Carne asada tacos feature tender grilled skirt or flank steak in the BEST carne asada marinade. Serve them alongside a plethora of your favorite taco toppings and spice up taco night!
These carne asada tacos combine at least four of my favorite things. Isn’t it great when a homemade dinner can do that?
For starters, tacos in general are always a highlight in my house. While most of the time my husband and I can whip up a batch of taco meat and homemade taco seasoning with our eyes closed, there’s something special about grilling meat for tacos. Grilling – my second favorite here.
Next is using these tacos as a vehicle for eating a fair amount of avocado. Straight-up slices or in the form of guacamole works. I’m not picky.
Last, how great is enjoying a frosty cerveza while grilling, or even making a batch of homemade margaritas or beergaritas to kick taco night up a notch or two?
Lots of different ways to have a good time with this carne asada taco recipe.
What is carne asada meat?
The best meat for carne asada is usually flank or skirt steak. Skirt steak is a fattier cut than flank steak, but either will work just fine (more than fine, in fact) for this grilled carne asada recipe.
I bounce back and forth between using flank and skirt steak when I make this, the deciding factor being which is cheaper at the grocery store that week.
In updating the photos of this recipe I’ve included both cuts: the image above is of a grilled skirt steak when this recipe was first posted in 2016, with the ingredient/taco shots in this post featuring flank steak from 2019.
Carne asada marinade recipe
No matter if you’re using flank or skirt steak, either cut will benefit greatly from marinating time. The citrus elements along with the vinegar and salty notes work well to tenderize the meat while adding flavor.
The base of this carne asada marinade is equal parts orange juice, olive oil, and soy sauce. On the liquid side, we also add lime juice for an extra burst of citrus, apple cider vinegar, and a little bit of Worcestershire sauce for even more umami flavor.
The other marinade flavorings include minced/pressed garlic, chopped cilantro, chopped jalapeno peppers, and black pepper.
For this recipe, I ‘cracked’ whole black peppercorns instead of using ground black pepper as this provides a bolder flavor, which is always preferred to milder in a marinade recipe. See the notes below in the recipe card for an easy way to crack whole peppercorns.
You’ll want to marinate your steak for at least two hours, but my preference is longer. I usually shoot for at least four, up to eight hours. All the acidic elements in the marinade may start to turn the meat mushy if left marinating for longer than eight hours, so do be mindful of that.
Grilling carne asada
Alright, we’re marinated. Time to fire up the grill. But before we do so, I like to brush the grill grates with a neutral tasting, high smoke point oil like canola, corn, or vegetable oil to help cut down on sticking.
Once heated to medium-high temperature, onto the grill the steak goes to cook for 7-10 minutes on each side. Just one temperature setting and one flip is needed, so I think these carne asada tacos qualify as a fairly easy, straight-forward grilling recipe.
For a medium-rare doneness, you’ll want to aim for the center of the meat to reach 145°F. An (affiliate link –>) instant-read thermometer is one of my most used kitchen tools to take the guesswork out of all kinds of recipes, from meats to warm water for pizza and breads to candy.
As an aside, I tried to take an action shot of the carne asada grilling process, but the intense humidity caused my camera lens to fog up each time I stepped outside, along with my glasses. So that didn’t happen. Is it fall yet??
Once the steak rests for a bit, it’s time to slice it thinly against the grain and start loading up tacos!
It seems like every taco night we use different toppings depending on what we have in the fridge, but ingredients like chopped cilantro, diced onion (white, yellow, red, whatever), salsa, avocado, and some sort of cheese are the usual suspects.
While there are two jalapeno peppers featured in the marinade, it doesn’t make the meat spicy so do add a few dabs of your favorite hot sauce or use a spicy salsa variety if you’re looking for some heat.
- Either flank or skirt steak works for these grilled carne asada tacos.
- You can marinate the meat for up to eight hours. I recommend shooting for the upper end of that range if you can for extra flavor and more tender meat.
- Slice the meat in thin strips and always always slice against the grain.
Grilled Carne Asada Tacos
- 2 lbs skirt or flank steak, approximate
For the marinade:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (one with seeds and one without)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked (see note)
- 12 soft taco-sized tortillas, flour or corn
- Chopped onion, any kind
- Cheese, cotija, shredded, your favorite
- Sliced avocado, or guacamole
- Chopped cilantro
- Salsa, your favorite
- Place whole skirt or flank steak in a container (it's okay for the steak to be folded over on itself to fit in there if needed). Combine all marinade ingredients and pour in container over skirt steak. Cover and refrigerate for preferably 4-8 hours, but 2 hours will work if you're pressed for time.
- Brush the grill grates with a neutral tasting, high smoke point oil (corn, vegetable, canola, etc.) before you turn it on. Heat the grill to medium-high heat (in the 400-450°F range). Once heated, add the steak in a single layer and allow it to cook with the lid closed for about 7-10 minutes, before flipping over and cooking for another 7-10 minutes on the other side.
- To check for doneness, insert an instant read meat thermometer about 1/2" into the thickest part of the steak. You'll want the temperature to reach 145°F for about a medium-rare doneness. Because skirt steak is a thin cut of meat, you don't have to worry too much about the temperature rising after it's removed from the grill.
- Take the steak off the grill and allow to sit for just a minute or two. Meanwhile add tortillas to the grill and let them heat until grill lines begin to form. Flip and repeat on the other side, and then remove.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the steak into thin slices diagonally against the grain. You can use these strips as-is for the tacos, or cut into smaller chunks to cut down on any chewiness as you bite into the tacos.
- Top tortillas with carne asada and all your favorite toppings.
Carne asada marinade adapted from Food Network
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