Carne Asada Tacos Recipe

5 from 2 votes
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My carne asada tacos are made with grilled, marinated steak and topped with creamy avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and fresh cilantro. All wrapped up in a perfectly toasted corn tortilla. It’s my favorite taco recipe of all time and an easy weeknight meal that takes less than 30 minutes of active work. (Hint: serve with margaritas!)

Carne asada tacos on a white table topped with fresh cilantro, chopped white onion, and avocado salsa.

Why This Recipe Works

Most carne asada taco recipes are pretty standard with minimal variation. The accompanying white onion and cilantro appear to be classic toppings. The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it so delicious. Fresh flavors, grilled meat, and a creamy savory sauce that pulls it all together.

I finish my tacos with salsa de aguacate, which is essentially a diluted and creamier take on guacamole. Guacamole would arguably be the most authentic pairing with carne asada tacos. If you’re looking for a simple delicious side to serve with your carne asada tacos, try my cilantro lime rice!

Looking for more delicious taco recipes? try my spicy shrimp tacos, blackened fish tacos, and easy chicken birria tacos!

Ingredients

Raw, uncooked carne asada tacos ingredients laid out on a cutting board.
  • Flank or skirt steak: you can also use hanger, ribeye, sirloin, NY strip that is about 1 inch thick.
  • White/yellow corn tortillas: these are best for the most authentic-tasting tacos. See details below on toasting them for the best flavor/experience.
  • White onion: white onion is my favorite pairing for carne asada tacos. Be sure to dice them finely.
  • Cilantro: always use fresh cilantro. This helps to add fresh authentic flavor to the tacos and salsa aguacate.
  • Lime: fresh limes are used for the salsa aguacate and to serve alongside the tacos.
  • Avocado: avocado is the base of the salsa aguacate. Look for perfectly ripe avocados that are suitable for mashing.
  • Olive oil: I use olive oil for the marinade and avocado salsa however you can substitute with avocado oil.
  • Jalapeño: jalapeño is optional but it adds a subtle spicy flavor to the salsa aguacate (highly recommend).
  • Spices: I use a blend of chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder for the steak marinade.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

Carne Asada Marinade

A basic carne asada marinade is usually comprised of spices, oil, and acid. The acids (fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice), help to break the beef down and tenderize it, while the oil and spices add flavor. For this recipe, I crafted a simple lime-based marinade with olive oil, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.

Let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours for the best results. This will ensure the steak is tender and flavorful. If you’re preparing this recipe on the fly, use a tender grilling cut and flash marinate the steak for 30 minutes so the dry spices can soak into the beef.

Best Beef for Carne Asada Tacos

Carne asada directly translates to “roasted beef.” It’s more commonly marinated and grilled beef. Carne asada tacos are typically made with skirt or flank steak. Flank steak greatly benefits from marinating since it’s a tougher cut of beef. Skirt steak is much more tender and flavorful.

If you’re pressed for time, you can also use popular grilling steaks such as sirloin, NY strip, or even ribeye. I’ve had fantastic results with just about everything. The most important thing is to generously season the steak and grill it so the meat has a nicely seared exterior. This adds flavor and texture.

How to Cut Flank Steak

A really important note on cutting flank steak. Always cut the steak against the natural graining. Flank steak tends to be very flavorful, yet tougher cut due to the dense muscle fibers. You will notice the steak has a very defined grain running through it. It may be more noticeable after you cook it. Slicing strips with the grain will force you to bite through these tough fibers. If you slice against the grain, the meat will break apart very easily.

How to Make Carne Asada Tacos

Step 1.

For the avocado salsa: combine avocado, garlic, cilantro, water, oil, lime juice, optional jalapeno, and salt in a blender (image 1a). Pulse until smooth and creamy. Add additional tablespoons of water if too thick. Consistency should be similar to a creamy dressing (image 1b).

A hand holding a blender bottle filled with unblended avocado, fresh cilantro, lime juice, oil, and water.
Bright green salsa aguacate being spooned out of a small glass bowl.

Step 2.

For the marinade: whisk oil, lime juice, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, and salt together in a small bowl (image 2a). Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Place the whole steak in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag or sealable container (do not pre-slice). Pour marinade over the steak (image 2b). Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

A simple steak marinade made with olive oil , fresh limes, and spices in a small metal bowl.
Raw, uncooked marinating flank steak with spices and oil in a clear baking dish.

Quick Tip

If using a bag, remove as much air from the bag as possible to maintain contact with the marinade.

Step 3.

Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling. Preheat the grill with the cover down to medium-high heat. Clean the grates well. Allow the grill to get hot before cooking the steak.

Step 4.

Reduce heat to medium (450°F) and place the steak on the grill with the cover down. For medium doneness, grill for 5-6 minutes per side. Add additional time as needed. Always check the temperature with a digital thermometer.

