Citrus-Marinated Colombian Carne Asada

Citrus-marinate carne asada

The Spruce

  • Total: 4 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 4 hrs
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Traditionally, Colombian carne asada (literally "grilled steak") is a citrus-marinated skirt or flank steak that is cooked to perfection on a smoky grill. But if you don't own a grill or are short on time, you can approximate the flavor of traditional carne asada in your kitchen with this skillet recipe (or one for a pressure cooker). Marinate the meat overnight and quickly sautée it in a hot skillet for a dinner ready in minutes.

This recipe for seasoned flank steak takes cues from both traditional Colombian carne asada and the classic Argentinian sauce, a garlicky, herby chimichurri. This is also a suitable paleo and keto meal when skipping the tortillas or the suggested carb-heavy side dishes.


  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • For the Chimichurri
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 4 to 6 corn or flour tortillas 

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Marinade

  1. Gather the marinade ingredients.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt, and garlic.

  3. Set the marinade aside.

Prep and Marinate the Flank Steak

  1. Slice the flank steak lengthwise (with the grain) into 4 or 5 long strips.

  2. Use a fork to prick some holes in the meat.

  3. Place the flank steak in a ziplock bag or shallow dish and pour the marinade onto the steak.

  4. Turn steak pieces over to evenly coat them with the marinade. Seal the bag (or cover the dish) and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours. If you have the chance, stir the meat, or turn the bag upside down halfway through the process.

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce

  1. Gather the chimichurri ingredients and a food processor.

  2. Place the parsley leaves and garlic into the food processor. Alternatively, you can hand-chop everything very finely.

  3. Pulse until the parsley and garlic are very finely minced.

  4. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice and pulse briefly, just enough to mix everything. Transfer the chimichurri sauce to a medium bowl, season it with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. If you're prepping ahead of time, place it in a container with a lid and leave in the fridge.

Cook the Steak

  1. In a heavy, medium-sized skillet (cast iron works well) heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, but the oil isn't smoking, add marinated steak strips.

  2. Brown steak well on all sides, cooking until the desired doneness is reached. Your cooking time will depend on the size of the steak pieces and your doneness preference but it should be about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cut into a piece to check for doneness.

  3. When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove from heat.

Serve the Meat

  1. Place steak on a serving plate and let it rest for 5 minutes to preserve the juice inside the meat. Slice the steak very finely in a diagonal, against the grain.

  2. Add steak slices to the bowl of chimichurri sauce and toss until well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively, you can serve with the chimichurri on the side.

  3. Serve sliced steak with warm tortillas or green salad.

  4. Enjoy while hot!

Side Dishes and Salsas for Carne Asada

People in each country in South and Central America have a favorite way of eating their carne asada. Here are a few ideas to serve this steak with a little more authenticity: