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How to Make Tacos de Carne Asada: Carne Asada Tacos Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 26, 2020 • 2 min read

There are nearly endless ways to fill up a taco shell, but one of the most popular is with grilled steak, called carne asada in Mexico. The best carne asada is lightly smoky, crispy in all the right places buy tender in others, and redolent with the triple threat of spice, heat, and a hint of sweetness.



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What Is Carne Asada?

The roots of carne asada (grilled meat) are in the state of Sonora in northern Mexico: cattle-raising country. The meat—most often the ranchera, or flap steak, though you can also use flank steak or skirt steak—is traditionally marinated and grilled over charcoal, then chopped and cooked further on a flattop or stovetop grill pan before it’s served.

Carne asada tacos may be the simplest way to let perfectly grilled meat shine. Wrap the thin slices of meat in flour or corn tortillas, and serve with anything from salsa verde, pico de gallo, a dollop of sour cream or crema, guacamole, fresh lime wedges, or chopped onions and fresh cilantro with sliced radishes on the side. It’s your taco—dress it up how you like.

Tacos de Carne Asada Recipe

8-10 tacos
Prep Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Cook Time
30 min


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 serrano chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 3–5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, stems and leaves finely chopped
  • 1.5 pounds flank, sirloin, or skirt steak
  • 10 tortillas, either corn or flour
  • Accompaniments like fresh cilantro and assorted salsas
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, citrus juices, chile, garlic, spices, and cilantro. Whisk well.
  2. Place steak in a shallow baking dish, and pour marinade over the top, turning the meat until well-coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2–3 hours. Alternatively, you can transfer the marinade and the meat into a large Ziploc bag; lay flat to refrigerate, and flip over halfway through to ensure even distribution of the marinade.
  3. Remove the dish of marinated steak from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Heat outdoor grill, or a stovetop grill pan or large cast-iron skillet to high heat. Brush the grates or pan with olive oil.
  5. Using a pair of tongs, remove steak from marinade, and gently shake off any excess. Sear for 3–4 minutes on each side (resist the temptation to move it or check the crust—when the meat lifts away easily from the cooking surface, it’s ready) until cooked to preferred doneness. You’re looking for a crispy, charred exterior and perfectly cooked interior: with especially thin cuts of beef like skirt steak, aim for medium-rare with an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more, and these thinner cuts can get chewy and tough.
  6. Remove from heat and place steak on a clean cutting board for 10–15 minutes to rest. This will allow all the juices to be reabsorbed before you slice.
  7. Slice the steak across the grain into thin slices and serve immediately, wrapped in warm tortillas, topped with a dash of your choice of salsa, and a sprinkling of chopped onion and cilantro.

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