An uncooked seasoned flank steak cooking on the grill.
A caramelized, seared, flank steak cooking on a grill.

Step 5.

Remove the steak from the heat and place it on a cutting board to rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing. Slice into thin strips and then into small bite-sized chunks.

Grilled sliced flank steak with a pink center on a wooden cutting board.

Quick Tip

If using flank steak, find the natural grain running through the steak (left to bottom right as pictured above). Cut the steak into thin slices against/across the grain. This is to ensure the steak is tender and easy to bite through.

Step 6.

Serve tacos with warm/toasted tortillas topped with diced white onions, fresh cilantro leaves, and a spoonful of avocado salsa. See the note below on toasting tortillas.

Fresh cut limes, fresh cilantro, avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and toasted corn tortillas on a wooden cutting board.

Toasting the Corn Tortillas

My favorite way to eat tacos or steak fajitas is with toasted corn tortillas. If you have a gas range, place the tortillas directly on the grates and fire up the burner. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 seconds per side, flipping with a metal spatula. You can also accomplish this right on the grill.

The edges of the tortilla will start to char and crisp and the center will be soft, warm, and pliable. If you’ve struggled with brittle/dry corn tortillas, this will remedy the problem and make them much more sturdy and flavorful.

A carne asada taco on a white table topped with fresh cilantro, chopped white onion, and avocado salsa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to store avocado salsa?

To prevent browning, cover the top of the salsa with clear plastic wrap so it’s touching the surface, sealing off the top from oxygen exposure.

What is the best beef for carne asada?

Carne asada is typically made with skirt, flank steak, or hanger steak.

Can I cook the steak indoors?

If you don’t have access to a grill, the steak can be pan-seared in a hot skillet for 7-8 minutes per side. Beef thickness will dictate cook times.

More Taco Recipes

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5 from 2 votes

Carne Asada Tacos Recipe

Servings: 4
Prep: 4 hours
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Carne asada tacos are made with grilled, marinated steak and topped with creamy avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and fresh cilantro.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound skirt or flank steak, can also use ribeye, sirloin, NY strip, about 1 inch thick
  • 12 small white/yellow corn tortillas, warm/toasted
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • lime wedges for serving
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Avocado Salsa (Salsa Aguacate)

  • 1 avocado, peeled, seed removed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, leaves removed from stem
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lime, juice squeezed
  • 3-4 jalapeno slices, seeds removed (optional)
  • salt, to taste

Carne Asada Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt, to taste
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Instructions 

For the avocado salsa

  • Combine avocado, garlic, cilantro, water, oil, lime juice, optional jalapeno, and salt in a blender. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Add additional tablespoons of water if too thick. You want the salsa to be thin enough to slowly drizzle off a spoon. Consistency should be similar to a creamy dressing.

For the steak marinade

  • Whisk oil, lime juice, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Place the whole steak in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag or sealable container (do not pre-slice). Pour marinade over the steak. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, seal and refrigerate for 1-4 hours or overnight.
  • Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling. Preheat the grill with the cover down to medium-high heat. Clean the grates well. Allow the grill to get hot before cooking the steak.
  • Reduce heat to medium (450°F) and place the steak on the grill with the cover down. For medium doneness, grill for 5-6 minutes per side. Add additional time as needed. Always check the temperature with a digital thermometer.
  • Remove the steak from the heat and place it on a cutting board to rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing. Note: if using flank steak, find the natural grain running lengthwise through the steak. Cut the steak into thin slices against/across the grain. This is to ensure the steak is tender and easy to bite through.
  • Serve tacos with warm/toasted tortillas topped with diced white onions, fresh cilantro leaves, and a spoonful of avocado salsa. See the note below on toasting tortillas.

Notes

My favorite way to eat tacos or fajitas is with toasted corn tortillas. If you have a gas range, place the tortillas directly on the grates and fire up the burner. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 seconds per side, flipping with a metal spatula. The edges of the tortilla will start to char and crisp and the center will be soft, warm, and pliable with irresistible flavor. If you’ve run into ripping or tearing corn tortillas, this will remedy this problem and make them much more sturdy. This can also be done with flour tortillas.
Temperatures for steak 
Rare: 120°F to 125°F 
Medium rare: 125°F to 130°F 
Medium: 135°F to 140°F 
Medium well: 145°F to 150°F 
Well done: 160°F and above

Nutrition

Serving: 4tacosCalories: 809kcalCarbohydrates: 58.1gProtein: 89.9gFat: 33.8gSaturated Fat: 8.5gCholesterol: 204mgSodium: 231mgFiber: 14.3gSugar: 3.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Fantastic. My wife and I love it, can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it already. We grill the steak and it always impreses.