Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

  • By Jackie Sun
  • May 24, 2015

Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions | Weeknight Meal #recipe via @CookSmartsIf you’re a die-hard meat eater, chances are, you absolutely love a good steak. Even if you prefer lean, white meats, there’s just something satisfying about a juicy hunk of red meat, bursting with beefy flavor.

However, we know that eating like you’re at a steakhouse every night is not always possible, mostly because of budget. (And because you probably want to throw in some chicken or fish or even a meatless meal every now and then!) Luckily, we have some cooking smarts that will allow you to have your steak and eat it, too.

“My husband could not believe that something this good wasn’t packed with calories. We’ll definitely be making this again.”

Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions | Weeknight Meal #recipe via @CookSmarts

First, it’s all about choosing the right cut of steak. If you don’t always buy steak, it can be pretty intimidating, because there are so many different cuts of beef – strip, rib-eye, flank, chuck, tenderloin, sirloin, skirt, t-bone. . .and that’s still not all of them!

For most of our cooking purposes, we like to stick with skirt or flank steak. [To learn more about the difference between skirt and flank steak, check out this article from The Kitchn.] Both are lean cuts that have some tough fibers, so they are best cooked quickly over high heat, making them perfect choices for stir-fries and fajitas. Or you can braise them slowly until they get really tender, but we’re talking quick weeknight meal today, right?

Fast cooking means that they won’t have time to get tough. Plus, these steaks are also cheaper than some of the other cuts, so you can still indulge without feeling guilty.

Both skirt and flank steaks have super beefy flavor, which means, even if you aren’t eating a big piece of steak as the main course, you can still enjoy flavorful steak as a component of your meal. Like in this week’s recipe – in sandwich form!

Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions | Weeknight Meal #recipe via @CookSmarts

Second, make it filling and hearty. Just because you’re eating less steak doesn’t mean that it won’t be filling enough. Stuffing the steak in between a toasted roll is just as delicious, and bread is a good, budget-friendly way to complete and bulk up your meal.

But you know us – we’re all about eating more veggies, so no meal is complete without a good dose of veggies. To complement the rich, beef flavor from the steak, we add sweet and buttery caramelized onions. If you’re not a fan of onions, these caramelized onions will surely change your mind. This is such a flavorful and tasty way to enjoy onions, you won’t even realize that you’re not devouring a full 8 ounce steak!

“This was soo good and mostly because of the onions. Yummy.”

Last, but not least, we serve this juicy, flavorful sandwich with a Zesty Romaine & Cabbage Salad for some added greens. [Check out more salad ideas from our Ultimate Salad Guide here.] Salads are healthy and add a nice crunch to this meal, making it balanced and yummy.

So there you go! A budget-friendly way to have flavorful and delicious steak for dinner and eat healthy while you’re at it!

Health Smarts:
We were inspired by Philly Cheesesteaks when creating this recipe, but wanted something lighter and healthier. The sandwich itself (without a salad) is 293 calories per serving, so you can feel good about eating both red meat and bread!

But if you feel like indulging a bit, we can’t blame you for adding a slice of cheese. . .We can’t resist melty cheese, so we’ll add a slice or two every so often!

For More Smarts:

Because skirt and flank steaks are lean cuts of meat, they really benefit from either a marinade (some marinades help tenderize the meat) or tenderizing (shown in the video below), so make sure you include one of these when you cook with this cut of beef.

Also, make sure to slice against the grain, the long lines that run along the meat. By slicing perpendicular to these lines, you are shortening those long strands of fiber, making them easier to chew.

Prepping Smarts:

Tenderizing not only breaks up the long strands of fiber found in meat, making them more tender, it also allows for maximum flavor absorption!

We know that chopping onions are not many folks’ favorite thing to do, but it can be done quickly! Just check out the video below. Besides, the buttery, caramelized onions are so worth it.

Equipment Smarts:

To save time and make this meal come together really quickly, we get two things done at the same time – sear the steak while the onions caramelize. Therefore, we need two pans for this – either a saute pan, skillet, or both, if you only have one of each.

Buy this 5 quart saute pan from Cuisinart on Amazon
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’

Skirt Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions
Author: Reilly Brock
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
The sweetness of the caramelized onions goes really well with the richness of the beef, like a healthier Philly Cheesesteak!
  • Ingredients
  • Skirt steak – 1 lb
  • Onions, yellow – 2, thinly sliced
  • Cooking oil – 1/2 Tbsp + 2/3 Tbsp
  • Red wine vinegar – 1 Tbsp
  • Sandwich rolls – 4
  1. Season steak – Season steak with some salt and pepper on both sides and tenderize with a fork. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
  2. Onions – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  1. Cut the sandwich rolls up the middle with a knife, if not pre-cut.
  2. Heat a saute pan or skillet over high heat. Add first part of cooking oil, onions, and a sprinkle of salt and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent and starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 to 15 more minutes until onions are deeply browned and sweet. If the pan ever looks too dry, just add a splash of water. Add red wine vinegar in the last 2 minutes.
  3. While onions are caramelizing, heat second part of cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until steak is browned and firm to the touch.
  4. Remove the steak and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  5. While the steak is resting, toast your sandwich buns in the oven, toaster oven, or by browning over medium heat on a skillet or griddle.
  6. Slice rested steak against the grain (look for the fibers of the steak and slice perpendicular to them).
  7. Place steak and onions on a toasted roll and enjoy!

Get our Meal Plans

The convenience of meal kits without the waste


Our Podcast: Strategies to become a smarter cook

Share the love!

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How can we help you in the kitchen?

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.

Skip to content