Best Grilled Carne Asada
May 30, 2021, Updated Jan 30, 2024
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The best grilled carne asada is characterized by its deeply marinated, tender meat that bursts with a symphony of flavors from lime, cilantro, and spices, all perfectly seared with a smoky char from the grill. This culinary delight not only captivates with its robust taste but also with its succulent texture, making every bite a memorable experience.
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Easy Carne Asada
Grilled carne asada features succulent slices of marinated beef, typically flank or skirt steak, that are seared over high heat to achieve a charred exterior while retaining a juicy interior. The marinade, a harmonious blend of lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and traditional spices, infuses the meat with vibrant flavors and tenderizes it for a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Once off the grill, the carne asada is thinly sliced against the grain, ensuring each bite is tender and full of flavor. This versatile dish serves as the heart of many Mexican-inspired meals, from hearty tacos and burritos to refreshing salads, making it a beloved choice for gatherings and family dinners.
How to Make Grilled Carne Asada
First assemble the following ingredients:
- Flank steak (2lbs) – Flank steak provides a rich, beefy base with a slightly fibrous texture, ideal for absorbing the bold flavors of the marinade.
- Lime or Orange Juice (1/2 cup) – Lime juice adds a bright, citrusy tang that tenderizes the meat and injects a fresh zestiness into the dish.
- Worcestershire sauce (1/4 cup) – Worcestershire sauce brings a complex, savory depth with its unique blend of vinegar, molasses, and anchovies, enhancing the umami flavors.
- White wine vinegar (2 tbsp) – White wine vinegar contributes a mild, fruity acidity that helps balance the marinade’s richness and tenderize the steak.
- Cilantro (1/4 cup) – Cilantro offers a burst of herbal freshness with its distinctive, slightly citrusy flavor profile, complementing the grilled meat’s smokiness.
- Cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp) – Cayenne pepper provides a spicy kick that adds heat and intensity to the carne asada, invigorating the palate.
- Garlic (6) – Garlic infuses the dish with its pungent, earthy aroma and a sharp, slightly sweet taste that deepens the overall flavor profile.
- Onion (2) – Onion adds a sweet, aromatic backbone that softens when marinated and grilled, contributing a subtle yet essential layer of flavor.
- Black pepper (2 tsp) – Black pepper introduces a warm, piquant bite that enhances the meat’s natural flavors and adds a slight complexity.
- Salt (1 tsp) – Salt is crucial for seasoning, drawing out the natural flavors of the ingredients and ensuring the carne asada is perfectly savory.
- Cumin (1 tsp) – Cumin lends a warm, earthy note with hints of citrus, adding an essential layer of depth and a touch of Mexican authenticity to the marinade.
- Olive oil (2 tbsp) – Olive oil enriches the marinade with its fruity, peppery undertones, ensuring the meat remains moist and flavorful during grilling.
- Sweet mini peppers (6-8) – Sweet mini peppers contribute a mild, slightly fruity flavor and a pop of color, complementing the meat’s richness with their natural sweetness.
- Jalapeno peppers (2-3) – Jalapeno peppers add a vibrant, spicy element to the dish, offering a crisp, green heat that contrasts beautifully with the savory steak.
Use this Method:
Marinate. Place flank steak on cutting board and remove any silver skin or excess fat. In a blender, mix all marinade ingredients. Add steak and marinade to ziploc bag or covered bowl and marinate at least 5 hours, preferably 12-24 hours.
Grill. Heat grill to medium high heat. Add steaks and vegetables to grill and flip every 3 minutes until desired doneness – for medium rare, it will take about 10-12 minutes.
Rest Meat.Remove from grill and place on cookie sheet or cooling rack, tented with foil. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Slice steak against the grain into thin strips. Serve and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks for making Carne Asada
Choose the Right Cut of Beef: Traditional carne asada often uses flank or skirt steak. These cuts are flavorful and grill well, but make sure to slice against the grain after grilling for maximum tenderness.
Marinate for Flavor: A good marinade is key. Use a blend of lime juice, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, and spices to infuse the meat with classic carne asada flavors. Marinate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight, to deepen the flavors.
Room Temperature Meat: Take your marinated meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps in cooking the meat evenly.
Preheat Your Grill: Ensure your grill is hot before adding the meat. A high temperature is crucial for searing the meat properly and locking in the juices.
Don’t Overcrowd the Grill: Leave enough space between pieces of meat. Overcrowding can lower the grill’s temperature and cause the meat to steam rather than sear.
Flip Once: Resist the urge to flip the meat repeatedly. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes to get a good sear, then flip it once to finish cooking on the other side.
Use a Meat Thermometer: To avoid overcooking, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of about 130-135°F (54-57°C).
Let it Rest: Once off the grill, let the meat rest for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring it’s juicy and flavorful when sliced.
