Carne Asada Recipe

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Enjoy the smoky, savory goodness of homemade carne asada that you marinate yourself. With this carne asada recipe, you can avoid the unhealthy additives of commercial marinades and focus on real food flavor.

Carne Asada Tacos Good Cheap Eats

I grew up in Southern California, with tacos and tortillas regular staples in our home just as much as peanut butter and jelly. My parents loved to eat at Olvera Street and indulge in authentic Cal-Mex cuisine. But, it wasn’t until I went to college that I ever even heard about carne asada.

My first college roommate, Laura, knew what was up. Her mom, born in Mexico, made tortillas for her every morning. Laura taught me the “right way” to make a quesadilla. And as we made do with cafeteria fare, she told me about her favorite dish, carne asada.

I was pretty satisfied with my Carnitas, so I never really felt compelled to find a good carne asada recipe. Until this last year. I started to get bored with carnitas when FishPapa and I went to dinner at our favorite cantina, instead ordering carne asada tacos instead. 

Once my brother made these burritos for us, I knew I needed to figure this out. After paying a pretty penny for a marinated package of carne asada at Trader Joe’s, I set out to make it myself. You know who I consulted for a carne asada recipe, right? Laura.

I texted her, expecting her to hand over the secret to carne asada. Only she didn’t have a secret. She said she used this.

My brothers said they bought theirs at the Mexican market. Other friends said that they used Sunny Delight.

I decided I didn’t really like the ingredients list in some of those options, so I started tinkering with my own carne asada recipe. We’ve made it many times over the past few months, and I can honestly say I’m smitten.

Carne Asada Recipe|Good Cheap Eats

Over the months, I’ve started watching the prices on the meat. Carne asada calls for a certain cut of meat, typically labeled flap meat, flap steak, or skirt steak. The lowest I’ve found it recently has been $4.77/pound. Kinda pricey, but you don’t need a lot. You’ll be chopping it up to use in tacos, lettuce wraps, or breakfast burritos, so it can stretch pretty easily. And really, that’s kinda the going rate for quality beef in these here parts. We still consider it “special occasion” food around here.

This carne asada recipe gets a lot of its flavor from my Basic Spice Blend. I keep a jar on hand at all times. It’s particularly good on beef, but goes well with chicken also.

Make up a few batches of this carne asada recipe: one to cook and a few to freeze for later. I tested it for freezing, and it works really well! Perfect for a barbecue or lazy weekend breakfast.

The only caveat with sharing this recipe in February is that the meat is best grilled on an open flame. I imagine it would taste fine broiled, but it really won’t have the authentic flavor unless you grill it. Hopefully, you’ve got warm days or are brave enough to grill in winter. I am. Especially when carne asada is on the menu!

Good Cheap Eats' Carne Asada Recipe

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Donna says

    Can you share a link to your basic spice blend again? Thanks!

  2. Erin says

    What’s the right way to make a quesadilla? Help a girl who grew up in Ohio out 🙂

    • Haha! Well, Laura made hers with jack cheese and corn tortillas and fried them in oil. They are super yummy.

  3. Roberta says

    Oh, yum!

  4. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I am excited to try. I love carne Asada…and I am going to brave the grill here in Alaska since it is a mild winter=)

  5. Trish says

    yea, would love your secret for the perfect quesadilla. and I know it will depend on lots of things, but can u estimate how long you grill each side? I read up on flap steak and apparently it is awful if undercooked. How did the tenting of the house go?

    • The tenting hasn’t happened! We’re looking at mid to late March. Sigh. But, the bright side is we can make it a spring break vacation.

      Yes, flap steak is pretty tough. Definitely cook it through.

  6. christy says

    I work at our local ymca in the fitness center for early mornings. There is one member who is so opinionated and picky. I had your cookbook sitting on the desk (the thirty minute one) and he asked me why I had it. I said that I really enjoyed all of the recipes in it. To my utter amazement he said he had as many of your recipes as he could find on pinterest pinned to his food board. He said he loved your recipes and cooked often with them.
    Believe me when I say that is a HUGE endorsement from him because he is never ever happy with anything. Thought you might enjoy that little story. Thanks for having such a great sight!

    • I love this story! I think the male Good Cheap Eaters are really quiet. Need to get them to comment more. 😉

  7. Rebekah says

    Can you tell me what that yummy saucy stuff is on your meat? Thanks!

  8. Rachel says

    I made this and was skeptical because there were so few ingredients and thought they seemed a little random, but it was AMAZING! will definitely be using again! thanks!

    • Yay! So glad it won you over. I am finding that you really don’t need a lot to make amazing things. Try the Spaghetti Squash Jambalaya next. It’s so good!

  9. Raquel says

    As someone whose family is from Oaxaca and grew up in Los Angeles I can tell you that your variation on carne asada was great and you nearly nailed the original recipe

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