up, I wrap it in plastic wrap and tie it around the handle before pounding out.


How to turn a rubber mallet into a meat tenderizer
How to turn a rubber mallet into a meat tenderizer

Apply the Rub to the Skirt Steak

Give the skirt steak a generous coating of the rub on both sides, cover and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill.

Grilling will go quickly.  If you have fans of a rare, or jugoso, steak, you’ll only cook for 2-3 minutes per side.  Just long enough to get grill marks and a nice exterior.  For the kids, I’ll cut the steak in half and leave one on for 4-5 minutes per side.


Skirt Steak before grilling with garlic cilantro rub applied
Skirt Steak before grilling with the garlic cilantro rub applied

Slicing The Skirt Steak

Since skirt steak is naturally a pretty tough cut, you’ll want to slice against the grain to break it down before serving.  This means that 99.9% of the time, you will turn the skirt steak 90 degrees and cut from the sides rather than start at the end and slice.

Be sure to give it a good 10 minutes to rest as well after grilling, or you’ll have a cutting board full of meat juice and a dry piece of meat.

For a pairing, I’d suggest crispy purple (or red) potatoes and balsamic Brussels Sprouts with bacon


Grilled Skirt Steak with a Garlic Cilantro Rub
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Rub skirt steak with garlic, cilantro and lime before grilling for an amazing carne asada
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 People
Author: Tony Bailey
  • 2 Pounds Skirt Steak
  • 2 Tablespoons Crushed Garlic
  • 1 Cup Cilantro Leaves
  • 2 Limes Juiced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  1. Season the skirt steak with salt and pepper on both sides before making the rub
  2. In a small food processor, add the garlic, cilantro, lime juice and chili powder and pulse until chopped. You may need to scrap down the bowl several times
  3. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the olive oil, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have something the consistency of a paste
  4. Rub this onto the meat and grill for 2-3 minutes per side for rare to medium rare and 4-5 minutes per side for medium to well
  5. Steak can be marinated for up to 6 hours before cooking and can also be cooked under a broiler

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