Carne Asada

Carne asada shown wrapped up in a flour tortilla with pico de gallo and avocado

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 Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds flank or skirt steak
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Marinade:

    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed (best to lightly toast the seeds first, then grind them)
    • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems)
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method

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1 Lay the flank 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.

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2 Preheat your grill over medium-high flame (you can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat for stove-top cooking). Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade. If you are cooking indoors, you may want to brush off excess marinade as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.

(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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46 Comments

  1. 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!
    YUM!
    Beautiful Elise, thanks much.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. skdamian

    Easier to just use lemon, cilantro, and garlic for the marinade, you dont need more than that. (although I do add some onion slices, which are grilled with the meat, and will go well in the tacos). This is actually intended to be simple, you dont need all those ingredients to make it good. Trust me we used to make this on weekends at my house (hubby is Mexican). Simple is the recipe, awesome is the taste.

  6. Sean

    We did pretty much the same thing in taco form. Delicious no matter how you compose it.

  7. Ricardo

    Wow,simply wonderful. I used to live just across the mexican border, had carne asada daily, reminds me of mexico. thanks

  8. Sandy

    I made this a few nights ago my whole family loved it!!! (by the way I’m 14)

  9. Jana

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve made homemade tortillas, rice, and beans for years, but always bought my carne asada from local butcher/taqueria. Now I’ve moved to the UK and can’t find authentic Mexican anywhere. I’ve missed carne asada the most and can’t wait to try this recipe. I’m off to the butchers at my local market now!

  10. Clara

    Thanks for the recipe. It was delicious! I used it tonight for dinner lacking some of the ingredients-chiles/cilantro but it was still unbelievably awesome. My guests raved about the flavor. Thanks so much.

  11. Cindy

    Would it be a problem to marinate this overnight? I know certain ingredients should be in contact with the meat too long, but I don’t know which… any tips? I’d like to start it tonight to grill it tomorrow after work!

  12. Elise

    Hi Cindy – in general you don’t want that meat sitting in lime (or any acidic ingredient) overnight as it will make the meat mushy. You don’t really need to marinate this more than an hour actually. Even a half hour will do. Just get it in the marinade first thing when you get home. By the time your grill is hot enough, you should be ready.

  13. Ashley

    This is delicious, I’m making it for the third time. Also, I always make salsa just like yours and it is So good!! After I cook my meat on the bar-b-q and let it cool and then slice it, I re-warm it in a skillet in the house before serving in warm tortillas. Thanks Elise for this excellent recipe! PS. That’s my daughter’s middle name….Elise :o)

  14. Dana

    I made this tonight for my husband and some friends for Cinco De Mayo and everyone loved it! Everyone said it was the best mexican food they had ever had. I also made your fresh tomato salsa. Delicious!

  15. Oscar

    Carne asada is just what you call it when you get together and grill meat, i don’t think it is defined as any dish or type of meat.

    What is served in a carne asada is usually determined by the area you are in.

    Here in the north it’s usually flank steak or rib-eye, and ribs. For seasoning good quality meat just add some olive oil, salt and pepper. Extras that are made on the grill are queso flameado, grilled onions, guacamole, limes, chopped onion and cilantro, pico de gallo, and salsas (borracha, roja, mexicana, habanero, verde).

    And corn tortillas are just as popular and imo a better choice than flour tortillas, which seem to taste weird when you make the quesadillas on the grill. But put the cheese on the corn tortilla on the grill and then add the guacamole, salsa and lime juice and it will taste much better in my opinion.

    You can turn the corn tortilla several times on the grill until it gets dry and hard and crispy and now you have tostadas and you can put meat and stuff on them or melt some cheese, etc.

    Sometimes you will find grilled cayenne peppers or jalapeños on the grills, or grilled cactus leafs which are sweet and delicious.

    That is more or less carne asada.

  16. Urbanmom

    As a California girl transplanted to the East Coast I miss that “baja cuisine” so readily available at any grocery store or true Mexican restaurant. So, I was so pleased when I tried this recipe. It tastes like home. Perfection. I only made a slight adjustment. I added the juice of a lemon and the juice of an orange. Fantastic. Love your site.

  17. Gribble

    I’m a college bum accustomed to eating greasy burgers and cold pizza. Lately I’ve been expanding my culinary horizons by tackling one interesting recipe after the next–most of which I find here. Anyway, I made this today along with your salsa. It was quite good, although I discovered that I’m not a fan of cilantro. Bleh. Next time I’ll be making it sans that particular ingredient.

