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Carne Asada

When it comes to the best carne asada, I’ve had my fair share in Mexico. And the truth is there’s no singular authentic carne asada recipe. They’re all tweaks and variations. But today, I’ll share with you my tried and true recipe that always brings people back for seconds.

Carne asada on a cutting board.

Living in Southern California for the vast majority of my life means that I’ve had my fair share of Mexican food. When I was a kid, my family would frequently pop down to Tijuana and as an adult I’ve explored and vacationed in numerous Mexican towns and cities.

Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of carne asada in Mexico, from roadside stalls to 5-star luxury restaurants. And here’s the one thing I can you assure you of – there is no one authentic recipe. But there are a few ways to give your carne asada that traditional Mexican flavor.

Carne Asada Recipe Video

While it’s easy to make this recipe, it always helps to watch a quick video. I’ll also share two of my favorite recipes to make with diced up carne asada. Give it a watch below!

So What is Carne Asada?

Carne asada literally translates to “grilled meat.” Pretty basic, eh? And that grilled meat can be anything from sirloin steak to tenderloin to skirt steak or flank steak. Most commonly, I find flank steak being used and I’m using flank steak in today’s recipe. You really don’t need an expensive or fancy cut of meat, especially as you’ll thinly slice it, then chop it up into small, bite-sized pieces for tacos, burritos, nachos or fries.

But what makes carne asada so deliciously flavorful is two things – the marinade and the fire-grilled char on the outside.

Carne asada steak sliced into pieces on a cutting board, next to limes and cilantro.

The Carne Asada Marinade

Instead of teasing you with an authentic marinade (which, as you’ve learned doesn’t exist) I prefer to call this the ultimate carne asada marinade. As it’s one that will make your taste buds happy.

So what’s in it? A few simple ingredients: Olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.

I’ve always found simple is best. But feel free to tweak! If you want it sweeter, add an orange. If you want it more spicy, add paprika and oregano. Heck, I’ve even seen carne asada marinated in beer and soy sauce (though spoiler, those aren’t gluten-free).

If you’re aiming for the carne asada you’d find in typical Mexican street tacos, I’d say my recipe is pretty spot on. And *cough* I’m a street taco connoisseur after all.

Strips of carne asada next to a knife.

How to Make Carne Asada

  • Marinate: Just whisk all of your marinade ingredients together and marinate your steak for 1-4 hours in the fridge.
  • Grill: Once your steak has marinated, heat a grill on medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes each side, for a flank steak. That’ll get you a good char on the outside but maintain a medium-rare inside. Depending on the thickness of your meat and personal preference, feel free to adjust this cook time.
  • Rest: After your steak has cooked, let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice: Thinly slice the meat against the grain for the most tender pieces. From there, you can chop it into smaller, bite-sized pieces for use in other recipes.

What Else To Do With It

You can of course it eat carne asada on it’s own, but it’s also delicious turned into:

Carne asada sliced on a black platter.

Carne asada sliced on a black platter.
4.8 from 30 votes

The BEST Carne Asada Recipe

Prep Time: 2 hrs
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
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Carne asada that's easy, delicious and flavorful. Proof that a few simple ingredients make for the most flavorful meat. Watch the video above to see how easy it is to make!


  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. 
  • Add the steak to glass baking tray and pour the marinade on top. Ensure both side of the steak are well coated, cover the baking tray with plastic wrap and marinate for 1-4 hours. Alternatively, you could marinate in a Stasher Bag or Ziploc bag.
  • Heat a grill on medium-high heat. Add the carne asada and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for another 5 minutes.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice the carne asada at an angle against the grain. From there, you can further chop the carne asada into smaller pieces.

Lisa's Tips

  • I think carne asada is best when cooked on an outdoor grill. But if you're without one (as I currently am) this reversible grill/griddle is great for your stovetop.
  • Remember to double-check the angle of the grain before cooking. Then, it's easy to determine how to slice against the grain once it's done.


