Carne Asada is really popular in Mexico when you want to gather with family and friends and make a huge and delicious meal. Carne Asada translates to grilled meat and when someone says, “vamos a hacer una carne asada”, or “let’s make a carne asada”, it means let’s have a cookout or a bbq. Traditionally this involves some kind of marinated steak, the Carne Asada, amongst various other meats, sausage, peppers, onions, and more. You will always find this carne asada, tortillas, homemade salsa, and all the sides you want to make a phenomenal authentic Mexican meal.
(Mexican) Carne Asada makes an appearance at lots of holidays and many times during the summer. In my family the first carne asada happens on Easter, it’s kind of our way of welcoming Spring and grilling weather. After that Mother’s Day and Father’s day become carne asada days and any other day becomes an excuse to bust out the grill and have the family gather. The best thing about these carne asada days is the fact that there is always So. Much. Food. Always. So guess what that means? ALL the leftovers for days. Seriously makes for the best tacos, burritos, nachos, or anything your little heart desires. Let me get down to business and tell you what you need to know to make your own carne asada goodness.
What meat do I use? This is the best part, you can use ANY kind of steak cut you want or even use chicken instead. Traditionally carne asada is made with arrachera, or skirt steak, but you can use any steak you prefer. It’s also great with flank steak, strip steak, or ribeye. Skirt steak is my favorite type to use for carne asada because it becomes so juicy and tender when cooked just right. It has some fat marbled into it which gives it so much flavor and makes for juicier steak. Though the texture may look similar, flank and skirt steak are different cuts. Skirt steak tends to be thinner and cooks quicker than flank steak. They both are great for carne asada, it all comes down to preference. I also love using the same marinade on a ribeye or strip steak for batch cooking for the week to make burritos bowls or burritos for lunches. As I mentioned before, you can definitely use chicken instead and it will turn out just as flavorful and delicious.
As for the marinade, it couldn’t be easier. We keep it nice and simple but the flavor the meat gets from it is so good. You only need lime, cilantro, garlic, onions, cumin, salt and a little oil. It doesn’t have to be wild and complicated to get great flavor. I would highly recommend you marinade the steak for at least 30 minutes, a couple hours would be great. This gives it time to really get a lot of flavor deep into the meat and also helps make it juicy and tender. When cooking the steaks, time will vary depend on size and type of steak using. For skirt steak, arrachera, it only takes 2-3 minutes per side as it is usually thinly cut and cooks quickly. Flank steak tends to be thicker cut and can take 8-10 minutes per side depending on thickness of steak. Ribeye or strip steaks take about 3-4 minutes per side, also depending on size. I always cook the steaks at high heat on a grill pan or on a very hot grill and cook for minimum time to ensure the steak is not overcooked and is still very tender and juicy.
Traditional carne asada meals include a side of Mexican rice, find my recipe here. It also includes tortillas, grilled cebollitas (large green onions), grilled jalapenos, some beans, maybe some elote (corn), and gets washed down with a cold beer or soda. This is the kind of meal that truly brings memories of great times had with my tias and tios, aunts and uncles, my abuelitos, grandparents, and more family than I can count on both hands. Try this carne asada out next time you are having a cookout or bbq. Turn it into a Mexican fiesta with all the goods for a delicious meal. Even better, make this for batch cooking to have on hand for the week. Trust me, you will want to eat this on repeat! Provecho!
(Mexican) Carne Asada
- 2 lb skirt steak or steak of choice
- 2 large limes
- ½ cup chopped cilantro can use ¼ cup if less cilantro desired
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup chopped green onions about 4; use white and green parts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- In a medium bowl combine everything except steak. Either add steak to bowl or place steak in large ziplock bag and then add marinade.
- Ensure steak is well coated with marinade and cover bowl or close bag and place in refrigerator to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Preferably leave to marinade in refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Heat grill or place grill pan over high heat until hot. Make sure either grill or pan are very hot.Have a sheet pan ready with foil to place steak onto as it is cooked.
- Place steak on grill or grill pan. Times vary per cut of steak and thickness of steak.For skirt steak: cook on each side for 2-3 minutesFor flank steak: cook on each side for 8-10 minutes For other steaks: coon on each side for 3-4 minutes. Cook until desired doneness. Highly recommend not cooking skirt or flank steak for any longer to avoid tough, dry meat. Use thermometer if you want to ensure accurate doneness.
- Once cooked, add steak to foiled pan and cover to rest steak and ensure all juices are contained.
- Served with a side of rice and beans. With tortillas and fresh salsa for tacos. Add grilled green onions on the side.