How to Cook Carne Asada on Grill: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Discover the mouthwatering secrets of grilling perfect carne asada and elevate your backyard barbecue game with our easy-to-follow guide.

Are you tired of the same old burgers and hot dogs on the grill? It’s time to step up your grilling game with some delicious carne asada! This classic Mexican dish is perfect for any summer barbecue, and with a few simple tips, you can cook it to perfection on your grill. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cooking carne asada on the grill, from choosing the right cut of meat to seasoning and grilling techniques.

So fire up that grill and get ready to impress your friends and family with some mouth-watering carne asada!

Choosing the Right Cut of Meat

how to cook carne asada on grill easy step by step guide

The most popular cuts for carne asada are flank steak and skirt steak, both of which come from the abdominal area of the cow. These cuts are known for their rich flavor and tenderness when cooked correctly.

Flank steak is leaner than skirt steak but can be tougher if not prepared properly. Skirt steak has more fat marbling throughout, making it a bit more forgiving on the grill.

It’s important to note that while these two cuts are commonly used for carne asada, you can also use other beef cuts such as sirloin or ribeye if preferred. However, keep in mind that different types of meat will require different cooking times and techniques.

Ultimately, your choice will depend on personal preference and availability at your local grocery store or butcher shop.

Trimming and Preparing the Meat

This will not only make it easier to cook but also ensure that the flavors of your marinade penetrate deep into the meat.

Firstly, remove any excess fat from the steak using a sharp knife. Fat can cause flare-ups on the grill and result in uneven cooking.

Next, use a fork or tenderizer tool to pierce small holes all over both sides of the steak. This will help break down tough muscle fibers and allow for better absorption of marinade.

Best Marinade Ingredients

A good marinade not only adds flavor but also helps to tenderize the meat, making it juicy and succulent. So what are the best ingredients for a carne asada marinade? Here are some of our top picks:

1. Citrus: Lime or orange juice can add a tangy, acidic flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled meats.

2. Garlic: This aromatic ingredient adds depth and complexity to your marinade.

3. Cumin: A staple spice in Mexican cuisine, cumin brings warmth and earthiness to your dish.

4. Chili powder or flakes: For those who like it spicy, chili powder or flakes can add heat without overpowering other flavors.

5.Cilantro : Fresh cilantro leaves give a bright herbaceous note that complements well with citrus juices.

These ingredients work together harmoniously to create a flavorful base for your carne asada marinade. In addition to these key components, you may also want to experiment with other spices such as oregano or paprika depending on personal preference.

Marinating the Meat

Marinating is an essential step in cooking carne asada on the grill because it adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat. The best marinades for carne asada typically include a combination of acidic ingredients like lime juice or vinegar, oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder and other spices.

To marinate your meat properly:

  1. Place your trimmed steak in a large resealable plastic bag.
  2. Pour enough marinade over the steak to coat both sides evenly.
  3. Seal the bag tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (depending on how much time you have).
  4. Turn occasionally so that all parts are coated with marinade.

Proper Marinating Time

Marinating is an essential step in cooking carne asada on the grill because it adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat. But how long should you marinate your carne asada? The answer depends on a few factors.

Firstly, consider what type of marinade you are using. If your marinade contains acidic ingredients like lime juice or vinegar, then a shorter marinating time is recommended – around 2-4 hours at most.

This is because acid can break down proteins in the meat too much if left for too long.

On the other hand, if your marinade doesn’t contain any acidic ingredients but relies more on spices and herbs for flavoring, then longer marination times are possible – up to 24 hours even!

It’s important not to over-marinate though; otherwise, all that effort will go waste since over-marinated beef can become mushy instead of tenderizing nicely.

In general terms: aim for at least one hour minimum (even better overnight) with non-acidic based recipes while keeping under four hours when using citrus-based ones.

Prepping the Grill

This will ensure that the meat cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the grates. First, make sure that your grill is clean and free of any debris from previous cookouts.

Use a wire brush or scraper to remove any leftover food particles or grease.

Next, oil the grates with a high smoke point oil such as canola or vegetable oil using a paper towel dipped in oil held by tongs (never spray directly on an open flame). This will help prevent sticking and give those beautiful char marks we all love.