Calories: 293kcal, Carbohydrates: 2.3g, Protein: 31.9g, Fat: 16.8g, Saturated Fat: 4.9g, Cholesterol: 90.7mg, Sodium: 78.2mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 0.3g
Course: Main Meal
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Carne Asada, Carne Asada Recipe
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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74 comments on “Carne Asada”

  1. We have been making this recipe for carne asada for 2 years now (apparently right after you posted it) and it couldn’t be better, and having had great carne asada all over San Diego, that is saying something. The only thing we do differently is now we buy the already sliced skirt steak from a small market in El Cajon but we have other hispanic markets near by that will cut it too. I like that it marinates fast, and therefore , we get to it faster. The next day after we grill it, is a faster carne asada burrito night for us, win win, I say.. We make no changes to the recipe, I tried that with other recipes and they had to be jiggled around so much that they were no longer true to what was posted, yours is perfect.

    • Hi Barbara- Wow, thrilled to hear this carne asada recipe is up to par with the San Diego’s Mexican food!

  2. For the calories, how many oz is 293 calories? Or is that for the whole recipe?

  3. Would this recipe work with tri-tip?

  4. I followed the recipe and found that there weren’t enough flavors to this marinade. All we tasted was the lime. I won’t make it again. 

    • Hi Becky – I’m sorry you didn’t find enough flavor in this marinade! You can always increase the amount of cilantro, cumin, and chili powder as well for additional flavoring.

  5. Wow this was delicious!   I paired it with Cilantro Lime Rice and Refried Beans.  So good!  

  6. Hello, lisa, may I ask your nutritional composition table: calories: 293 kcal, carbohydrates: 2.3 g, protein: 31.9 g, fat: 16.8 g, saturated fat: 4.9 g, cholesterol: 90.7 mg, sodium: 78.2 mg, Fiber: 0.3 g, sugar: 0.3 g. How are these calculated so accurately? Is there a corresponding tool or method? Thank you

  7. I made this for my daughter’s bridal shower…we had a nacho ‘bar’ and I felt we needed some carne asada and I found your recipe. Delicious flavor, and easy to make. When I make this again, I will cook it longer because I have too many in my family that don’t like to see any red in cooked meat! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Millican – Carne asada for a nacho bar sounds perfect! So glad everyone loved this recipe, minus the little bit of red!

  8. The first time I made this for my friends it turned out great. My mother is allergic to cilantro so what would be a good substitute for it?

  9. I made this recipe for my husband, a California native transplanted to the east coast and made tacos with it! He was floored at hour delicious it was! As was I tbh. This is the perfect recipe but I love how easy it is! Definitely this is now in my repitoire of meals! Can be used so many ways. Thanks Lisa!

    • Hi Melea – Thrilled to hear your husband loved this carne asada! I’m glad you can find different ways to incorporate this into different meals too. It’s great for meal prepping :)

  10. So simple, yet full of flavor. I followed Mary’s inspiration and made street tacos. Yummy! Thank you for this recipe.

  11. Very easy to follow and the fami,y loved it

  12. I would say 3 small limes or 2 large. A dash of cayenne would not be a bad idea. Overall a good start. 

  13. Ahh can I marinade this overnight?  It is marinating now and we might not get home in time to grill it tonight. ?

  14. This marinade is so delicious. I used the thin sliced skirt steaks for my carne asada. After marinating the meat, I chopped it into small pieces and fried it in a little olive oil. It was the best street taco I’ve ever had. 

  15. Thanks for this amazing recipe.  We love street tacos!  But, I’ve always been afraid to tackle Carne Asada because the meat is pricey and I didn’t want to waste.  But this is so simple and grills fairly quickly.  Minus prep this meal can be on the table in 30 min!  

  16. Can this be converted to an Instant Pot?

  17. Very detailed information. 

    Rating: 5
  18. Excellent recipe! I made exactly as described. This is now my go to recipe for Carne Asada Tacos. Thank you.

    Rating: 5
  19. It was very easy to understand her instructions.  I liked that the kitchen was clean even in the background.

