This easy carne asada recipe will make the best homemade carne asada you’ve ever eaten. Recipe includes oven, stovetop and grill instructions.
Hey, friends. I’ve talked before about how while I fully love every recipe I post here, there are some I get extra excited about sharing with you. My Tri-tip recipe was one, these Country-style Ribs and Carnitas were too. And today, I have another one for you: Carne Asada.
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, because it is the best homemade carne asada you will ever eat. You get super flavorful tangy meat, and since you’re going to cook it over fast, high heat, it’s also got those crispy, charred edges that, as the chef, you totally have first dibs on.
For the full, printable recipe, scroll on down to the recipe card. If you’ve never made carne asada before or have some carne asada questions, read on.
What is carne asada?
Carne asada translates literally as “grilled meat.” Its preparation varies, but generally, it’s thin cuts of beef sometimes marinated, sometimes prepared with a rub, and grilled or cooked over high heat. It can be served as a stand-alone main dish or sliced and used as filling for tacos, burritos, and other dishes.
What kind of meat is carne asada?
There are a few different cuts of beef you can use for carne asada. Most popular here in the US are flank steak, skirt steak, and flap meat (if you’re curious where they all come from, this is a great breakdown). All three are thin-ish cuts with an easily detectible grain that do well when marinated and cooked over high heat.
Here in California, I don’t see any one of these consistently available at a reasonable price, so I’ll use them interchangeably depending on price and availability. They’re all going to taste great and get the job done.
Given a choice though, my favorite is flap meat. It has a great beefy flavor, is usually the cheapest option, and seems to come out slightly more tender than the other two.
Carne Asada Marinade Recipe
While some carne asada is prepared with just a spice rub, this recipe uses a citrus-based marinade. The acids help break down the muscle fibers and tenderize the meat, and it penetrates really well, so the meat picks up a ton of flavor.
How long to marinate carne asada? If you’re in a hurry, you can get away with just a few hours, but you’ll get the best results with a 24-hour marinade. If you can, start marinating your beef the night before. You won’t be sorry.
Pro tip: I know marinades with more than a couple of ingredients are a pain to make, but this one’s worth it, I promise! Line up your ingredients before hand, in the order they’re written in the recipe, and if you use a liquid measuring cup like the one in the photo above, you don’t actually have to get any other measuring cups dirty. Plus most of the spices call for 1 teaspoon so things will move quickly.
How to Make Carne Asada
Once your meat is marinated, you’re going to want to cook it over quick, high heat.
- On the grill – Medium-high heat 4 to 8 minutes per side.
- In the oven – Under the broiler on high 4 to 6 minutes per side.
- On the stove – Medium-high heat 4 to 8 minutes per side.
Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat, so I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer to take the guesswork out of cooking. If you have a thermometer, these are the temps you’ll want to aim for:
Medium rare 130-140°F
Medium well 150°F+
The meat in the photos was cooked under the broiler to about 137°F at the thickest point.
Then slice the meat across the grain. (Here’s why, if you’re curious.) Depending on the type of steak you used, this grain might run all the way down the length of the meat or across it like it does with this flap meat.
Fortunately, the grain in all three cuts is pretty obvious, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the direction.
How to serve carne asada?
Carne asada can be served as a main on its own with a side of beans and rice. It’s also great chopped and used in steak fajitas, tacos, salads, carne asada fries, or burrito bowls.
For other carne asada sides, a quick corn salad, easy oven-roasted broccoli, or chips and nacho cheese are a good option.
Carne Asada Recipe Notes
- If making under the broiler, save any pan juices to pour over leftovers during storage to help keep the meat moist.
- This recipe calls for 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of meat, which will serve 4 to 6 people when served as a main dish, but the marinade can be stretched to cover a little over 3 pounds of meat, or whatever will comfortably fit in a gallon bag.
- I’ve included stovetop instructions in the recipe just in case you don’t have a grill and don’t want to use the broiler, but it’s not my favorite way to cook carne asada since you have to do it in batches, and the high heat tends to make things smokey after a little while. Make sure to turn on your kitchen fan and open a window before starting or you might set off your fire alarm. (Don’t ask me how I know this… 😉 )
- You might also enjoy Carnitas Tacos, Chipotle Chicken Tacos, and Basil and Garlic Steak Marinade.
Easy Carne Asada Recipe (Oven, Stovetop & Grill Instructions)
- Liquid measuring cup optional, but nice to have
- Instant-read thermometer optional, but nice to have
- Foil if cooking under the broiler
- 1/2 cup orange juice bottled is fine
- 1/2 cup soy sauce low-sodium is fine
- 1/4 cup lemon juice bottled is fine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice bottled is fine
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or diced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper OR 1 teaspoon finely chopped, canned chipotle pepper optional
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro chopped, about 3/4-1 cup very loosely packed
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds skirt, flank, or flap steak
- Combine and stir together all marinade ingredients. Transfer meat into a large plastic bag or container and pour marinade over the top. Marinate for at least 4 hours, up to about 24, flipping the meat once halfway through.
In the Oven
- Adjust top rack to about 4 inches below the broiler. Heat broiler on high. Place meat on a foil-lined heavy-duty baking sheet or broiling pan and broil 4 to 6 minutes per side. Pull at 135°F for medium-rare, 145°F for medium.
On the Stovetop
- Turn on your kitchen fan and crack open a window. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and grease pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Cut meat into pan-size pieces and cook in batches, 4 to 8 minutes per side until done or the internal temperature reads 135°F for medium-rare, 145°F for medium. If the outside of your meat begins to cook too quickly or things start getting too smokey, turn heat down to medium.
