This carne asada marinade recipe came out of a culinary challenge I faced. Could a marinade recipe for carne asada tenderize tough mountain goat meat?
While it didn’t – the meat was delicious but incredibly tough – I ended up with an authentic carne asada marinade that I now swear by.
It's now the best Mexican carne asada recipe I've ever tried.
For carne asada marinade, it’s about the vinegar and spices
We love grilling up carne asada that tastes just like the kind we ate when we lived in San Diego. I now use this asada marinade every time we have a big party.
I learned to make it at home based on a recipe my husband found online. (There are so many similar versions that I’m not sure who to credit anymore.)
Over time, I’ve tweaked this carne asada recipe and 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.
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 taste that goes well with the lime and orange juices.
Gluten free? However, if you’re gluten free, don’t use malt vinegar! Instead, for a gluten free marinade, you can use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar.
Spices: 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 carne meat.
Cilantro: Also, I know some people really, really hate cilantro. So, skip the cilantro if you insist, and use parsley instead. I won’t tell!
Cooking up your easy carne asada marinade
This recipe is perfect for five to six pounds of meat and can be cut in half for a small dinner with no leftovers or doubled for a big party or tailgating.
What kind of steak? Use skirt steak, flank steak, or a similar thin cut, as show above, and marinate for 12 to 24 hours. (The tougher the meat, the longer you should marinate it.)
How to tenderize the steak? To further tenderize the flank steak or skirt steak, I use a meat tenderizer tool. I run it over both sides of the meat, which helps the skirt or flank steak absorb the Mexican carne asada marinade for maximum flavor.
How to grill the marinated flank steak: You should cook your skirt or flank steak on a very hot grill for several minutes per side (keep flipping the flank steak) until the center is only slightly pink and register at 110 degrees F on your grilling thermometer.
(Oil the grill with a spritz of olive oil cooking spray so the marinated flank steak doesn't stick to your outdoor grill.)
Then pull the carne asada off your outdoor grill and let it rest for a few minutes so it will be nice and juicy.
How to cut up the cooked carne asada: Then you need to slice it 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. The grain is basically the wrinkles or the lines in the meat.
You need to cut perpendicularly (across) to that. If you’re stumped, you can always dice up the authentic carne asada for tacos or burritos. Who’s going to know, right?
Love Mexican food? Here are a few Mexican recipes you'll adore:
● Pumpkin Smoothie for Dia de los Muertos – Day of Dead
● Crock-Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken with Black Beans & Corn – the secret ingredient is pineapple, making this shredded chicken dish super tasty!
Try making a slow cooker carne asada recipe
Traditionally, you grill authentic carne asada meat in order to get that wonderful charred taste that only the grill can give you.
I tried that on half the mountain goat meat I prepared. While it was extremely delicious, it was still chewy even after marinating the mountain goat for over two days!
Pulled carned asada: Instead, I decided to make slow cooker carne asada! I cooked the other half of the meat in my slow cooker.
While, it wasn’t as sweet and tangy as the grilled carne asada, it was still tasty.
It was tender and more like a “pulled” tacos carne asada recipe, which is what I was shooting for.
I haven’t tried slow cooking a beef carne asada recipe after marinating.
But I bet you could use the carne asada marinade on a pork butt (carnitas) and slow cooking it instead. Experiment!
If you love pulled pork tacos, check out my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos. Your family will love them and they’re super easy to make!
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 combine the chopped carne asada meat with the following:
● salsa – sweet, verde and/or al fresca
● shredded Mexican-style cheese
● crumbled queso fresca
● the juice from wedges of lime
● freshly diced tomatoes
● beans – black or pinto
● slices of avocado
● chopped green onions
● chopped cilantro
● shredded cabbage or lettuce
● plain no fat Greek yogurt (a healthy alternative to sour cream)
● vegan sour cream if you can't tolerate dairy (it's made with tofu, but tastes like the real thing!)
Other ways to serve carne asada:
You can make a carne asada taco bowl on white or brown rice.
Leftover carne asada can be reheated with eggs and potatoes in a breakfast hash style dish.
I've also enjoy carne asada fries! It's French fries, chopped carne asada steak, salsa, and melted shredded cheese with sour cream and guacamole.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. 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.
Grilling the marinated carne asada:
Slow cooking the marinated carne asada:
Serving Size: 1/2 pound
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 686Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 1014mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 59g
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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 and January 21, 2016.
Updated with new pictures and information.