Carne Asada Tacos

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Carne Asada is one of my favorite Mexican recipes. It’s made with simple ingredients, easy to make, and it has the most delicious flavors. You can use this carne asada meat to make burritos, steak tacos, tortas, and even carne asada fries

carne asada tacos served at a cookout with fresh limes and cotija cheese

Living many years in San Diego allowed me to experience so much good food, and Carne Asada Burritos were a weekly occurrence, especially in college. 

San Diego’s proximity to Baja California has influenced the Coastal Mexican food style I’ve grown to love. The ingredients are fresh, the flavors are bold and the fish tacos and carne asada street tacos are second to none. 

Southern California is also where Carne Asada Fries Originated. You may also see a California-style Carne Asada Burrito that contains French fries inside the burritos. Both of these So Cal dishes are not to be missed. 

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you already know that tacos are my jam. I could eat tacos every single day. Seriously!!

Growing up in San Diego, I had a front-row seat to what are arguably the best tacos on the planet. San Diego’s Mexican food scene is heavily influenced by Baja California and the fresh flavor that comes with it.

My daughter cut her teeth on carne asada meat as a baby. Not joking!

I’ve lived in the Bay Area now for about 12 years and I still haven’t been able to find a carne asada taco that comes close to the ones that I’ve had in Chula Vista.

Places like Tacos El Gordo, I mean you haven’t lived if you haven’t had tacos from Tacos El Gordo.

Anyway….out of sheer desperation, I’ve had to learn how to make carne asada the way I know carne asada should taste. And now I’m going to share it with you.

What is Carne Asada? 

Carne Asada means grilled meat. Originating in Latin America, carne asada can be found at most taco stands and Mexican restaurants. This popular Mexican dish is sure to be found at your favorite Mexican restaurant, and now you can make this easy recipe at home. 

Carne asada starts with a flavorful marinade, and then the steak is seared on a hot grill. 

If you’ve ever been to a carneceria, you will find that you can buy carne asada meat at the counter. You’ll find it thinly sliced and marinated, or you can buy the meat for carne asada that is cut but without a marinade.

The Elements of a Perfect Taco

To find the ultimate taco experience, you need the perfect combination of fresh ingredients.

  • The perfect taco must have a fresh corn tortilla with the perfect chew.
  • The meat needs to be tender and seasoned to perfection.
  • Its toppings should be simple: pico de gallo, cilantro and onions, and some guacamole. DONE!

What You’ll Love About This Carne Asada Recipe

  • Easy to make. With just a few ingredients, you can toss together the marinade, pop it in the fridge, and get ready to have the tastiest tacos that you’ve ever had.
  • Freezes beautifully. Carne Asada meat freezes beautifully. I highly recommend doubling this recipe. Trust me, you’re gonna want more tomorrow OR next week.
  • No kitchen clean-up. Because you grill this recipe, you’ll have virtually no kitchen clean-up. No pots and pans to scrub!? Bonus!
carne asada tacos with pepper sauce in a white platter

Carne Asada Ingredients

This authentic carne asada recipe starts with beef and a carne asada marinade made with citrus juices, spices, fresh cilantro, and garlic. 

How much carne asada per person

When planning to grill for tacos, I estimate about half a pound of meat per person.

Best Cut Of Meat For Homemade Carne Asada

In my opinion, the best carne asada is made with thinly sliced flap steak.

Flap Steak

Beef flap meat is an inexpensive cut of meat with a rich beefy flavor. This cut of meat should be cooked to medium temperature. It tends to be mushy or chewy when it’s cooked too rare.

You may see this cut steak called a bavette or a sirloin tip. A flap steak is cut from the sirloin bottom butt. It’s near where the tri-tip is cut from.

This cut of meat has a rough texture that allows it to take on marinades extremely well. It’s often used to make grilled kabobs.

Lean flank steak

Flank steak is a very lean all-purpose beef cut. It’s commonly used to make carne asada. However, because it’s so lean it can be tough if it’s overcooked or sliced too thick.

This cut comes from the abdominal region of the cow and has a less intensely beefy flavor when compared to flap steak or skirt steak. Flank is my least favorite cut of beef to use with this recipe.

If you do choose to use a flank steak make sure to sear it on a super hot grill and cook it on the rarer side. Make sure to slice the meat super thin so that it’s easy to chew.

Skirt Steak

Skirt steak is a think long cut of beef that comes from the diaphragm of the steer. This cut is located just under the rib cage. This cut of beef has a pronounced grain and an intense beefy flavor.

I like to use this cut of beef if I am going to pan-sear the carne asada instead of grilling it. You want this cut of beef to be rare so cook it in an extremely hot pan. You just want to quickly sear the outside.

🤓 Geek Wisdom: Ask your butcher to cut your steak thin. They have the sharpest knives and then you won’t have to worry about it later.

Carne Asada Marinade Recipe Ingredients

Marinating the steak before grilling has two functions. It helps to tenderize the meat and it adds a delicious flavor to the meat. It’s the best way to season carne asada.

