This carne asada marinade recipe came out of a culinary challenge I faced. Could an authentic marinade recipe for carne asada tenderize tough mountain goat meat?
While it didn't, I ended up with an authentic carne asada marinade meal that I now swear by.
It's now one of the best Mexican carne asada recipes I've ever tried. You'll love the flavor!
Why you should make your own carne asada marinade
We love grilling up carne asada just like the kind we ate at Mexican restaurants when we lived in San Diego. It's one of our favorite Mexican dishes.
I now use this carne asada marinade recipe every time we have a big party.
Over time, I've tweaked this recipe to come up with, in my humble opinion, the best carne asada marinade recipe you will ever find!
I hope you’ll agree that making your own authentic carne asada – instead of buying it at your local carnicería (Hispanic grocery store) – is worth the effort.
Look how easy it is to make this Best Carne Asada Recipe.
What kind of vinegar?
Traditionally, marinade recipes use red wine vinegar. Instead, I decided to do things differently and use malt vinegar.
Malt vinegar has a strong zingy flavor that goes well with the taste of the lime juice and orange juice used in the marinade.
Are you gluten free?
If you're gluten free, don't use malt vinegar! Instead, for a gluten free marinade, you can use red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar.
What kind of spices and seasonings?
I use ground cloves, cilantro and Mexican dried oregano in my marinade. You can use regular dried oregano if you can't find Mexican dried oregano.
But please don't skip the cloves as it adds something special to the meat.
Also, if you don't want to use white pepper, you can substitute black pepper instead.
Do I have to use cilantro?
I know some people really hate cilantro. So, skip the cilantro if you must and use fresh parsley instead.
What kind of steak?
Use lean skirt steak or lean flank steak and marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
Flank steak is leaner. Skirt steak is tougher and should only be cooked to medium-rare or will become too chewy.
The tougher the meat, the longer you should marinate it.
Should I tenderize the meat?
To further tenderize the flank steak or skirt steak, use a quality meat tenderizer tool. It's a must-have!
Run it over both sides of the meat, which helps the skirt steak or flank steak absorb the marinade for maximum flavor.
How to make the carne asada marinade
1. Combine all ingredients (except the steak) in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
2. Place the meat in a gallon-sized freezer bag, in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, or a non-reactive (plastic or glass) storage container with a lid.
3. Pour the marinade on top of the meat, cover dish or close bag, and marinate overnight up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
How to cook marinated flank steak
1. Preheat the grill on high. Oil the barbecue grill with a spritz of olive oil cooking spray so the marinated flank steak doesn't stick to your outdoor grill.
2. Turn down the green to medium or medium-high heat. You should cook your marinated skirt steak or flank steak for several minutes per side (keep flipping the flank steak) until the center is only slightly pink.
3. The temperature should be 110 degrees F on your grilling meat thermometer for the perfect level of doneness.
4. Then pull the carne asada off your outdoor grill and let the steak rest for a few minutes so it will be nice and juicy.
How to cut up the cooked steak
Then you need to slice up the steak against the grain so it isn't chewy.
If you don't know what the grain is in the meat, here's a terrific guide on cutting against the grain from Serious Eats.
You need to cut perpendicularly (across) the lines in the meat. Don't cut parallel.
If you're stumped, you can always dice up the meat for tacos or burritos.
How do you serve up your tacos carne asada recipe?
My family and I like eating our carne asada two ways, either on warm soft corn tortillas street taco style or wrapped in burritos. We like to serve it with the following:
● shredded Mexican-style cheese
● fresh limes
● freshly diced tomatoes
● beans (black, pinto, or refried)
● avocado (sliced or diced)
● chopped green onions
● chopped white onions or red onions
● chopped fresh cilantro
● shredded cabbage or lettuce
● plain no-fat Greek yogurt or vegan sour cream if you can't tolerate dairy
● tortilla chips
Ways to serve leftover carne asada
Store leftovers in an airtight container and use them to make these yummy dishes:
● A taco bowl using Easy Mexican Rice or plain white or brown rice.
● Easy Breakfast Chilaquiles instead of chorizo.
● Carne asada fries! They're like French fries topped with chopped steak, salsa, melted shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and some guacamole. Amazing!
Try these other Mexican recipes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup malt vinegar (any vinegar is fine in a pinch!)
- 1/3 cup lime juice or lemon juice
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons peeled fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper (black pepper will work, too)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 6 pounds lean skirt steak or lean flank steak
- Combine all ingredients (except steak) in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Place meat in a gallon-sized freezer bag, in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, or a non-reactive (plastic or glass) storage container with a lid.
- Pour carne asada marinade on top of the meat, cover dish or close bag, and marinate overnight up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
- Take the steak from the marinade. Toss the leftover marinade.
- Cook the meat until just cooked through on a hot grill. (Rare to medium-rare.)
- Cut cooked meat into strips.
- Place meat and favorite toppings in tortillas to make into tacos or burritos.
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Serving Size:1/2 pound
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 700Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 1018mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 61g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.
Originally published October 27, 2011.
Updated on September 22, 2017 and February 12, 2021 with new pictures and information.