Carne Asada

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When it comes to the best carne asada, nothing beats this tried and true recipe that’s reminiscent of my travels to Mexico. It’s incredibly tender, perfectly charred on the outside, and big on flavor. 

Sliced carne asada on a cutting board
Photo: Gayle McLeod

From roadside stalls to 5-star luxury restaurants, I’d say I’ve had my fair share of carne asada throughout Mexico. But the truth is, there’s no one authentic carne asada recipe. Depending on the region, you’ll often find subtle tweaks to the spices and ingredients. 

So, I’ve put together what I call my ultimate carne asada marinade to grill up the best carne asada (and carne asada tacos of course). The ingredients themselves are simple, as they should be, but are bold, bright, and super fresh. The best attributes of traditional Mexican food! And with how easy this recipe is, you might find yourself having a Mexican dinner fiesta often (trust me, it definitely brings the crowds). 

What is Carne Asada

Carne asada literally translates to “grilled meat.” And that grilled meat can be anything from sirloin steak to tenderloin to skirt steak or flank steak. Though I’d say flank steak is most commonly used. Either way, you don’t really need an expensive or fancy cut of meat. Especially since you’ll be thinly slicing and chopping it up into small, bite-sized pieces for tacos, nachos, and bowls. 

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

Carne asada ingredients on a table

Carne Asada Marinade Ingredients

I won’t tease you with an authentic marinade, because as you’ve just learned, it doesn’t really exist. But what I will do is give you one that’ll make your taste buds happy, based on my first-hand Mexico travels! 

  • Olive Oil and Lime Juice: Makes the steak extra juicy, with that trademark punch of lime acidity! 
  • Garlic and Cilantro: Essential aromatics for fresh and bold flavors. 
  • Spices: Nothing beats this bold combo of cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

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

How To Make Carne Asada

Now that you have your marinade ingredients lined up, let’s get grilling! Here’s how to make this delicious carne asada. 

Make the marinade. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.

Carne asada marinade in a bowl

Marinate your steak in a bowl or container for 1 to 4 hours in the fridge. Do not marinate for more than 4 hours as your steak can become mushy due to the acid from the lime juice.

Carne asada marinating in a casserole dish

Grill. Heat a grill on medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side (for a flank steak). That’ll give you a beautiful char on the outside while maintaining a medium-rare inside. Depending on the thickness of your steak and personal preference, feel free to adjust this cooking time.

Grilling carne asada

Rest and slice. After your steak has cooked, let it rest for about 5 minutes. When ready to slice, make sure to slice against the grain for the most tender pieces. From there, you can also chop it into bite-sized pieces for tacos or bowls.

Slicing carne asada on a wooden board

Ways to Serve Carne Asada

Carne asada is great served on a plate with sides like elote and Mexican rice, but so much more can be done with it! Here are a few of my favorite meal ideas.

Storage Tips

Before storing away any leftovers, make sure to slice the steak into pieces for easy reheating. Here are a few ways to store it.

  • To store leftovers: Let the meat come to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container. Then, store it in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
  • To freeze for later: In a freezer-safe container, carne asada will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • For reheating: Microwave the carne asada for 1 to 2 minutes until it’s warmed through.
  • If you’re prepping carne asada for a party, marinate the meat a day in advance in a large bag or container. Then all you need to do is grill it the next day!  

More Delicious Mexican Recipes

Lucky for you, I’ve got countless Mexican recipes to keep up your sleeve for your next fiesta! 

  • Carnitas: for the juiciest, most tender shredded pork!
  • Birria: a deliciously rich and spiced slow-cooked beef stew.
  • Barbacoa: enjoy fall-apart tender beef that’s perfectly spicy.
  • Chicken Fajitas: the easiest one-pan skillet recipe loaded with flavor.
  • Shrimp Fajitas: mix up your fajitas with sizzling seafood.

I can’t wait to see all your carne asada creations! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recipe in the comment box below.

Sliced carne asada on a wooden board

Carne Asada Recipe

4.87 from 43 votes
Prep: 2 hours
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

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!

Video

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 ½ lbs flank steak
  • cup olive oil
  • 3 limes, juiced (about 6 tablespoons juice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Whisk all of the oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.
    Mixing carne asada marinade in a bowl
  • Add the steak to a glass or non-reactive 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 to 4 hours. Alternatively, you could marinate in a plastic bag.
    Marinating carne asada
  • Heat a grill on medium-high heat. Add the carne asada and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for another 5 minutes.
    Grilled carne asada
  • 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, if you'd like.
    A board with sliced carne asada

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 276kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 65mg | Potassium: 445mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Meal
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Carne Asada, Carne Asada Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted April 2018, but recently updated to include new photos and information.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




104 Comments

  1. I made this for Valentine’s Day along with the fries and it’s now our date night favorite! The recipe is easy to follow, and is incredibly delicious.