Slice Against the Grain: Cutting against the grain is crucial with flank or skirt steak to ensure tenderness. Look for the direction of the muscle fibers and slice perpendicular to them.
Serve with Fresh Toppings: Enhance your carne asada with fresh toppings like chopped cilantro, diced onions, a squeeze of lime, or homemade salsa to add freshness and zest.
Experiment with Sides: Carne asada pairs well with a variety of sides, from traditional rice and beans to grilled vegetables or fresh salads.
Keep it Simple: Sometimes, the best carne asada is the simplest. Don’t overcomplicate the flavors; let the quality of the meat and the marinade shine through.
Skirt or flank steak are the most popular choices for carne asada due to their rich flavor and texture. Both benefit from marination and should be sliced against the grain for tenderness.
For the best flavor, marinate the carne asada for at least 1 hour, but ideally overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the meat to absorb the flavors fully.
Avoid overcooking by using a meat thermometer to check for doneness, aiming for medium-rare to medium (130-145°F or 54-63°C internal temperature), and let the meat rest before slicing against the grain.
Yes, you can cook carne asada in a heavy skillet or grill pan over high heat on the stove, or broil it in the oven, though the flavor may differ slightly from traditional grilling.
Experiment with ingredients like fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, diced jalapenos, and a variety of spices such as cumin and chili powder. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste preferences.
Yes, letting the carne asada rest for 5-10 minutes after grilling allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful dish.
While skirt and flank steak are traditional, you can also use other cuts such as sirloin flap meat or even ribeye for a different take on carne asada, though cooking times may vary.
Store leftover carne asada in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a skillet over low heat or in a microwave using a low-power setting to avoid drying out the meat.
What to Serve With Carne Asada
Guacamole: The creamy richness of guacamole complements the savory flavors of carne asada, adding a smooth texture and a burst of fresh avocado taste.
Pico de Gallo: This fresh tomato salsa brings a zesty and refreshing contrast to the rich meat, adding brightness and a hint of spice.
Grilled Vegetables: Vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and zucchini, grilled alongside the carne asada, offer a smoky sweetness that pairs well with the charred flavors of the meat.
Cilantro-Lime Rice: The light and citrusy flavors of cilantro-lime rice provide a subtle, fragrant base that balances the boldness of the carne asada.
Refried Beans: Creamy refried beans serve as a hearty and comforting side, adding a smooth texture and a mild, savory flavor that complements the spicy and tangy elements of the tacos.
Mexican Street Corn (Elote): The charred, sweet corn combined with creamy sauce, cheese, and spices offers a delightful mix of textures and flavors that enhance the overall meal. Try this recipe!
Sour Cream or Crema: A dollop of sour cream or Mexican crema adds a cool, tangy element that can tame the heat and enrich the tacos’ flavors.
Pickled Red Onions: Their sharp acidity and slight sweetness cut through the richness of the meat, adding a vibrant color and a crunchy texture.
Fresh Lime Wedges: Squeezing lime over carne asada tacos adds a bright pop of acidity that lifts the flavors and adds a refreshing note.
Queso Fresco: This mild, crumbly cheese brings a subtle saltiness and a soft texture that contrasts nicely with the meat and adds an authentic touch. Try this green chile skillet queso.
Chips and Salsa: A simple side of crispy tortilla chips and a variety of salsas (tomatillo, chipotle, etc.) offers a crunchy snack that complements the tacos and provides an opportunity for guests to adjust their spice level.
Cold Beer or Margaritas: A light, refreshing beer or a tangy margarita pairs perfectly with the flavors of carne asada tacos, helping to cleanse the palate and complement the meal’s spicy and savory notes.
These grilled dishes are delicious and perfect for summer suppers: Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts, The Best Garlic Grilled Flank Steak Recipe, Grilled Chicken Antipasto Salad Recipe, Perfect Grilled Souvlaki, Korean Grilled Flanken Ribs, and Sweet Chili Asian Salmon Burgers.
The Best Grilled Carne Asada Recipe Ever
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- 2 Pounds of flank steak
For the Marinade:
- 1/2 cup juice from an orange or limes
- 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 1/4 small onion
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
For the Fajita Vegetables:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6-8 sweet mini peppers
- 2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers
- 1-2 onions, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
- Place flank steak on cutting board and remove any silver skin or excess fat.
- In a blender, mix all marinade ingredients.
- Add steak and marinade to ziploc bag or covered bowl and marinate at least 5 hours, preferably 12-24 hours.
- Heat grill to medium high heat.
- Add steaks and vegetables to grill and flip every 3 minutes until desired doneness - for medium rare, it will take about 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from grill and place on cookie sheet or cooling rack, tented with foil. Let rest at least 10 minutes.
- Slice steak against the grain into thin strips.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 404Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 119mgSodium 607mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 3gSugar 9gProtein 43g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.