Carne Asada

April is one of my favorite months in San Diego.

Carne Asada Tacos

Often characterized by its warm to hot days, and crisp, vibrant sunsets, April in SD is just beautiful.  It’s like a taste of summer months in advance.  I take every opportunity I can get to engage in backyard grilling, drink cocktails as the sun dips into the Pacific, and escape to the beaches on Coronado for an afternoon getaway.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with making my own Carne Asada.  Spanish for “grilled meat,” Carne Asada is a traditional Mexican dish, and recipes can vary greatly from region to region.  After asking several of my Mexican friends and co-workers how their families prepare Carne Asada, I came up with my own method, using different parts from each family recipe.  Thin steaks are marinated in a flavorful bath of garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, spices, citrus, vinegar, olive oil and Mexican beer for 4 to 8 hours.  The marinated beef is then thrown onto a searing hot grill, and cooked until tender and smoky.  The finished meat is incredibly flavorful with a bold citrus punch.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Carne Asada Animation In this article, I’m showing the Carne Asada in taco form, but you could certainly use it in a burrito, or scatter over a plate of cheesy nachos.  If you plan on making Carne Asada tacos, I would recommend serving them with salsa, guacamole, chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, chopped radish, grilled scallions, and lime wedges.  Also, cold beers and margaritas are a must.

Carne Asada Grill

5.0 from 2 reviews
Carne Asada
Recipe type: Dinner, Mexican
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • Handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (or any other chile powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, crushed using your fingers
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup Mexican beer (I used Pacifico here)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds thinly sliced shoulder steak* (flank or skirt steak would work well here too)
  • 1 white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • Corn tortillas for serving, heated up on the grill
  • Optional toppings: pico de gallo, guacamole, chopped cilantro, chopped radish, grilled scallions
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, combine garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, chile powder, cumin, oregano, lime juice, orange juice, beer, and olive oil, whisking to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added several pinches of salt here). Add steak to a baking dish or large bowl, and tuck slices of onion and orange between the layers of meat. Pour marinade over the meat, cover, and let rest for at least 4 hours (or up to 8 hours).
  2. Take the steaks from the refrigerator, and let sit for 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile, prepare an outdoor grill (charcoal or gas) to high heat. Transfer steaks from the marinade to the grill in an even layer. Sprinkle each steak with a little salt and pepper. Grill the steaks for 1 minute per side, turning once, until about medium-rare. The steaks shown here are very thin, so the cook time is quick. Larger, thicker steaks may take longer. Remove the steak to a cutting board, let rest for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-sizes pieces.
  3. Place some of the chopped carne asada down the middle of a warmed tortilla. Add toppings to taste, and garnish with a lime wedge.


  1. says

    April is even better than any of the summer months in So. Cal. May Gray and June Gloom make early summer drab. Santa Anna makes July and August sexy, but stressful. September is hot! But October thru April is sheer heaven. GREG

  2. says

    I’m so jealous of your weather in San Diego, my favorite place to vacation! I don’t eat red meat too often, but carne asada is one way I truly enjoy it! Such a great recipe, I’ll be giving this one a try!

  3. says

    This picture IS summer to me. So many great memories associated with backyard carne asada. Can’t wait to try. Have you ever made homemade corn tortillas before? They’re really easy! I did it for the first time this weekend and there’s no turning back

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Thanks Marcella! I have yet to make homemade corn tortillas. Do you have a favorite recipe you could share?

      • says

        Basic recipe is 1 cup nixtamal (I use Maseca brand), 2/3 cup water (sub chicken broth for more flavor) and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix all three, divide dough into six balls and then use a tortilla press or simply roll each ball out into a disc! Cook over medium-high heat on an ungreased cast iron skillet, 40-60 seconds on one side and 30 seconds on the other side. Tada! Super easy and definitely worth it. I wrote about it here:

  4. says

    I made this yesterday and the flavor and aroma is phenomenal! the hubs went nuts over the meat too, saying it’s the best carne asada he’s ever tasted. Husband and blogger approved!

  5. says

    Firstly I must thank you for posting this recipe. I made it yesterday and it really tasty. My family like it very much. Keep on sharing more great recipes, I will follow you!

  6. Emily says

    This makes me miss red meat. Do you think I could sub in chicken breast for the steak and just grill a little longer? These flavors look amazing and I want this happiness in my mouth.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      You could certainly use chicken here. It’s actually called Pollo Asado 😉 Let me know how it goes!


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