  20. I haven’t had Carne Asada since I moved to Montana 6 years past. When I lived in SoCal it was my favorite. Can’t wait to try this out, and after so long I’m sure it is going to be a huge hit. More so then ever.

    Rating: 5
  21. ??????I don’t have to tell you don’t I Lisa?  Every single food I made especially the meat, fries and hummus went down very well.  I told them all about you, you have some new fans.  Told them about Cinco de Mayo – they’ve booked that weekend too come down and celebrate it here; even though they have no idea what it is! Lol!   

    Rating: 5
  22. We all are looking forward to Saturday.  We have friends staying over the weekend annnnnnnd we’re having carne asada!!! Yay!!!  Since we are eating them on Saturday – I didn’t want to faff about in the kitchen while everyone is yammering – I’ve made the marinate, guacamole (am so happy with your advice on topping it with water so it keeps) and hummus, all in the fridge.  I also took on board the meal prep ideas for crudités- they’re in the glass container filled with water and in the fridge!  Your way takes a lot of hassle out of cooking for a party! I look forward to commenting what others think of the carne asada (making them with fries a la Lisa!) and uploading photograph.  Wish you were here to join in and laugh at my ‘new found expertness’ on cooking fab food!

    Rating: 5
  23. Oh, goodness! This was a hit indeed! We’re having leftovers in your taco recipe tomorrow (or whenever that dang avocado gets ripe)! Adding pickled red onions. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  24. The meat was beautifully tender and citrusy without it being too sour, I was surprised how much it worked well pairing up with your guacamole and the chips.  A hit with my 3 children and husband (and myself).  The tortilla didn’t turn out right – too wet, but it was my fault, I got too ahead of myself and tripled the batch.  Maybe making 3 batches at a time would be better, ended up making some with wheat flour.  Luckily daughter is just gluten sensitive so could tolerate the wheat tacos.  Made Margarita, hey!  Why not! Made virgin mojito for the children as I didn’t know how to make non alcoholic margarita.  It’s been a beautiful day.  Our first time celebrating Cinco De Mayo, roll on until next year!  

    Rating: 5
    • Glad you guys enjoyed the carne asada and guacamole! And yay for all your hard work in creating an awesome Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Well done! Fingers crossed your next batch of cassava flour tortillas turns out better. :) x

  25. Meat is marinating – I know it’s going to taste mind blowingly beautiful as the smell is divine. Guacamole done and in the fridge, as are citrus shrimp ceviche. Made hummus – just because! Horchata recipe that you posted yesterday – stewing (I think that is the right term?) Looking forward to blitzing that and try it out. Going to make the cassava tortilla/taco shortly. Can’t wait for the Cinco de Mayo fiesta tonight with lovely food, husband is going to get Mexican beer! I’ll be sending you the photograph – and review from 5 of us. It is very hot here in Wales today, perfect!

    Rating: 5
  26. This Carne Asada looks amazing but what can I sub for the cilantro? I’m one of those people to whom it tastes like soap, and I mean like I bit into a bar of Ivory. I’d like a spicy or herb that’s not hot or peppery either, I can’t handle heat.

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

    Rating: 5
  28. This carne asada looks like something I want to munch on right now. I am a sucker for a big slice of meat and this fits the bill. Your photos look excellent and I am going to put this on my list of recipes to make.

    Rating: 5
  29. Oh my goodness this looks absolutely delicious! Moist, juicy and simply amazing! I love your photographs too ♥

    Rating: 5
  30. I can see why people come back for seconds. This steak looks perfect!

    Rating: 5
  31. This is the kind of recipe my dad would LOVE and his birthday is coming up so the timing is perfect!

    Rating: 5
  32. I likre the carne asada recipe

    Rating: 5
  33. I’d never heard of Carne asada, but I love grilled meat and your photos make it look so mouth-watering I could eat it now (despite the fact I’m about to go to bed!). I love your serving suggestions! 

    Rating: 5
  34. This looks so juicy and flavorful!! I can’t wait to make it!

    Rating: 5