  2. You’re the best! Thank you for sharing all your incredible recipes. The joy you bring to so many is tremendous. Of course, Mexican food can’t be beat in my opinion, so keep those type of recipes coming! lol5 stars

  3. I made this recipe for one of our camping dinners. Our steak sat in the marinade for 2 1/2 days. It was absolutely AMAZING! I can’t wait to make this one again!5 stars

  4. I absolutely love this recipe. I hate when people add their version of recipes that people post but I added about a half cup of orange juice to the recipe and it turned out absolutely great. Thank you5 stars

  5. As always with your recipes, this one is exceptional. I always follow your recipes as printed and then tweak them from there to fit our families tastes. THANK YOU, for sharing, your recipes make me look good.5 stars

  6. This recipe is amazing! It was super easy to make! I am a beginner cook and I was a little nervous at first to make this but it was not hard at all! It also tastes so good.5 stars

  7. wow. I am a beginner cook trying to keep things afloat with cooking in my home. My fussy kids loved this. We use this for recipe for tacos night and it was a hit. Also scaled it up with a larger group and we worked perfectly. Ideally, marinating for a few hours is best but even with an hour of marinading, it’s delicious and flavourful. I love your website!5 stars

  8. I made this recipe with morningstar ‘meat’ crumbles to keep it vegetarian, and it was amazing. Thanks Lisa for yet again, another tasty recipe.5 stars

  9. Hi Lisa!

    I’ve tried some of your recipes and I love them. You are doing great work. 👏 Anyway, I was wondering if I could make the marinade a day ahead of time and then combine it with the meat on the day I plan to make the Carne Asada on the grill?

  10. Lisa,

    I am new to your website, however I have made several of your recipes. I have made your prime rib recipe, and your mediterranean chicken, which my husband stated was one of his top ten favorite dishes of all time. Tonight I’m going to make your Carne Asada recipe. You have done an amazing job with your recipes and website. I would like to suggest that you tackle greek pastitsio (greek lasagna). It looks delicious, but I would like a healthier version. 

    Thank you for your consideration.5 stars

    1. Thrilled to hear you and your husband have been enjoying my recipes so far! I will definitely keep that recipe in mind :)

    1. You should be able to use the marinade for sirloin steak! But you might have to adjust depending on the size and amount.

  11. I made this last week for me and my son, who hates spicy food. The only thing I changed was that I put salsa in place of the cilantro because I really don’t like cilantro. We both adored it. Extremely tasty and full of different flavors. I kept going by the pan and eating some more straight off it.

    Next time I will use cilantro and try it fully original.5 stars

  12. 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.5 stars

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

    1. Hi Gloria – there are 6 servings with the 1 1/2 pound flank steak and those calories are per serving.

    2. These were so good! I followed the recipe exactly but marinated them for like 7 hours. We kept basting it with the marinade on the grill and I already want them again soon! 5 stars

      1. Sometimes the longer you marinade, the better! Glad you enjoyed this recipe :)

  13. 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. 2 stars

    1. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.5 stars

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

  16. 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?5 stars

    1. I’m so glad you loved the recipe! For a cilantro replacement you could use parsley or another fresh herb. :)

      1. Dear Ms. Lisa:

        I don’t own a grill. I know the deliciousness of this recipe is due to it being grilled but can this recipe be made in the oven or stovetop?
        Thank you.

  17. 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!5 stars

    1. 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 :)

  18. So simple, yet full of flavor. I followed Mary’s inspiration and made street tacos. Yummy! Thank you for this recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Donna – I’m glad you enjoyed this Carne Asada recipe! It’s great to eat on its own, or for tacos :)

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

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

  21. 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. 5 stars

    1. Yay! I’m happy you loved the carne asada Mary. It really does make for the best street tacos, doesn’t it? :)

  22. 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!  

    1. You’re welcome Teresa! I’m glad you loved the carne asada recipe and I agree – street tacos are the best! :)

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

  24. 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.5 stars

  25. ??????

    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!   5 stars

    1. Yay – so happy your party was a success! And thanks for spreading the word about Downshiftology. :) I think we should now look for holidays from other countries and just keep celebrating. Haha! ;) x

  26. 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!5 stars

    1. Sounds like an amazing spread! I wish I was there as well! Perhaps one day. ;) x

  27. 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!5 stars

    1. Wonderful – glad you enjoyed it! And yes, always best to wait for a ripe avocado for the tastiest tacos. ;)

  28. 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!  5 stars

    1. 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

  29. 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!5 stars

    1. Wow – you are on fire! I need you to come cook for me now! Lol. ;) x

  30. 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.

    1. Thanks Priscilla! I’d sub in a flat leaf Italian parsley. Slightly different flavor profile, but it’ll still be delicious! :) x

  31. 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.5 stars

    1. Great! Let me know how it turns out when you make it. And thanks for your kind words on my photos. It’s always a little more difficult to make meat photogenic. ;)

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

    1. Thanks so much Jill! I’m such a fan of steak that’s got delicious grill marks on the outside but with a tender, medium inside. :)

  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! 5 stars

    1. Haha. Yeah, probably not the best to look at recipes and food photos before you go to bed. ;) Thanks Mel!