Irresistible Carne Asada Bowls with Mango Salsa (AIP, Paleo, Whole30)
These colorful carne asada bowls makes for a mouthwatering, healthy, and versatile meal. The marinade makes the meat so juicy and the mango salsa adds another flavor dimension to the meal, plus it just looks good! In this post, you’ll find instructions for preparing this on the grill, stovetop, or in the oven. This recipe is Paleo/AIP and Whole30 friendly.
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What is Carne Asada?
The literal translation for carne asada is “grilled meat.” It’s usually made by marinating a skirt steak or flank steak and then grilling it.
What’s in Carne Asada Marinade?
There are quite a few different versions of carne asada marinade. Here’s what this one includes:
- Olive Oil or Avocado Oil - This is just personal preference but I found that I prefer avocado oil for this marinade or a lighter olive oil (not extra virgin) simply because the flavor of EVOO sort of interferes with the other flavors. If you only have EVOO, it’ll be fine but a milder flavored oil is recommended if you have it.
- Orange Juice- Fresh squeezed is of course ideal but not everyone has time for that. If you use store-bought, just make sure it’s 100% juice.
- Coconut Aminos- You can get this on Amazon but I usually get mine at Kroger- you can find them in the ethnic foods section- basically near the soy sauce. I use coconut aminos for a lot of recipes because it adds so much flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- If you don’t have ACV or prefer not to use it, you can also use white wine vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice
- Garlic Cloves
- Cilantro Leaves
- Jalapeno- Jalapeno is usually used in carne asada marinade so I had to include it as an option. It’s perfectly delicious without it but if you like a little spice and you’re not doing the elimination phase of AIP, definitely add it in!
Cooking Methods for Carne Asada
The cooking method of choice for carne asada tends to be grilling it- I’d recommend grilling it if it’s an option. I made this recipe in the oven simply because it’s winter and more importantly, we don’t have a grill at the moment. Whatever method you decide to use, just follow the instructions for that method below and on the recipe card.
Heat the grill to medium-high and cook the steak for 4-7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare), 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium.
Turn the oven broiler on high. The oven rack should be high up so it's about 4-6 inches below the heating element. Give it about 5-10 minutes to heat up.
Cover a broiler pan or metal baking sheet with foil, then place the flank steak on it (try to minimize how much sauce you put with it). Put it in the oven just under the heating element.
Cook it for about 4-7 minutes, then use tongs to flip it over and cook an additional 4-7 minutes or until the internal cooking temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare) or 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium. Cooking times will vary depending on thickness so watch it closely! For reference, my flank steak was about 1" thick. If yours is thinner, it will probably take less time to cook.
*Note, you may notice some residual marinade start to carmelize, burn and create smoke while the meat is cooking. If this happens, it can help to turn the broil setting down to low for the rest of the cooking time (you may just have to leave it in a bit longer).
*Turn on the range hood fan over the stove as this does create some smoke. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil or oil of choice. Cut the meat into 3-4 smaller chunks- may need to cook in two batches depending on the size of the pan. Cook for 4-7 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare), 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium. If the meat starts to burn on the outside before the inside is cooked, turn the heat down a bit.
Cooking Temperatures for Steak
Medium Rare: 130-135 degree F- Very pink center, slightly browned exterior.
Medium: 140-145 degrees F- Light pink in the center, brown exterior.
Medium-Well: 150-155 degrees F- Mostly light brown throughout with a hint of pink in the center.
What Kind of Meat is Used for Carne Asada?
Usually, flank steak or skirt steak.
How to Make a Carne Asada Bowl
There are many ways to make a carne asada bowl. Often you’ll see them including foods like:
- Lime wedges
Of course, quite a few of these foods are not AIP elimination phase compliant but it’s not a problem! As I mentioned, there are a million ways to make a carne asada bowl. Here’s what I’ve added to this one:
- Flank Steak
- Cauliflower Rice
- Mango Salsa (mango, red onion, cilantro)
- Lime Wedge
- Sauce- marinade set aside at the beginning of recipe prep- yum!
If you’re not a huge fan of all these items or you want to add more stuff, you could try some of these AIP friendly options:
- Set a little marinade to the side before adding the meat. This will be used later to drizzle over the meat or for dipping. It’s super flavorful, so we need to use it to our advantage as much as possible.
- Be sure to cut the meat against the grain- This simply means to cut the meat perpendicular to the natural lines running through the meat.
- Use foil to cover the broiler pan or metal baking sheet for easier cleanup
- Don’t use glass dishes or nonstick pans under the broiler- they can’t tolerate the heat
- Don’t use parchment paper under a broiler- also cannot hold up to the heat.
I hope you liked this recipe. If you tried it, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought!
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Irresistible Carne Asada Bowls (Paleo, AIP, Whole30)
- meat mallet (optional)
- 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 1 mango, cut into tiny cubes
- 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
- 6 cups cauliflower rice
- 1 cup radishes, sliced
- 1 cup cucumbers sliced
- 2 avocados, diced
- lime wedges
- Mix the first 6 (or 7 if using jalapeno) ingredients in a large bowl or gallon zip lock bag. Set aside 1/2 cup of the marinade to use later.
- Remove any white connective tissue from the meat then cover it with plastic wrap and pound it with a meat mallet (or other pounding object) to tenderize it. Poke it all over with a fork to allow the marinade to get into the meat.
- Add the steak to the bowl or bag with the marinade. And marinate for at least 1 hour (up to 8 hours).
- In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients with the steak.
- ***See notes below for stovetop and grill instructions.
- To Cook in the Oven: Turn the oven broiler on high. The oven rack should be high up so it's about 4-6 inches below the heating element. Give it about 5-10 minutes to heat up.
- Cover a broiler pan or metal baking sheet with foil, then place the flank steak on it (try to minimize how much marinade you put with it). Put it in the oven just under the heating element.
- Cook it for about 4-6 minutes, then use tongs to flip it over and cook an additional 4-6 minutes or until the internal cooking temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare) or 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium. Cooking times will vary depending on thickness so watch it closely! For reference, my flank steak was about 1" thick. If yours is thinner, it will probably take less time to cook. *Note, you may notice some residual marinade in the pan start to carmelize, burn and create smoke while the meat is cooking. If this happens, it can help to turn the broil setting down to low for the rest of the cooking time (you may just have to leave it in a bit longer).
- While the meat is cooking, make the mango salsa.
- Take the meat out of the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it.
- Start to assemble your bowls using cauliflower rice, mango salsa, cucumber, avocado, radishes, and lime wedges. *Leave some space in the middle for the meat.
- Transfer to steak to a cutting board and slice it against the grain into thin strips.
- Place several strips of meat in each prepared bowl and drizzle with the marinade reserved at the beginning of the recipe (or use it for dipping).
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