A delicious carne asada recipe made from marinated flank steak or skirt steak and grilled until tender and juicy. A great addition to any Mexican meal, this authentic recipe is made with olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano and other simple ingredients.
Juicy, melt in your mouth Carne Asada was always such a treat when I was growing up!
I remember my brother or dad would pick up some carne preparada (already marinated steak) at our local Mexican meat market on Sunday and they’d grill it in the backyard while my Mom and sisters finished making the side dishes.
When it was time to eat, they’d serve the meat on big platters family-style alongside things like Mexican rice, some Mexican salsas and homemade corn tortillas. It’s always been one of my favorite Sunday lunches with the family because the meat is just so good!
What is carne asada?
Carne asada is beef that has been marinated and grilled. When translated from Spanish, carne asada literally means “grilled meat.” Pretty simple, right?
The most common type of meat used to make carne asada is skirt steak or flank steak. Skirt steak is usually thinner and a bit more fatty, whereas flank steak is often a thicker and leaner cut. As long as they’re both sliced thinly after grilling, they both make great options for carne asada.
Carne asada marinade Ingredients
In addition to the cut of beef, one important component is the marinade.
The marinade for carne asada varies greatly from region to region in Latin America and there is no real one “authentic” marinade. Some marinades are as simple as oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lime juice, and others are a longer list of ingredients and spices.
For this carne asada marinade, I leaned towards the latter and tried to get in as much flavor as possible by using some of the following:
- chopped cilantro
- olive oil
- orange juice
- lime juice
- white wine vinegar
- chili powder
- ground cumin
- dried oregano
- a finely chopped jalapeno
- salt and black pepper
Once the marinade is mixed together, simply pour it over the steak in a large baking dish, bowl or large zip-top bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
How to make carne asada
Once the meat has been marinated, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry. Then drizzle both sides with a little bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick on the grill and season it lightly with coarse salt and black pepper.
Place it on the grill over medium-high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat and then let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain.
At what temperature is it done?
To get the most tender and juicy carne asada, the meat should be cooked to medium-rare. To do so, take the steak off the grill once it has reached 130°F and let it rest for 5 minutes. If you prefer your meat at a medium temperature, remove it from the heat when it reaches 140°F.
My husband likes to use the finger test to check for doneness, but I’m not very good at it so I always use a meat thermometer.
Here’s a great instant read thermometer that’s easy to use. It’s a kitchen tool that I use almost every single day!
No grill? No problem!
If you don’t have an outdoor grill or the weather isn’t suitable for grilling outside, you can cook carne asada indoors!
Simply heat a large skillet over high heat. A cast iron or grill pan are the best options. Then cook the meat for 6-8 per side, until your desired level of doneness is reached.
Make sure to turn on your stove top’s vent hood to get rid of any excess smoke that can happen when cooking at high heat.
What to serve with carne asada
Two of my favorite dishes to make with carne asada are carne asada fries and carne asada tacos! But just in case you’re looking for more ideas, here are some dishes that pair perfectly with this recipe:
tips and tricks
- Make sure to slice the steak against the grain for the most tender carne asada. To slice against the grain, make note of which way the muscle fibers of the meat are running, then slice perpendicular to those lines.
- Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. Grilling time for skirt steak will be closer to 4 minutes per side and flank steak will be closer to 6-8 minutes per side. You can also use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 orange, juiced (about 1/4 cup of juice)
- 1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons of juice)
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar also work)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for grilling
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for grilling
- 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak, excess fat removed
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except for the steak.
- Place the steak in a large baking dish or gallon size ziplock bag and pour the marinade on top. Turn the steak a few times until it's completely coated with the marinade and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Do not marinate for longer than 8 hours because the meat will start to break down and get mushy.
- Remove steak from marinade and discard any excess marinade. Pat steak dry with paper towels and drizzle with a touch of olive oil, enough to coat each side. Season lightly with coarse salt and black pepper on both sides.
- Preheat grill for direct heat grilling at high heat (450-500°F). Grill steaks with the lid closed for 4-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Skirt steak will be closer to 4 minutes per side and flank steak will be closer to 6-8 minutes per side.
- Remove steaks and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve.
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