Churrasco (Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak)
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This grilled churrasco recipe is bright, fresh, and packed with flavor. Skirt steak is tenderized in a vibrant marinade of lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, and spices before being seared to perfection on a hot grill. Get ready for tender, succulent steak with a bright and smoky spice.
My churrasco recipe features tender strips of skirt steak infused with the bold, lively flavors of fresh lime, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, and onion. The lime works to flavor the meat while giving it a nice and tender texture at the same time. You’ll see — this steak just about melts in your mouth!
This grilled churrasco steak recipe is fantastic any time of year, but I particularly love making it for summertime dinners. The refreshing flavors of the marinade were made for hot summer nights. Plus, this recipe couldn’t be easier. All that is needed is a 30-minute marinade and a quick turn on the grill. You’ll have juicy, delicious steak in no time!
Video Below in Recipe Card
Watch how to make and slice this in the recipe card video!
Table of Contents
- Skirt Steak – This long, thin cut comes from the underside of the ribs of the cow. If none is available, flank steak is the next best option.
- Cilantro – Brightens up the marinade and infuses the steak with a fresh, peppery, and lemony flavor.
- Lime Juice – Tenderizes the meat and adds a sweetly-sour taste. I prefer Mexican, or key limes, but feel free to use regular limes if needed.
- Onion and Garlic – Add layers of pungency and zestiness to the dish.
- Oil – Use vegetable oil or another neutral-tasting oil like olive, avocado, or canola.
- Pickled Jalapenos – These zingy peppers can usually be found in jars in the olive section. If needed, you can use a fresh jalapeno instead. Be sure to remove seeds, slice, and measure out the suggested amount.
- Make the Marinade. Add the cilantro, quartered onions, juiced limes, garlic, vegetable oil, jalapenos, salt, and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Soak the Steak. Transfer the puree to a Ziploc bag or sealable container. Add the skirt steak to the container, seal, and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the Grill. Preheat the grill to 350-400 degrees F. Clean the grill grates and oil them lightly.
- Grill the Steak. Transfer the steaks to the grill. For medium rare, grill each steak for 3-4 minutes per side. For medium-cooked steak, grill each one for 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Rest, Slice & Serve. Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to slice AGAINST the grain just before serving.
How to Slice Steak Against the Grain
This is a very important step, especially for this cut of meat. Cutting against the grain shortens the length of the tough fibers, making the meat more tender and easier to chew.
Here’s how to identify the grain and what “against” means based on that:
- Find the parallel lines of muscle fiber that run through the meat.
- Then, use a sharp knife to slice the meat ACROSS those lines, NOT with the lines. For thin wider slices, cut at an angle.
If your churrasco comes out a bit chewy, there are a few likely causes.
Due to the nature of skirt steak, overcooking can lead to dryness and toughness. For the best results, I recommend only cooking your steak to medium.
If you cooked your steak perfectly, then the most likely culprit is improper slicing.
The “grain” of steak is actually a series of long muscle fibers which are quite tough and chewy.
When you slice skirt steak off the ends, you are actually cutting the meat with the grain and those long muscle fibers are fully intact in each bite. Mucho chewing required!
When you slice against the grain, the muscle fibers are shortened. Each piece of steak comes out far more tender. Slicing against the grain is essential for the best possible results.
Luckily, slicing against the grain is super easy. Simply look for the long fibers running through the meat. Position your knife perpendicular to the grain lines and slice. Cut at an angle for thinner, wider slices.
Churrasco and carne asada are very similar in many ways with a few key differences.
Both of these Latin American dishes feature cuts of beef that are marinated, cooked over an open flame, and thinly sliced. However, they have different origins and slightly different preparation methods.
The term churrasco is a Portuguese word meaning barbecue or grilled meat. This tradition of preparing meat over an open flame originated in Brazil and has since become popular in many Central and South American countries. It usually involves a simple dry rub or marinade of salt, pepper, and garlic with lime juice or vinegar sometimes thrown in the mix.
Carne asada is a Spanish term that also translates to grilled meats. However, this dish is specifically Mexican. It is prepared in much the same way as churrasco, except that carne asada relies on a marinade made of citrus juice, vinegar, garlic, and various Mexican spices like cumin or chili powder.
You can think of this Mexican churrasco steak recipe as a blending of these two delicious traditions.
This marinated steak recipe is as versatile as it is tasty. Here are just a few of the countless ways I like to enjoy it:
– Serve with rice dishes like Mexican Green Rice, Red Rice, or Cilantro Lime Rice.
– Pair with vegetable sides like Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus, or these Fall Vegetables.
– Enjoy with hearty sides like Mashed Potatoes, Charro Beans, or Authentic Street Corn.
– Toss some on a Mexican Garden, Classic Caesar, or fresh salad of your choice.
– Use churrasco steak in Mexican favorites like these Steak Tacos or Grilled Steak Fajitas.
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Churrasco (Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak)
- In a food processor add the cilantro, quartered onion, juiced limes, garlic, oil, jalapeños, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Preheat grill to 350-400°F.
- Pour this mixture into a Ziploc bag or container that can seal and add the skirt steak pieces. Seal and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Clean grill and oil. Grill 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. 5-6 minutes per side for medium. Allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing AGAINST the grain.
- I use Mexican limes, which are typically thin skinned, slightly yellow and extra juicy. They are sometimes called Key Lime and have a higher acidity. Feel free to use regular limes if unavailable.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.