Carne Asada

Carne asada is the thinly sliced, grilled beef served so often in tacos and burritos. It is also commonly served as is, with rice and beans on the side. Although almost any cut of beef can be butterflied into thin sheets for the carne asada, typically it is made from flank steak or skirt steak. It can be grilled just with salt and pepper for flavorings, or it can be marinated. The following is a recipe for marinated carne asada.

Carne Asada

Carne Asada Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

If you don't have a grill you can use a well-seasoned grill pan or a large cast iron pan on the stove-top. Heat on high to sear and then lower the heat to finish cooking. Make sure to use your stove vent, searing the steak this way can smoke up the kitchen!



    • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank or skirt steak
    • Olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
    • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems), about 1/2 cup chopped
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 2 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup olive oil


1 Lay the steak in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill for high direct heat, with part of the grill reserved with fewer coals (or gas flame) for low, indirect heat. You'll know the grill is hot enough when you can hold your hand above the grill grates for no more than one second.

Remove the steak from the marinade. Lightly brush off most of the bits of cilantro and garlic (do not brush off the oil).

Place on the hot side of the grill. Grill the steak for a few minutes only, until well seared on one side (the browning and the searing makes for great flavor), then turn the steak over and sear on the other side.

carne-asada-method-1 carne-asada-method-2

Once both sides are well seared, move the steak to the cool side of the grill, with any thicker end of the steak nearer to the hot side of the grill.

Test with a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, or use your fingers (see The Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat). Pull the meat off the grill at 125°F to 130°F for rare, 140°F medium rare, 150°F for medium.

3 Place the steak on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Use a sharp, long bladed knife (a bread knife works great for slicing meat) to cut the meat. Notice the direction of the grain of the meat and cut perpendicular to the grain. Angle your knife so that your slices are wide and thin.


(Optional) Serve with warm tortillas (flour or corn). Warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side in a dry skillet or on the grill, until toasty and pliable. Alternatively, you can warm tortillas in a microwave: heating just one or two at a time, place tortillas on a paper towel and microwave them for 15 to 20 seconds each on high.


(Optional) Serve with pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa) and chopped avocados.

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Carne Asada

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Showing 4 of 51 Comments

  • ann

    I love to add citrus juice to my Mexican meat marinades whether for beef or pork or chicken.
    If you add a little annato/achiote to this as well it turns it into Yucatean style marinade and provides a lovely deep reddish color to the meat once grilled.
    Oh, and it’s delicious, especially when served with pickled onions!
    Beautiful Elise, thanks much.

  • Amy Kilpack

    Carne is one of our family favorites. We have if frequently thru out the year. I usually marinate it for atleast 24 hours and then during the last 3 or 4 hours add some lemon and lime juice. We put ours in corn tortillas(doubled up) and top with cilantro and some red onion. Yummm

  • Elizabeth

    Yum! We moved to Sac from San Diego a few years ago, and bemoaned the lack of good carne asada up here. In San Diego, you can’t swing a stick wtihout hitting a little mexican market, where they sell it by the pound. My husband finally started marinating his own, and he will frequently put a little beer in the marinade, too. Quite tasty! This may be on the menu tonight! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tony

    I made this last night and LOVED it. BTW–we don’t have a grill or a iron skillet, so instead of grilling, I cooked the meat with the marinade in a large saucepan till the meat was almost cooked. Then I put it on the broiler pan in the over (on broil) for a few minutes, flipped the steak strips, put it back for a few more minutes…delicious. THANKS.

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