These Carne Asada Street Tacos with tender, juicy steak served in charred corn tortillas with all your favorite toppings are the perfect easy meal for taco night.
If you have ever traveled to Mexico, you know one of the most delicious things to eat is the street tacos! Classic chicken street tacos, cheesy birria tacos, tender carnitas tacos, and my favorite carne asada street tacos!
There is almost nothing better than these super tender carne asada tacos. The steak is marinated in a combination of lime juice, orange juice, and spices. Then it’s cooked until it’s slightly charred on the outside and super tender on the inside. Served with cilantro, lime juice, onions, and salsa for a twist on a classic steak taco that is so good.
Why You’ll Love these Carne Asada Street Tacos
- Quick marinade: While many carne asada recipes call for an overnight marinade, this recipe only needs 30 minutes to marinate for tender, juicy, flavorful steak.
- Tender and juicy: The secret to tender and juicy carne asada tacos is a citrus based marinade and cooking them at a high temperature for just a few minutes. No tough, chewy steak tacos.
- Crowd pleaser: If you want a meal that makes everyone happy, these steak street tacos are it! Let everyone build their own tacos with all their favorite salsas and toppings.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make these delicious beef street tacos.
- Steak: Traditionally carne asada is made with beef flap meat, skirt steak, or flank steak. This recipe uses flank steak since it tends to be the easiest to find and most affordable. Swap in other cuts of steak if you, just make sure to choose something that stays tender.
- Marinade: Carne asada is almost always marinated to add flavor to the steak and also tenderize it. The citrus juice softens the steak. This quick marinade uses orange juice, lime juice, white vinegar, soy sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Traditionally in Mexico, maggi sauce would be used instead of soy sauce. It can be found in the Mexican and/or Asian section of many grocery stores.
- Corn tortillas: Street tacos are almost always served on lightly charred corn tortillas Swap in small flour tortillas or any other tortillas you enjoy.
- Cilantro, onion, and lime: Part of what makes it a street taco is the simple toppings - fresh cilantro, diced white onion, and lots of fresh lime juice. Use any onion you like.
- Salsa: Usually when you buy street tacos, you can choose from a spicy red salsa, green salsa, or a creamy avocado salsa verde.
- Variations: There are lots of different ways to marinate carne asada including with beer, tequila, or Worcestershire sauce. You can also switch up the spices depending on your preferences.
What’s the best beef for Carne Asada?
Carne asada, which translates to “grilled meat” is a popular Mexican dish that is normally made with flank steak, skirt steak, or beef flap meat. You can also use rib-eye, sirloin, or filet.
In Mexico, you will find carne asada made with arrachera, bistec, bistec de falda,, or sometimes suadero. No matter what beef you choose, it should be juicy and tender.
Carne asada can be served on its own with rice, beans, salad, and tortillas. But our favorite way to eat carne asada is in these simple street tacos.
How to Make Carne Asada
These carne asada tacos are so easy to make. Cook them quickly in a hot skillet or throw the meat on the grill, griddle, or flat top.
1. Marinate the steak
Start by making the marinade by combining the olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce (or Maggi sauce), chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Add the steak to the marinade and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. If you have more time, marinate the steak for 2-4 hours. Since this marinade has a lot of acid from the citrus juice and vinegar, do not marinate it for more than 4 hours or the steak will begin to break down and get mushy.
2. Cook quickly at a high temperature
Most carne asada street tacos are cooked on a hot flat-top griddle. The meat is chopped into small pieces and cooked quickly until it gets lightly charred with crispy edges.
Whether you have a flattop or not, you want to mimic that same char when cooking at home. Get a heavy cast iron skillet nice and hot. Add the steak and cook it for just a couple minutes per side until it is nicely seared and cooked to your liking. Do not stir the steak, let it cook on one side and then flip it once it easily releases from the skillet.
Do not overcook the steak or it could become tough. We recommend cooking it medium. If for any reason your steak seems tough after cooking, chop it into smaller pieces before serving, against the grain if possible.
