How to Cook Carne Asada in a Pan

Hola, foodies! Today, I’ll guide you through a culinary journey to the heart of Mexico, unraveling the secrets of one of our most beloved dishes: Carne Asada.

Specifically, we’ll be cooking Carne Asada in a pan – yes, you heard right, no grills needed here. So, prepare your apron, sharpen your knives, and let’s get cooking!

You can also make it in an Instant Pot Carne Asada.

How To Make Carne Asada In A Pan

Here are my top 10 tips when using a skillet or a pan

  1. Choose the Right Cut of Meat: For Carne Asada, skirt or flank steak are typically the best choices due to their robust flavor and texture.
  2. Prepare a Flavorful Marinade: A good marinade, incorporating ingredients like citrus juices, garlic, jalapenos, and spices, is essential for authentic flavor.
  3. Marinate the Steak: The steak should be thoroughly coated and marinated for at least 1 hour, but ideally 4-8 hours for the flavors to fully permeate.
  4. Allow Steak to Reach Room Temperature: Before cooking, let the marinated steak sit out of the fridge for about 30 minutes for even cooking.
  5. Preheat Your Pan: Ensure your pan, preferably a heavy, cast-iron one, is properly preheated over medium-high heat for a perfect sear.
  6. Lightly Oil Your Pan: Add a thin layer of oil to your pan to prevent the steak from sticking and to promote a delicious crust.
  7. Cook the Steak: Cook the steak on the hot pan, searing each side for the desired time depending on the steak’s thickness and your preferred doneness.
  8. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: If cooking multiple pieces, ensure there is enough space in the pan for each piece to sear properly.
  9. Rest Your Steak: After cooking, let the steak rest for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute for a juicier bite.
  10. Slice Against the Grain: When it’s time to serve, slice your steak against the grain to shorten the muscle fibers and ensure a tender bite.
Carne Asada Cooking Over Flames
Carne Asada Cooking Over Flames

What Is the Best Cut of Beef for Making Carne Asada in A Pan

When it comes to making carne asada, the cut of beef is crucial. Flap meat is a popular choice for this dish because it’s flavorful and affordable. However, other cuts, such as skirt steak or flank steak, can also be used. Just make sure to slice against the grain after cooking to ensure tenderness.

To add extra flavor to your carne asada, marinate the meat beforehand.

A simple marinade can consist of lime juice, orange juice, cilantro, olive oil, and a teaspoon of salt. Let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

What Kind of Meat Is Carne Asada?

Carne asada is a popular Mexican dish that features thinly sliced, marinated steak. The type of steak used for carne asada can vary, but it is typically either flap steak or hanger steak. Both cuts are known for their rich flavor and tender texture.

Extra seasoning can include lemon juice, fresh lime juice, garlic cloves, ground cumin, kosher salt, and pepper.

Carne Asada In A Pan Recipe

No Grill, No Problem: Learn How to Cook Perfect Carne Asada in Your Pan From This Easy Recipe
Prep Time32 minutes
Cook Time14 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 2326kcal


  • 1 Pan


  • 2 lbs Flank Steak
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 2 oz cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • Combine the lime juice, orange juice, minced garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and olive oil in a bowl. This citrusy, spicy blend will permeate the steak, giving it that authentic Mexican flavor we're after.
  • Submerge your steak in this mixture, ensuring every inch is coated. Ideally, you'd want to marinate it for 4-8 hours, but if you're pressed for time, even an hour can do wonders. Remember, the longer you marinate, the richer the flavors will be!
  • Now, here comes the fun part: cooking the Carne Asada. Take your marinated steak out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you plan to cook, allowing it to reach room temperature. This is a crucial step as it allows the steak to cook more evenly.
  • Heat a large, heavy pan (preferably cast-iron for its superior heat retention) over medium-high heat. Add a dash of oil, just enough to lightly coat the pan. Once the pan is nice and hot, lay the steak in. You should hear a satisfying sizzle - that's the sound of a beautiful sear forming!


The cook time depends on the thickness of your steak and your preferred level of doneness. For a medium-rare steak about 1.5 inches thick, I'd recommend about 3-4 minutes on each side. But remember, this is an art, not a science. Adjust your timing according to your taste.

Rest and Slice

After cooking, it's tempting to dive right in, but patience, my friends! Let your steak rest for at least 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, leading to a juicier, more flavorful bite.


Calories: 2326kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 198g | Fat: 154g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 97g | Cholesterol: 544mg | Sodium: 2842mg | Potassium: 3906mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 4345IU | Vitamin C: 141mg | Calcium: 295mg | Iron: 16mg

How Long To Mariante Flank Steak for Carne Asada

You’re ready to cook after marinating the meat in a baking dish or large plastic bag for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).

How to Cook Carne Asada in a Skillet

To start cooking carne asada in a skillet, the first step is to season your meat with salt and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking. While waiting, preheat your skillet over medium-high heat and add some oil to prevent sticking.

Once the skillet is hot, carefully place the seasoned steak on it and cook for 5 minutes on each side. For those who want their meat cooked at different levels of doneness, use an instant-read thermometer to check its temperature. A reading between 125°F-130°F means rare; 135°F-140°F means medium-rare; 145°F-150°F means medium; above that range will produce well-done steaks.

After cooking, transfer the steak onto a baking sheet lined with foil and let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain. This technique helps create tender slices that are packed with delicious flavors. Serve with corn tortillas or add some caramelized onions on top for an extra level of rich flavor that complements this savory dish perfectly. And if you have any leftover steak strips from this recipe card, try using them in other tasty steak recipes like tacos or salads!

