The BEST Carne Asada

I’ve tried many, MANY ways of making carne asada and this is by far the BEST one. If you’re looking for authentic Mexican flavors with the most tender beef, this is the recipe for you!

“Carne” means meat in Spanish and usually refers to beef. “Carne asada” means grilled meat and it can really be any cut of beef you prefer. It is marinated in citrus and Mexican spices, and can be used for a wide range of Mexican dishes!

Ingredients:

  • Beef- if you want the most tender and flavorful cut, my opinion is that skirt steak is the absolute BEST for carne asada. There are two types of skirt steak- outside and inside. Outside skirt is the best cut to choose, however it can be a bit difficult to find. Your best bet is your local butcher shop. I have used inside skirt a few times and it’s still good, but outside skirt is noticeably better. It is incredibly tender and melts like butter! 

  • Citrus- for flavor & tenderizing the beef, you’ll need lime juice & orange juice. For an extra kick of acidity, I also add some white vinegar. 

  • Spices- salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, mexican organo, and chili powder

  • Garlic- softened roasted garlic grinded into a garlic salt paste in a molcajete is my favorite way to make salsas, and it’s how I make my carne asada marinades too. Grinding the salt and garlic into a paste will bring out the most flavor.

  • Beer- a little light beer to infuse moisture and flavor. Don’t worry if you can’t consume alcohol because I have a non-alcoholic substitute to make it halal! You can use ginger beer instead 🙂

  • Onion, cilantro, and jalapeno– these will be added to the marinade. The jalapeño will not make it spicy.

Traditional cuts for carne asada

  • Flap meat- I’m not sure if this is just my Mexican family or Mexicans as a whole, but I think the concept of seeing carne asada cooked to anything other than well done is an American thing. In my experience, flap meat is usually used for carne asada. It’s thin, cooked well done, and usually just eaten with our hands by tearing the pieces of beef (unless being chopped up for tacos, burritos, etc). 

  • Skirt steak-  this is the clear winner in my book, specifically outside skirt steak. It’s a long cut of beef that has plenty of fat marbling which means maximum flavor. This cut can be difficult to find so I recommend going to your local butcher shop. Make sure you ask for cuts that are at least 1/2 inch thick. If they don’t have it, inside skirt is easier to find in grocery stores but it’s noticabley  tougher than outside skirt. 

  • Flank steak- this is another popular cut. It’s thicker than skirt steak and also leaner, so it doesn’t have as much flavor but still good. It is also much easier to find.

Cooking instructions:

Grill

For the best results, I HIGHLY recommend firing up your grill for this! Carne asada means grilled meat after all. 

The best way to cook skirt steak is fast & high. This means using SCORCHING high heat and cooking the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side depending on the thickness and desired doneness. It is okay to flip over a few times to get a more even char. That char is important! It adds that distinct flavor that we love with grilled meats. 

If you are not confident in knowing when to pull the steaks off the grill, I recommend using a meat thermometer. When I use outside skirt for this, I don’t worry too much about the doneness because the meat is SO tender that having it a little overcooked is not a big deal. I actually prefer it to be cooked between medium and medium rare, but closer to medium. 

Stove top (cast iron skillet)

If you don’t have a grill or don’t feel up to firing it up, you can definitely cook it on the stove. I recommend a cast iron skillet for this, using the same cooking instructions as the grill. Get the skillet as hot as possible! And maybe crack open a window or two so your smoke alarm doesn’t go off. 

I use this method sometimes because my grill is a pain to fire up (it’s a charcoal grill). One great thing about the stove top method is that you can simultaneously cook the onions in the pan to impart even more flavor. When using the grill, I usually  throw the skillet on it to cook the onions too. 

Mexican dishes to make with carne asada

So you’ve made some carne asada and now you’re wondering what to eat with it. There are lots of Mexican dishes made with carne asada, here are a few:

More recipes 

Are you hosting or going to a bbq? Here are some of my other recipes that are great for these types of events! 

