This carne asada taco recipe is perfect for taco Tuesday! The marinade infuses so much flavor into the skirt steak and tenderizes the meat for a few hours. After grilling, you’re left with a tender and juicy carne asada steak, which is delicious on tacos! These carne asada tacos will be your new favorite!
What is carne asada?
Carne is the Spanish word for meat, and asada is the word for roasted. So quite literally, carne asada means roasted meat.
Classic carne asada is made from thinly sliced grilled beef and served in either tacos or burritos.
What type of beef to use in carne asada
The best type of meat to use in carne asada is skirt steak because it is a very thin cut of beef. It comes from the “plate” section of the cow – the outside skirt is attached from the 6th to 12th ribs.
Skirt steak is a thin cut that absorbs flavors easily and quickly via marinade. It is best cooked rare to medium-rare to remain tender. When overcooked, it becomes tough due to the muscles that run throughout.
Skirt steak substitute
Can’t find skirt steak? You can substitute flank steak or flap steak for your carne asada tacos!
Since they are thicker cuts than the skirt steak, they will take a little longer to marinate, and the cooking time will be longer for both of those alternate cuts.
Carne asada marinade ingredients
There are two parts to this marinade – dry ingredients and moisture-rich ingredients.
These spices will penetrate deep into the steak and gives it a nice smokey flavor.
The spices used in the marinade are:
- Dark chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Dried oregano
- Ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Wet marinade ingredients
- Citrus is a great way to tenderize meat in a marinade. For the carne asada marinade, I use a combination of orange, lime, and lemon juice.
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are dried jalapeños that have been rehydrated and put in a smokey, spicy sauce that infuses so much flavor into the meat.
How to marinate carne asada steak
- Add all the marinade ingredients to a bowl or ziplock bag.
- Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.
Skirt steaks can be pretty long, so depending on your grill size, you can cut it in half before marinating.
Also, be careful not to marinate for too long, or the citrus will toughen the meat. I would not marinate it longer than overnight unless you’re using a thicker cut of meat.
How to cook carne asada
You can cook the skirt steak on the grill or in a hot cast iron pan. I have done it both ways, and I enjoyed both.
I will say that the grill will give you a better char on the meat and some more texture.
To cook the steak:
- Preheat your grill to 450°F.
- Lay flat on the grill and cook until your desired temperature, making sure to flip the steak halfway.
Skirt steak is thinner on the ends, so careful not to overcook. For medium-rare, I remove the steaks when they are at 125°F, so once they rest, it is a temperature of 130-135°F.
Skirt steak is best enjoyed rare or medium-rare. Anything more leaves you with a tough chew.
How to cut skirt steak
After letting the skirt steak rest (very important- do not skip!), cut it into slices.
Muscle fibers create lines in the steak, so you want to cut against those, or else the meat will eat tough. This is called “cutting against the grain.”
Make sure to slice them evenly so you get the same bite in your tacos!
How to assemble carne asada tacos
You can enjoy the carne asada on its own, or my favorite way to enjoy it is in a taco. As far as toppings go, you’re the boss!
For my carne asada tacos, I used:
- Corn tortillas
- Homemade guacamole on the bottom
- Homemade pickled red onions
- Cotija cheese
- Sliced jalapeños
Don’t forget the squeeze of lime!
How to store leftover carne asada
You should store leftover carne asada in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Do not store carne asada tacos pre-filled. Keep all the ingredients separated so that they stay fresh longer.
Can you freeze carne asada?
Yes, you can freeze carne asada and save it for later. Grilled steak will stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months.
Here’s how to freeze and reheat carne asada.
To freeze carne asada:
- Place the fully-cooked carne asada into a freezer-safe food storage bag or container. Remove as much air as you can.
- Keep it in the freezer for up to six months.
How to reheat frozen carne asada:
- Place the frozen carne asada in the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight.
- Reheat carne asada in a skillet on the stove over medium-low heat.
You can also thaw frozen carne asada in the microwave, but do it slowly so that the meat doesn’t become rubbery from overcooking. I would use this as a last resort.
These carne asada tacos are the perfect meal for Cinco de Mayo or any taco Tuesday you’re having! Life is better when tacos are involved – that is a fact. Enjoy!
Interested in more taco recipes?
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Carne Asada Steak
- 1 ½ lb skirt steak (see note #1)
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
- ½ cup avocado oil or olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 4 chipotles in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dark chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 10 flour or corn tortillas
- 4 oz cotija cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- You're going to add all the marinade ingredients to a bowl or ziplock bag. Skirt steaks can be pretty long, so depending on your grill size, you can cut it in half before marinating. Marinate for minimum 2 hours.
- Remove the skirt steak from marinade and you can prepare either on the grill or in a cast iron pan.
- For the grill: Set temperature to 450F. Grill the steak for 3-5 minutes on each side. Skirt steak is best enjoyed rare or medium rare. For medium rare, using a thermometer, you want to pull the steak off at 125F because it will still cook while resting. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
- Cast iron: Remove the steak from the marinade and allow it to come to temperature for 15 minutes. In a seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat, cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, remove and allow to rest before cutting. (Using the cast iron will be very smokey in the house, so crack a window open and turn hood vent on)
- After letting the skirt steak rest, cut into slices. There are muscle fibers that create lines in the steak, you want to cut against those or else the meat will eat tough. This is called "cutting against the grain".
- You can enjoy the carne asada on it's own, or my favorite way to enjoy it is in a taco! Assemble the tacos using your favorite toppings and ingredients. Enjoy!
- Can't find skirt steak? You can substitute flank steak or flap steak. Since they are thicker cuts compared to the skirt steak, they will take a little longer to marinate and the cooking time will be longer for both of those alternate cuts.
- If the skirt steak is extremely long, you can cut it in half to make flipping on the grill easier.
- Also, be careful not to marinate for too long, or the citrus will toughen the meat. I would not marinate it longer than overnight unless you're using a thicker cut of meat.
- Skirt steak is best enjoyed rare or medium-rare. Anything more leaves you with a tough chew.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 10gSugar: 5gProtein: 20g
*Note: Nutrition information is an estimate. Values vary based on different brands and ingredients*