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

  • Helen

    Well, I finally got around to making this. I followed your directions to the letter. It was simply gorgeous. I also made your Spanish rice, which I do quite often, and your guacamole along with a black turtle bean recipe and then threw in some tomatoes and red onions. Mmmm.

  • Erin M

    Just made this for dinner after reading several recipes with 20+ ingredients that seemed excessive and I loved this!! The flavor was super amazing and the olive oil helped make my inexpensive cut taste awesome! Grilled in a grill pan over high heat for 4 min on each side. Thanks Elise for another awesome recipe that I will refer to again and again :)

  • 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.

  • Gukta

    I hate Mexican food, but I love this!

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