Carne asada tacos are made with grilled, marinated flank or skirt steak and topped with creamy avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and fresh cilantro. This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite tacos at Bartaco, a large taqueria chain.
Every time I go to that place I end up ordering more and more tacos. Started with 2, then 3, 4…I’m currently up to 5 to be completely satisfied.
What is Carne Asada?
There may be misconceptions but simply put, carne asada is a marinated and grilled steak, thinly sliced and served on street tacos, tortillas or a wide range of other Mexican dishes. Like steak fajitas, carne asada is usually made with marinated flank or skirt steak and cut against the grain for the ultimate tenderness.
Grill it or sear it in a cast iron skillet. It’s totally up to. If you don’t have a grill, cast iron is the next best choice. Either way, about 6 minutes per side on medium-high heat, will yield a perfect medium. Just be sure to let the beef rest for 5 minutes before serving.
How to Cut Flank /Skirt Steak
Always cut flank and skirt steak against the grain. This is absolutely critical. Skirt and flank steak tend to be very flavorful, yet tougher cuts 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.
Carne Asada Marinade
A basic beef marinade is usually comprised of spices, oils, and acids. The acids (fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice), help to break the beef down and tenderize it, while the oils and spices add flavor. For this recipe, I crafted a simple lime-based marinade with olive oil, soy sauce, fresh garlic, and a few of my favorite Mexican spices (paprika and cumin).
Let the steak marinate overnight in a large Ziploc bag or for at least 4 hours for the best results. This will ensure steak is tender and flavorful. you can zip this recipe up by included slices fresh jalapeno, just note it can add a lot of heat. I like to leave the spiciness to my avocado salsa so you can choose how much heat you want.
Salsa de Aguacate (Avocado Salsa)
God, this recipe really brings me back to my Spanish speaking days in college. I could speak such terribly fluent broken Spanish so nicely. Now, nothing. Salsa de agacate literally translates to avocado salsa. It’s nearly identical to guacamole in terms of ingredients, but blended into a spicier creamier sauce instead of mashed into guac.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Add additional water by the tablespoon if the sauce is too thick. If you don’t have a blender, a NutriBullet or Ninja Single Serve works like a charm.
Toasting the Corn Tortillas
Carne asada tacos are best served on warm (toasted) corn tortillas with a sprinkle of diced white onion, fresh cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of homemade avocado salsa.
I like to slightly crisp the tortillas on a hot pan with a little cooking spray. It will make your tacos stronger and they won’t crumble or tear apart on you when you fold them up to eat, which let’s just be honest, let’s just be real…that’s the worst thing ever.
Always serve with lime wedges and a homemade margarita—this is not a drill.
Carne asada street tacos are made with grilled, marinated flank or skirt steak and topped with creamy avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and fresh cilantro.
- 1 pound flank or skirt steak, roughly 1 inch thick
- 8 small white corn tortillas (warm)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves
- lime wedges for serving
Avocado Salsa (Salsa Aguacate)
- 1 avocado, peeled, seed removed
- 3–4 jalapeno slices, seeds removed**
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/3 cup cilantro, leaves removed from stem
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lime, juice squeezed
- salt and pepper, to taste
Carne Asada Marinade
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 limes, juice squeezed
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the avocado salsa
- combine all ingredients 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 drizzle off a spoon.
For the steak
- Combine marinade ingredients in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag. Mix until combined. Add flank steak and shake. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before searing. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a cast iron skillet and turn up to medium-high heat. Allow the skillet to become hot first. Place the steak face down and sear undisturbed for 5-6 minutes. Flip and sear for an additional 5-6 minutes. This is for medium, sear for 6-7 minutes per side for medium and higher. If cooking on the grill, cook for 5-6 minutes per side on a grill on medium-high heat with the cover down, roughly 450 °F.
- Remove steak from the pan and place on a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- 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. If you slice with or in the same direction of the grain, the meat will be much tougher to bite.
- To toast the taco shells, place on a greased skillet or pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes per side or until warm and starting to crisp. This will ensure tacos don’t crumble apart. You can optionally steam in the microwave wrapped in a moist paper towel for 20-30 seconds. Toasting is way better.
- Serve tacos topped with diced white onions, fresh cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of avocado salsa.
Test the jalapenos before adding. Heat index can differ from pepper to pepper.
Cooking steaks at high temps in a skillet tends to get smokey. Open a kitchen window and turn on your kitchen’s overhead vent fan before you start to help with ventilation.
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
Keywords: street tacos, carne asada tacos, avocado salsa