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This carne asada marinade recipe is perfectly pura vida- like Costa Rica! Salsa Lizano, onion, garlic and flank steak grilled to perfection.
About Carne Asada – Costa Rica
I have to have a huge disclaimer here- while this is the Carne Asada recipe that we use when we make meat in Costa Rica, I would be doing you a disservice by only giving you a recipe in this post.
That’s because carne asada is an event in Costa Rica, not just a recipe. You’ll often hear people say one of two things in relation to a get-together- let’s get together for coffee or let’s have a “carne asada!”
Generally, someone has a grill, someone has some meat, someone has some tortillas and someone makes a mean chimichurri. Everyone brings what they are going to drink and a chair, and a carne asada is born.
Music, good company- carne asadas are my favorite Costa Rican get-together. They happen on the beach, in the mountains, at noon, or in the evening- but rest assured they are a national pastime.
People use charcoal grills in Costa Rica, which means the grill takes a long time to heat up. I don’t know a ton about charcoal grills, but usually, someone brings an old hairdryer to the event to get the grill going. Either that or a couple of people are on duty to fan the flames. I find this hysterical.
You never light the grill until everyone is there- and tico time means everyone is super late. Combining that with the amount of time it takes to get the grill going means everyone is super hungry by the tie the first piece of meat sizzles on that grill. Plus, there is usually drinking while this is all going on, so people are a bit tipsy too.
What ends up happening is people grab a plate and tortillas and stand around the grill. As soon as the meat comes off, someone grabs it and eats it. I have been at carne asadas where I’m inside making chimichurri or chatting and after time passes I go out to get some meat and it’s gone. You have to be on your toes at a carne asada.
Oh- and another thing! Carne asada is always well done. We call it “chancleta”- like a sandal. There’s no medium-rare grilled meat happening here- it’s done or even more done.
Finally- a good carne asada has marinated steak, grilled chicken, and sausage. This is the carne asada marinade recipe.
Fun cocktails for the carne asada:
Beef Carne Asada Marinade Recipe
(printable recipe below)
On a cutting board, cut the steak into pieces that are about 2 inches by 3 inches. If your flank steak is thick, I will often slice it to that it is more thinly sliced as well. You want the pieces to fit on a tortilla when you are done.
Slice your onion into large pieces and set aside.
In a marinating dish sprinkle a bit of Salsa Lizano and olive oil on the bottom and place one layer of meat in the pan. Drizzle more Lizano and olive oil (or other cooking oil) on top of the meat and sprinkle some of the garlic and onion. Shake the Sazon Completa all over too.
Repeat this process until all of the meat is sandwiched between Lizano, oil, onion, and garlic. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Preheat your grill with the lid closed until it reaches 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the steak from the marinade pan and place on the grill for about 2-3 minutes.
Then close the lid and leave it for another 2-3 minutes. Turn meat and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Place all meat on a dish and cover. Let rest for 5-10 minutes- if you can!
While the meat is resting, I heat the corn tortillas on the grill.
More Popular Costa Rican Recipes:
You can use skirt steak or flank steak, but I prefer flank.
Want more awesome grilled steak recipes? Try this Pellet Grill Brisket.
Some carne asada marinade recipes call for orange juice- I think it sweetens the meat and I don’t really like it.
Some people add soy sauce or black pepper to their carne asada marinade recipe, but we really don’t do that at Casa Pura Vida.
You might also like: Bistec Encebollado
Carna Asada Marinade Recipe Serving Suggestions
If you want to make this a whole meal, I’d start with shrimp ceviche or fish ceviche, have some chips, salsa and guacamole on hand, and maybe do a salad. Then carne asada and chimichurri (a Costa Rican pico de gallo) with tortillas. Finish off with a tres leches or torta chilena!
These would be awesome with some air fryer potato wedges too!
Recipes to serve with Costa Rican carne asada:
What cut of meat is carne asada?
In the US, I generally purchase a flank steak. You can also go to any Latino meat store (carnicería) and ask for carne para asar. They might ask you if you want it adobado– already marinated. Just say no if you want to use this marinade.
What does asada mean in carne asada?
Where can I buy the meat for carne asada?
I like to buy flank steak at Sam’s Club or Costco. But any place you buy meat should have it.
How much carne asada should I make per person?
I usually plan about 1/3 lb uncooked meat per person. Unless you are cooking for all men- then plan for 1/2 pound. (Kidding- sort of!)
Where can I get the Sazon Completa?
You can get the spice at most grocery stores, and I often spot it at the Dollar Tree. Just look for the Badia Spices in the Hispanic Aisle. You can also order it on Amazon.
Our most popular Costa Rican recipes:
2 hours 15 minutes
- 3 lbs flank steak
- 1/2 cup Salsa Lizano
- 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Sazon Completo (or other carne asada seasoning)
- On a cutting board, cut the steak into pieces that are about 2 inches by 3 inches. If you flank steak is thick, I will often slice it to that it is more thinly sliced as well. You want the pieces to fit on a tortilla when you are done.
- Slice your onion into large pieces and set aside.
- In a marinating dish sprinkle a bit of Lizano and olive oil on the bottom and place one layer of meat in the pan.
- Drizzle more Lizano and olive oil (or other cooking oil) on top of the meat and sprinkle some of the garlic and onion. Sprinkle with Sazon Completo or meat seasoning.
- Repeat this process until all of the meat is sandwiched between Lizano, oil, onion, and garlic.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- Preheat your grill. with the lid closed until it reaches 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the steak from the marinade pan and place on the grill for about 2-3 minutes.
- Then close the lid and leave it for another 2-3 minutes.
- Turn meat and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Place all meat on a dish and cover. Let rest for 5-10 minutes- if you can!
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Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 527Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 179mgSodium: 378mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 63g
Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.