There’s not much better than flank steak tacos, and it’s so easy to make restaurant-style Carne Asada Tacos at home. However, if you want something other than tacos, this marinated grilled meat is delicious in quesadillas and burrito bowls, over nachos and salads, or simply serve it with Mexican rice and beans.

carne asada tacos topped with Pico de Gallo and cheese

Tacos are one of my very favorite dinners to make and we enjoy them at least once a week. I’m a huge fan of taco dinners because they’re usually easy to make, highly customizable and all of my picky eaters love them!

I’ve shared quite a few of my favorite taco recipes with you, on this site. We’ve got taco salads, beef tacos, chicken tacos, turkey tacos, shrimp tacos, fish tacos and the list goes on. However, I realized, I’m missing a steak taco recipe. So, I bring you these irresistibly delicious Carne Asada Tacos. They’re warm tortillas filled with slices of tender grilled steak and topped with homemade Pico de Gallo and any other favorite taco toppings. So much deliciousness!

carne asada tacos topped with Pico de Gallo and cheese

what is carne asada?

Authentic Mexican Carne Asada (which means “grilled meat”) is traditionally made using skirt steak or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar and can be used interchangeably. I prefer using flank steak because it is the leaner option, has great flavor and seems to be more tender than skirt steak. Skirt steak also has great flavor, but it does have more tough fibers than flank steak. It should only be cooked to rare or medium-rare to keep it from becoming chewy. Both should be cut against the grain.

The classic way to make Carne Asada is to rub the steak with a mix of spices and citrus juice, then let the steak marinate for a few hours before searing it on a hot grill until a good crusty exterior is created.

So, my recipe for Carne Asada goes a little something like this: first it starts with a marinade that has garlic, citrus, a generous amount of cilantro and a mix of different spices. The meat marinates for a good couple of hours so the citrus works its acidic-magical-fingers, tenderizing the meat. Once the meat hits the smokin’ hot grill, the garlic, herbs and spices that’s still clinging to the meat will sear, locking in so much amazing flavor.

essential ingredients for the perfect flank steak marinade

There are several essential components that make up a perfectly flavorful marinade. Here’s a look at what goes into this marinade recipe for amazing grilled meat:

  1. Fat. Oil or butter are the most common fats to use in a marinade and I like to use olive or avocado oil for this recipe.
  2. Acid. Any type of citrus fruit or vinegar is great. This marinade recipe calls for lime juice.
  3. Seasonings. This is where you’re going to get the majority of the flavor. You can really use any favorite spices and/or fresh or dried herbs. This flank steak marinade calls for a mix of cilantro, garlic, cumin, ancho-chili pepper (or regular chili powder), red pepper flakes and salt & pepper.
  4. Sweetness. Optional, but I really love the combination of sweet and savory in my marinades. Just 2 teaspoons of honey does the trick in this recipe!

flank steak marinating in a large pan

ingredients for carne asada tacos 

Here are the basic ingredients that you will need to make these Carne Asada Tacos:

  • Steak. Lean flank steak or skirt steak are the most popular cuts of beef used when making Carne Asada. But really, you can marinate just about any lean cut of beef that you prefer (the cooking time may just differ).
  • Marinade. The marinade is a combination of garlic, olive oil, lime juice, honey and a mix of cilantro, cumin, ancho-chili pepper (or regular chili powder), red pepper flakes and salt & pepper. Feel free to leave out the cilantro, if you’re not a fan and the red pepper flakes, if you’re really sensitive to spice.
  • Pico de Gallo. So fresh and flavorful! Of course, the homemade Pico is completely optional, but such a great balance to the boldly-flavored steak.
  • Tortillas and toppings. This is the fun part! Get creative and use all your favorites.

homemade Pico de Gallo

My husband and I are huge Pico de Gallo fans. Fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapeño tossed with cilantro and lime juice. What’s not to love? And the combination of the fresh, chilled Pico with the warm, flavorful steak is just SO incredible. Really kicks these Carne Asada Tacos up a notch!

To make the Pico de Gallo, simply wash and cut the veggies, stir all of the ingredients together to combine and then cover with plastic wrap and let it do its thing in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Use it to top your tacos and you can also serve any leftovers with tortilla chips, on chili, scrambled eggs, or on top of nachos. The options are endless!

