Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

Prep: 15 mins

Cook: 10 mins

Total: 25 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Yield: 2 pounds

Grilling season in my family means lots and lots of carne asada. Sure, we’ll throw burgers or some sausages on the barbecue once in a while, but it’s the thin slices of skirt steak grilled until the edges are crispy that conjure up memories of family gatherings in the picturesque Mexican countryside. While a good piece of meat needs little more than a few pinches of salt, the carne asada recipe I’m sharing today includes a citrus-infused marinade that results in mouthwatering beef that’s sure to become your family’s summer tradition.

What Ingredients Are in Carne Asada?

In Spanish, carne asada simply means “grilled meat” and depending on the location, the cut of meat can vary, as can the marinade. Skirt steak, or arrachera, is the classic choice, and many swear by using sour orange juice from bitter oranges in their marinade, while others might use a combination of citrus fruits to achieve a similar result. Some even add beer for an extra earthy flavor. 

How is Carne Asada Cooked?

There’s one thing that everyone can agree on: carne asada should be grilled on the hottest surface possible — whether that’s a la plancha (on a flat surface) or a la parrilla (on an open flame) — until well done and slightly charred. The recipe is said to originate in northern Mexico, also known as cattle country, the marinade serving as a way to tenderize and add flavor to tougher cuts of meat. 

How to Serve Carne Asada

Another thing everyone can agree on is that carne asada should be sliced thinly. Serving it this way makes it ideal for street-style tacos. You know, the ones topped with a mix of chopped onions and cilantro. But it’s not uncommon to see people tearing into a big hunk of carne asada using nothing more than their hands and teeth.

For those who want to be a little more proper, a fork and knife will do the trick. You can decide which way you like best but I suggest ditching the utensils for a warm pile of corn tortillas, and adding a side of chunky guacamole and a bowl of soupy pinto beans.

Tips for Making Carne Asada

  • Steak options — If you can’t find skirt steak, flank steak is a good alternative. Just be sure to slice it as thinly as possible when serving. Also note that flank steak can be marinated for up to 24 hours and will need more time on the grill than skirt steak.
  • Don't marinate the meat too long — Marinate the skirt steak for at least 5 hours but not more than 12. The acidity in the citrus fruits works to break down the protein fibers in meat, making it tender, but when marinated too long, it can make the meat mushy.
  • Make sure your grill is heated to at least 450 F — If you’re using a charcoal grill, you can gauge the temperature by carefully hovering your palm 6 to 8 inches above the grate. If it’s too hot to hold your hand over for more than 2 to 4 seconds, the grill is ready.
  • Don’t flip the meat more than once — Let each side cook for about 5 minutes over direct heat or until slight charring appears around the edges.
  • Make ahead — Making the marinade up to 2 days ahead can save you time—add the meat 5 to 12 hours before you’re ready to grill.

“The carne asada was incredibly delicious and only needed 10 minutes on the grill! I marinated the steak for 12 hours, which infused the meat with a tangy flavor. I served this with grilled broccoli, radishes, and scallions. The combination was perfect.” —Diana Andrews

Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, from 1 large orange

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from 4 to 5 medium limes

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil

  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 2 pounds skirt steak

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

  2. In a reusable food storage container, mix together the orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano.

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

  3. Add the meat, turning in the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or up to 12 hours. Flip the meat around every couple of hours so that it marinates evenly. Let the meat rest in the marinade at room temperature for 1 hour before grilling. 

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

  4. Remove the meat from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off. Discard the marinade.

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

  5. Heat the grill to 450 F or prepare a hot charcoal grill fire. Grill the meat over direct heat, flipping once halfway through cooking, until slightly charred around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes total.

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

  6. Place the cooked meat on a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-thick strips. Serve immediately.

    Super Simple Mexican Carne Asada

How to Store

Leftovers should be wrapped in foil and placed in an airtight container, refrigerating for up to 3 days. To reheat, preheat a cast iron or non-stick pan on medium heat, when hot, add the meat and 1 tablespoon of water and heat until just warmed.

Recipe Variations

  • Trying different marinades is a good way to find flavors you like most. So play around with using sour orange juice or your other favorite citrus fruits. Sour orange juice can be found in most Hispanic markets labeled as naranja agria. If you decide to give it a try, simply use it in place of the orange and lime juice, adding an equivalent amount.
  • Carne asada is delicious eaten plain as you would a steak. But it’s ideal for slicing thinly and stuffing into tacos or burritos.

Can You Marinate Carne Asada Too Long?

Yes, marinating the meat too long can result in the protein fibers breaking down too much and the meat becoming mushy.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 444
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 626mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 622mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *