Bring the traditional taste of carne asada straight to your kitchen with this easy-to-follow guide for the ultimate savory experience. Marinated flank steak is grilled to perfection for the best Authentic Carne Asada recipe. This tender, grilled meat is full of authentic Mexican flavor. 

Carne Asada is all about the marinade. You take a nice piece of steak, marinate it with some delicious flavors, and then head out to the grill for the ultimate flavorful piece of beef. This grilled steak is a culinary treasure, known for its tender texture and rich flavor. Perfect for gatherings, family dinners, or even a weekend grill session, carne asada promises to be a showstopper. Moreover, its versatility and compatibility with various sides and condiments make it an ideal main course for many occasions.

Bird's eye view of Carne Asada surrounded by limes, tomatoes, and jalapenos.

Recipe Origins

Hailing from the vibrant landscapes of Latin America, carne asada, meaning “grilled meat”, has been an integral part of regional cuisine for generations. Primarily popular in Mexico, this dish has been lovingly embraced by families, making it a centerpiece for celebrations and regular dinners alike. Its rich history tells tales of families gathering around an open fire, cooking and enjoying this seasoned steak, creating memories that last a lifetime.

While there are thousands of ways to make a recipe authentically, our recipe is based on one from the world-renowned chef of Mexican Cuisine, Rick Bayless. It has been altered so that the average home cook can easily make it at home while still enjoying the most authentic flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What cuts of meat can I use?

Carne asada is traditionally made using skirt steak or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar and can be used interchangeably. The two meat cuts do have a few differences. Flank steak is a lean option and has a great, intense meaty flavor. Skirt steak also has an intense meaty flavor but does have more tough fibers than flank steak. It should only be cooked to rare or medium-rare, otherwise, it may become unpleasantly chewy. Both need to be cut against the grain.

While flank or skirt steak is traditionally used, you can also opt for sirloin or ribeye. Just ensure the meat is thin enough to absorb the marinade well.

How long should I marinate the steak?

For optimal flavor, marinating overnight is best. However, a minimum of 2 hours can also yield tasty results.

Is it necessary to use a grill?

Grilling offers a distinctive smoky flavor, but if unavailable, you can use a stove-top griddle or even a skillet. A stovetop will work the same way as a grill. Heat a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Cook the meat for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until the desired level of doneness is reached.

Slice Against the Grain

When cutting your meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them. The grain provides a natural breaking point in the meat. If you cut against them then you end up with tons of breaking points in each piece which keeps it from being chewy.

Ingredient Substitutes

  • Lime juice: Lemon juice can be a suitable replacement.
  • Orange juice: Consider grapefruit juice or a mix of lemon and pineapple juice.
  • Vegetable oil: Olive oil or avocado oil can be used for similar results.
  • White vinegar: Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can be an alternative.
  • Cilantro: The most common substitute for cilantro is parsley. It can also be left out entirely.

Serving Suggestions

Pairing carne asada with the right side dishes can elevate the entire meal. Consider traditional accompaniments like guacamole, salsa, and warm tortillas. For a wholesome meal, add sides like Spanish rice, refried beans, or a fresh salad. This dish also shines during family barbecues, potlucks, or other festive celebrations.

Authentic Guacamole

15 mins

Authentic Guacamole has that buttery, mild avocado flavor with a rich mix of herbs and spices—and it goes with everything!

Homemade Salsa

15 mins

Homemade salsa is easy to make and so delightfully bright and flavorful. We’ve included a few salsa varieties and canning instructions as well!

Authentic Mexican Rice

30 mins

This Authentic Mexican Rice is super easy to make and goes perfectly with any Mexican meal!

Mexican Street Corn Salad

25 mins

This recipe packs all the yumminess of Mexican Street Corn into an easy to make salad. Serve it up as a side dish at your next barbecue or taco night because it’s muy sabroso!

Chef’s Tips

  1. To intensify flavors, consider piercing the steak lightly with a fork before marinating.
  2. The written recipe calls for marinating in a plastic bag. You can also marinate in a bowl. Just make sure the meat is covered.
  3. Cooking time is an estimate and depends on the thickness of your meat. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
  4. Always let the meat rest post-grilling before slicing to retain its juices. Be sure to slice against the grain.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Carne asada can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days when sealed in an airtight container. For longer storage, freeze in zip-top bags for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. For reheating, it’s best to use a skillet over medium heat to retain its tenderness.

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Video Demonstration

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve got you covered with a full video tutorial where we’ll demonstrate the entire recipe from start to finish.