Citrus-Marinated Skillet Carne Asada (Flank Steak)

Citrus-marinate carne asada

The Spruce

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

Traditionally, Colombian carne asada (literally "grilled steak") is citrus-marinated skirt steak (or flank steak) that is cooked to perfection on a smoky grill. 

But when time's short, the weather's not cooperating, you don't own a grill, or don't even know how to use a grill, you can approximate the flavor of traditional carne asada in your kitchen with this skillet carne asada recipe. Marinating overnight and a quick sauté in a hot skillet does the trick.

This indoor recipe for seasoned flank steak takes cues from both traditional Colombian carne asada and the Argentinian tradition of serving grilled meat with garlicky chimichurri (an herb sauce). Serve this steak with corn (traditional) or flour tortillas, rice, and a salad like ensalada chilena (Chilean tomato and onion salad) or salsa criolla (Peruvian onion, pepper, and lime salsa). Carne asada also is perfect for filling arepas (Venezuelan-style corn cakes).


  • 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
  • Optional: salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 to 6 tortillas (for serving)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this citrus-marinate carne asada is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Prepare the Marinade

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

  2. Set the marinade aside.

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

  3. 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).

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce

  1. Place the parsley leaves and garlic into a food processor.

  2. Process until parsley and garlic are very finely minced. They can alternatively be chopped very finely by hand.

  3. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice and process very briefly, just enough to mix everything together (about 3 to 5 seconds). Transfer chimichurri sauce to a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Cook the Steak

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron works well) over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add marinated steak strips in batches if necessary.

  2. Brown steak well on all sides, cooking until the desired doneness is reached (cooking time will depend on the size of the steak pieces but should be about 3 to 4 minutes per side. You can slice into a piece to check for doneness).

Serve the Meal

  1. Remove steak to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice steak very finely on the diagonal, against the grain.

  2. Add steak slices to the bowl of chimichurri sauce and toss them until well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Serve sliced steak with warm tortillas.