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 toasted corn tortilla and served with a side of lime wedges. The simplicity of this recipe is what makes it so delicious. Fresh flavors, chargrilled meat, and a creamy savory sauce that pulls it all together.
Most carne asada taco recipe is pretty standard with minimal variation. The accompanying white onion and cilantro appear to be the widely accepted authentic toppings. The only other variations you will find are the cut of beef, marinade (or lack thereof), and choice of condiment.
I finish my tacos with salsa de aguacate, which is essentially a diluted and creamier take on guacamole. It’s absolutely fantastic. Guacamole would arguably be the most authentic pairing with carne asada tacos.
Best Beef for Carne Asada Tacos
Carne asada directly translates to “roasted beef.” It’s more commonly marinated and grilled beef. Carne asada tacos can be prepared with a variety of cuts of beef depending on what you have access to and how much time you have to marinate your beef.
Carne asada tacos are usually made with skirt or flank steak. Both of these cuts benefit from marinating so they have time to tenderize. If you’re pressed for time, you can also use sirloin, NY strip (pictured in this recipe), or even ribeye. I’ve had fantastic results with everything. The most important thing is to generously season the steak and grill it so the meat has a nicely seared exterior. This adds both flavor and texture.
How to Cut Flank /Skirt Steak
A really important note on cutting flank or skirt steak. Always cut the steak against the natural graining. 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.
Note: the steak should not be sliced prior to grilling, the below image is just a representation to demonstrate the grain.
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 really simple lime-based marinade with olive oil, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.
Let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours for the best results. This will ensure the steak is tender and flavorful. As I mentioned earlier, 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.
Toasting the Corn Tortillas
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. 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 run into ripping or tearing corn tortillas, this will remedy the problem and make them much more sturdy and flavorful. This can also be done with flour tortillas.
More Taco Recipes
- Pork carnitas tacos
- Chicken birria tacos
- Spicy shrimp tacos
- Sesame beef tacos
- Blackened salmon tacos
- blackened fish tacos
- Skillet fajitas
Carne asada tacos are made with grilled, marinated steak and topped with creamy avocado salsa, chopped white onions, and fresh cilantro.
- 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
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 and pepper, 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 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 slowly drizzle off a spoon. Consistency should be similar to creamy ranch dressing.
For the steak
- Whisk marinade ingredients 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 2-4 hours.
- 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.
- For medium steak, grill for 5-6 minutes per side over medium heat with the cover down, roughly 450°F. 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.
- If using flank/skirt 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. If you slice with or in the same direction as the grain, the meat will be much tougher to bite through. Further slice into bite-sized chunks.
- 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.
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
- Serving Size: 4 tacos
- Calories: 809
- Sugar: 3.1g
- Sodium: 231mg
- Fat: 33.8g
- Saturated Fat: 8.5g
- Carbohydrates: 58.1g
- Fiber: 14.3g
- Protein: 89.9g
- Cholesterol: 204mg
Keywords: street tacos, carne asada tacos, avocado salsa