Pico de Gallo in a white bowl with a spoon served with tortilla chips

how to make carne asada tacos

This Carne Asada Tacos recipe is very easy to put together, but you do need to be sure and plan ahead. For best results, the steak needs to marinate for at least two hours, and then it needs an additional 30 minutes of rest time on the counter, so that it can return to room temp before cooking it on the grill.

Here are the basic steps for how to make Carne Asada Tacos, but reference the full recipe below for more details.

  1. Make the marinade. In a small food processor, pulse the cilantro, garlic and lime juice until chopped. Add the remaining marinade ingredients in with the cilantro mixture and pulse until combined.
  2. Marinate the steak. Place the steak and marinade in a shallow dish or a gallon size re-sealable bag. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to allow time for the steak to soak in all of the flavor.
  3. Bring the steak to room temp. Take the steak out of the refrigerator, remove it from the marinade and transfer it to a clean plate. Season each side with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, then let the steak rest for 30 minutes or until it reaches room temperature.
  4. Cook the steak. Heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan (or cast-iron skillet) to high heat. Cook the steak for about 5 minutes per side. Do not move the steak as it cooks, so that it can sear properly. (See temperature chart below, in recipe notes.)
  5. Rest the steak. Transfer the cooked steak to a clean plate and let it rest for 10 minutes, which will help to seal in the juices.
  6. Slice and assemble tacos. Slice the steak against the grain as thickly or as thinly as you prefer. Warm tortillas (see tips below), and divide sliced strips of the steak among the heated tortillas and top with shredded lettuce, Pico de Gallo, cheese and any other toppings you’d like (ideas below). Serve with chips, salsa, and margaritas and enjoy!

how long do you cook flank steak?

The cooking time for your steak will depend on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of your grill or grill pan. I typically cook my Carne Asada steak for about 5-6 minutes per side, which leads to meat that’s seared on the outside, yet still pink and tender in the center. The best way to gauge for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. I recommend cooking your steak to rare or medium rare, which is an internal temperature of 125 to 135ºF. (See temperature chart in the notes of the recipe, below.)

how do you slice flank steak?

For best results and extra tender steak, it’s important to slice the meat against the grain. To find the direction of the grain, look at the meat and see which way the muscle fibers run. You’ll want to cut across those fibers, NOT parallel to them. You can slice the steak as thin or as thick as you want. You can even dice the slices into smaller pieces, if preferred. Thin slices work best for Carne Asada Tacos.

sliced beef on a cutting board

how to warm tortillas for tacos

Whether you’re using flour, corn or wheat tortillas, you’ll want to heat them up following these instructions. Warming the tortillas makes them more pliable, so you can easily fold them without breakage. Heating them up also makes them more flavorful and the tacos even more delicious! Here’s a few options for warming the tortillas:

  • Wrap a stack of about 5 tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave them for 15-30 seconds at a time until warmed through.
  • Place on a gas stovetop over a medium/low flame — place the tortilla right on the flame on the stovetop and flip after 10-15 seconds.
  • Cook in a hot, dry skillet, griddle, cooktop, or grill grates — flip after 10-15 seconds.

tips for carne asada tacos

Here are a few quick tips for making these Carne Asada Tacos perfect every single time:

  • If you don’t like cilantro, feel free to simply leave it out. Do not replace it with another herb, like parsley.
  • Cooking time is an estimate and depends on the thickness of your meat. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy. Lean flank steak is best cooked rare to medium-rare.
  • If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the steak in a well-seasoned grill pan or a large cast iron pan on the stove-top. Heat on high to sear and then lower the heat to finish cooking. Make sure to use your stove vent, searing the steak this way can smoke up the kitchen!
  • We love the Pico de Gallo within this recipe, but if you’re pressed for time, store-bought Pico will work too.
  • You can serve these tacos on corn, flour or wheat tortillas, use whatever your family prefers.

carne asada tacos served with Pico de Gallo and tortilla chips

topping ideas

While I typically add shredded lettuce, Pico de Gallo, cheese and fresh cilantro to our Carne Asada Tacos, there are so many different toppings you can add to amp up the flavor. Here’s some of our faves:

  • Pico de Gallo
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Shredded cheddar or crumbled cotija cheese
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Roasted corn
  • Red onion
  • Sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Creamy avocado dressing
  • Chipotle ranch
  • Squeeze of lime

serving options

Not only is this Carne Asada super tasty, but it’s really versatile too! If you want to make something different other than tacos, try these delicious options:

  • Steak burrito bowl with cilantro lime rice, black beans, guacamole, fajita veggies and pico. You could also drizzle a little avocado crema or chipotle ranch on top!
  • Carne asada fries with a dollop of sour cream, guacamole, and shredded cheese.
  • Burritos
  • Nachos
  • Quesadillas
  • Enchiladas
  • Steak salad – use my Southwest Salad as inspiration and just use the steak instead of chicken.

