The Best Carne Asada (Flat-Iron Steak)
on Apr 05, 2023, Updated Jul 07, 2023
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My carne asada recipe is not traditional, but it is packed with flavor. This is as much a steak cooking tutorial as it is a recipe for steak made in a carne asada-style.
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In Latin cuisine, the term carne asada translates to grilled meat. The word “carne” translates to meat and “asada” means grilled. Carne asada is typically beef that has been long marinated, grilled, and served sliced in thin strips as a main course or used as a filling to burritos, tacos, etc. By all means, this is NOT a traditional recipe but it is inspired by the Latin (Mexican) culture. If, like me, you do not care for cilantro, feel free to use fresh parsley instead.
You can use many steak cuts for this recipe: flank steak, skirt steak, or flat-iron steak. I used flat-iron steak as it has more marbling (fat that keeps the meat moist and flavorful). The key to getting these cuts of meat tender and juicy is: a long marination time, not cooking it above medium-rare (even medium), and slicing it thinly against the grain. These cuts of meat tend to be more tough so it’s important to follow these few steps to improve the texture. If you’re interested in reading about the differences between all of these steaks, please check this article out: What’s the Difference Between Skirt, Flank, Hanger, and Flat Iron Steaks? Carne asada is traditionally made with flank steak, so feel free to adjust if desired.
PRO TIP: When cutting the meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It’s very easy to see the grain running through the meat (looks like lines). Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them. This will prevent the meat from being chewy. I cut my steak a lot thicker but I RECOMMEND thin strips for best results.
The Best Carne Asada (Flat-Iron Steak)
- One 16-ounce (1-pound) flat-iron steak, (flank or skirt steak also work)
- handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
- ¼ cup avocado oil or any neutral oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup orange juice , I use freshly squeezed
- juice of 1 lemon (or 2 limes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
- ½ tablespoon white vinegar
- avocado oil for frying
- Add the cilantro, oil, garlic, orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and white vinegar to a large shallow dish or bowl. You can even use a large Ziplock bag too. Give the marinade a mix and add the steak. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place the steak in the fridge to marinate overnight. If the marinade doesn't cover the meat fully, be sure to turn it over half way.
- Note: if you want to save some marinade BEFORE you add the meat to use, you absolutely can but not after the meat is added.
- The next day, remove the meat from the fridge and let it come to room temp for at least 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the excess marinade (if any). I usually don't have much left.
- Note: you can cook the steak on a cast iron pan, a grill pan, or directly on a BBQ.
- I like to heat my cast iron pan on medium-heat for a few minutes and once the pan is hot, add in some avocado oil. I add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan.
- I place my steak in the pan (make sure it sizzles) and cook it for 3 minutes on each side (or until a meat thermometer reads 135F).
- Take the steak off the pan and let it rest on a plate or clean cutting board for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Slice the steak thinly AGAINST the grain for best results. Enjoy as is with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies or in a salad or on tacos.
- Feel free to make a chimichurri sauce or simply add a sliver of herbed, salted butter to melt on top. I spooned over olive oil mixed with garlic and herbs for presentation.