  18. Sarah

    I also like to add the juice of an orange and lemons, as well as the lime. And slicing up a red and/or green bell pepper and adding it to the marinading process adds tastiness, too.

  19. helen

    Carne Asada. In Sonora, we just season with salt and grill it. The extras are what makes it special. Green onions on the grill, salsa, either cooked or fresh pico de gallo, fresh flour tortillas, refried beans, guacamole. And for dessert a delicious good jamoncillo!
    Thanks for sharing this easy recipe so more people can ejoy it.

  20. Glenn Kloss

    I made this recipe for a gathering yesterday. It was superb. The marinade transforms the steak in a way I have never observed before. So often with marinated meat, you taste meat + marinade. In this case. the meat and marinade combined to make something that went beyond either of them.

  21. julia

    I made this tonight for my boyfriend. We are on a culinary exploration these days.
    Fantastic recipe! I also added 1 tsp. Chipotle chili powder to the marinade and served it with sauteed red and yellow peppers, onion and an Anaheim chili all wrapped in tortillas. Delicious, definitely a keeper!

  22. Stephanie

    We are from Arizona, the best carne asada you have ever tasted. We moved to the East Coast and have not been able to find the same thing. This recipe is the closest we found and it is really good. It brings us back home in just a couple of bites. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Memoria

    Instead of microwaving a tortilla one by one, a quicker way to heat up tortillas is to put a whole bunch of tortillas in a paper towel and then enclose them in a covered plate or bowl. Microwave them for 60-90 seconds. This is a quick way to do it for a big family, and they come out perfectly. We have only done this with corn tortillas, but I’m sure it would work with flour tortillas, too. Make sure to keep the top on the tortillas as you’re eating so that they stay warm! ¡Buen provecho!

  24. betty

    We were in San Jose Del Cabo in Jan 09 and watched this being made in an outside little family business. I don’t know what they used for a marinade (this one sounds delicious) but he squeezed a fresh orange on it while grilling. His was awesome and authentic. I am trying this recipe tonight.

  25. glrn

    We make this a lot- it is easiest to buy the thinly sliced flank steak pre-packaged. I can’t imagine it would be too hard to have the guy at the meat counter slice some up for you. For the marinade we use:
    -worcestershire sauce
    -juice of 2 whole limes- put in microwave for 15 seconds then roll on counter with heel of your hand to release all the good juice
    -salt and pepper of course (kosher salt and fresh ground pepper are best in my humble opinion)
    -sometimes garlic :)
    -squirt of sirachi hot sauce (yum yum- I do realize this is crossing the mexican/oriental line here!)
    -soy sauce

    We don’t usually plan too far in advance so this just gets marinated for about an hour. One suggestion I do have is not to grill for too long. Since the meat is so thin it really doesnt need to be on there that long.

    Put the meat in a flour or corn tortilla with some fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro (we grow our own!) and it’s refreshing, light and delicious!
    – I have to admit I do put a little sour cream in there too :)

  26. Mitch

    I’ve made this recipe several times for my wife’s family. They love it! On the fourth of July, we invited my parents for dinner. We decided to grill chicken. I used the carne asada recipe as the marinade. Because I wanted a southwest-citrus flavor, I added a half-cup of orange juice. I let it marinade for about two to three hours, then grilled it on my gas grill. I grilled a whole chicken cut up and boneless skinless chicken breasts. It was a huge hit with my parents and my wife. The meat was very tender and full of flavor.

  27. Mike

    This recipe sounds pretty good. I’m gonna to have to expirment with the spicyness (using different peppers) and the acidity (using different citrus) but definitely a nice base for a great marinade.

    betty – Your marinade sounds interesting also… I’m gonna give it a shot someday. Maybe add a little honey for that sweet & spicy asian flavor… just a thought.

    It’s a plus that I “always” carry the ingredients to make both of these marinades… LOL

  28. Patrick M

    For My New Son-In-Law

    Wow! What a great recipe. My daughter recently married a Texan whose family is from Mexico. I have always been partial to Italian cooking styles and not familiar with much in the way of Spanish recipes, though I’ve always loved the dishes. So I did a Google search for Carne Asada and found your recipe. In celebration of my son-in-law’s visit to our home, I prepared the steaks and served them on tortillas with the pico de gallo and avocado. It was a smash hit with not only my son-in-law but the entire family.

