Carne Asada steak tacos are loaded with juicy grilled steak packed into warm tortillas and topped with tangy fresh tomato salsa and a light drizzle of sour-cream and lime. These delicious tacos are bursting with flavor and texture and are made in under 30 minutes with just a few fresh ingredients.
Carne Asada (Aka steak) tacos were our go-to meal while living in Philadelphia. We purchased them from a popular Mexican taco stand on the busy market street in south Philly and ever since tasting them, I couldn’t forget how simple yet flavor-packed they were. After years of perfecting the recipe, we’ve come to realize that authentic Mexican tacos should not be complicated. The 4 main elements of a delicious taco grilled meat, salsa, warm tortillas, and a drizzle of lime. Anything beyond that is optional.
WHAT DOES CARNE ASADA MEAN?
The word Carne asada actually means “grilled meat” and is mostly used when referring to steak or more specifically skirt steak. It’s what you’d see most used in Mexican restaurants because of its high-fat content which leads to juicy and tender cooked steak. The steak is usually grilled at a very high temperature which in return will char the outside and give it the authentic steak flavor. Carne asada steak is typically sliced into thin 1/4″ slices or chopped up into tiny pieces.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE CARNE ASADA TACOS:
Steak: You can use just about any cut of steak to make tacos but you don’t necessarily have to spend money on an expensive cut of steak to get good tacos. Any cut of steak will do but typically skirt steak, flank steak, or sirloin will work best. You can also use cheap flap met which also works very well.
Fresh Salsa: Fresh salsa (not to be confused with jarred salsa) is a must for grilled tacos. The fresh ingredients add flavor and crunch to the tacos and will take the taco to a whole new level. We make a quick pico de gallo (aka tomato salsa/ salsa Fresca) while the steak is grilling. You can also simply chop up some onion and fresh cilantro to top the grilled meat instead.
Tortillas: Small size flour or corn tortillas are the best option If you are using corn tortilla, be sure to double them so they hold up the meat. Char the tortillas over an open flame until the edges are burnt. This will give the tortillas a nice and smokey flavor and give them some extra texture and crunch.
Lime: This is an essential ingredient when making tacos and will be used in the marinade, the salsa, and for drizzle when served. Please don’t skimp on the lime or used lime form a container because fresh lime is an essential part of making these tacos.
TIPS TO MAKING THE BEST STEAK TACOS
Grill the steak on high heat. To achieve this, you will need to pre-heat your skillet or grill for at least 2-3 minutes to be sure it’s sizzling hot. This will char the steak on the outside and keep the inside soft and tender while giving it a smokey flavor.
Marinate the steak from the night before. This will allow the steak to absorbs the spice and flavors and will allow the lime to tenderize the steak. If you’re reading this recipe last minute, fear not, you can also use the steak right after tossing it in the marinade but we highly suggest trying the overnight method next time. Besides, it gets most of the prep out of the way for you the next day!
Don’t overcook the steak. For juice carne asada, you’ll want to aim for medium cooked steak because it will continue to cook as it rests. 5 minutes on each side is more than enough for medium steak but you can adjust the cooking time to your desired doneness.
Rest the steak. Allowing the Carne Asada to rest for at least 5-8 minutes after removing it from the heat will allow the juices in the steak to re-distribute and prevent them from gushing out onto the cutting board when you cut it.
Carne Asada Tacos
For the marinade:
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro minced (leaves and stems)
- 2 tablespoons oil of choice
- Juice of 1 lime or 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon EACH chili powder, cumin, coriander
- ½ teaspoon EACH salt & pepper
- 1 pounds flank or skirt steak
- 8 small corn or flour tortillas
- pico de gallo
- Lime wedges, sour cream, and cilantro to serve optional
- Whisk to combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Add the steak to the marinade and marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Heat a heavy-duty pan or grill on medium-high heat for at least 2-3 minutes. Remove the steak from the marinade and grill 5-6 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the steak.
- Remove from heat and rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing. Slice into thin 1/4” slices or into tiny bite-size pieces.
- While the steak is cooking, warm tortillas on the stovetop over an open flame or in a frypan until the edges are charred.
- Divide steak onto warm tortillas and top with pico de gallo. Serve with lime wedges and your favorite salsa or a light drizzle of sour cream if desired.