Are you disappointed that the much loved carne asada is discontinued from Chipotle Mexican Grill's menu? Try our carne asada copycat recipe. Its rich flavor shines through all the cheese, guac, and salsa you'll pile in your burrito bowl--plus, it's keto and Whole 30 friendly!
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All of the ingredients for this copycat carne asada recipe are easy to find at your local grocery store if you live in parts of the U.S. where they have a good Mexican food section, like we do in the South. The whole cumin seeds, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and the chipotle chili powder are the only ingredients you may need to order online.
- Meat: We used skirt steak for this photo shoot, but if you're in a pinch, use flank steak or flat iron.
- Aromatics: We used fresh garlic cloves that were peeled and smashed.
- Oil: We used classic olive oil was used for this recipe. (Chipotle uses only sunflower, rice bran, and canola oil.)
- Dried Spices: We used whole cumin seeds, ground coriander, chipotle chili powder, Saigon cinnamon, ground cloves, black pepper, and kosher salt.
- Fresh Herbs: We used fresh cilantro that was rinsed, patted dry, and hand chopped for the marinade and also at the end after the steak is thinly sliced.
- Citrus: We used freshly squeezed lime juice for the marinade and also at the end to brighten the steak.
- Sweetener: Chipotle doesn't use a sweetener in their recipe to make it Whole 30 and keto compliant. We used maple syrup to help with caramelization, but feel free to leave out the sweetener if you're on one of these specialized diets.
- Umami: We used a tablespoon of reduced sodium soy sauce for some extra flavor in the marinade. Chipotle doesn't use soy sauce, so feel free to leave it out.
- Smokiness: We used 4 chipotle peppers that were canned in adobe sauce.
What are the nutrition facts for carne asada?
For a 4-ounce serving size at Chipotle, there are 250 calories, 14g fat, 1g carbs, 29g protein, and 740 mg sodium.
Our copycat recipe has 262 calories, 16.4g fat, 3.5g carbs, 24.6 protein, and 535mg sodium. For more nutritional facts, please scroll to the end of the recipe card.
What cut of meat does Chipotle use for carne asada?
Generally speaking, the most popular choices for carne asada are skirt and flank steak. Skirt steak is thinner and more porous, so it absorbs the marinade better and cooks faster.
Is the carne asada spicy?
There are a variety of opinions; some people think it is spicy, while others don't think so. Chipotle's blend of signature spices makes this entree full of flavor. It is meant to have enough punch to stand up to the rice, beans, salsa, and guac that are commonly served with Chipotle burritos and bowls, but we don't find it spicy.
Did Chipotle discontinue carne asada?
As of the writing of this post, it is off the menu. For the past two years, Chipotle has brought it back in September and taken it off the menu around the end of February. It's considered a limited time offering, but thanks to this copycat recipe, you can make your own whenever the mood strikes.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients for the marinade. Peel and smash the garlic. Remove the stems from the cilantro, then rinse the leaves and pat dry. Squeeze the juice from 2 limes.
In a small skillet over medium high heat, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the smashed garlic for a minute, then add the whole cumin seeds and toast them for a minute while constantly stirring.
In a food processor add the canned chipotle peppers and the other wet ingredients along with the garlic and cumin. Start adding the dry ingredients. Pictured below is the ground coriander, kosher salt and chipotle chili powder.
Next add ½ cup of cilantro leaves. Put the lid on the food processor and blitz for a couple of seconds.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the oil. (A little less than ½ a cup.)
Put the skirt steak in a large zip-top bag, squeeze the air out and seal it shut. Gently massage the marinade into the porous skirt steak on both sides. Place it on a cutting board or small baking tray and place in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Flip the bag occasionally.
Allow the steak to warm up to room temperature, roughly 30 minutes, before grilling.
Brush ¼ cup of oil on a cast iron grill pan and turn the heat to medium high. Heat up the pan until it's sizzling hot and carefully place the the skirt steak on the grill with tongs. Cook for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip the steak over and cook for 3 minutes.
You'll want the meat to be medium rare. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer so it reads 128F to 130F. Place the steak on a grooved wooden cutting board and tent with foil so the meat can rest for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Thinly slice the skirt steak against the grain and then drizzle on the lime juice and sprinkle on the chopped cilantro.
Serve with other Chipotle sides to make your own burrito bowl. Scroll down to see our many other Chipotle copycat recipes. Pictured below are Fajita veggies and fresh tomato salsa (coming soon).
- Need this Whole 30? Don't add any sweetener.
- Can't find skirt steak? Use flank or flat iron.
- Don't want thin strips? Cut into cubes instead.
- Can't have soy? Leave it out.
- On keto? Leave out the sweetener and serve with guac.
- Use skirt steak and marinate for 2 to 24 hours.
- Build up the flavor profile by sauteing the garlic and toasting the cumin seeds.
- Grill to medium rare for the most tender results.
- Make sure some parts of the meat are charred.
- Let the steak rest tented with foil for at least 10 minutes, then thinly slice it.
Other Chipotle Proteins You'll Love
Other Chipotle Sides You'll Enjoy
Other Chipotle Recipes
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Chipotle Carne Asada Copycat
For the Marinade
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 jumbo garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds, We used El Guapo brand
- 4 chipotle chili peppers, from 1 can (canned in adobo sauce)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, packed
For the Carne Asada
- 2 pounds skirt steak, cut in three large pieces
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Roast the smashed garlic for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add the whole cumin seeds and toast for 1 minute. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool.
- Add the chipotle chili peppers, wet ingredients, dry spices, and fresh cilantro to a food processor and blitz for a few seconds, then slowly pour in the remaining oil while the processor is running. There should be 1 cup of marinade.
- Place the three large pieces of skirt steak side by side in a large zip-top bag, then pour in the marinade. Squeeze out the excess air, then seal it shut. Massage the steak, then place it on a cutting board and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours to a maximum of 24 hours. Flip the bag occasionally as it marinates.
- Allow the steak to warm up to room temperature, roughly 30 minutes. Brush the oil on a cast iron grill pan and place it over medium high heat until the oil is shimmering, roughly 2 minutes. Carefully place one of the skirt steaks on the grill with tongs and sear the outside of the meat for one minute, then turn down the heat to medium and cook for 2 more minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes. Skirt steak is thin, so it cooks fast. Check the doneness using a meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 135 F for rare or 145 F for medium-rare. Repeat with the other two steaks.
- Allow the three steaks to rest on a large cutting board tented with foil for at least 10 minutes.
- Thinly slice the skirt steak against the grain, then drizzle the lime juice and cilantro on top. Chipotle serves their carne asada in long, thin strips, but feel free to slice the strips into shorter lengths for use in burritos and tacos.
- Carne asada tastes best hot, so have your other sides and toppings ready to make your own Chipotle bowl, burrito, salad, tacos, nachos, or quesadillas. Check out all our other copycat Chipotle recipes for lots of delicious ideas.
- This recipe taste best when skirt steak is used and marinated for 2 to 24 hours.
- Saute the garlic and toast the cumin seeds to build up the flavor profile.
- For the most tender results, grill to medium rare.
- Char some parts of the steaks for the best flavor.
- Tent the steaks with foil and allow to rest to keep them juicy, then thinly slice the meat.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.