Learn how to make authentic carne asada with this easy recipe! I will show you how to make a homemade marinade and steak seasoning for a tender and juice carne asada. Trust me- It's super easy to make, perfect for barbeques or Sunday lunch on the patio. This is the only carne asada recipe you need!
I have been making carne asada for many years and it's always a hit. I love cooking up this dish because it is so easy to make, tastes great, and you can cook the meat in bulk which makes it perfect for a large gathering, barbeque, or even meal prep!
Why This Authentic Carne Asada Recipe Is More Than Just A Simple Steak
From time to time, I receive e-mails asking some common questions for an authentic carne asada recipe, the first one being how to marinate the meat. I always give out the same answer: every cook or grill master has their own unique way of seasoning their meat.
In Mexico, if you were using high-quality meat to make Carne asada, like those from the state of Sonora, for example, you would just add salt. But, there are other marinating techniques and customs that vary depending on the region of the country that you’re dealing with.
For example, in the south and in the Gulf of Mexico, where bitter orange (Seville orange) is grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the carne asada marinade for a bit of tang. In other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer while grilling or marinating the meat.
Everyone has their own preference and today's recipe is mine! Actually, this recipe comes straight from my family and friends in Mexico - and you are going to love it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Before I share my carne asada recipe, here are a few questions I’ve been asked about how to make it.
What is carne asada seasoning made of?
The answer depends on the areas of the country and personal taste. For example, some people prefer to season their meat with only salt; some others prefer bitter orange or lime juice, and some uses their favorite beer.
Other options include ground pepper and steak sauce. For more sophisticated palates, you can use seasonings like:
- Chop cilantro
- Coarse sea salt
- Fresh or powdered garlic
You can also use store-bought steak seasonings if you are in a hurry!
What cut of meat is used in carne asada?
Arrachera/Fajita in the United States is a favorite among Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants. There are many different types of cuts for grilling in Mexico, and their quality is selected according to the amount of fat marbling each cut has.
The amount of fat will contribute to the meat's taste, softness, and juiciness.
The following are some common cuts for grilling:
- Rib Eye, also known as Bife Chorizo, is one of the best cuts for grilling for its juiciness and is sold in ¾ inch steaks. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive cuts in the market.
- Porter House, also known as T-Bone, whose T-shaped bone helps retain heat and shorten cooking time on the grill.
- Sirloin, also known as Churrasco or Aguayon, is a clean-cut with lower fat content; buy it in ¾ inch steaks to preserve softness while grilling.
- Then, we have the famous Fajita or Arrachera. This cut is very popular and is usually marinated before grilling. It is sold whole or in a specialty cut, which butchers call “fileteado.”
- Short Ribs are tender with excellent marbling and cut across the ribs, ½ to ¾ inches thick.
- Aguja Norteña, or Chuck Steak, is a trendy and low-cost cut of meat. It is sold with or without the bone, is flavorful, and soft when grilled.
How is carne asada different from steak?
Carne asada is a popular Mexican dish. Traditional-made with a flank steak or skirt steak and season with lime juice, bitter orange, or sometimes beer. Grill over an open fire on a charcoal grill. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, salsa, guacamole, grilled onions, and cilantro as a taco, burrito, or main dish.
What is the difference between carne asada and Asada?
Carne asada (grilled meat) is meat that has been cooked in an open fire or chard grilled. Asada (grilled) is the cooking method used for many foods like meats and vegetables in Mexico and other Latin counties.
Should you use charcoal or gas when you grill carne asada?
You should always use charcoal (or wood, if you can) to grill carne asada. Even though gas grills are growing in popularity, charcoal is still the primary grilling method for this recipe. In Mexico, people don't use anything fancy; or meat thermometers or instant-read thermometers.
It's a layer of char and smokiness that gives the steak some flavor.
What is the secret ingredient in carne asada?
Now, you might be wondering:
- “Where is the recipe for carne asada?”
- “If Mexican cooks just add salt and a bit of lime, then what do they put in the Fajitas at the Mexican restaurant that makes them taste so good?”
Besides their own personal marinade, some of them have something special that they add, and that particular ingredient is soy sauce. This ingredient is more like a TEX-MEX kind of thing.
Yep! A long time ago, a foodie friend told me about her family's Mexican restaurant, and I asked the same question about the carne asada. She told me that the secret was soy sauce. Add it right before the meat is going to be served at the table. Then, place it on a scorching cast-iron skillet.
That is why the whole cast iron plate sizzles and smells so good when the waiter brings your meat to the table. By the way, you can use a stove top cast iron grill to make the carne asada, too.
Authentic Carne Asada
Now, it's time to get cooking! Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make this dish.
