The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (2024)

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The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (1)

Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Anne-Marie

This is the best Mexican carne asada marinade recipe you'll ever try. Making authentic carne asada from scratch, instead of buying it at the carniceria, is worth the effort. Use it to make tacos, burritos, fries, nachos, and more!

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (2)

Why this recipe works

Perfect for a crowd, we love grilling up carne asada when entertaining. You'll love the flavor.

This great marinade turns out better than the carne we ate our favorite Mexican restaurants in San Diego.

Make Tijuana carne asada street tacos for your guests. They’ll rave over them!

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (3)

How to make this recipe

1. Combine all ingredients (except the steak) in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

2. Place the meat in a gallon-sized freezer bag, in the bottom of a large baking dish, or in a non-reactive (plastic or glass) storage container with a lid.

3. Pour the authentic carne asada marinade on top of the meat. Then cover the dish or close the bag. Marinate overnight for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.

How to cook the marinated flank steak

1. Preheat the grill on high. Oil the barbecue grill with a spritz of olive oil cooking spray so the marinated beef doesn't stick to your outdoor grill.

2. Turn down the green to medium or medium-high heat.

Cook the marinated skirt steak or flank steak for several minutes per side (keep flipping the flank steak) until the center is only slightly pink.

3. The temperature should be 110 degrees F on your grilling meat thermometer for the perfect level of doneness.

4. Then pull the carne asada off your outdoor grill and let the meat rest for a few minutes so you have a juicy steak.

Pro tip: you can cook the steak on a cast iron skillet on the stovetop.

In the market for a new grill? Check outThe Best Smoker Grill Combo Guide.

How to cut up the cooked steak

Then you need to slice up the steak against the grain so it isn't chewy.

Don't know what the grain is in the meat? Here's a terrific guide on cutting against the grain from Serious Eats.

The best way is to cut perpendicularly (across) the lines in the meat. Don't cut parallel.

If you're stumped, you can always dice up the meat for tacos or burritos.

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (4)

Do I have to use cilantro?

Don’t like cilantro? It's OK to use fresh parsley instead.

What kind of steak?

Use lean skirt steak or lean flank steak and marinate for 12 to 24 hours.

Flank steak is leaner. Skirt steak is tougher and should be cooked to medium-rare or it will become too chewy.

The tougher the meat, the longer you should marinate it.

Should I tenderize the meat?

To further tenderize the flank steak or skirt steak, use a quality meat tenderizer tool. It's a must-have!

Run it over both sides of the meat, which helps the steak absorb the marinade for maximum flavor.

You can also use it on these easy chicken marinade or grilled flank steak recipes.

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (5)

What kind of spices and seasonings?

I use ground cloves, cilantro and Mexican dried oregano in my marinade. You can use regular dried oregano if you can't find Mexican dried oregano.

Don’t skip the cloves as it adds something special to the meat.

Also, if you don't want to use white pepper, you can substitute black pepper.

Can I make this without orange juice?

This marinade is made with orange juice. Then the orange sections are thrown into the marinade.

If you don’t like orange juice or forgot the oranges at the store, here are some substitutes for the citrus juice:

  • pineapple juice
  • Sunny D, at the suggestion of some of my readers
  • beer (gluten free)
  • cider (hard or regular)
  • apple juice
  • tequila

Gluten free?

If you're gluten free, don't use malt vinegar! Instead, for a gluten free marinade, use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar.

You should also use corn tortillas instead of flour.

Is carne asada keto-friendly?

Yes, it is. While the ingredients aren’t low carb, they’re just flavoring and tenderizing the meat.

They don’t add many carbs to the grilled steak.

Just remember to pick low carb, keto-friendly toppings to your tacos or burritos. Or have the meat plain with grilled vegetables on the side.

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (6)

How do you serve up your tacos?

Serve up carne asada tacos with the following toppings:

● salsa

● pico de gallo

● queso fresco

Mexican hot sauce

● shredded Mexican-style cheese

● lime wedges

● diced tomatoes

● beans (black, pinto, or refried)

● avocado

● chopped green onions

● chopped white onions or red onions

● chopped fresh cilantro

● shredded cabbage or lettuce

● plain no-fat Greek yogurt or vegan tofu sour cream (dairy-free)

● tortilla chips

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (7)

Ways to serve leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container. Then use to make:

● Taco bowls using Easy Mexican Rice or white or brown rice.

● In Easy Breakfast Chilaquiles instead of chorizo.

● In nachos instead of using taco meat.

● Carne asada fries are French fries topped with chopped steak, salsa, melted shredded cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.

Try these other Mexican recipes

Love Mexican food? Give these a try:

Chicken Enchilada Casserole uses leftover crockpot whole chicken or Instant Pot whole chicken

Layered Taco Dip Recipe and

Layered Mexican Christmas Eve Salad

Easy Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken Recipe

What's your favorite Mexican dish?

Yield: 12 SERVINGS

Best Carne Asada Marinade Recipe

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (8)

Looking for an easy carne asada recipe? Grill up this authentic carne asada marinade for tacos. One the best Mexican carne asada recipes!