Preheat the grill for at least 10-15 minutes before adding your meat. A hot grill ensures proper cooking temperature which helps sear in juices while creating those delicious caramelized crusts on both sides of each slice of beef.

Preheating the Grill

Preheating ensures that the grill is hot enough to sear and cook the meat properly. It also helps prevent sticking and makes cleaning easier.

To preheat your grill, turn all burners on high for 10-15 minutes with the lid closed. This will heat up both gas and charcoal grills evenly.

Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, use a wire brush or scraper to clean any debris from previous cooking sessions off of the grate before placing your meat on it.

Cooking Temperature

You want to cook your meat at a high enough temperature to get that delicious charred exterior, but not so hot that you end up with tough, overcooked meat. The ideal grilling temperature for carne asada is between 450-500°F (232-260°C).

To achieve this optimal cooking temperature, preheat your grill for about 10-15 minutes before adding your meat. This will ensure that it’s hot enough to sear and cook evenly.

It’s also essential to keep an eye on the internal temperature of your steak while grilling. Use a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak without touching any bone or fat; aim for an internal temp around 135°F (57°C) if you prefer medium-rare doneness.

Grilling Carne Asada

Preheat your grill on high heat for at least 10 minutes before cooking the meat. This will ensure that the grates are hot enough to sear and cook the meat properly.

When placing the carne asada on the grill, make sure that there is enough space between each piece of meat so they can cook evenly. Avoid overcrowding or stacking them up too close together.

Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your cuts of beef are and how well done you prefer them. A good rule of thumb is about 6-8 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness.

While grilling, use tongs instead of a fork to flip and move around pieces of carne asada; this way you won’t pierce through any part causing juices loss which would dry out your steak. Remember not to overcook or undercook it! You want a nice charred crust with juicy pink center in every bite!

Once cooked, remove from heat and let rest for about five minutes before slicing against grain into thin strips across its width (not lengthwise).

Optimal Cook Time

The optimal cook time for carne asada will depend on several factors, including the thickness of your meat and how well-done you prefer it.

As a general rule of thumb, thinner cuts of meat will cook more quickly than thicker ones. For example, if you’re grilling skirt steak or flank steak that is about 1/4 inch thick or less, each side should only take about 2-3 minutes to cook over high heat.

On the other hand, if you’re cooking thicker cuts like sirloin or ribeye steaks that are closer to an inch thick (or more), they may need up to 5-6 minutes per side.

It’s also important not to flip your carne asada too often while cooking – this can cause uneven cooking and make it harder for the meat juices inside each piece of beef from settling down properly before being sliced into pieces later.

Flipping Techniques

Flipping too often can cause the meat to dry out, while not flipping enough can result in uneven cooking. The key is to only flip once or twice during the cooking process.

To start, place your meat on a hot grill and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes without touching it. Then use tongs or a spatula to carefully lift one end of the steak off of the grates and check for sear marks.

If they’re nice and dark brown, go ahead and give your steak a quarter turn (90 degrees) before placing back down onto fresh grates.

After another 3-4 minutes have passed since you last flipped your steak over (or until sear marks are visible), repeat this process by lifting up one end again with tongs or spatula before giving another quarter turn so that crosshatch pattern forms from both sides.

Checking for Doneness

The easiest way to do this is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and make sure it reads at least 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare or 160°F (71°C) for medium.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to check if your carne asada is done. One method is by pressing on the center of the steak with tongs or a spatula – if it feels firm but still has some give, then it’s likely cooked through.

Another way is by checking the color of juices that come out when you cut into the steak – if they’re clear or slightly pinkish, then your carne asada should be ready.

Remember that cooking times can vary depending on factors such as grill temperature and thickness of your cut of beef.

How to Know When Carne Asada Is Done

Overcooked meat can be tough and dry, while undercooked meat can be unsafe to eat. So how do you know when your carne asada is perfectly cooked? The best way to determine doneness is by using a meat thermometer.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, making sure not to touch any bone or fat. For medium-rare steak, aim for an internal temperature between 130-135°F (54-57°C).

