Fantastically Flavorful Homemade Carne Asada Is What’s for Dinner Tonight

It’s time to fire up those grills, my friends.

Vertical image of a plate with sliced meat, limes, and corn mixture, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

As a Coloradan, I have to admit, I’ve been firing up my grill all year long. Even through the snowstorms outside, my grill has been humming along.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s time for my grilling ritual to become a bit more enjoyable. Instead of running in and out of the house, trying not to freeze to death while I cook, I can now enjoy the weather and my patio.

After the insane weather here over the last couple of seasons, it’s a serious savior to my mood. There’s nothing like some fresh sunshine to lift your spirits after a hard day.

Vertical image of sliced meat on a wooden cutting board with limes, in front of two margarita glasses.

When you’re looking for the best carne asada recipe, once you’ve acquired a giant piece of skirt or flank steak, it’s all about the marinade.

If you really want to make the most flavorful carne asada, you need to be sure to let the steak soak up that marinade for as long as possible.

The marinade is crucial to this recipe because it tenderizes the meat while infusing it with intense flavor. And you really don’t need a lot of ingredients to make this mixture stand out.

This marinade is so quick and easy to make, with a bunch of bold flavors. There’s garlic, citrus, cilantro, and smoky ancho chili powder to pull it all together in a wave of deliciousness.

Vertical image of a plate of steak, limes, and corn on a towel next to a margarita and more sliced meat.

It’s the best way to really make that beef flavor shine, you know?

My most crucial recommendation here is to use the freshest ingredients. Make sure you are using freshly squeezed lime juice and that you are mincing up whole cloves of garlic. Use the best cilantro bunch you can find.

Why? For the best, boldest flavor, of course! Fresh ingredients are at their peak of flavor, and that’s when you want to grab them for this recipe, whether it’s from the farmers market, supermarket, or your backyard garden.

Vertical image of sliced steak on a wooden cutting board by limes.

The other factor that is really important when you’re making carne asada at home is of course the cut of beef.

There are several cuts that work for carne asada, from sirloin to tenderloin, but the majority of recipes call for flank or skirt steak.

I’ve tried them both, and I like skirt steak the best. It’s really flavorful and if you are lucky (aka up early and in the door at your local butcher when it opens in the morning), you can get a giant, gorgeous slab of meat like the one you see here.

When you are going to slice your steak just before serving, be sure that you are slicing it against the grain. It’s pretty easy to figure out which direction this is in the flank and skirt steak cuts. The grain looks like lines, so you don’t want to cut parallel to those lines.

Vertical image of sliced meat, lime quarters, and corn on a plate next to a glass and a whole lime on a towel.

Instead, make sure you are cutting perpendicular to them. When you cut against the grain, you end up with the best slices with a nice texture that isn’t too chewy.

Sliced this way, the meat will be tender and tasty, with so many delicious flavors bursting from the dish. You won’t believe just how much difference that simple marinade will make.

Be sure to check out the concluding section of this article to explore all the different ways that you can serve up this tasty meat!

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Horizontal image of a plate with corn salsa, sliced meat, and limes, in front of limes, glasses, and a cutting board with more meat.

Homemade Carne Asada

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Carne asada is all you need to make tonight’s dinner a real standout during a busy week. The marinated and grilled meat boasts intense flavor.


  • 2 lbs flank or skirt steak
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion (about 1/4 medium)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder


  1. Place flank steak into a gallon-size resealable bag.  
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Pour over the steak. Close bag and  shake well to distribute. Place in refrigerator, flat side down. Refrigerate 1-3 hours, turning once to redistribute the marinade.  
  3. Heat grill and place steak in center. Grill until you get a nice sear on all sides, about 5 minutes per side, depending on the temperature of your grill. You are looking for somewhere between 130-135˚F for medium rare, 135-145˚F for medium on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. Remove from grill and allow meat to rest for 10-15 minutes.  
  5. Slice into strips, against the grain.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: carne asada, mexican, cinco de mayo, beef, steak, grill

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep Produce and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Zest 1 lime. You should have about 2 teaspoons of lime zest total.

Juice 2 limes, including the one you just zested. You should have about 4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice in total.

Peel 2 cloves of garlic and mince finely.

Horizontal image of a whole steak on a black plate next to assorted prepped ingredients.

Roughly chop enough white onion until you have 1/4 cup total. Save the rest for another use. And say goodbye to those onion-cutting tears with our suggestions!

Chop enough cilantro leaves until you have 1/4 cup total.

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed in the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Make Marinade

Add the whole flank steak to a large resealable bag.

In a medium bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients. Pour over the steak in the bag.

Horizontal image of steak in a bag with marinade.

Seal the bag and shake to evenly distribute the liquid and seasonings. Place in the refrigerator, with the flat side down.

Refrigerate 1-3 hours, turning once halfway through to redistribute the liquid.

Step 3 – Grill

Preheat your grill.

Horizontal image of a whole marinated steak on a grill.

Once the grill is hot, remove the steak from marinade and place it on the grill. Grill until cooked to your desired doneness. This should take about 5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Measure the internal temperature with a thermometer before removing the meat from the grill. You are looking for 130-135˚F for medium rare, 135-145˚F for medium with an internal thermometer. Be sure not to cook past medium or the steak will become tough and dry.

Remove from the heat and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Horizontal image of sliced meat on a wooden cutting board with a whole lime and sliced limes.

And when you’re slicing, be sure to cut against the grain. If you need more tips, read about our favorite carving knives for home kitchens and find out how to choose the best wooden cutting board for your kitchen.

It’s Time to Eat!

There are so many ways to serve up this tasty meat. I personally like it simply sliced and paired up with a simple side dish, like this cilantro lime grilled corn recipe (recipe coming soon!).

Horizontal image of a plate with corn salsa, sliced meat, and limes, in front of limes, glasses, and a cutting board with more meat.

You can also plate it up as fajitas with grilled bell pepper and onion, folded up inside warm flour tortillas. Top it off with sour cream, homemade salsa, jalapenos, and shredded cheese.

It also makes for a delicious filling for tacos and wraps, and I love to serve the chilled leftovers on top of a hearty bowl of salad.

Horizontal top-down image of tacos on a white plate, next to cut limes and a plate of grilled vegetables.

For more easy grilling recipes, check out the following:

How will you devour this fantastic homemade carne asada? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published August 30, 2010. Last updated: January 1, 2020 at 3:00 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

1 thought on “Fantastically Flavorful Homemade Carne Asada Is What’s for Dinner Tonight”

  1. I made this recipe last night and oh my gosh it was so delicious!! I cooked it in the oven since temperatures here are in the 100s right now and it’s just too hot to grill. I will definitely be making this one again and again.


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