This grilled steak is a super versatile ingredient, so get creative with how you put it to use!

storing leftovers

Let the meat cool to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. It will also stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months, if you’d like to meal prep it. Yes, that means you can have an easy Mexican feast any night of the week!

carne asada tacos on a plate with a lime wedge

more favorite taco recipes

Looking for more flavorful Mexican taco recipes? Here are a few of my faves!

If you try this carne asada taco recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves them as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

carne asada tacos topped with Pico de Gallo and cheese
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Carne Asada Tacos

There’s not much better than flank steak tacos, and it’s so easy to make restaurant-style Carne Asada Tacos at home. However, if you want something other than tacos, this marinated grilled meat is delicious in quesadillas and burrito bowls, over nachos and salads, or simply serve it with rice and beans.

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho-chili pepper (or substitue with regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Pico de Gallo:

  • 3 to 4 large Roma tomatoes (about 1 pound), seeded, sliced, and diced small
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced red or white onion, diced small
  • 1 small to medium jalapeño pepper, diced finely (about 1 tablespoon minced)
  • 1 clove garlic smashed, peeled, and minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the tacos:

  • 1 (2 pound) flank steak or skirt steak
  • 12 corn, flour, or whole wheat tortillas

Optional toppings:

  • iceberg lettuce or slaw, shredded or sliced
  • avocado or guacamole
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • salsa
  • cheese

Instructions 

  • Make the marinade. In a small food processor, pulse the cilantro, garlic and lime juice until chopped. Add the remaining marinade ingredients in with the cilantro mixture and pulse until combined.
  • Marinate the steak. Place the steak and marinade in a gallon size re-sealable bag or shallow dish. Cover and marinate steak in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Make the Pico de Gallo. Combine all of the ingredients for the Pico de Gallo in a large bowl and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the tacos are ready.
  • Bring the steak back to room temperature. Remove the dish (or bag) from the refrigerator, take the steak out of the marinade and transfer it to a clean plate. Season each side with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper, then let the steak rest for 30 minutes or until it reaches room temperature.
  • Cook the steak. Preheat your grill to 450-500°F. Once your grill is preheated, place the steak onto the hot grates. (you can discard marinade) Close the lid and grill for 5 minutes. Flip and repeat for 4 to 5 more minutes.
  • Rest the steak. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing, which will help to seal in the juices. Be sure to slice the steak against the grain.
  • Warm tortillas. Pop the tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, on a skillet for about 20-30 seconds per side, or on the grill for 20-30 seconds or just until they get a few char lines on each side.
  • Assemble tacos. Divide thinly sliced strips of the steak among the heated tortillas and top with thinly shredded iceberg lettuce, Pico de Gallo and cheese if you'd like. Serve with chips, salsa, and margaritas and you’re good to go!

Notes

*Nutritional information includes the Pico de Gallo and tortillas, but not any optional toppings.
**Cooking time is an estimate and depends on the thickness of your meat. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
Internal temperatures for steak are as follows (measured in the thickest part of the steak):
Rare: 125°F or 52°C  (remove from the grill at 120°F or 49°C.)
Medium-rare: 135°F or 57°C (remove from the grill at 130°F or 54°C.)
Medium: 145°F or 63°C (remove from the grill at 140°F or 60°C.)
Medium-well: 150°F or 66°C (remove from the grill at 145°F or 63°C.)
Well done: 160°F or 71°C (remove from the grill at 155°F or 68°C.)
FDA note: The FDA recommends that steak be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°C or 63°C.
Serving: 2tacos, Calories: 578kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 91mg, Sodium: 661mg, Potassium: 747mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 867IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 213mg, Iron: 5mg

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