Authentic Carne Asada marinaded in a spicy citrus marinaded and grilled to perfection, this is the perfect Mexican steak recipe you’ll keep forever!
We love entertaining a large group and a Mexican buffet offers a great solution to feeding a crowd. Start with warm flour tortillas and crisp corn tacos. Then serve this carne asada recipe with Easy Queso, Mexican Rice, Easy Refried Beans, and Chipotle Guacamole (Copycat).
Carne Asada Recipe
Carne asada simply means “grilled meat” but don’t let the basic name fool you! This easy flank steak recipe develops authentic Mexican flavor in a spicy citrus marinade just like you’d find in your favorite Mexican restaurant. Carne asada satisfies a crowd and makes quick tacos, fajitas, burritos and more Mexican favorites.
Carne Asada Tacos
Serve in corn tortillas topped with some cotija cheese, cilantro, salsa and avocado for the perfect easy taco!
Carne Asada is a method of preparing meat that we turn to often during outdoor grilling season. The hands-on time for preparing the carne asada marinade is brief then the meat sits overnight and waits until it is time to fire up the grill! Actual grilling time is only 5-7 minutes per side. The final temperature of this lean flank steak is medium to medium rare.
Carne Asada Marinade
Don’t skip the time for the marinade to do its job! If your cut of meat will fit in a heavy duty freezer bag, put the meat in the bag then pour the marinade on top, setting aside one cup of the marinade to use as a sauce later on. Tightly seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat.
If your cut of flank steak is too large for a Ziplock bag, use a 9 by 13 dish or disposable pan. Pour all but one cup of the marinade over the meat. Use tongs to turn the meat a few times to generously coat the entire flank steak. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to let the marinade work its magic.
What is the meaning of Carne Asada?
Carne asada translates to “grilled meat”. Beef is the traditional choice of meat although you could also make pollo asado which is “grilled chicken” or pork asada using the same cooking technique. The best carne asada is grilled and is often offered as street tacos in Mexico.
What cut of beef is used for an Authentic Carne Asada Recipe?
Carne asada can be made with many cuts of meat from sirloin to tenderloin, but skirt steak, flank steak and flat iron steaks are the most popular choices. We use flank steak because it is a lean cut of meat that benefits from tenderizing and a flavorful marinade. Another plus is that flank steak cooks quickly on the grill. Skirt steak is an option but it has more tough fibers which means tenderizing is very important.
The third option, the flat iron steak is similar to the flank but it is is smaller and more tender, so if you find that option and you’re cooking for two I would recommend giving it a try too.
If you are choosing to use skirt steak in addition to tenderizing the meat you have to remember that a skirt steak is significantly thinner than most cuts of beef. This means that you have to be very cautious in how long you cook a skirt steak for, I recommend a very high heat cooking surface and no more than two to three minutes on each side.
How do you make meat tender?
- Pierce the meat with a meat tenderizer: The goal is to break down the muscle fibers in the meat. If you don’t have a tenderizer, use a fork and poke holes all over the meat.
- Use a marinade: A marinade combines acidic ingredients with seasonings which allows the marinade to melt into the meat.
- Cut across the grain of the meat: Grain is the direction that the lines (or muscle fibers) run through the meat.Against the grain means to cut in the opposite direction.
As you marinade the meat make a mental note of the grain, then later when you slice the meat, cut thin strips against the grain for tender results. For example, if the grain runs from top to bottom of a cut of meat (north to south, say), then cut across the meat (west to east).
We aim for authentic carne asada flavor with a combination of orange, lemon, and lime juices along with soy sauce then pump up the spice with garlic, adobo chipotle pepper, ground chili pepper, ground cumin, paprika, oregano and black pepper.
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How do you cook carne asada?
- Grilled: We think the best carne asada is grilled. Use your outdoor grill when the weather permits, although an indoor grill is a good option too.
- Stove top: You could also cook marinated flank steak on the stove top in a skillet for 4-6 minutes per side.
- Oven Roasted: Roast the beef until an internal temperature of 130° is reached.
- Broiled: Broil on high heat for 4-6 minutes per side to medium rare (or medium if preferred).
How long do you grill carne asada?
Grill flank steak for 5-7 minutes per side on a medium heated gas grill or charcoal grill.
What goes well with carne asada?
Carne asada is perfect to share as the main dish but it also has variations that make it an ideal dish to cook once and then to make multiple meals with the leftovers.
- Carne Asada Fries is a dish where the grilled beef is laid on top of freshly made French fries. This Southwestern specialty is served topped with sour cream and guacamole.
