Carne Asada Steak Tacos (or whatever else you'd like to make!)

Carne Asada Steak Tacos

If you follow me, you’ve all heard me talking about my folks (my favorite octogenarians, I call them) and their love for steak. I think it’s rubbed off on me! I can’t always just have plain ol’ steak, though, so I’m always coming up with variations I think the folks will like. We all fell hard for this Carne Asada Steak Tacos recipe.

Carne Asada for Steak Tacos (or whatever else you'd like to make!)

Carne Asada for Steak Tacos (or whatever else you’d like to make!)


We loved the spicy, citrusy flavors and there’s a good bit of both in this recipe. I also loved that this recipe is going to be great with a flank or skirt steak, but will transform a sales-priced piece of grocery store New York Strip into something marvelous! And I stretch that steak even further by serving it in tacos.

Carne Asada Steak Tacos (or whatever else you'd like to make!)

Carne Asada for Steak Tacos (or whatever else you’d like to make!)

About Carne Asada Steak Tacos:

This isn’t your regular old everyday Carne Asada. This is a hyped-up super flavorful one borrowed in part from Rick Bayless and a lot from Serious Eats. I love, love, love just about anything J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats makes. Sometimes I don’t even know why I have a food blog. I should just direct you right over to him, lol!

I’m a born tinkerer, though, and I always taste and adjust and remake and do it again with any recipe until I think it’s perfect. And I am not above tweaking to keep the cost of the recipe in check, using readily available (in most places) ingredients, and eliminating any overly fussy steps unless there’s a great payoff for the time and effort involved.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo

The Chiles:

Let’s talk about some of the ingredients here. First of all, there’s always a can or two in my cupboard (and any remainder of a can of what I didn’t use in a Ziploc in my freezer) of Chipotles Peppers in Adobo Sauce. Generally, the chipotles carry a lot of heat, and are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked, dried, and reconstituted in the flavorful sauce.

The dried chiles, the Guajillo & the Ancho are the two chiles most commonly used in Mexican & Mexican American cuisine, and so are often available at your local grocery and almost certainly available in a market. Both are mild.

Guajillo are the dried form of Mirasol chiles and have a deep smokey flavor; I personally feel they have undertones of a raisiny or fruity taste. The Ancho chile is a dried Poblano, mild in flavor, sweet and smokey, and forms the backbone of many mole sauces.

Making Carne Asada Steak Tacos:

This recipe or at least the Salsa/Marinade portion of the recipe IS a bit fussy and a little messy, but well worth the time & effort. You’ll go through a process of preparing the dried peppers which involves first toasting them, then destemming and deseeding them, then soaking them in boiling water until softened.

The salsa/marinade, once made, can be stored for two or three weeks in the fridge or frozen, so it’s ideal to make ahead if you wish. It’s also a smart move to double that portion of the recipe if you think you’d like a repeat performance in the future. I store mine if not using within a day or two, with just the thinnest layer of olive oil over the top to keep out any air.

But back to the preparation: the cumin seeds & coriander seeds are also best toasted, which really brings out the flavor. Only toast until fragrant and remove them from the hot pan immediately so they don’t burn.

After the toasting is done, it’s simply a matter of dumping the ingredients in your blender or food processor and processing until smooth. You’ll add only 3/4 teaspoon of salt to the salsa/marinade, then divide that mixture after blending. The portion you’ll use for salsa is set and ready to go; just refrigerate it while the beef marinates. To the marinade portion, you’ll add more salt – that saltiness is going to help the marinade do its work.

salsa & marinade for Carne Asada

Salsa & Marinade for Carne Asada

Adjusting the Flavor & Seasoning:

The heat here really comes from the Chipotle pepper(s) used. You’ll add one if you like your food on the mild side, two for medium, and three or more for searing heat. This IS subjective of course! My hot may not be your hot. Personally, I like one chipotle.