Grilling: If you plan to grill the carne asada, then keep the steak whole. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side on a hot grill (depending on thickness). Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes under foil and then chop into small, bite-sized pieces.
3. Assemble the tacos
Heat the corn tortillas in the same hot skillet or griddle until they are lightly charred. You can also heat them over the flame of a gas stove. Then fill it with carne asada. Top with cilantro, diced onions, and fresh lime juice. Add salsa, guacamole, avocado, cheese, or any other toppings you like (see ideas below).
Why is my carne asada meat tough?
One of the most common issues when making carne asada is ending up with meat that's too tough. This problem usually arises from either using the wrong cut of beef or not preparing it properly.
Choose the right cut of beef. Flank or skirt steak are the best choices for carne asada because they have a great balance of flavor and tenderness. It's also crucial to slice the meat against the grain after cooking, which helps to break up the muscle fibers and make the meat more tender.
Additionally, marinating the meat can help tenderize it. Use a marinade with acidic ingredients like lime juice, orange juice, or vinegar, which help to break down tough muscle fibers.
Lastly, make sure not to overcook the meat. Carne asada is best enjoyed when it's grilled to the right level of doneness – usually medium rare to medium. Overcooking can make the meat dry and less flavorful.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure you're cooking the steak to the desired temperature. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of around 130-135°F (54-57°C), and for medium, aim for 135-145°F (57-63°C).
Remember that the steak will continue to cook a bit more once it's off the grill, so it's often a good idea to pull it off when it's a few degrees below the target temperature.
Also, make sure your grill is hot enough before you start cooking – this will give the steak a good sear on the outside while keeping the inside juicy.
Best Taco Toppings
While street tacos usually have simple toppings, that doesn’t mean you can’t add all your favorites. Here are some of our favorite taco toppings.
- Avocado or guacamole
- Pickled red onions
- Pico de gallo
- Corn salsa
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced tomatoes
- Sliced jalapenos
- Sour cream, Greek yogurt, or Mexican crema
- Shredded cheese or queso fresco
- Salsa or hot sauce
Side Dishes and Serving Ideas
Although street tacos aren’t usually served with a side dish since they are eaten on the street, if you are making these at home, there are so many tasty side dish options.
- Beans: Serve this with some quick and easy refried beans, slow cooker black beans, or traditional frijoles charros.
- Rice: Add some traditional Mexican rice or this lightened up Mexican cauliflower rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice.
- Street corn: Make some traditional Mexican street corn smothered in mayonnaise and chili powder or make this Healthy Mexican street corn salad.
- Salads and slaw: Make some creamy Mexican coleslaw, black bean salad, or a Mexican chopped salad.
- Serving ideas: If you aren’t feeling like street tacos, this carne asada also tastes great in a taco salad, taco bowl, lettuce wraps, quesadillas, nachos, and served as steak bites.
Leftovers and Storage
These carne asada tacos will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. Store the steak and tortillas separately. Reheat the steak in a hot skillet or the air fryer for a couple of minutes to reheat. Be careful not to overcook the steak when reheating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions people have when making carne asada?
To make carne asada tacos on the grill, start by marinating flank steak or skirt steak in a combination of lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, Maggi (or soy) sauce, and spices. Get the grill nice and hot and add the entire piece of steak to the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness until the steak is medium-rare to medium. Remove and tent with foil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then slice thin against the grain.
Generally speaking, a street taco is a simple taco served on a corn tortilla with cilantro, white onion, lime juice, and salsa. They can be made with chicken, steak, pork, chorizo, and many more fillings.
Carne Asada Street Tacos
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- 1 lb flank steak, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or flap meat, skirt steak, sirloin)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup white onion, diced
- 1 lime (for serving)
- 1/2 cup salsa (for serving)
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- Nutritional Information
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
To ensure your carne asada comes out tender and juicy, make sure the skillet is very hot before adding the steak. Then only cook it for a couple minutes on each side so it doesn't overcook.
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