Instant Pot Carne Asada

Carne asada in tortilla shells, served with lime wedges and other garnishes

The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 6 mins
Rest & Pressure Release Time: 35 mins
Total: 61 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 6 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
388 Calories
18g Fat
26g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 388
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 387mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 24mg 119%
Calcium 71mg 5%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 667mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are as many ways of making true carne asada as there are countries in Latin America. Each region uses different seasonings, cuts of beef, and sides. However, in the United States, the most common offering for carne asada is skirt or flank steak. Due to the fibrous quality of the meat, making it in the Instant Pot is the best and quickest method. Although using nicer cuts of beef is possible, there's no reason to spend more money as the pot will tenderize the meat and the pressure will impart flavor to it, making it really juicy.

Serve your carne asada as street tacos with fresh salsa and your favorite toppings. Or use it in burritos, nachos, quesadillas, or arepas. Other tasty sides include arroz blanco, Mexican rice, refried beans, Mexican street corn, or tostones and guacamole.

If you skip the honey (or brown sugar) and the tortillas in the recipe, this carne is keto- and paleo-friendly, and if using 100 percent corn tortillas, the dish is also gluten free (check the beef stock ingredients to be sure there's no added wheat).


Click Play to See This Juicy Instant Pot Carne Asada Come Together


  • 2 pounds skirt steak (or flank steak)

For the Marinade:

  • 1 large red onion

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced)

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 3/4 cup unsalted or low-sodium beef stock

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional

For the Pico de Gallo:

  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup cilantro, no stems, chopped

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Ground black pepper, to taste

For Serving:

  • 12 small corn tortillas (or flour tortillas)

  • 1 cup shredded or crumbled queso fresco, optional

  • 1 avocado, sliced (or 1 cup guacamole), optional

  • 6 to 8 lime wedges, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Instant Pot carne asada recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. Slice the steak across the grain and into thin strips.

    Steak cut across the grain into thin strips on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. Peel the onion and cut it in half lengthwise. Thinly slice half of the onion. Chop the other half and set it aside for the pico de gallo.

    Chopped and sliced red onions on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  4. In a nonreactive bowl or the Instant Pot inner pot, combine the steak strips, sliced onion, and the lime and lemon juice. Add the chili powder, honey, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and beef stock. If using, add the red pepper flakes (start with 1/2 teaspoon). Mix well and let stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

    Steak, sliced onion, and seasonings in an Instant Pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  5. While the beef marinates, combine in a medium-sized bowl the reserved onion with the tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro. Add the juice from the 2 limes. Toss to combine.

    Chopped onion, tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro combined in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  6. Add kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate the pico de gallo until serving time.

    Vegetable mixture covered with plastic film in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Make the Carne

  1. Put the marinated beef and marinade in the Instant Pot. Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure the steam release valve is turned to the sealing position. Choose manual or pressure cook, then high pressure, and set the time for 6 minutes.

    Instant Pot covered with lid

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. When the time is up, allow for the natural release of pressure for 15 minutes.

    Pressure release setting activated on the Instant Pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. Carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position to release the remaining pressure.

    Browned carne asada with cooking liquid in the Instant Pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  4. Drain the beef. Reserve the juices for a soup base or freeze to use later.

    Drained carne asada in one bowl and cooking liquids in another bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  5. Assemble the tacos with corn or flour tortillas, beef, and pico de gallo. If using, serve with cheese on top, avocado, and lime wedges.

    Carne asada in a bowl, with sliced avocado, lime wedges, and other garnishes in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

    What to Use Instead of Skirt Steak?

    The closest cut of beef to skirt steak is hanger steak, but you can also get a delicious result using a sirloin tip from the sirloin flap. It's a great cut of meat, takes the flavors of a marinade well, and has a great texture but is not as tough as the skirt steak.

    Another option is using shoulder tender, which is difficult to find. But if you can get your hands on it, definitely try it. The texture and flavor make it a wonderful cut.

    For a fancier version, try using brisket, but be mindful that because of the cost of these cuts, you'll always save some money going with a skirt or flank, without sacrificing the flavor.