The Most Delicious Carne Asada
Homemade carne asada that melts in your mouth! Thinly slice carne asada, and serve in tortillas or over rice! The balance of flavors here is so delicious.
Marinated and grilled to perfection!
Carne asada is top 3 on my list of favorite things to order at Mexican restaurants other than fajitas and enchiladas, of course. And luckily, living in Texas means there’s no shortage of authentic Mexican cuisine here!
Tender slices of perfectly marinated beef that’s just as delicious on its own or inside a freshly made warm tortilla. You can serve carne asada in several ways; chop up the grilled meat and make tacos, burritos, or on its own with cilantro lime rice and refried black beans on the side.
What is Carne Asada?
Carne Asada, literally translated, means ‘grilled meat’ or meat roasted over an open flame. The meat is marinated and then grilled to give it a charred flavor. It is rumored that carne asada was the first meat used to make tacos sometime back in the 1500s.
What ingredients do you need to make carne asada at home?
- Meat: You’ll want to use either flank steak or skirt steak for this recipe; I explain more about these below.
- Fresh Juices: grab a couple of limes and a large orange. I like to use freshly squeezed juice here as it provides the best flavor and the natural acid in the citrus helps tenderize the steak proteins.
- Low sodium soy sauce: This is my secret ingredient to give carne asada that rich umami flavor. It’s one of those flavors that just enhances the taste of everything else in the marinade. My local restaurant adds it to their marinade and it’s something that truly makes the best carne asada!
- Fresh garlic: You’ll need a handful of garlic cloves. I usually like to use my garlic press to make sure they breakdown, you can also mince them by hand if you’d like.
- Oil: Just a bit of high heat oil helps provide the fat we need in the marinade.
- Seasonings: You’ll need ground cumin, Mexican oregano and chipotle chili powder here. If you can’t find chipotle chili powder, feel free to replace it with Mexican chili powder and a pinch of cayenne for some heat. You’ll also want to crush the oregano between the palm of your hands before adding it to the marinade.
- Cilantro: We’ll give the cilantro one big chop and throw it right into the bowl or zip top bag. Cilantro helps flavor the marinade but you don’t necessarily need it to be in teeny tiny pieces.
- Onion: Same as the cilantro, you want to remove the peel of the onion and cut give it a rough chop so that it’s about 6-8 pieces. The salt we use to season the marinade will break down the onion and help provide flavor to the marinade. You can also chop the onions in to thin slices if you don’t plan on marinating the steak for too long.
How to make the best carne asada at home:
- Give it time to marinate: Add the lime juice, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, oil, and seasonings to a baking dish or a zip top bag. Add the onions and cilantro in next. Then place the meat in the dish, flipping it around a few times so that it coats in the sauce. If you’re marinating in a zip top bag, you can just place the meat inside, zip the bag, and gently squish it around to disperse the marinade. Allow the meat to sit covered (if it’s in a dish) in the fridge for at least 2 hours and ideally up to 10 hours.
- Prep the grill. Remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you decide to cook it. This allows the meat to cook more evenly. Preheat your indoor or outdoor grill. Make sure to grill the grates so that the meat doesn’t stick. Place the meat on the grill, and discard any of the marinade that might be left in the bag or pan. You want to cook the steak for roughly 3-5 minutes per side. The actual amount of time needed will depend on your preference of steak doneness. So I like to make sure to keep a meat thermometer handy so you can check. Once th meat is off the grill, you want to allow it to rest. The general rule of thumb is to allow the meat to rest for about the same time that you cooked it. So if your steak took 6 minutes, allow it to rest for 6 minutes before attempting to slice.
FAQs about making Mexican Carne Asada at home:
What cut of meat do you suggest for this recipe?
Carne asada is traditionally made with two types of steak: flank steak or skirt steak. Skirt steak is a tougher cut of meat, so I usually suggest marinating it for longer than flank steak. Flank steak is a leaner cut of meat, so it isn’t as well-marbled. Either cut will work for this recipe, but it’s important to cut the meat across the grain for the most tender bite before serving.
What are your serving suggestions?
You can make carne asada tacos with homemade flour tortillas or with cilantro lime rice on the side. My favorite accompaniments are homemade salsa, guacamole salsa, and pico de Gallo. Leftover steak goes great with fried eggs in the morning, makes a killer bowl of migas, or breakfast tacos stuffed with breakfast potatoes!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- The Best Steak Fajitas
- Restaurant-Style Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken Tinga Bowls
- Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme
- Shrimp Enchilada with Creamy Poblano Sauce
- 2 - 2 ½ pounds flank or skirt steak
- ¼ cup EACH: lime juice AND orange juice (fresh)
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 10 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 3 tablespoons high heat oil
- 2 teaspoons EACH: ground cumin, dried Mexican oregano AND chipotle chili powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup cilantro (leaves + stems)
- 1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
- MARINADE: In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the cilantro and onions in a medium bowl. Pour the marinade into a large dish or a heavy-duty zip top bag, add the cilantro and onion pieces. Add the meat to the dish (flip to coat both sides.) Cover the dish or zip bag and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 10 hours.
- PREHEAT: Remove the meat from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to grilling. Preheat the grill on medium-high heat (you want to aim for 450-475ºF.) Remove the steak from the marinade and discard. Prep the grill by cleaning and oiling the grates. Grill the steak for 3-5 minutes per side until it cooks to desired temperature (see notes for temps.) Allow the meat to rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing against the grain and serving.
The amount of time the steaks stay on the grill depends on the thickness of the steak and your preference for doneness. Temp guide: Rare 125ºF Medium Rare 135ºF Medium 145ºF Medium Well 150º Well done 160ºF.