Carne Asada

5 from 31 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs skirt steak at least 1/2" thick outside skirt highly recommended
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 onion sliced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp white vinegar add 1 more tsp if you like it more tangy
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (about 1 small orange)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup light beer or ginger beer to make it halal
  • 1-2 jalapeno cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Over medium low heat, roast the garlic cloves (with the skin on) in a pan and cover for 5 minutes or until the garlic is soft and browned on all sides.
  • Peel the skin off and add the roasted garlic to a molcajete (mortar) with 1 tbsp of salt. Grind to make a garlic salt paste.
  • Add chopped onion and lightly press with the pestle to release some juices.
  • Add the vinegar, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, beer (or ginger beer to make it halal), and spices. Mix well by scraping the bottom of the molcajete to make sure you're incorporating all of the garlic salt paste.
  • Mix in the cilantro and jalapeno.
  • Trim off the silver skin membrane and any excess hard pieces of fat, but not too much because fat = flavor. Skirt steak comes in a long strip with the grains running perpendicular to it's length, so I recommend cutting it into 5 inch pieces rather than keeping it whole. For one, it may not fit on your grill in one long piece. Second, it's better to have shorter pieces of steak so that you can get nice uniform slices against the grain once it's ready to serve.
  • Pour marinade over the skirt steak in a container and massage into the steak. Marinade in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Take the marinated steak out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before you cook it.
  • Shake off excess marinade and grill over SCORCHING high heat (at least 600 degrees F) for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare, or 4-5 minutes on each side for medium. The timing will depend on how thick your steak is. I also add the jalapeños to the grill and just use a skillet for the onions.
    You can also cook it on a cast iron skillet if you don't have a grill.
  • Let the steak rest for 5 minutes on a cool surface before cutting into it! This is very important, do not skip the resting period.
  • Cut the steak against the grain and enjoy 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links to products that I actually use & recommend. I am not sponsored by these brands, but I do make a small commission from qualifying purchases made through these links.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Daisy R.

    5 stars
    My go to carne asada marinade recipe!! So flavorful and authentic tasting. My whole family loves this! I make this once a week, it’s in our weekly meal rotation.

  2. Samantha

    5 stars
    Phenomenal recipe with flavors that remind me of the authentic style carne asada from back home in California! 10/10 recommend!!

  3. Denise

    5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! I normally just wing it with a loose recipe I got from my father in law, but I used this for a recent family trip and it was a hit! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  4. Anonymous

    5 stars
    She is not lying when she titled this recipe as the BEST Carne Asada! This is truly authentic. I’m from San Diego but have moved and miss the food from there, especially the Mexican food. I’m not able to find Mexican as good as California. With this recipe, it hits the cravings and the spot!

  5. Iris D

    5 stars
    My first recipe I made from Stella. The Best !!!!! 10000% My number one recipe when I make carne asada tacos

  6. Leslie Mendoza

    5 stars
    Better than my grandmas recipe 🤤

  7. Valentina

    5 stars
    This is by far the best carne asada recipe I ever tried! So delicious even my picky kids approve. We made it several times he love to add it to tacos, ramen soups, noodles. Or even eat it just on its own. The flavor is amazing! It’s perfect for meal prepping. I never have to buy premade carna asada again! Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe ❤️.

  8. Boa

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe. Used it to make carne asada for burrito bowls and my daughter loved it. Thanks for sharing,

  9. Mallory

    5 stars
    this is my favorite recipe! when i was shopping for the ingredients to make this recipe there was another woman shopping looking at the steaks. she looked at my cart and asked what I was making. i told her carne asada and she said she was making the same thing. i showed her your recipe on my phone and she said your version looked better than the one she was making. true story! thanks for the great recipe.

  10. @gangstavee

    5 stars
    My favorite recipe hands down! So easy to follow and I love that you give alternatives. This is the best carne asada and I will never make it any other way.

  11. Ly

    5 stars
    My go to recipe to make carne asada at home! Thank you for the great recipe!

  12. Chrystal

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! This is what I use to make my tacos de carne asada.

