Carne Asada Vs Fajita – Is There Any Difference Between These Two Recipes? is reader-supported. When you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a small commission. Read more

Most eaters mistake carne asada for fajitas since both dishes are often cooked with flank or skirt steak and served on soft, warm corn and flour tortillas.

That’s why many people wonder if they’re the same or there’s any difference between carne asada vs fajita, aside from the different names.

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How to distinguish between these two famous steak recipes? 

The noticeable dissimilarity is that you get whole meat grilled over scorching coals or pan-fried for carne asada and raw steak sliced thinly for the latter.

By the end of this article,  Annisa restaurant will help you pick up some interesting info about two of the most renowned steaks on Earth, including their differences.

What Is Fajita?

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A fajita is one of the variations of the ‘faja’ from Spain, meaning little girdle or belts.

This term initially referred to a kind of meat used for cooking the dish – skirt steak or carne asada – a long, thin muscle in a cow’s diaphragm region.

Modern chefs marinate fajitas made of skirt steak for tenderness. After that, they grill the meat and cut it against the grain to better the texture.

Today, you will encounter numerous fajita proteins in modern eateries, from vegan and flexitarian to shrimp and chicken options.

Chefs usually grill meat with veggies. Onions and sweet bell peppers are indispensable, besides sour cream, salsa, cheese, and soft tortillas served as side dishes for self-made wraps.

What Is Carne Asada?

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Carne Asada 

Do you wish for the authentic taste of the most delicious carne asada? Grill the marinated flank steak to perfection.

This tender, juicy meat will please you with its authentic Mexican texture. The original recipe belongs to a world-class Mexican chef – Rick Bayless.

But people nowadays have altered it so that any home cook and cooking hobbyist can serve it to their family.

The special thing about this food is the marinade. You simply grab a juicy piece of meat, marinate it with aromatic flavors, and proceed with the grill.

A tip to yield a tender, flavorful beef cut is to eat plain using a burrito, taco, or anything you like.

Carne Asada Vs Fajita – What’s The Difference?

Is carne asada the same as fajitas? Of course, there is overlap between fajita vs carne asada; that’s why we often mistake one for the other.

Here are some aspects to look at so you can avoid confusion.

The Meat Cut

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The Mexican-rooted dish requires thicker meat cuts

We can see the most apparent distinction in how the cook slices the meat. Usually, restaurants marinate, grill, and serve Asada in the whole piece.

Before grilling, there are various marinade formulas they can go for, from simply sparkling a bit of salt to putting in spice ribs, such as lime and garlic salt or pepper and lemon.

Besides, they need to marinate the beef for seven to eight hours and no longer than that. The mixture often includes spices and citrus liquids.

Though citrus juices can tenderize the beef, they tend to break down if you leave it there for an extended time. That’s why some recipes use bear to season the meat instead.

On the other hand, fajitas are thin beef pieces thinly sliced for tacos. Restaurants sautée these slices with onions and bell peppers.

Because fajita comes in thin cuts, there’s no need to season it before cooking. Thus, the difference is that while Asada comes in whole pieces, the latter comes in thinly-sliced cuts.

The Type of Meat

You can call any meat seasoned and grilled carne asada. Commonly, the meat can be skirt steak, hanger, or flank, while the marinade offers a pleasing spiciness.

You can use pork, beef, or chicken for cooking this dish. Recipes with chicken are also called Pollo Asado.

Likewise, fajitas can be pork or chicken, provided you slice the meat into thin strips and season it with bell peppers and onions.

Beef, pork, or chicken fajitas almost always use skirt steak, known as iron or flank.

Meanwhile, you can use any type of steak for cooking the latter (most home cooks use cheaper cuts).

The Cook’s Recipes

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The final result depends on the chef’s grill and fire level. 

The common feature is that people prepare both dishes on a flat grill top or pan. Yet, most restaurants would cook fajitas over a charcoal grill or open flame to gain the desired flavor.

If you prepare Asado at home, the best idea is to grill the meat using a charcoal device to yield a unique smoky taste.

Meanwhile, because fajhita includes thin meat strips, you can stir-fry or grill it like the other, making it way more convenient and easier to prepare and cook.

Still, please note that you should not let both steak dishes go over medium-rare because the meat’s connective tissue may become two chewy once overcooked.


Eateries sometimes serve the Mexican-rooted dish with tortillas as a side dish, so the customers can make their fajitas.

You can use any kind of asada for fajitas, sandwitches, burritos, or tacos.

That’s why people sometimes call fajitas CA served with grilled peppers and onions and tortillas or Pollo Asado.

Simply put, while carne asada can serve either as a primary ingredient in some cuisines or main dishes, fajita always combines with other elements to create a complete recipe.


Carne asada Fajita
Meat cut
  • Served in the whole piece
  • Need marinating before grilling
  • Thinly sliced
  • No need to marinate before grilling
Type of meat Any steak Skirt steak
Preparation process
  • Cooked over a charcoal grill or open flame
  • Apply to grilling
  • Cooked over a charcoal grill
  • Apply to stir-frying and grilling
Convertibility Serve as a primary ingredient or main dish Serve as an element in a recipe


How To Make Fajitas At Home?

Here’s how you cook a delicious beef fajita recipe:

First, prepare the lime marinade by mixing the pepper, cumin, garlic, cilantro, molasses, soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice.

Make some slits in your beef using a paring knife, then cut against and along the meat’s grain. This step will help reduce any toughness and cut the muscle fiber.

Drain the steaks while reserving the marinade, then place them on the preheated grill. Add a bit of the reserved marinade over your meat.

Now, close the grill lid and open any vent. Let it cook for 3-5 minutes at 120 degrees Fahrenheit if you expect to achieve medium-rare steaks.

Remove the beef from the BBQ oven and move it to a wooden cutting board. Slice it into thin strips at a diagonal angle.

Add salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes as desired. Now, it’s time to roll up and enjoy.

How To Make Carne Asada At Home?

  • Ingredients:
    • 11/2 pounds of flank steak.
    • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt for an added taste.
    • One teaspoon of ground cumin.
    • One jalapeno, diced and seeded.
    • Four cloves of minced garlic.
    • Lime juice.
    • Orange juice.
    • ¼ cup of reduced-sodium soy sauce.
    • ⅓ cup of olive oil.
    • ½ cup of chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Directions:

Mix pepper, cumin, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, orange juice, and cilantro in a bowl. Put ½ cup of this blend in the fridge until it’s good to serve.

After that, preheat the BBQ oven to a medium temperature. Path dry either side of the meat with paper towels. Season it with pepper and salt to taste.

Place the beef on the grill top and cook. Flip once until you achieve the desired doneness (about six minutes for each side).

Slice against the grain into thin strips and add the reserved cilantro mixture.

Bottom Line

That’s it – everything you should know when discussing the difference between carne asada and fajitas.

With this helpful guide, we’re glad to help you eliminate the confusion about these two popular steak dishes while gaining some essential knowledge to prepare a succulent meal someday.

Honestly, they will taste fantastic however you cook it.

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