    So glad your family liked it! ~Elise

  29. Matt Newnham

    I used your recipe to feed 40 people for a Toys for Tots fund raiser. Costco Flap meat and I added a little orange juice and onion to your. I think people really enjoyed it. I thought it came out splendidly and I’m kinda picky.

    Thanks for the recipe. Good job.

  30. Jayne

    I made this last week for my family and my Dad couldn’t stop raving about it the whole time we ate.
    I served it wrapped in tortillas with mashed avocado, sliced red onion and sliced red capsicum. I also stirred a can of red kidney beans in at the end.
    Delicious! Can’t wait to make it again.

  31. Robin Clark

    My daughter wanted carne asada for her 20th birthday, found your recipe for it along with your refried beans and Spanish rice recipes. They were a big hit with her and our 11 other guests. Thank you.

  32. John Barnes

    Absolutely wonderful! Better than I’ve had at a restaurant. It seemed even better the following day; thanks very much!

  33. Autumn

    The best marinade that I’ve ever had!!!

  34. Catherine

    Carne Asada is a favorite here. I season mine with salt, pepper, garlic, and then marinate it overnight with cilantro, limes, onions, bell peppers and orange juice. I grill the carne asada the next day. Wow!! Yummy!!

  35. Eileen

    Thank you, thank you for posting this recipe. Carne Asada is surprisingly unknown here in New Mexico. We left Southern California a few years back. Though I adore it here, it is funny how much you can miss certain foods. Like others who’ve commented, I used to get my meat pre-marinated, and though I’d made my own before, it has been ages and I couldn’t quite remember how. I used your recipe for the marinade. With no chiles on hand, I used Chipotle sauce. The weather is getting cool, so used the idea of broiling it from another recipe out in net-land. (High and close to the flame, 6 minutes on each side…) Perfect. My husband was in heaven. Me too.

  36. Maria

    The best carne asada ever!

  37. Dan

    Many thanks for sharing this recipe. I followed it to the letter, marinaded rump steaks overnight and they were absolutely delicious and so tender.

  38. Lola Dee

    I lived in San Diego for 25 years, and of course, being so near Tijuana, Mx, we have some of the best Carne Asada on the planet. My suggestion? Do not forget the beer! I hired some authentic Mexican cooks to cater a party, and they marinated the steaks overnight in beer, lime juice, and garlic salt, then grilled it on an open pit. Then, it’s all about the condiments- home made tortillas, salsa fresca & guacamole. All freshly made! My other favorite carne asada is made by Harvest Ranch Market, a high end Butcher shop in San Diego. Best ever! I personally use beer, lime juice, garlic, olive oil & oregano when I make it. :) Your recipe looks good.

  39. Rojo Guio

    Great recipe. Works well with Venison too. Good job Simply Recipes

  40. Chris Jenkins

    I love Carne Asada!!! My girlfriend is Spanish & she cooked this for me last night. Mad great left overs also… thank you :)

  41. Emiko

    Today was a Simply Recipes day. After the biscuits and gravy for breakfast, we grilled up some amazing carne asada and paired it with the bell pepper salsa. Absolutely amazing! I have yet to be let down by one of your recipes. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Great! ~Elise

  42. lovingladylaura

    This was a HIT! I made it for my son’s 11th b-day, and even his Asian friends forgot about the hot-dogs. Served on flour tortilla tacos, pico de gallo, mexican rice and “borracho beans”(extremely mexican beans and delicious).

  43. Candy C.

    Elise,
    I follow your site on my homepage and so enjoy all of your recipes! It always tickles me when I Google for a recipe and one of yours comes up in the search, I know I don’t have to look any further! I made this last night and my husband, who is on the eternal quest for the best Carne Asada in southeast AZ, told me that this was the best thing he had ever eaten! Thanks for another great recipe!

  44. Bob Burkins

    It’s very nice and im a harsh critic.

  45. Gukta

    I hate Mexican food, but I love this!

  46. Ajay

    I don’t like a strong cilantro taste in any food, so rather than cut back the amount i just give the meat a quick rinse after cooking then flash it for a few minutes, in my opinion it doesn’t compromise the rest of the flavors. Of course I let the meat marinate for a whole day so the flavor has extra time to fuse with the meat.

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