  • Fresh limes. You’ll need about a quarter cup of lime juice. Usually 2 to 3 limes depending on how juicy they are.
  • Oranges. Use a half cup of orange juice. Sour oranges are best.
  • Mexican beer. I like a light-dark Mexican beer for this recipe.
  • Onion. One-half of a white or red onion is fine.
  • Cilantro. Fresh cilantro. You’ll want to use half of the bunch for the marinade and half to chop with the remainder of the white onion.
  • Serrano peppers. I usually add one or two chopped serrano peppers.
  • Spices. Oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Olive oil.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Make the marinade. Place steak in a zip-top bag and add the marinade ingredients. You can also use a glass or plastic dish that you can cover tightly with plastic wrap. 
  2. Marinate the meat. For best results, marinate the meat overnight. 
  3. Prepare your grill. You can use a charcoal grill or a glass grill. Set it up for cooking with direct heat. If you don’t have an outdoor grill you can also use a grill pan.
  4. Bring your meat to room temperature. I usually take the meat out of the fridge at least one hour before I want to grill it. 
  5. Grill. Place the marinated steak on to the hot grill. Grill to the desired temperature. This may vary depending on the kind of meat that you chose to use. 
  6. Rest. Transfer the steak to a large cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Cut the meat into thin slices or small pieces. 

How To Cook Carne Asada

Traditionally, carne asada is grilled. But, what if you don’t have a grill? Luckily you can still cook carne asada in a skillet on your stovetop.

Cooking Carne Asada On The Grill

  1. Heat up the grill to high heat. I like to get my grill for about 500℉.
  2. Add the marinated carne asada to the grill.
  3. If your meat is cut thin, you’ll only need to cook it for about a minute. (30 seconds on each side, tops)
  4. If you have a thicker cut of beef it may take a little longer. I like to get the internal temp to about 135℉ on a thicker steak cut.

Cooking Carne Asada On The Stove

  1. Slice the marinated meat into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat up a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chopped meat to the skillet. use tongs or a metal spatula to sauté the meat for about a minute.
  4. If the meat you are using is a thin cut, you’ll only need to cook it for a few minutes.
  5. If you have a thicker cut of beef it may take a little longer. I like to get the internal temp to about 135℉ on a thicker steak cut.

Slicing Meat For Tacos

To slice carne asada, use a sharp knife and slice against the grain.

Carne Asada Tacos

In my opinion, tacos should be simple. All you need is a really good warm tortilla, perfectly seasoned meat, a little cilantro and onion, and some simple guacamole.

Storing + Freezing Tips

Leftover carne asada freezes really well so don’t be afraid to make a big batch and have more tacos next week.

How to store leftover carne asada

Leftover meat can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

How to freeze leftover carne asada

I like to freeze carne asada using a freezer bag. Add up to 3 cups into the zip-top freezer bag and press as much air out as you can. Seal and freeze for up to 4 months.

How to reheat carne asada

The best way to reheat carne asada is in a skillet.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1 cup to the hot skillet. Toss in the skillet until the meat is fully reheated. The safe temperature for meat is 165℉.

carne asada tacos topped with cilantro and lime and cotija cheese

FAQs and Expert Tips

What cut of meat is carne asada?

Most carne asada recipes call for flank or skirt steak.

However, carne asada translates into grilled meat. I typically use thinly sliced sirloin when I make carne asada.

How much carne asada per person?

Usually, a half-pound of meat per person is a good estimate. You will usually have a few people that eat more and some that eat less.

Planning for a half-pound per person is usually a pretty good target. Always estimate on the high side so you don’t run out.

How to marinate carne asada.

Marinate carne asada in a nonreactive container like glass or plastic.

The easiest way to marinate carne asada is to add the marinade to a gallon-sized freezer bag and then add your meat to it. Seal it and let is sit in the fridge for up to 48 hours before grilling it.

What else can you make with carne asada meat?

What To Serve With Carne Asada Tacos

Of course, tacos need all of the usual suspects like pico de gallo, guacamole, and corn tortillas.

I also love having fresh limes, taco slaw, and diced cilantro and onions. And don’t forget the Mexican Street Corn, it’s so good and the perfect side dish to serve with tacos.

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carne asada tacos topped with cilantro and lime and cotija cheese

Carne Asada Tacos

Marinated and grilled carne asada steak recipe. This meat is super flavorful and tender. It makes the best carnea asada tacos, burritos, and tortas.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6 people
Calories 339 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 to 3 lbs steak, flank steak, flat iron, sirloin, filet, or chateaubriand steak

Marinade

  • ¼ cup lime juice, 2 to 3 limes
  • ½ cup orange juice, sour oranges are best
  • 1 cup Mexican beer
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (affiliate link)
  • 2 serrano peppers, or jalapeños sliced
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (affiliate link)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Chipotle Crema

  • ½ cup creme fraiche, for vegan version substitute vegan sour cream
  • 2-3 whole chipotle peppers

Avocado Cilantro Lime Crema

  • ½ cup creme fraiche, for vegan version substitute vegan sour cream
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro
  • ½ lime, juiced

Other Toppings and Stuff

  • diced avocado
  • guacamole
  • taco slaw, finely shredded
  • diced white onion
  • fresh cilantro
  • cotija cheese, hard mexican cheese
  • corn tortillas

Instructions
 

How to Marinade Carne Asada

  • Marinade for 2 hours minimum (I usually marinade overnight).
  • Place ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Add a little water if you like your crema on the thinner side.

How To Grill Carne Asada

  • Grill on High. Usually, 2 minutes each side for medium rare (140°F).
    *grill temperatures may vary
  • Cover with foil and allow meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

YOUR OWN NOTES

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Nutrition

Calories: 339kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 31gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 469mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 35mgIron: 3mg
Keyword carne asada, Tacos
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2 Comments

  1. I’m very confused. In the main part is says to use oranges but in the print out it doesn’t say oranges. Also it says serano pepper in the main part but jalapeno in the print out. Which one is which I’m lost.

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