- Flank steak (or skirt steak)
- Orange juice
- Lime juice
- Light beer
- Soy Sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
- Vegetable oil
- Fresh ground pepper
- White onions (sliced)
Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
How To Make Carne Asada: Step By Step Tutorial
To make things easier for you, I will break down the directions for this recipe into sections.
Marinate The Steak
- Place the flank steak in a large baking dish and, if using the sliced onion, spread the slices over the meat.
- Mix the marinade ingredients, orange juice, lime juice, light beer, soy sauce, vegetable oil, or olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour the marinade over the meat; place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Grill The Steak
- Light up your charcoal grill, or preheat your gas grill. Brush your grill with a little vegetable oil.
- Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry to remove excess marinade. Place meat on the grill at medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes per side. If you have an instant read thermometer check that the temperature is at 135F degrees for medium-rare. Remove meat from the grill and place it on your cutting board.
- Cut the beef into thin strips and serve it with corn tortillas or place the cooked meat on a preheated cast iron pan, add a few drops of soy sauce and serve immediately.
Notes: To slice your carne asada, cut the meat against the grain for an easy and tender cut. Place the steak on a cutting board and position it, so the grain runs horizontally.
What To Serve With Carne Asada
Usually, you would serve some Mexican side dishes like guacamole, some grilled green onions, Charro beans, freshly made salsa, corn tortillas, and another dish that may vary with region. My favorite is in a warm corn tortilla as a taco top with spicy salsa and slices of guacamole and cilantro.
In Central Mexico, this includes grilled nopales or small clay pots with the famous queso fundido and frijoles charros (common in the northern states). You can also do some baked potatoes and white onions wrapped in aluminum foil and placed on the grill to cook.
More Authentic Mexican Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this recipe for carne asada, take a look at some of these other authentic Mexican recipes:
- Steak Ranchero
- Mexican Steak Tacos
- Steak Quesadilla Recipe
- Carne En Salsa Verde
- Steak and Potatoes in Pasilla Sauce
I hope you make this carne asada recipe! If this recipe was of any help to you, come back to let me know your experience. Please leave us a comment done below and tell us all about it!
- 2 pounds of flank steak or skirt steak
- The juice of 1 orange
- The juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup of light beer
- 2 tablespoons of Kikkoman Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 large white onion sliced optional
- Vegetable oil to brush the grill before grilling
- Corn tortillas
- Lime wedges
- Grilled green onions and nopales or a salad of your choice.
Marinate the meat
- Place the flank steak in a large baking dish and, if using the sliced onion, spread the slices over the meat.
- Mix the orange juice, lime juice, light beer, Kikkoman soy sauce, vegetable oil, and freshly ground black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour the marinade over the meat; cover it with a plastic film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Grill the meat
- Light up your charcoal grill, or preheat your gas grill. (You can also use a cast iron grill pan, the ones you use over the stovetop). And brush your grill with a bit of vegetable oil , which will prevent the meat from sticking.
- Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry. Place meat on the grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes per side. (Cooking time will depend on the meat thickness and your personal preferences, either medium or well done). Remove meat from the grill and place it on your cutting board. Slice it and serve it with corn tortillas and other garnishes mentioned above.
- If you would like to have the same effect as the Mexican-American restaurant, place the cooked meat on a preheated cast iron pan, add a few drops of Soy Sauce and serve immediately. Enjoy!
- There’s no salt in this recipe as the Soy Sauce — besides being a flavor enhancer — takes the place of salt. By using ½ tsp. of Kikkoman Soy Sauce in place of ½ tsp. of regular table salt in your recipes, you will reduce the sodium content of the recipe by 1000mg. Of course, you can still add salt if your taste desires it. For more recipes using Kikkoman Soy Sauce, visit Kikkoman Sabor.
- This recipe is my own, and I hope you enjoy it. As I mentioned above, most cooks in Mexico, only add salt to the meat when making carne asada, a few drops of lime juice, and that's it! If just want to reduce the amount of orange juice, you can do that, too.
- It is best to enjoy a cut of roast meat that is freshly cooked and served while still smoking.
Todas tus recetas estan riquisimas, nos podrias proveer recetas sin sal, no sodio, que condimentos se les pone para darles sabor?
Puedes usar los sazonadores de la marca Mrs. Dash o también comprar la sal que venden baja en sodio.
I use this recipe every time I make carne asada tacos.
It taste exactly like what our authentic Mexican restaurants around my area taste.
You really can’t beat this recipe!
Hi, this recipe looks great and can't wait to try. Just wanted to know if salt is added to the meat at any point?
You can add salt as you wish. However, keep in mind that the soy sauce is already very salty.
Hola Mily, está es la Segunda vez que traté de hacer esta receta y me salió igual. Dura!! como una liga.
Pueden ser muchas causas. Algunas veces la carne sale dura, los tiempo de cocción y/o que tan alto esté el fuego donde se cocino.
Looks amazing I'd have to try it with my grandma some time!