You can adjust any of the other flavors, though you’ll want to keep the marinade portion on the salty side. Add more lime and/or vinegar for a more tangy flavor, more garlic if you’d like, and you might want to sub in brown sugar for the white for a deeper flavor. I personally like white because I feel it doesn’t mask the citrus flavors.

Serving Carne Asada Steak Tacos:

Of course, you’re gonna want salsa for your tacos! And yes, the salsa/marinade you’ve made is one salsa, but these days, it seems a selection of salsa is becoming the norm. I can’t resist a little Pico de Gallo for all the freshness it brings to the table.

In addition to tortillas (toast them or heat them; it does make a difference!) cilantro, avocado and lime, I like to complete the meal with black beans. I just “doctor” up a can with a little garlic powder, onion powder, and a bit of cumin.

Chipotles Classic Pico de Gallo Salsa

Chipotles Classic Pico de Gallo Salsa

How to Store Carne Asada & the Salsa:

The steak will store well for three to four days, but often reheating steak is a little problematic. I just don’t think it’s as great once reheated. The ideal solution is to serve it up in this Southwestern Steak Salad.

As a matter of fact, I think of this recipe and that as “sister” recipes – and I usually make sure to cook a little extra steak just to make the salad if I don’t think there will be any leftover! Any leftover beans can form the base of the Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa and any leftover tortillas can become the tangle of tortillas on top of the salad.

The salsa portion of this recipe, as mentioned above, will keep two to three weeks. Put just a faint covering of oil across the top to keep the air out and the salsa fresh.

Southwestern Steak Salad with Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing & Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Southwestern Steak Salad with Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing & Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Saving Money:

Anytime you cook steak rare and slice it thinly across the grain, you’ll find that it seems more tender and you’ll probably find that most people are quite content with a few slices, especially served in a marvelous taco! It’s a great way to stretch a little steak with no compromise at all.

We found our Strip Steak at a super low price in a family pack and they were huge! We cooked up two (the photo is of one!) and used the other in a Southwestern Steak Salad, and froze the rest for later.

If you’re curious how much it costs to run a freezer, the average is about $4.99 a month. Less than the cost of a Big Mac. Just sayin’. You might want to take a peek at my articles on Banking Your Food and Freezer Options.

Carne Asada Steak Tacos (or whatever else you'd like to make!)

Carne Asada for Steak Tacos (or whatever else you’d like to make!)


Carne Asada Steak Tacos

  • Author: adapted from Rick Bayless & Serious Eats
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes + marinade
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: About 1 hour plus marinating time
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern


  • 3 guajillo chiles
  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • about 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from two oranges or the equivalent of orange-like fruit; Cuties are very good in this)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1, 2 or 3 or more whole chipotle peppers from a can of chipotles peppers in adobo
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 1 to 2 pounds skirt steak (2 to 3 whole skirt steaks), trimmed and cut with the grain into 5- to 6-inch lengths or one or two large New York Strips. Make enough to serve your family and have leftovers, if desired
  • Warm corn or flour tortillas, Pico de Gallo, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and avocado, for serving


Toast the chiles, cumin & coriander in a hot skillet.

  • First toast the Guajillo & Ancho chiles until fragrant & puffed, turning often. Remove & when cool enough remove the stems & seeds. Place in a small bowl, fill with boiling water & top with a heavy object (bowl or plate) hold the chiles submerged in the water. Leave until soft & pliable, about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Next, in the still-hot pan, briefly toast the cumin seeds & the coriander, shaking the pan often, until just fragrant. Remove from the pan immediately and set aside.

Make the marinade/salsa:

To the jar of a blender, add the soaked chiles, the cumin & coriander seeds, orange juice, lime juice, one or two (or more) chipotle peppers, garlic, sugar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil,  Worcestershire sauce & one teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth. Taste & adjust seasonings. Makes about 2 cups.

Divide the marinade/salsa. Place 1 1/4 cup into a small bowl to serve as a salsa for the finished dish and refrigerate. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to the remaining 3/4 cup of marinade/salsa and place in a gallon Ziploc bag. (Yes it will be very salty but that’s what you want for the marinade.) Add the steak and massage to coat with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the reserved salsa from the fridge so it comes to room temperature by serving time.