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Additional Time8 hours

Total Time8 hours 40 minutes


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup malt vinegar (any vinegar is fine in a pinch!)
  • 1/3 cup lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons peeled fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper (black pepper will work, too)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 pounds lean skirt steak or lean flank steak


  1. Combine allingredients(except steak) in a largemixing bowl. Whiskto combine.
  2. Placemeatin a gallon-sizedfreezerbag, in the bottom of ashallow baking dish, or a non-reactive (plastic or glass)storagecontainerwith a lid.
  3. Pourcarne asada marinadeon top of the meat,coverdish or close bag, and marinate overnight up to 48hoursin the refrigerator.
  4. Take the steak from the marinade. Toss the leftover marinade.
  5. Cookthemeatuntil just cooked through on ahot grill. (Rare to medium-rare.)
  6. Cut cookedmeatinto strips.
  7. Placemeatand favorite toppings intortillasto make intotacosor burritos.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/2 pound

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 700Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 1018mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 61g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published October 27, 2011.

Updated on September 22, 2017 with new pictures and information.

The Best Authentic Carne Asada Marinade Recipe (2024)


What is the secret to a marinade? ›

You simply need to follow this simple formula: an acidic ingredient to tenderize the meat (think vinegar, juice, yogurt, or mustard), fresh herbs and spices for added flavour, and a fatty ingredient, such as oil or butter.

Can you over marinate carne asada? ›

After 4 hours, the flank steak has absorbed a lot of the flavor but after 12 hours it will become even more tender. You definitely don't want to marinate it longer than 12 hours though because the acid in the marinade will begin to change the structure of the meat to the point of mushiness – no Bueno!

What is traditional carne asada made from? ›

Carne asada is typically made with skirt steak, but I wanted to test out a variety of inexpensive cuts to be sure. I bought a half dozen different cuts of beef and marinated them in a basic mixture of lime juice, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and chiles before grilling them to medium-rare over hot coals.

What is the most tender meat for carne asada? ›

The BEST cuts for the Mexican version of the dish we all know and love are either skirt steak or flank steak. Personally, I prefer skirt steak (pictured). It's more tender and flavourful than flank and can be cooked well done (for those who prefer well) without getting tough and chewy.

What are the four key elements to a good marinade? ›

The components of a good marinade are acid, fat, salt, flavors and time.

What is the basic marinade formula? ›

ANSWER: In general, you can substitute either one as the acid part of the marinade. The rule -of-thumb ratio for marinades is 3-to-1, three parts oil and 1 part acid.

Do you wash marinade off steak before cooking? ›

It is suggested that after you have marinated meat for a length of time – you should wash it off prior to cooking. However, this is dependent on what oils and spices you use, often it is down to personal preference.

How do chefs make steak so good? ›

Add the steak and then some garlic, butter, rosemary, and thyme. Sear evenly on each side. Depending on your preference, for a 2-cm thick steak, to cook to: blue, 1 min per side; rare, 1½ mins per side; medium-rare, 2 mins per side; medium, about 2¼ mins per side; well-done, about 4-5 mins per side.

Do you dry marinade off steak before cooking? ›

Yes, marinate steak before cooking for at least 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Pat the steaks dry before cooking them to remove excess marinade and allow the steaks to crisp on the grill, in a pan, or in the oven.

Which should be avoided when marinating? ›

Avoid marinating in metal containers as the metal can chemically react with the marinade and change the flavor of your dish. Not marinating in the refrigerator. Marinating in the refrigerator will help to prevent the growth of bacteria. Never marinate food at room temperature.

Why is my carne asada so tough? ›

Your steak is chewy and tough most likely because the cut of steak was not tender to begin with. Another reason your steak is chewy and tough could be that you overcooked or undercooked the steak. Your steak could also be chewy and tough because you didn't let it rest long enough after cooking it.

How many pounds of carne asada for 10 people? ›

When making carne asada, figure on about 1/2 pound of raw meat person. If necessary, trim the meat of any excess fat. Then marinate it as you like. Because the meat cut is thin, it does not need a long marinating time.

What kind of meat is carne asada at Mexican restaurant? ›

What Is Carne Asada? Let's start with the basics—carne asada is a traditional Mexican dish composed of marinated skirt steak or flank steak that has been grilled and thinly sliced. The term carne asada in Spanish translates to roasted or grilled meat in English.

What part of the animal is carne asada? ›

Carne asada is grilled and sliced beef, usually skirt steak, flap steak, or flank steak though chuck steak (known as diezmillo in Spanish) can also be used. It is usually marinated then grilled or seared to impart a charred flavor. Carne asada can be served on its own or as an ingredient in other dishes.

How is carne asada different from steak? ›

The classic Chipotle steak additionally features chipotle pepper, which consists of fully ripened jalapeños that are smoked and dried. On the other hand, the carne asada introduces a zestier taste from a squeeze of lime, fresh cilantro, and coriander.

Is there a difference between carne asada and asada? ›

Carne Asada – Asada (or asado) means “roasted” in Spanish. Carne asada is a spicy, marinated grilled steak that's cut into strips. This is the meat that goes into burritos and tacos. Pollo Asado – Pollo means “chicken” in Spanish, which means that pollo asado is grilled, marinated chicken.


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