Beef Carne Asada Marinade – Costa Rica

White plate of carne asada with salsa and tortillas.

This carne asada recipe is perfectly pura vida- like Costa Rica! Salsa Lizano, onion, garlic and flank steak grilled to perfection.

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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 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. Combine 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, chicken and sausage. This easy recipe is for the beef marinade. 

Fun cocktails for the carne asada:

Beef Carne Asada Marinade Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 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
  • Salt
  • Sazon Completa (or other carne asada seasoning)
  • Instructions:

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. Shake the Sazon Completa all over to.

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 meat is resting, I heat the corn tortillas on the grill. 

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Substitutions

If you don’t have or can’t get Salsa Lizano, you can use Worcestershire Sauce. 

You can use skirt steak or flank steak, but I prefer flank.

Variations

Some 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, but we really don’t do that at Casa Pura Vida. 

 

Serving Suggestions

You always serve carne asada with warm tortillas, chimichurri and beer- preferably Imperial.

If you want to make this a whole meal, I’d start with a shrimp 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!

Recipes to serve with Costa Rican carne asada:

FAQ

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? – Asada means grilled! 

Where can I buy the meat for carne asada? – I like to buy the 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. Otherwise, you can order it here.

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Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Beef Carne Asada Marinade Recipe

White plate of carne asada with salsa and tortillas.

This carne asada recipe is perfectly pura vida- like Costa Rica! Salsa Lizano, onion, garlic and flank steak grilled to perfection.

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Salt
  • Sazon Completo (or other carne asada seasoning)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Slice your onion into large pieces and set aside.
  3. In a marinating dish sprinkle a bit of Lizano and olive oil on the bottom and place one layer of meat in the pan.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat this process until all of the meat is sandwiched between Lizano, oil, onion, and garlic.
  6. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. 
  7. Preheat your grill. with the lid closed until it reaches 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Remove the steak from the marinade pan and place on the grill for about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Then close the lid and leave it for another 2-3 minutes.
  10. Turn meat and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  11. Place all meat on a dish and cover. Let rest for 5-10 minutes- if you can! 

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

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.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Rosanna Mancino
    May 28, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Christa esta carne asada debe saber delicioso! guardaré esta receta para sacar la parrilla este fin de semana. Mil, mil gracias.

  • Reply
    Enriqueta E Lemoine
    May 28, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    This was fun to read. The carne Asada event seem to be a pretty cool gathering and the recipe looks yummy even is the care is hard like a chancleta! I can´t stop laughing!

  • Reply
    Silvia
    May 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    It is carne asada time! One of my favorite summer dishes. So easy to make, so easy to serve and so easy to eat!

  • Reply
    Kate
    May 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    I’m super excited to try your recipe! We make Mexican-style Carne Asada all the time, but I’ve never had Salsa Lizano, so now I’m really curious.

  • Reply
    Mari Estilo
    May 28, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Llega la temporada de asados y definitivamente yo me apunto para la carne asada. Muchas gracias por compartir tu receta, definitivamente la voy a probar!