Prepare the grill:

  • For a charcoal grill: light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
  • For a gas grill: Set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

Remove steaks from the Ziploc and wipe off any excess marinade. Place directly over the hot side of the grill. If using gas, cover; if using a charcoal grill, leave open. Cook, turning occasionally until steak is well charred on the outside and center registers 110°F on an instant-read thermometer, several minutes total.

Rest meat several minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and at an angle and serve, passing the salsa, lime wedges, avocado, Pico de Gallo, cilantro, and tortillas on the side.

Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Beef, Chipotle, Frugal Hausfrau, harissa, Hot Peppers, J. Kenji López-Alt, Lime, Mexican or Southwestern, New York Strip, rick bayless, serious eats, Steak, steak tacos, Tacos, Vinegar

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I will be bringing this recipe to Fiesta Friday #165, hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes

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43 thoughts on “Carne Asada Steak Tacos

  1. I have to find that chipotle peppers, Mollie. This looks really mouth watering!! I suck at cooking steak, but I am willing to try again. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Carne Asada Steak Tacos | My Meals are on Wheels

        • Good for you! I killed off my sourdough after about 3 months…I’m a very BAD sourdough mom, lol!! I even carried it back and forth from the Twin Cities to South Dakota and then somewhere along the line, disaster struck…

          • I’ve made 2. Did my learning and made lots of mistakes with the first. Froze it and then when I tried to bring it back … well, I ended up turning it into pancakes. The 2nd one started with 2 days of canned pineapple juice/whole wheat and seems to be a winner. Spreading it out onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and drying it in the oven with the light on and then breaking up or grinding the shards and storing them in a jar in the pantry seems to be the best way to keep it until I get inspired again. (This is why I’m not a pet owner or have house plants … I get bored.) 🙂

            I’ve made amazing crackers, pancakes, flour tortillas and naan bread with the starter. Not a fan of high hydration/artisanal bread.

            • When I was in my early 20’s and married with a new baby, we were so poor. I made a lot of our bread. I had a killer 7 grain type bread and I made a lot of sourdough and yogurt, too. But that was decades ago and I had so much more energy. I love the pineapple idea and I should have tried freezing mine. I’ve never tried that. I had to laugh about the plants/pets, lol! Which is another thing – with Chance and the folks I have my hands full, for sure. You should see our sad, sad houseplants, lol!

              • I know from poor. My mom used to buy the half price day old bread and rolls at the bakery across the street from the deli she worked at when I was from 9 yrs old to my mid 20s. She’d pick it up when she was sent over to buy the rye for the deli. The bakery set some aside for her.

                Dried starter is easier to store and bring back to life to be honest. With 1 tsp of dry starter, I can feed to bulk up my starter and be baking in 3-4 days. Check out some of my sourdough or hybrid (yeast and SD) bread recipes if you’re ever curious. Some I’m very proud of. 🙂


                • 🙂 well, you were a good part of the inspiration to get me going on my starter. And Elaine at foodbod, too. Actually, sourdough is rather inexpensive since no yeast, too!

                  • LOL … funny thing is, I recently bought a 1 kg bag of yeast from Costco. I froze most of it and am now torn between using the yeast and the sourdough. 🙂

    • Oh that’s right, you did! That was probably why I had it on my mind! I remember because the fish sauce, lol! I left it out of mine b/c I made a bolognese sauce from Kenji awhile back and I could taste the fish sauce in it soooo strongly. Not the first day, but leftover…every since then I’ve been afraid of the fish sauce (except in Asian cooking!)

      Oh my gosh, you should sous vide your corned beef if you haven’t cooked it already. I’d LOVE to see that!! 🙂

    • Thanks Tracey. I’ve been really boning up on my steak skills now that I’m at the folk’s so much (they love steak). I’ve always been more of a semi-vegetarian and of course, steak’s inexpensive, so it really hasn’t been in my regular rotation before. I think I’m improving on getting it cooked right! 🙂

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