This authentic Carne Asada recipe makes the most delicious grilled beef that is perfect for eating on its own or adding to tacos, salads, or burritos!
You will love this Authentic Carne Asada Recipe!
When it comes to Mexican food, I'm a big fan of the meat. Which is why it's no surprise that I've already shared recipes on here for my favorite carnitas, shredded Mexican beef, and Mexican whole roasted chicken.
But this carne asada recipe definitely is up in the mix with it's amazing flavors of citrus and spice, cooked quickly on the grill on high heat to char the outside and leave the middle pink inside. It's wonderful eaten with a knife and fork like any good grilled steak.
Or you can slice it up thin and use it in any number of other tasty ways. You can actually still taste the rich, delicious flavor of the meat itself, which is complimented, instead of overpowered by the marinade, something that can be tricky to achieve.
What is Carne Asada Steak?
Carne Asada translated to English means “grilled meat”. Authentic Carne Asada is usually marinated beef in lime juice and seasonings and then grilled to be used for filling in tacos, burritos, or just served on its own. The beef used for carne asada is typically sliced chuck steak, skirt steak, or flank steak sliced thinly and cut into strips. I love ordering carne asada at restaurants and honestly I just like eating it on its own with a good side of beans and rice as much as I like using it for tacos, burritos, and in salads.
How long to marinate carne asada?
One reason I love this quick and easy carne asada recipe is that it takes almost no time to throw the marinade together and stick the meat in the fridge where it can (and should!) hang out for anywhere from 5 to 12 hours so that the flavors can penetrate the meat.
I don't like the meat to marinate any longer than that though because the citrus in the marinade starts to break down the meat too much after 12 hours without adding additional flavor benefit.
Also, you can either just chop things up and throw it in a plastic bag to marinate with the meat, or first blend all of the marinade ingredients together in a blender for a slightly different outer coating and flavor to your carne asada.
I typically just take the first approach because it's easier and one less dish to wash, but it's definitely worth trying the blender approach at least once to see which is your favorite method!
What you'll need for this Carne Asada Marinade Recipe
- A good cut of skirt steak, flank steak, or beef flap meat
- Orange & lime juice - The acidity of the orange and lime juice makes it a great meat tenderizer.
- Olive oil
- Soy sauce
- Apple cider vinegar - Another good meat tenderizer
- Jalapeno minced with seeds removed - Removing the seeds will eliminate the spiciness of the jalapeno.
- Green onions
- Minced garlic cloves
- Brown sugar
- Spices - A blend of ground cumin, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, and dried oregano (use Mexican Oregano if you can find it) gives a bold, smoky, savory flavor to our carne asada.
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
What is the best meat for Carne Asada Marinade?
Traditionally, carne asada, which actually translates to "grilled meat" is made using skirt steak, flank steak, or beef flap meat. The cuts are similar, and I usually tend to go with whichever looks best and is priced best when I'm at the store, although some people are loyal to a particular cut.
With all of these cuts of meat, they taste best when cooked more on the rare/medium-rare side and then thinly sliced across the grain, which gives the most tender bites.
If pressed, I would say that skirt steak is probably my favorite for carne asada (I think it tends to be a little more flavorful and tender), but the photos in this post are of carne asada made with flank steak (which is a leaner cut) and it was also delicious.
Regardless of which cut of meat you choose, carne asada is a great choice for any summer BBQ or cookout, or celebrating Cinco de Mayo!
How to make the Best Carne Asada Marinade
- Marinate the meat. Place the meat in a large gallon-size zip-tight bag, large glass bowl, or container. In a separate bowl, mix all the remaining marinade ingredients together. Pour over the meat in the bag or container and mix it around to make sure it is covering all parts of the meat. Place the meat in the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for at least 5 hours and up to 12 hours.
- Prep the grill. Heat your grill to high heat and clean and lightly oil the grates. When the grill is nice and hot, add the meat and grill to your desired level of doneness, between 5-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat.
- Let the meat rest and enjoy. Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes covered before slicing against the grain into thin slices. Letting the meat rest will distribute the yummy juices throughout the meat enhancing the flavor. Serve with tortillas, beans, rice, and pico de gallo.
How to make Carne Asada Steak on the grill
Grilling your marinated meat for carne asada is really easy and straightforward. It takes less than 15-20 minutes! Here is how to grill carne asada:
- Heat a grill to high heat. As high as your grill will go, whether you are using a gas grill or charcoal.
- Make sure to clean and lightly oil the grates. I use a grill brush to clean my grates off, then use tongs to grab a wad of paper towel dipped in a bowl with a little oil and use that to oil the grates.
- When the grill is hot, add the meat and grill to your desired level of doneness. The time is going to vary somewhat depending on the type of meat you chose and it's thickness, but 5-8 minutes per side is about right across the board in my experience. It should start to char on the outside but still be pink inside.
- Let the carne asada rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain into thin slices.
What should I serve with this carne asada meat?
Carne asada is amazing in carne asada tacos, salads, and burritos, but I think my favorite way of serving it is on it's own with some delicious Mexican sides like these:
Storing Carne Asada Meat
Any leftover carne asada meat should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months. Let it thaw completely in the fridge before reheating in the oven or air fryer before serving.
Carne Asada Marinade Recipe FAQs
Carne asada is typically made using skirt steak or flank steak. Traditionally the meat is marinated in a mixture of fresh citrus juices and Mexican seasonings. Sometimes the meat is just kept simple and only seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s always thinly sliced and grilled to perfection.
Typically carne asada is just a thin steak. It is marinated in a citrus blend with seasonings and cut into thin slices. Steak will sometimes be a thicker cut of meat and kept pretty simple with salt and pepper seasonings and butter.
Yes, carne asada means “grilled meat”. But, if you don’t have access to a grill, you can cook your meat in the oven. It’s just not the same as a traditional carne asada.
Yes! You can marinate the meat too long. The citrus in the marinade can break down the meat too much and can cause it to be mushy, dry, and actually tough. I wouldn’t marinate any longer than 12 hours.
Some can get carnitas and carne asada confused with each other but they couldn't be any more different. Carnitas is usually pulled pork using pork shoulder or any other inexpensive, heavily marbled cut of pork. Carne Asada is a cut of grilled steak.
More Mexican-inspired recipes you'll love!
- Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef
- Chicken Flautas
- Pork Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork)
- Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa
Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? What are you planning on serving? Let me know in the comments below!
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Authentic Carne Asada Recipe
- 2 pounds skirt steak flank steak, or beef flap meat
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 jalapeno minced with seeds removed
- ½ bunch cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon pepper
- Place the meat in a large gallon-size zip-tight bag or glass bowl. Mix together all of the remaining marinade ingredients, then pour over the meat. Seal the ziploc bag tightly and squish the marinade around the meat to make sure it is covering all parts of the meat, then place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 5 hours, up to 12 hours.
- Heat a grill to high heat and clean and lightly oil the grates. When the grill is hot, add the meat and grill to your desired level of doneness, between 5-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat.
- Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing against the grain into thin slices. Serve with tortillas, beans, rice, and pico de gallo.