- Carne Asada Breakfast Burritos is the perfect way to use leftover grilled steak. Layer the grilled meat with scrambled eggs, onions, and peppers on a tortilla. Top with shredded cheese and wrap into a burrito.
- Carne Asada Nachos are a lot like carne asada fries. Load your grilled carne asada nachos with jalapenos, pico de gallo and guacamole.
- Carne Asada Taco Salad is another way to turn this dish into another meal. Layer steak over lettuce, chopped tomatoes, corn, and nacho chips and top with salsa and ranch dressing to make an easy taco salad.
Do you love Mexican food? You will also enjoy our recipes that will turn your Mexican buffet into a fiesta!
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken Fajitas
- Shrimp Ceviche
- Chicken Burritos, Beef Burritos or Breakfast Burritos
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 canned adobo chipotle pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 4 pounds flank steak
- Add all the ingredients except for the steak into a blender and blend until emulsified, then keep 1 cup of it reserved in the fridge for serving when cooked.
- Add the rest to a resealable container and place your steak on a cutting board.
- Using a meat tenderizer or fork pierce the steak(ALL OVER) then using a mallet get it to a 1/2" even thickness before adding it to the marinade and letting it marinade at least 24 hours but preferably 48 hours).
- Grill on medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium doneness and while cooking warm your remaining marinade to serve with your cooked carne asada which is served cut against the grain of the meat (do not cook this cut of meat more than a medium doneness).
Can I use this with chuck roast in a slow cooker?
Sure but I haven’t tried it so let me know how it turns out!
Ive made carne asada beef tacos numerous times…its pretty similiar to your recipe. I have a question thou… why do all the recipes Ive found for this type call for olive oil? Is there a reason for it? Its probably a dumb question but I figured I would ask cause I keep adding it but each time,Ive been adding less and less olive oil to the point that Im considering just omitting it out completely… is it for the flavor? cause the way I cook it, I dont need the extra fat,grease,etc cause I figured you can get it from the meat.
With my recipe, I cut up the meat first,then I put it in the marinade… when it comes time to cook it,I dump all of the meat and the entire bag of marinade into a pot to cook it. So I dont leave some out to serve as the marinade will be cooked so sometimes my family likes to take extra sauce to apply it over their tacos.
This marinade was so yummy!!! We ended up using flat iron steak as it’s what was available. Marinade tenderized it perfectly! This is a keeper…hubs tried to drink the extra marinade. ???
Haha, glad you all (especially your husband) loved it so much!
I made this and it’s amazing! The meat (I used sirloin flap) sat for 48 hours. I did read the recipe incorrectly and added an entire can of chipotle peppers and sauce. It actually wasn’t too spicy. It had a great kick! Best marinade!
I’m so happy to see it worked out. Thanks for the 5 stars, Amber.
This recipe is incredible! The meat turned out SO flavorful! We had a little trouble grilling it–it took much longer than the allotted time, but perhaps that’s because we’re grilling it in the dead of winter? Anyway, it was amazingly delicious! It’ll definitely go into the regular rotation!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, April.
I want to make this. For all the citrus juices, do you use fresh squeezed?
I prefer fresh squeezed but you can definitely substitute with bottles juices too. Enjoy!
I have used this recipe for steak and chicken and it never disappoints! This will be my go to marinade forever! Also, i used the whole can of chipotle adobo peppers and the reserve salsa comes out pretty spicy. Still delicious though!
Wooo that does sound spicy with a whole can! You are a brave soul haha! Glad you enjoyed though!
Please clarify for me 1 can of chipotle peppers or just 1 pepper from a can? I can’t wait to make this!!!
I just used 1 chipotle pepper from the can but feel free to adjust to your liking. Enjoy!
This was seriously the best steak (any meat) marinade I have had. It is really restaurant quality. This may sound over the top, but I am at a loss for words for how good this was. I WILL definitely make this again!!!! (No, this is not a paid advertisement)
I’m so glad you loved it, Nichole! Thanks for such a great compliment.
Sabrina I have a question could you smoke the flake steak?
This needs to happen at my house very soon!!
Sounds like a smart decision!
Looks so delish! Can make this at home later, way better than store bought!
I love how easy is this recipe! This Carne Asada looks fabulous!
This looks like the perfect juicy dinner!
Oh gosh, it looks delicious!! And I agree that your photos are great!
You are so sweet, Mahy! Thank you.
This carne asada packs so much flavor! We served it with a side of rice and added your chipotle guacamole with chips to keep the kids interested. Everyone loved it!
I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! Guacamole and chips are always a winning idea here too.
It is hard to find flank steak where we live in West Texas…any good substitutes?
I would recommend skirt steak or even hanger steak. Good luck on your search.