The key to success with this Mexican recipe is slicing against the grain after grilling, which will help tenderize even tougher cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak. Finally, drizzle coconut aminos or liquid smoke over cooked meat before serving along with nacho cheese sauce if desired! Don’t forget to check out our printable recipe below and read our disclosure policy for more information about benefits of steak consumption!

How To Prepare The Skillet For Cooking Carne Asada

To prepare the skillet for cooking carne asada, preheat your oven to 350°F. Place a flat iron steak or lean flank steak on a baking sheet and cook it in the oven for 10-15 minutes until medium-rare. This will help seal in juices and ensure that your steak cooks evenly.

While the steak is cooking in the oven, heat up a cast iron skillet over high heat on your stovetop. Once heated, add a tablespoon of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Let this heat up for about 3-5 minutes before adding your skirt steak.

Place your 1 1/2-2 pound skirt steak into the hot skillet and let it sear for about 6-8 minutes on one side without moving it around too much. Flip it over and let it cook for another 5-6 minutes until rare or continue cooking for an additional few minutes if you prefer medium-rare or well-done meat. Remember to adjust cooking times based on how thick your cut of meat is!

How Long To Cook Carne Asada

As you cook the carne asada in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, make sure to keep an eye on it. After cooking for about 2-3 minutes on one side, flip it over and let it cook for another 4-7 minutes on the other side. This will ensure that both sides of the meat are evenly cooked.

If you want to add extra flavor to your carne asada, consider using excess marinade during cooking. Pouring some of the marinade into the skillet while cooking can help with flavor penetration and create a delicious flavor bomb. However, be careful not to use too much, or else your meat may become soggy.

When dealing with tough meat like fajita meat recipe or raw meat in general, indirect heat is key. By placing your dry skillet over medium-high heat instead of directly onto a flame or burner, you can prevent burning and ensure moist meat after searing for about 7-8 minutes per side. Remember to remove any excess marinade before cooking so that your pan doesn’t end up steaming rather than searing!

How To Slice Carne Asada Meat

To slice carne asada against the grain, you need to understand what it means. The grain refers to the direction of muscle fibers in the meat. Slicing against the grain means cutting perpendicular to these fibers, which results in shorter strands that are easier to chew. To achieve this, place your cooked beef on a cutting board and look for the lines running through it. Then cut across those lines with a sharp knife.

Before you start slicing, let your carne asada rest for 5-10 minutes under foil so that its juices can redistribute throughout the meat and not run out when sliced. While resting, sprinkle some bits of cilantro over it for added flavor.

Once rested, use a sharp knife and cut thin slices (1/4 inch) against the grain at an angle of about 45 degrees from top to bottom. This will create tender pieces that are easy to eat and full of flavor.

Serve your sliced carne asada with sides like rice or beans for a low-carb dish or tortillas if you prefer something more filling. You can also drizzle some blend of citrus juices (such as lime or orange), sweet soy sauce (a mixture of regular soy sauce and ½ teaspoon sugar), fish sauce (2-3 tablespoons), ground beef (1 tablespoon oil + 3-4 large cloves fresh garlic + ½ teaspoon salt) over your steak before grilling or searing on grill insert/grill grates until desired doneness is achieved using our Quick-Seared Carne Asada Recipe”. Enjoy!

Can You Use a Stainless Steel Pan and Get the Same Results?

When it comes to cooking carne asada, many people wonder if they can use a stainless steel pan and get the same results. The answer is yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, ensure you have a large, non-reactive bowl to marinate your meat in. Combine low-sodium soy sauce with seasoned tomatoes for a flavorful marinade that will help tenderize the beef.

Once your meat has marinated for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight), it’s time to cook it in the skillet. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add some oil or cooking spray. Use a kitchen timer to cook each side of the steak for about 5 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Tent with foil while resting.

If you prefer the direct grilling option, then preheat the grill on high heat; clean grates well-using tongs and paper towels dipped into vegetable oil; reduce heat slightly before adding steaks onto hot grill grates; flip after 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of steaks.
Remember that when cooking carne asada in a skillet or on the grill, it’s important to use proper ventilation, such as opening windows or turning on the kitchen fan due to its smoke potential. And don’t forget to line your baking sheet with foil so cleanup is easy! With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious carne asada from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Can I Use a Different Type of Pan Instead of A Skillet?

Yes, you can use a griddle, cast iron pan, or a barbecue grill to cook carne asada.

Is It Necessary to Marinate the Beef Overnight?

While marinating the beef overnight can enhance the flavor, it is not necessary. You can marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes to a few hours before cooking. See here about marinating carne asada too long.

Is It Okay to Cook the Meat on High Heat?

Cooking carne asada on high heat for a short time is recommended to get a nice sear on the outside while keeping the inside tender and juicy.

Can I Substitute Flank Steak for Another Cut of Beef?

Yes, you can use skirt steak or sirloin steak as a substitute for flank steak.

Can I Cook Carne Asada in The Oven Instead of A Skillet?

You can cook carne asada in the oven by broiling it on high heat for a few minutes on each side.

Do I Need to Let the Meat Rest Before Slicing It?

It is recommended to let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it to allow the juices to redistribute and prevent them from running out.

Can I Use a Stainless Steel Pan and Get the Same Results as A Cast Iron Skillet?

While a cast iron skillet is preferred for cooking carne asada due to its ability to retain heat, a stainless steel pan can also be used to get similar results. Just make sure to preheat the pan before cooking and use high heat.


One of the best ways to cook carne asada is on a hot skillet or grill pan over high heat. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your cut of meat and how well done you prefer your steak; aim for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. To achieve that delicious charred flavor without overcooking the meat, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature rather than relying solely on visual cues. Once cooked properly, slice against the grain into thin strips and serve with warm tortillas!