Grilled Carne Asada

5 from 1 vote
5 from 1 vote

Delicious carne asada seared to perfection on your backyard grill. Beautifully tender flank steak prepared in a citrus marinade and paprika BBQ dry rub before seared over flames.

grilled carne asada

This grilled carne asada will take your backyard barbecue to the next level. It’s juicy, a little sweet, and has a tender kick thanks to our BBQ dry rub.

After marinating overnight in a blend of citrus and herbs, carne asada only needs a few minutes on the grill to achieve that perfect sear. You can enjoy it in tacos, salads, wraps, or even by itself.

What is Carne Asada?

grilled carne asada

A staple of Central American cuisine, carne asada is all about thin, marinated steaks cooked hot and fast over flames.

The name carne asada literally means “roasted/grilled meat” in Spanish and refers more to how the meat is cooked than to a specific recipe. However, one of the most common characteristics of carne asada is its marinade and the way it’s sliced thinly to serve.

Tenderized in a citrusy marinade often featuring lime juice, garlic, and cilantro, this flavorful meat takes center stage in various dishes. Enjoyed solo or sliced for tacos and burritos, carne asada also lends its magic to Mexican specialties like alambres and huaraches.

Best Beef for Carne Asada

The best steak cuts to use for carne asada are flank and skirt steak. Both thin beef cuts, they are superb at absorbing the marinade, and cook quickly and evenly on the grill without turning dry.

I prefer to use flank steak because of its intense beefy flavor, which comes from the robust muscle fibers running through it. In other recipes, this might make the meat tough, but the magic of carne asada’s marinade means that it’s tenderized perfectly to release its amazing flavor and provide an unbelievably tender texture.


carne asada marinade

The secret to amazing carne asada lies in its marinade. Flank steak and skirt steak—the classic steak choices for carne asada—are known for their toughness. But a well-crafted marinade will break it down to turn it tender and bursting with flavor.

The secret lies in its ingredients. Citrus juices, salt, and white wine vinegar join forces to break down the stubborn connective tissues in the meat, leaving you with beautifully tender carne asada.

But that’s not all: Just like any great marinade, it also infuses the meat with a blend of flavors from the added spices and citrus, giving you a steak that tastes as fresh as it is tender.

Extend the marinating time for maximum flavor. While our recipe recommends five hours, you can let it soak overnight to soak up even more flavor.

Times & Temperatures

We will be grilling our steak over medium-high heat to help lock in flavor while still maintaining its tender texture and moisture. Aim for a grilling temperature of 375-400°F (190-205°C).

Grill the flank steak for approximately 5 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes. However we always grill to temperature, not time. Grill the steak to an internal temperature of 130°F (55°C) for medium-rare. Use a digital meat thermometer for an accurate reading.

How to Serve Carne Asada

grilled carne asada

The simple nature of carne asada means that it can be served in a range of different ways. Traditionally, it’s often served thinly sliced on top of rice and beans, but in the United States it’s most popular served as a taco filling, wrapped in a tortilla and topped with creamy guacamole and a sharp salsa.

Quick Tips

  1. Keep some of the marinade aside. When you pull the steak from the grill to rest, drizzle a little marinade over the meat for an added kick of flavor.
  2. If you want to guarantee tender steak, use a meat tenderizer mallet to help break down the beef. Just a few hits should be enough.
  3. Ensure you have fresh limes for the marinade, and avoid store-bought lime juice. This will provide the citric acid we need to tenderize flank steak and break down its tough meat fibers.
grilled carne asada

Grilled Carne Asada

5 from 1 vote
Delicious carne asada seared to perfection on your backyard grill. Beautifully tender flank steak prepared in a citrus marinade and paprika BBQ dry rub before seared over flames.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Marinade5 hours
Total Time5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4



  • 2 lbs flank steak


  • 2 limes juice of
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 garlic crushed
  • ¼ yellow onion chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Dry Rub

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin


  • In a small bowl, add the marinade ingredients. Whisk to combine.
  • Place flank steak in ziplock bag or airtight container. Pour marinade into bags, covering the steak.
  • Place ziplock bags in refrigerator and marinate for at least 5 hours, or overnight
  • Fire up grill to medium-high heat, about 375°F (190°C)
  • While grill warms up, remove flank steak from marinade. Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade.
  • In a small bowl, combine dry rub ingredients. Use a fork to crush or remove any lumps that form.
  • Apply the dry rub to the flank steak, covering evenly and across both sides of the meat
  • When grill is at 375°F, place flank steak on grill grates over direct heat. Grill for 5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature hits 130°F (55°C) for medium-rare.
  • Remove steak from grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Rest for 10 minutes.
  • Unwrap steak and slice meat against the grain into thin strips
  • Serve and enjoy

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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