Carne Asada

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!

If you want, before adding the steak to the marinade, reserve a couple tablespoons of the marinade to drizzle over the finished carne asada to serve.

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

Ingredients

Steak:

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

Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed (if have whole, toast and then grind)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems!), about 1/2 cup

Fixings (optional):

  • Chopped avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Thinly sliced lettuce
  • Pico de gallo salsa

Method

1 Marinate the steak: Whisk to combine the olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and cumin in a large, non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Stir in the minced garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro.

Place the steak in the marinade and turn over a couple of times to coat thoroughly.

Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours or overnight (if using flank steak marinate at least 3 hours).

2 Preheat grill: 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.

(You can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat if cooking on the stovetop.)

3 Sear steak on hot side of grill: 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

4 Move steak to cool side of grill: 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 115°F to 120°F for rare, 125°F medium rare, 140°F for medium. The meat will continue to cook in its residual heat.

Note that lean flank steak is best cooked rare, while skirt steak can be cooked well without losing moisture or flavor because it has more fat marbling.

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

6 Slice steak across the grain of the meat: 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.

carne-asada-method-4

7 (Optional) Serve with grill toasted tortillas: Warm the tortillas (corn or flour) 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.

carne-asada-method-3

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

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Comments

  • Cynthia L Hupp

    Great flavor, but the soy sauce was a bit much. Almost an Asian-Mexican fusion, per my daughter. Next time I will go with more traditional flavors and add some chipotle seasoning and more lime juice. thanks for the cooking tips.

  • Elise

    I like the old recipe better… Don’t fix something of it isn’t broke. I use half a cup of olive oil, omit the soy sauce (too salty), I use 3 cloves of garlic, white vinegar, and one tablespoon of sugar. I use small flour tortillas, picco, avacado and some times just a little bit of sour cream to change the flavor.

  • Foodiewife

    At first, I questioned soy sauce in a Mexican recipe. Now, I get it! We loved the marinade… so full of flavor! Thank you for the recipe. It’s a keeper.

  • Christine

    Made this last night on the charcoal grill. Absolutely delicious. Wouldn’t change a thing

  • Susan

    Since you have the grill fired up anyway, throw some big green onions on there and enjoy with the carne asada inside a corn tortilla. So good!

  • Derek L Dong

    It actually literally translates to “meat grilled” not “beef grilled”. Beef is “carne de rez”. Just being a language nazi, the recipie is great! Tastes wonderful and nowhere near as complicated as many others I found in my search.

  • 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.

    • Elise

      I’m so glad you liked it Helen!

      • Helen

        My daughter and son came home very late tonight and tore into it. My son said to me, this is amazing.

  • 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 :)

    • Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

      I always think that’s the key! I struggle when buying an inexpensive cut to make it still taste good. But even when I splurge and buy a super pricy bit of beef, I tend to overcook it and then I get all mad at myself. Thank you Elise for explaining the difference between flank and skirt steak. Not sure if I’m the only one who has this problem, but sometimes I get to the meat section of the grocery store and feel so helpless!!!

  • 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!

  • Bob Burkins

    It’s very nice and im a harsh critic.

  • 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!

  • 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).

  • 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

  • Chris Jenkins

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

  • Rojo Guio

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Maria

    The best carne asada ever!

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • Autumn

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

  • John Barnes

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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 :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Sandy

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

  • Ricardo

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

  • Sean

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.