Marinated steak is seasoned with authentic Mexican spices, cooked until tender and thinly sliced to serve in tacos with cilantro and onion. These authentic tacos are marinated and grilled, but can also be cooked in the Instant pot or oven.
What exactly is carne asada?
Carne asada is a cooking method where steak is marinated and grilled for a charred flavor. The steak is sliced or cut and served inside taco shells with onion and cilantro, guacamole or salsa.
What cut of meat is asada?
The two best types of beef for tacos de carne asada are skirt steak or flank steak. They're similar in price and are a bit tougher cuts that require a good marinade to break them down. Here's a few differences between the two:
Flank steak: this cut comes from the cow's abdominal muscle closer to the hind legs and is more lean with a more intense flavor.
Skirt steak: this cut is also from the cow's abdominal muscle but closer to the center under belly around the diaphragm. Because of its hard-working location, it's more chewy and has more fat.
Pro tip: Always cut against the grain. You'll see the grain (or the fibers) running down the steak. Cut perpendicular to those grains, instead of in line with them, to cut those tough fibers and make the steak more tender.
How to make carne asada tacos
Marinade: Start by marinading the steak with coconut aminos (or soy sauce), lime juice, orange juice, garlic and spices for at least 4 hours. For the most flavor, grill the steak (but I'm sharing a few more cooking options below) then let it rest before slicing and serving.
Three ways to cook them
- Grilled: Preheat the grill to high then add the steak. Close the lid, turn the heat down to medium0-high and cook on each side 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Instant pot: Set the IP to saute mode and sear the steak on each side for a few minutes. Add the steak marinade into the IP with the steak and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes then natural release for 15 minutes.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to broil and place the marinated steak on a foil-lined rimmed pan. Broil for 5-7 minutes on each side.
Calories: There are about 250 calories in one steak taco. Normal serving size is 2 tacos, or just over 500 calories.
Tortilla options: Authentic carne asada street tacos are made with corn tortillas. You can also use traditional flour tortillas or grain free cassava or almond flour tortillas (I like Siete tortillas).
More Mexican-inspired dishes:
- Mexican street corn pasta salad
- Mexican beef and rice
- Sheet pan burrito bowl
- Slow cooker Mexican quinoa casserole
- Instant pot salsa chicken
- Sheet pan steak fajitas
- One pot taco pasta
Carne Asada Tacos [Street Tacos]
For the spice mix:
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
For the marinade
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice about 1 medium orange
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pound flank steak pounded to an even thin thickness
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Diced onion
- Corn Tortillas (or Siete grain free tortillas for paleo option)
- Avocado or guacamole
- Diced tomatoes
- Stir together the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Divide the dry rub in half and sprinkle one half all over the flank steak and use your fingers to massage the dry rub into the steak. Place the other half in a ziplock bag or bowl with a lid for later.
- In a gallon size ziplock bag, add the coconut aminos, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil and garlic then close the lid and shake to combine. Add the steak, zip it shut and roll around in your hands to fully coat. Place the steak in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
- Discard the marinade and pat the steak dry. Sprinkle the other half of the dry rub all over the steak and massage it into the steaks on all sides.
- Turn the grill on and preheat to high with the lid closed. (See notes for oven and IP instructions). Add the flank steak to the hot grill then turn the heat down to medium and close the lid. Grill for 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway through until the steak is cooked through to medium rare and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Remove the steak from the heat to a clean plate and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- While the steak is resting, prepare any toppings like guacamole or pice de gallo and warm the tortillas on low in the oven.
- Once the steak is rested and cool enough to handle, dice the steak into small pieces.
- Add the steak to the warmed tortillas and top with desired toppings.