This Paleo Carne Asada recipe is simple, flavorful and a great grill-friendly meal. Pair it with some veggies, throw it on top of a salad or make it in to some mean tacos for a new family favorite.
Carne asada is great because you can utilize cheaper or less "desirable" cuts of meat and marinate them to create an incredibly flavorful and delicious meal.
This recipe takes only about 20 minutes of active time (with a 2 hour marinade) so it makes a great meal for busy weekday or weekend nights. Simply throw it in the marinade the night before and you can pull dinner together in under 30 minutes.
What Is Carne Asada?
Carne asada in its simplest sense means grilled meat. It is typically marinated, grilled and served in thin slices as an entree or made in to tacos.
Flank steak, skirt steak, flat iron, sirloin, or even trimmed brisket can be used to make carne asada. These cuts of beef are marinated in a lime-based marinade (although orange juice is also fairly common) and then grilled to perfection.
How To Make Paleo Carne Asada
Making paleo-friendly carne asada is easy because many of the ingredients used in a traditional carne asada recipe are considered paleo.
Common ingredients in used include things like spices, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, oil, salt, garlic and spicy peppers. These ingredients are all considered paleo if you use avocado or olive oil, and swap white vinegar for something like apple cider vinegar.
For The Marinade
To make the delicious carne asada marinade combine the following ingredients in the basin of a food processor:
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- ½ cup orange juice
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 tsp salt, black pepper, chili powder, dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 chopped jalapeño
Process on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all large chunks disappear.
For The Meat:
Pat the steak dry and place the whole steak in a shallow dish or resealable gallon sized bag. Cover it completely with the marinade, reserving ⅓ of the marinade for use when serving. Seal the steak and marinate for at least 2 hours, but up to overnight. The longer it marinated the more tender and flavorful the steak will become.
Once the meat has marinated, heat a grill to medium-high heat.
Remove the steak from the marinade, discarding all the excess. The steak should be relatively dry because the sugars from the juice can burn at high temperatures.
Once the grill is preheated, add the steak. Cook for 6-8 minutes per side depending on your desired level of doneness. Use a meat thermometer for the most accurate way to achieve your ideal level of doneness. These cuts of meat are all fairly lean and will taste best cooked with a decent amount of pink still in it.
Once the meat has cooked, remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the steak against the grain in to thin slices and serve with the reserved marinade.
Carne asada is very versatile and can be served with a variety of foods. You can serve this recipe as an entrée paired with some grilled veggies or my honey chipotle sweet potatoes. It can be served on top of a salad with things like radishes, bell pepper, jalapeno, greens, etc. or made in to a tasty taco using grain-free tortillas. For a non-paleo serving option, Mexican street corn makes a great side!
Allow Proper Time To Marinate
Two hours is really the minimum the steak should marinate. Marinating less than that will result in tough, flavorless meat.
Do Not Leave Meat Unattended
Carne asada cooks quickly and cooking time varies based on how thick your cut of meat is. Set a timer and check after 6 minutes.
Don't Cook Well Done
These cuts of meat have more flavor when cooked medium rare to medium. Avoid overcooking.
Rest Before Slicing
Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
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Paleo Carne Asada
- Cutting board
- Food processor
- Metal spatula
- 1 lb Flank steak, skirt steak or flat iron steak
- While the cilantro is bundled, chop the end with the stems about 2 inches up. Add the cilantro to a food processor.
- Remove the seeds and stem from the jalapeno. Add to the food processor along with the cilantro.
- Remove the skin from the garlic cloves, halve and add to the food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the marinade in the food processor and process on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all large chunks disappear.
- Put the steak in a resealable gallon sized bag. Cover it completely with the marinade, reserving ⅓ of the marinade in the basin of the food processor to be used when serving. Seal the bag and store the marinating steak in the fridge along with the reserved marinade. Marinate the steak for at least 2 hours, but up to overnight.
- Preheat your grill to high heat. If using a grill pan or skillet, you will want to heat it to medium-high heat and allow it to properly heat up before cooking so that you can get a proper sear without burning or undercooking.
- Lightly brush the grill or grill pan with oil. This is not necessary, however it can help prevent the meat from sticking.
- Remove the steak from the marinade. Pat dry with a paper towel and discard any leftover marinade.
- Once the grill is preheated, add the steak. Cook for 6-8 minutes per side depending on your desired level of doneness. You can use a meat thermometer for the most accurate way to get desired level of doneness. These cuts of meat are all fairly lean and will taste best cooked with a decent amount of pink still in it.
- Once the meat has cooked, remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Once rested, slice the steak against the grain in to thin slices.
- Serve with the reserved marinade.