Delicious Carne Asada Tacos filled with steak marinated in an easy, flavorful marinade and topped with homemade pico de gallo and cilantro vinaigrette. Let the steak marinade for a few hours and then grill it and slice it thin for the perfect tacos. These steak tacos are wonderful on their own or with your favorite sides.
CARNE ASADA TACOS
I can never say no to the bright, flavorful, juicy, and tender Carne Asada tacos. The best thing about them is the flavor-packed, marinated and grilled hanger steak. Even through skirt or flank steaks are traditional choices for steak tacos, I love using hanger steak because it is so flavorful. You can use any of these steak options but promise me that you will try hanger steak too.
Whichever cut of beef you choose will disappoint. After spending a few hours in this bright Mexican citrus marinade, the steaks will be infused with the best flavors. Then you just throw it on the grill to cook (or even into the skillet on the stove) and slice thin for the tacos.
The best compliment for the beef will be an easy homemade pico de gallo. It will only take a few minutes to dice and mix together and it will add a nice, fresh touch. Choose corn or flour tortillas and serve it with your favorite Mexican side dishes.
WHAT STEAK TO USE FOR CARNE ASADA
Traditionally, skirt steak or flank steak is the choice for Carne Asada but you can also venture into other cuts like hanger steak or even flat iron steak. Since the beef will be spending a few hours in the marinade, you don’t want to use prime, expensive cuts of meat. That’s why less expensive cuts are preferred.
Hanger steak: this is a beautiful choice for tacos because hanger steak is very tender and flavorful but it’s not as lean as a tenderloin. This cut comes from the area under the rib and runs along the diaphragm. It usually had some nice marbling throughout that makes it tender and flavorful. One drawback is the membrane that runs along the muscle in the center, it can be a little tough to bite through.
Skirt steak: it’s a long flat steak that runs along the ribs of the cow, relatively lean and has intense beef flavor. It can be a little tough so it’s preferred not to cook it to no more than medium internal temperature and slice thin against the grain.
Flank steak: it’s also a long flat steak that is adjacent to the plate where skirt steak comes from but closer to the rear and it is very lean. This steak cut has even more beef flavor and is leaner than skirt steak. Don’t cook it more than medium-rare and also slice it thin against the grain.
WHAT IS IN THE MARINADE
Orange – pick out a large, ripe, and somewhat soft orange to give you more juice. Squeeze out as much juice out of it as it will give you.
Lime – make sure to pick out a large ripe lime as well that is soft to the touch and not too hard. If lime is hard, it will not give out enough juice. Squeeze all the juice out of the lime.
White wine vinegar – if you don’t have white wine vinegar, use rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Olive oil – you can substitute canola or vegetable oil instead of olive oil in a pinch.
Garlic – use fresh garlic and smash it before mincing to release its natural oils.
Jalapeno – leave jalapeno seeds in for more spicy marinade or take the seeds out for less spice.
Cilantro – use fresh cilantro for the most aroma.
Seasoning – salt, cumin, and chili powder is all you need. Simple and classic flavors for authentic Carne Asada tacos.
HOW TO MAKE CARNE ASADA TACOS
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large zip-top bag and add the steak. Try to get all the air out and close it tight. Place the bag into a bowl, make sure the steak is covered in the marinade, and refrigerate for 2-8 hours. Don’t let it marinate much longer than 8 hours or the tissue will start to break down.
How to cook marinated steak:
The best way to cook this marinated steak is on the grill, hands down. Cook it over direct heat until medium-rare turning once half-way through. Different steaks will take different amount of time so use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
For medium-rare, take the steak off the grill when it reaches 130° and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. (Steak will continue to cook off the grill for a few minutes.)
Make sure to slice the steak against the grain and slice it thin. On flank and skirt steaks, it’s very easy to see which way the muscle is running so slice it across. Hanger steak should be pretty easy to tell as well.
Can I cook the steak indoors?
On those rainy days or when you don’t have access to the grill, you can definitely cook it indoors. Use a cast iron skillet or another pan that you trust to cook evenly and cook the steak over medium-high heat. Make sure to preheat the skillet first and add a little oil to the pan.
For thicker steaks, like the hanger steak, you may need to finish it in the oven. Make sure to use an oven-save cooking pan, preheat the pan first over medium-high heat, and preheat the oven to 450°. First, sear the steak on stove-top for about 45 seconds on each side and then move the pan into the preheated oven and cook until it’s medium-rare.
Take the steak out when it reaches 130° and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.
How to make simple homemade pico de gallo:
Pico de gallo is a simple combination of tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Dice all the vegetables and add them into the bowl. If any juices ran off the tomato while cutting, add it to the bowl as well. Squeeze in lime juice and add cilantro and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes to marinate together and for tomatoes to give out more juice.
Note: leaving jalapeno seeds in will make pico spicier, so if you want less spice then discard the seeds.
WHAT SIDES ARE GOOD WITH THESE TACOS
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Carne Asada Tacos
- 6 soft taco shells corn or flour
- 1 lb flank, skirt, or hanger steak
- 1 large orange - juice only
- 1 large lime - juice only
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves smash and mince
- 1 jalapeno diced (leave seeds in or discard)
- 2 Tbsp minced cilantro
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder more if you want spicier marinade
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
Pico de gallo:
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 lime - juice only
- 1 tbsp minced cilantro
- 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
- 2 tbsp minced cilantro
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/8 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large zip-top bag and add the steak. Try to get all the air out and close it tight.
- Place the bag into a bowl, make sure the steak is covered in the marinade, and refrigerate for 2-8 hours. (Don’t let it marinate much longer than 8 hours or the tissue will start to break down.)
- Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Make sure the grate is completely clean before adding the steak.
- Take steak out of the marinade and let it drip off back into the bag. Grill the steak over direct heat until medium-rare, turning once half-way through. (Note: Different steaks will take different amount of time to cook so use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.)
- For medium-rare, take the steak off the grill when it reaches 130° and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. (Steak will continue to cook off the grill for a few minutes.)
- Make sure to slice the steak thinly against the grain.
- Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and whisk together well.
- Spoon some vinaigrette over the sliced steak and reserve the rest for topping individual tacos.
Pico de gallo:
- Dice all the vegetables and add them into the bowl. (Note: if you want pico to be spicier, leave jalapeno seeds in, otherwise, discard them.)
- Squeeze in lime juice and add cilantro and salt. Mix everything together and let it sit for a few minutes to marinate together and for tomatoes to give out more juice.
- Divide sliced steak among the taco shells and top it off with some pico de gallo and a little drizzle of cilantro vinaigrette.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on February 14, 2017. Updated August 5, 2020.