Orange and lime juice, garlic and jalapeno, maple and cumin – this Grilled Carne Asada is drenched in a medley of incredible flavors. Sliced thinly into tender, medium-rare strips, it’s a dinner that’ll have you fighting for the last bite!
Easy Grilled Flank Steak, with a Killer Marinade!
Flank steak is a favorite around here, with its ultra-beefy flavor and robust texture. It holds up well to any hearty marinade, from Asian flavors to this citrusy carne asada version, complete with garlic and jalapeno. If you’re in the mood for a Mexican-inspired feast, you’re in the right place!
The steak can marinate for anywhere from three hours to overnight, so make it work for your schedule. When you’re ready to cook, all you have to do is throw it on the grill. From there, the tender, thin slices of flavorful steak are amazing in all kinds of meals: salads, tacos, burritos, over rice, you name it. This crazy-good dinner is guaranteed to become a family favorite.
What Is the Difference Between Steak and Carne Asada?
The difference between carne asada and regular “steak” is that carne asada has sort of become its own dish, at least in most US restaurants that serve it. Literally, carne asada means “grilled meat.” If you order it at your favorite Latin restaurant, you’ll most likely be served grilled flank steak or skirt steak, cooked in a citrus marinade and sliced thinly against the grain.
On the other hand, if you order “steak” at a restaurant, that usually means a ribeye, strip steak, T-bone steak, or other steakhouse cut that’s been cooked simply and served whole. However, at the end of the day, it’s all good!
The List of Ingredients
While this flavor-blasted recipe has one of the yummiest marinades around, you’ll find that all of the ingredients are very common items that you probably have on hand already. Here’s the scoop:
- Flank Steak: If you can’t find flank steak, skirt steak or flap steak can be a good substitute. Adjust the cooking time so that thinner steaks don’t overcook.
- Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar: For a touch of sweetness. Feel free to substitute honey, regular sugar, etc.
- Herbs and Spices: Coriander seeds, dried oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, pepper, and salt. Keep in mind that chili flakes are not as hot as crushed red pepper. If you can’t find chili flakes, substitute a small amount of crushed red pepper, or even some chopped pimiento.
- Garlic: Plenty of garlic means plenty of zesty, mouthwatering flavor! I press or mince 8 cloves of garlic for this dish.
- Jalapeno: For a bit of heat, mince up a jalapeno. There is already cayenne pepper for some heat, as well, so feel free to adjust both ingredients to your taste.
- Olive Oil
- Lime Juice and Orange Juice: Fresh or bottled is fine.
How Do I Grill Carne Asada?
Let’s get into the cooking method, now that we’ve talked about ingredients. This is a very simple grilling recipe – just marinate the meat, and start cooking!
- Make the Marinade. To make the carne asada marinade, combine all of your ingredients (except the steak) in a large bowl. Stir it well, until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Marinate the Steak. Place the steak in the marinade, cover, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Alternatively, you can pour the marinade into a large zip-top bag, add the steak to the bag, and place that in the fridge to marinate.
- Grill. Once the steak is done marinating, preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Take the steak out of the marinade, and shake off the excess liquid. Pat dry with paper towels, and lay the steak on the hot grill. Let it cook for about 3 – 5 minutes per side.
- Rest the Steak. Once the steak is cooked, transfer it to a cutting board or a large plate. Loosely cover it with foil to keep it warm, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This will help the meat stay juicy when sliced.
- Slice and Serve. Thinly slice the steak against the grain, and serve it with your favorite sauce or dressing.
Tips and Hacks
Making grilled carne asada isn’t difficult at all, but I still have some easy tips and hacks to share. These recipe notes will help you make the most of your yummy flank steak. Happy cooking!
- Marinate Thoroughly: For the best, most thorough marinade, make sure to flip the bag with the steak in it (or flip it over in the bowl, if you’re using a bowl) during the marinating time.
- Test the Temperature: Using a meat thermometer is the easiest way to tell if your steak is done. I love instant-read thermometers because they immediately tell you the temperature. No watching a little dial go around.
- Rest the Steak: I know, I know – it’s sizzling and juicy and smells heavenly! But make sure you let that freshly-cooked carne asada rest before you slice it. This will help those juices stay in the meat, instead of going all over the cutting board.
- Optional Sauce: This grilled carne asada is already so flavorful, but if you like, whip up a tasty sauce to go with it. One easy sauce that I love is all about “two:” 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, and 2 cloves of garlic, minced. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Yummy Serving Suggestions
Tuck your sliced, grilled carne asada into your favorite taco or burrito, layer it into a quesadilla, or just serve with a garden salad. You can’t go wrong, really. If you’d like to add more sides, take a look at these easy ideas:
- Sugar Snap Peas: Kids love popping these sweet, crunchy peas – and so do adults! Roast them lightly to release even more of their sugary taste, and add a little red onion, with this easy recipe for Roasted Sugar Snap Peas.
- Fresh Salad: Grilled carne asada is a natural partner for avocado and tomato, right? For a little something different, skip the guac and make this juicy Avocado Tomato Salad instead.
- Mexican Rice: Do it up right with this hearty Instant Pot Mexican Rice. It’s so good, so family-friendly, and so very easy!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store any leftover grilled carne asada, just place it in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to reheat and serve. Properly stored, it will keep for 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the steak and any juices in a covered skillet over low heat. Allow to heat until the meat is completely warmed through, but do not overcook or the steak may become dry. If there aren’t really any juices to add to the skillet, you can use a splash of water or broth.
Can I Freeze This?
- Sure can! After cooling the steak down (for food safety, don’t leave it out for more than two hours), freeze it in a zip-top freezer bag. Press as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing.
- Grilled carne asada will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Grilled Carne Asada
- 2 pounds flank steak
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (ribs and seeds removed)
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients, except the steak, in a large bowl, and whisk well to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Place the steak in the marinade, cover, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. (Or pour the marinade in a large zip-top bag, add the steak, and seal. Marinate in the fridge as directed.)
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
- Take the marinated steak out of the bowl, and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Place the steak on the preheated grill grates.
- Cook the steak on the grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature of the steak registers at 130˚F to 135˚F for medium rare, or around 145˚F for medium.
- Transfer the grilled steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- Slice the steak thinly against the grain; serve warm with your favorite sauces and sides.
- Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, and 2 cloves garlic, minced. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the sauce over the meat and serve.