Carne Asada Clásica


This grilled flap steak, a thin cut of beef perfect for high-heat grilling, picks up intense umami notes from a dark Mexican ale marinade.

Carne Asada Clásica

Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
6 servings

Carne asada as a pastime in Mexico has its roots in the northern states of Sonora and Nuevo León, which were home to a thriving cattle industry and consistent access to the freshest and best beef in the country.

When immigrants from Mexico started to come to the United States in great numbers in the 1900s, they brought along their love of grilled carne asada. Over the decades, carnicerías, Mexican-style butcher shops, popped up around the country, especially in the places many Mexican immigrants called home, like Los Angeles, Chicago, and the Bay Area. By the 1970s, you started to see thin marinated skirt (or flap) steaks in butcher cases ready to be grilled at home. Since then, it has become the go-to meal to celebrate birthdays, life milestones, or just another weekend for Mexican families of all generations and classes.

Balanced by intense umami notes from Worcestershire and dark Mexican ale, this carne asada from Bricia Lopez also gets an underlying sweetness from fresh citrus juice. Flap steak, a typical cut for asada, is lean and coarse-grained and is prime for both marinating and high-heat grilling. The savory and acidic marinade tenderizes the beef, while a quick stint on a grill over a hot fire quickly chars the exterior and leaves a perfectly pink center. Skirt steak, while somewhat chewier than flap steak, makes a good substitute if you can’t find flap steak.


  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) dark Mexican ale

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided

  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 10 spring onions or 15 scallions, divided

  • 2 pounds flap steak, patted dry (See Note)

  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced (about 1 3/4 cups)

  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • Warm tortillas and salsa, for serving


  1. Whisk together Mexican ale, orange juice, lime juice, 1/4 cup oil, garlic, 2 tablespoons salt, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin, and cloves in a large bowl until spices are evenly incorporated. Trim 4 spring onions or 6 scallions, and cut in half lengthwise. Using the palm of your hand against a flat work surface, lightly smash spring onions until a little moisture is released. Combine smashed spring onions, flap steak, white onion, chiles, cilantro, and ale mixture in a large ziplock plastic bag. Seal bag, and shake to thoroughly mix; gently massage marinade into steak. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

  2. Remove steak from marinade, and pat dry using paper towels; discard marinade. Place steak on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat grill to very high (500°F to 550°F).

  3. Place steak on lightly oiled grates. Grill, uncovered, until lightly charred in spots and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of steak registers 125°F for medium-rare, 3 to 5 minutes per side, or to desired degree of doneness. Transfer steak to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, trim remaining 6 spring onions or 11 scallions; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until well coated. Place spring onions on oiled grates, and grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until softened and lightly charred, 4 to 6 minutes.

  5. Slice steak against the grain; serve with grilled spring onions, warm tortillas, and salsa.


To substitute skirt steak for flap steak, marinate at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours.

Make ahead

Steak can marinate up to 12 hours.

Suggested pairing

Full-bodied, brambly Zinfandel: Frogs Leap Napa Valley


This recipe is adapted from Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling by Bricia Lopez with Javier Cabral

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