This Carne Asada Dry Rub is a blend of all the traditional Mexican spices used for grilled steak, including Mexican chili powder, onion and garlic, cumin, and coriander.
When it comes to making carne asada, you want to make it super flavorful with a spice blend that will knock your socks off. This is the best way to make carne asada that you can enjoy on its own or in your carne asada tacos.
The typical spices used in authentic carne asada are Mexican chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, onion and garlic powder, coriander, salt and pepper. We’ve taken these spices and elevated it with a chili and lime seasoning that makes it possible to use just a dry rub on your steak, without the need to marinate it.
What is Carne Asada?
Carne Asada is actually a cooking method, rather than a specific dish. It literally means “grilled meats”. The steak, usually chuck steak, but you can also use skirt or flank steak – is typically marinated then grilled or seared to give it a charred flavor.
Carne asada can be served on its own or as an ingredient in other dishes. It’s one of the most common kinds of tacos you can get in Mexico. While there are typical seasonings associated with it, there’s no set recipe that must be followed.
What Ingredients You Need
Since this is a spice rub, there are quite a few seasonings you’ll need. I like to buy my spices in the bulk section of the grocery. Whole Foods has a good bulk section, as do many others. I like to buy these spices in bulk to make both this and my favorite BBQ dry rub seasoning so I always have them on hand.
- Mexican chili powder – I use arbol, ancho, and pasilla chili powder. I buy it in little packets from the grocery store. There’s usually a large selection at Mexican grocery stores, if you have one near you. You can also use whole dried chilis and do the grinding yourself.
- Chili & Lime spice blend – There are a lot of brands available like Tajín Clásico Chile Lime Seasoning or Cielito. Trader Joe’s has a version.
- Garlic & onion powder – I usually just use powdered versions, but you can use granulated garlic and onion, if you want a grainier rub.
- Ground cumin – You can also grind your own from cumin seeds, if you like.
- Celery salt – I use celery salt for this rub. You can use celery powder or ground celery seeds, but you’ll need to add additional salt to the rub.
- Mexican oregano – Note that Mexican oregano is different than the typical oregano used in Mediterranean cooking. It has more of a bright floral and citrus flavor with a hint of anise. It’s best to use this type of oregano for the right flavor profile.
- Black pepper – Add a little peppery heat with freshly ground black pepper.
- Ground coriander – Cilantro is a major ingredient in Mexican cooking, so you can’t skip the coriander. You can use ground or grind it yourself from coriander seeds.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to follow this recipe completely. Tweak it and change it to suit your taste.
How to Make Carne Asada Rub
Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar with a lid. Shake to mix it all up. Store it in a cool, dry place. As long as it stays dry and clean, you can keep it for up to 6 months.
This recipe makes a large portion that you can use multiple times, unless you’re making a lot of grilled steak. Always use a clean, dry spoon to scoop out what you need to keep the remaining rub clean.
How to Use Carne Asada Rub
The best way to use this rub is on a nice piece of steak. Sprinkle on a generous layer of rub, drizzle on some olive oil, and use your hands to rub it into the steak so it’s well coated.
Wrap and place the steak in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours to impart flavor. When you’re ready to cook it, remove the steak from the refrigerator 15 minutes in advance. Then just cook as you normally would, over the grill or on the stove top. The flavor from the rub will lock into the meat when you sear it.
You can also use this carne asada rub as seasoning on any other types of meat or even on veggies. I like to grill up some zucchini, onions, and bell peppers, then sprinkle the seasoning on with a drizzle of olive oil. It’s perfect!
Try a Seasoning Bottle!
If you make this homemade dry rub, it’s great to have a seasoning shaker to make it easier to use the dry rub without contaminating it while seasoning meats. I have 3 of these that I use for my favorite homemade rubs.
Is This a Carne Asada Marinade?
No, this is a dry rub that has all the flavors you expect from a marinade but in dry form. Making this dry rub means you can make a large batch and always have some on hand.
Usually you would combine olive oil, lime, and orange juice along with these spices to make a marinade and you’d soak the steak in the marinade for around 4 hours before cooking it. With our dry rub, you can skip the wet marinade and just coat the steak with the dry rub and olive oil. It’s very efficient and makes for a really delicious steak.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of meat is used for asada?
The meat is usually steak, chuck steak, but you can also use skirt or flank steak – is typically marinated then grilled or seared to give it a charred flavor.
Is carne asada seasoning spicy?
This seasoning mix is more flavorful than spicy. The only things that could add heat are the chili powder and ground black pepper. If you like more heat you can add some.
Before You Go
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Awesome Homemade Carne Asada Dry Rub
- 3 tablespoons (24 g) chili powder Arbol & Ancho or other Mexican chilis
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) Chili & Lime spice blend like Tajín Clásico Chile Lime Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons (16 g) garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons (14 g) onion powder
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) celery salt
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground coriander
- Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid. Shake to mix. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Always use a clean, dry spoon to scoop out what you need to keep the remaining rub clean.
- Store any leftover rub in a sealable jar or container to use another time.
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Laura is a home cook, with 25 years experience behind the stove, who spends an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen cooking. She loves making new recipes and finding wonderful new things to eat, both at home or abroad. She spends a lot of time researching, crafting, and perfecting her recipes and currently has a cookbook in development.