Prepare a smoky, flavorful Mexican restaurant classic: Carne Asada

A smoky plate of grilled carne asada with a side of limes to satisfy your authentic Mexican food cravings.

Carne asada is one of those dishes that nearly everyone orders at their favorite Mexican restaurant, but never makes at home. 

The few who do make their own, often use what most food stores carry; a dry rub labeled “Carne Asada Seasoning.” 

Essentially, this is mostly salt with chiles and maybe one or two other types of dust blended together. Not even close to what a great carne asada should be. 

Although there may be more than one ‘authentic’ recipe, this combination of dry-roasted garlic cloves, chipotle peppers, oregano and fresh lime juice is over-the-top as a marinade. 

The smoky aroma of the meat and seasonings grilling over a mesquite fire promises an awe-inspiring earthy deliciousness that the tender, juicy beef totally delivers. 

The steaks can be sliced thin before serving, to accommodate more servings or served whole. 

In either case, accompany them with beans, rice, guacamole, salsa verde and fresh, warm corn tortillas. 

This stuff is so great, I’m pretty sure that it would make most any grilled meat stand out from the usual BBQ-sauced tragedy. 

This version originally appeared in Williams-Sonoma’s cookbook, “Mexican,” with recipes and text by Marilyn Tausend. 

I have made one minor addition: the option of using fresh oregano. 

Carne Asada


8 unpeeled garlic cloves

3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, with 1 teaspoon sauce 

14 cup fresh lime juice; about 2 limes (or more as necessary)

2 tablespoon dried oregano or 14 cup fresh, leaves only

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds trimmed rib-eye or other steaks of choice (skirt works well), about 14-inch thick

Vegetable oil (for brushing grill, if needed)


Heat a cast-iron pan or heavy griddle over medium heat until hot. 

Put the garlic cloves on the hot, dry surface and toast, turning until blackened and soft on all sides; about 8 minutes. 

Remove from the heat, let cool to the touch and peel.

In a small bowl, using a fork, smash together the garlic, chiles and sauce. 

Stir in the lime juice, oregano and sea salt. 

Coat the steaks on both sides with the chile mixture (we rub it into the meat as well). 

Set aside at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes, turning at least once. 

Build a fire, preferably using mesquite charcoal, in an outdoor charcoal grill and let burn until covered with white ash. 

Leave the coals heaped in the center of the grill; do not spread them out. Brush grill with oil, if using. 

Place the steaks on the grill rack directly over the coals and grill, turning at least once, until crusty brown on both sides and rare to medium-rare on the inside, 5 to 7 minutes total. 

Transfer to a warmed serving platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest briefly (5 minutes: this allows meat to finish cooking and reabsorb juices) before serving or slicing thinly. 

Makes about 6 to 10 servings, depending on number of side dishes, condiments such as sour cream, etc. and whether or not they are sliced before serving. 

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