On the Grill
- Heat grill to medium-high heat and cook for 4 to 8 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches 135°F for mediu-rare, 145°F for medium.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Marinade Adapted from AllRecipes
Linda Hicks says
Do u salt the meat at all?
No, this marinade is really salty from the soy sauce. You won’t need to add more.
We buy most of our meats at our local Aldi’s grocery now. They almost always have fresh, never frozen, vacuum packed meats and always have skirt steak so next trip I’ll get some and give this a try. Looks like you could make up the full recipe and then freeze the left-overs for later meals.
Regarding the Marinade: I use a vacuum sealer a lot, mine came with a container for marinating. You can mix up your marinade right in the container, add your meat (or veg), pop on the cover and use the vacuum sealer to suck all the air out of the container. This allows the marinade to penetrate the meat quickly. What would normally take as long as 4 or 5 hours can be done in an hour or so!! I use this method all the time and love the outcome. Just a thought. The machine I have is a Food Saver brand and I really love it!
This is such a great tip, Kaye! Thank you for sharing!!
Ok I am going to try that vacuum thing tonight! I let you know if it works for me. Thanks for the tips!
We’ve made this twice in two weeks, once for burrito bowls and once for nachos. It’s delicious and super easy! I’m excited to try more of your recipes!
Thanks, Allyson!! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe!
Carol Banks says
First time I made this I let it marinate for 6 hours and it was good. Second time I let it sit for 15 hours and the meat was as tender as you could ever ask for! This is a keeper.
Yes! That longer marinating time really does make such a difference. So glad you enjoyed it!!
Best carne asada marinade yet – and I’ve tried a lot of them! Best results came with marinating 24 hours and then grilling and then just enjoying the amazing flavor. Wow. Just wow.
Thank you, Carol! So happy you enjoyed it!!
Hi Tracy! I used your cooking instructions for on top of the stove, as my husband brought home marinaded meat from the market. Well thanks to your cooking instructions (I used my big cast iron skillet ) I knew what to do! It came out beautiful, however, I was disappointed in the flavor of the store marinade, so next time will be using your recipe, as from your other recipes, I know the flavor will be superb!! (They sell the flap meat marinaded or unmarinaded) love your recipes, have so many more to try!! Thank you for your cooking knowledge!! (Yes, I opened windows, patio doors, and put on the stove fan, no alarm!! That’s a first!
LOL Glad no fire alarm, Kathy!! I’ve had the same experience with the store-marinated carne asada, but if you try this version, I hope you enjoy it. It really is one of my favorites!!
I just realized i have no lemon juice. Would it be good without that? I have lime
Go ahead and just use 1/4 cup of lime juice (total) to replace the lemon juice. It will change the flavor a bit, but it’s not the end of the world. Hope you enjoy it!!
CHRISSY JASON says
ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! This will be my go-to recipe. My husband said it was the best carne asada he’s ever eaten. I plan to use this recipe for chicken as well. SO FLAVORFUL!!
So glad to hear it Chrissy!!!
I followed this timing and temperature guide and got a burnt outside and a total raw uncooked inside.
Hi, Kristin. Sorry to hear that! Unfortunately, since all stoves/ovens are different and meat thickness really affects cooking time, all temperature/time guides for cooking meat are just suggestions. You’ll often need to adjust things based on what you’re seeing happen as you’re cooking. Sounds like your range runs hot, so in the future, I’d cook things at a slightly lower temperature and keep a close eye on it to monitor the progress. Hope that helps!
Very flavorful and super easy to follow. Thanks for the recipe!
I often add a bottle of beer to my marinades. I also use meat tenderizer too to guarantee my meat comes out super tender. Haven’t tried this recipe yet but I think I will! Sounds so good.
Betty Peak says
I just bought a package of carne asada where the thin slices of meat were wrapped together in three separate bunches. I unwrapped each one to find very thin slices…do I cook each slice individually or wrap them back up and cook them that way ? I know the top layer would be cooked but would the inside layers be? Have you come across carne asada meat packaged that way?
I tried your tri tip recipe….WINNER!
I’ve never seen carne asada packaged this way, but I have seen some *really* thinly cut slices. I’d cook them individually, probably in batches if you’re not doing it on a big grill. Depending on how thick they are, the cooking time might be really short per side, so I would definitely play it by ear and not follow the time recommendations in the recipe.
And so glad to hear the tri tip worked out for you!! It’s definitely one of my favorites.
Can you substitute the soy sauce Worcestershire sauce or use W.sauce with this recipe ?
Hi Moe, Worcestershire sauce is often recommended as a good 1:1 substitute for soy sauce, but I haven’t tried it in this recipe, so I can’t say for sure how well it would work out.
Absolutely delicious. It’s incredible to have a recipe that comes together in only 30 minutes (not counting marinade time, of course) that is as wonderful as this. I love having this up my sleeve for when I’m out of dinner ideas because it never disappoints!!
Thanks, Sara!! That makes me so happy to hear!
This is the best carne asada I have ever had. The flavor is out of this world! And it is so easy! This will be my goto recipe for carne asada. And I will definitely be trying more of your recipes.
Love to hear it, Colleen!!
The recipe looks delishes! I want to know if it could be done on the barbeque? I am asking because i am afraid it will get dry . If
yes, how long do i need to cook 2 pounds Skirt Steak?
Absolutely. This is GREAT on the grill. There are grill instructions in the recipe, but time is really going to vary depending on the thickness of your steak and the heat of your BBQ, so I’d use a meat thermometer and use the recipe times as loose guidelines.