For medium steak, aim for an internal temperature between 140-145°F (60-63°C). Keep in mind that these temperatures are just guidelines and personal preference may vary.

Another way to check if your carne asada is done cooking is by using a simple finger test. Gently press on the center of each piece with your finger; if it feels soft and squishy like raw meat then it’s still rare inside; if it feels firm but springy then you have achieved medium-rare doneness; if it feels very firm with no give at all then you have reached well-done status.

By following these tips on determining doneness levels for your grilled meats will ensure that every bite will be juicy and flavorful!

Resting the Meat

Resting the meat allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final product. To rest your carne asada, simply remove it from the grill and place it on a cutting board or platter for 5-10 minutes.

Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

During this time, resist the urge to cut into your steak right away – trust us, patience pays off! Slicing too soon can cause all those delicious juices you worked so hard for during marinating and grilling process will spill out onto your cutting board instead of staying inside each slice of meat where they belong.

After resting period is over (and we know waiting can be tough), use sharp knife at an angle against grain of meat when slicing thin strips across width of steak about 1/4 inch thick per strip.

Slicing and Serving

Before you start cutting into the meat, make sure you let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and ensures that each bite is tender and juicy.

When slicing carne asada, be sure to cut against the grain of the meat. This will help break up any tough muscle fibers and make each piece more tender.

Cut thin slices at an angle for maximum tenderness.

Serve your sliced carne asada with warm tortillas or on top of a bed of rice or salad greens. You can also add some fresh toppings like diced onions, cilantro leaves, lime wedges or guacamole for extra flavor.

What to Serve With Carne Asada

Traditionally, it’s served with warm tortillas, fresh cilantro, diced onions, and lime wedges. You can also add some guacamole or salsa for an extra kick of flavor.

If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, try serving your carne asada alongside some grilled vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini. A simple salad of mixed greens dressed in a citrus vinaigrette is another great option.

For something heartier, consider making Mexican rice or refried beans to serve on the side. And don’t forget about drinks! Margaritas are always a crowd-pleaser at any barbecue gathering.

Side Dishes and Accompaniments

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Grilled Vegetables: Add some color and nutrition to your meal by grilling up some veggies alongside your meat.

Bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and corn on the cob all make great choices.

2. Guacamole: This classic Mexican dip is the perfect complement to carne asada.

Mash up ripe avocados with lime juice, salt, garlic powder, diced tomatoes or salsa for an easy homemade guac.

3. Salsa Fresca: Another classic Mexican dish that pairs well with carne asada is fresh salsa made from chopped tomatoes, onions cilantro leaves and lime juice.

4.Chipotle Mayo Sauce : A creamy sauce made of mayonnaise mixed in chipotle pepper puree can add a smoky flavor profile that complements Carne Asada.

5.Rice & Beans : Serve rice cooked in chicken broth alongwith black beans seasoned with cumin , chili powder which makes it a hearty side dish.

Storing Leftovers

Don’t worry; it’s easy to store and reheat them for another meal. First, let the meat cool down to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container or plastic bag.

You can keep the leftover carne asada in the fridge for up to four days or freeze it for up to three months.

When reheating, make sure you do so gently and slowly over low heat on a stovetop or oven. Avoid using high heat that could dry out the meat and ruin its texture.


How long does it take to cook carne asada on the grill?

To cook carne asada on the grill, it takes 7 to 10 minutes for medium-rare (130°F) or 10 to 12 minutes for medium (140°F) over a medium-high flame.

How do you know when carne asada is done on the grill?

Carne asada is done on the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF after cooking each side for 5-7 minutes.

How hot should the grill be for carne asada?

The grill should be around 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit for carne asada to achieve a great charred flavor.

What is the best type of marinade for carne asada when grilling?

The best type of marinade for carne asada when grilling is a mixture of citrus, garlic, and spices such as cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.

What are some common side dishes to serve alongside grilled carne asada?

Some common side dishes to serve alongside grilled carne asada include rice, beans, guacamole, and tortillas.

Are there any specific grilling techniques to achieve the most authentic carne asada flavor?

To achieve the most authentic carne asada flavor, use a high heat on the grill and marinate the meat before cooking.