  13. v.mpn

    5 stars
    SO good! would definitely make it again!

  14. Marisol

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! So flavorful and easy to do.
    Thank you for sharing

  15. Mia

    5 stars
    We’ve made this marinade a couple times now & it’s so, so, so good! You will not be disappointed!

  16. Laura

    5 stars
    I’ve made this for my family for taco night and it was a huge hit! It was so good! It was my first actual Mexican recipe
    I’ve tried and I can’t wait to try more of her recipes. I’ll probably try the Al Pastor at home next 😋
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and cultural knowledge with us! I know I can never question your recipes 🌶️

  17. Leilani D

    5 stars
    I’ve been following Stellanspice since lockdown and have used many of her recipes. This carne asada is hands down one of my favorites. We relocated from SoCal to NYC where you can find top rated cuisines from all over the world…except for Mexican food! Ask any transplant. This recipe gives me a taste of home and is always a hit sharing with friends!

  18. Anonymous

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe and my whole family loved the carne asada it was soooo good. 😋

  19. anonym0es

    5 stars
    Yummmm! The step by step instructions and describing what type of steak to use…THANK YOU! It makes things easier on what to buy. Can’t wait to make them when we go camping!

  20. Dylan Zacherle

    5 stars
    my Go To Carne recipe! Reminds me of the carne I would get at the local Mexican restaurant, and that’s hard to beat. Double down and make the Carne Asada Gorditas by Stella to fully enjoy this recipe. Trust me, it’s worth it.

    1. Jocelyn

      5 stars
      This was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing
      Thank you

  21. Laidaland

    5 stars
    This marinade is 10/10!

  22. Queen.lota (Instagram)

    5 stars
    100/10 recommend this recipe! My favorite recipe and it was my first time seeing her on IG so I tested out to see if Stellanspice can be my go to for recipes. The beer helped out a lot and her thoroughness of instructions help me so much! Thank you!

  23. Glyt01

    5 stars
    This recipe is soooo good! I’ve made it twice (using a grill and case iron skillet) and gotten rave reviews. This is my favorite carne asada marinade.

  24. Rina

    5 stars
    This was delicious. Flavourful and Juicy!

  25. Vi

    Can you marinate this overnight?

    1. Vi

      5 stars
      Update: marinated it for 6 hours. Best carne asada I’ve ever had! Will definitely make it again

  26. Jenn

    5 stars
    Wow I haven’t made it yet but by the photos alone i’m giving it 5 stars! Cant wait to make it! 🙂

  27. Tristan

    5 stars
    3 for 3! First the Al Pastor, then the Pazole, and now the Carne Asada! ALL WINNERS! This has great flavor, super easy to make (although I just roasted a whole head of garlic in the oven so I had it for other things), and so versatile! I’m heading to your Korean recipes next! One other change I made out of necessity. I didn’t have oranges on hand but I did have Trader Joes’ Spicy Tangerine Juice. I’ll try with oranges next time, but this was really really good! Bravo to you for such a great and approachable recipe!

    1. stellanspice

      Hi Tristan, thanks so much for following up again! If you want to try another one of my most popular Mexican recipes, please check out my carnitas! Excited for you to try my Korean recipes, as I am much more comfortable cooking Korean. Please let me know how they turn out.

  28. Kim

    5 stars
    Just left a comment on insta, but this was amazing. We are a Latino/Asian house and have made carne pretty often. This will be our new go to marinade!

  29. Shannon

    5 stars
    This came out so excellent! It took me back to my time living in Tucson. Thanks for sharing!

  30. S B

    5 stars
    Made this last night. Best carne asada we’ve had! Our whole family enjoyed it and it paired well with your Mexican rice. Thank you for the great recipes!

  31. Colby Raimer

    Can’t wait Stella!!!

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Hi, I'm Stella!

I come from a multicultural background, and cooking has been one of the best ways for me to stay connected to my heritage. My recipes are tried and tested, many of them passed down through family. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

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