Carne asada, thin slices of marinated and grilled beef, is a staple of Mexican cuisine. It’s often the star ingredient in dishes like tacos, burritos, nachos, and more. With its robust flavor from spices and onions, carne asada packs a serious taste punch.
But if you’re looking to cook carne asada at home, you may be wondering – how much does carne asada cost? The price can vary quite a bit based on the cut of meat you select, where you purchase it, and other factors.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the typical cost of carne asada so you can get savory, authentic flavor without breaking the bank. Let’s dive in!
Cut of Meat Matters
The first major factor in carne asada pricing is the cut of beef you select. Traditional carne asada uses cuts like:
Skirt steak – This thin, long cut has excellent marbling for full flavor.
Flank steak – Also a thin cut but wider than skirt steak, with good marination absorption.
Top sirloin – A leaner but still flavorful option.
Tri-tip roast – Smaller in size but packed with beefy taste.
London broil – A long, thin, and flat cut.
Top round steak – Budget-friendly with decent tenderness when sliced thin.
The cheapest options are top round, tri-tip, and London broil. Skirt steak tends to be the most expensive cut for carne asada. Flank steak lands in the middle price-wise.
Below are the average pre-cooked prices for common carne asada cuts:
|Cut of Meat||Average Price per Pound|
|Top Sirloin Steak||$9-12|
|Top Round Steak||$6-10|
So skirt and flank steak may cost up to $8-10 more per pound compared to round or tri-tip cuts. But their superior marbling usually delivers more authentic, flavored carne asada.
Raw vs. Pre-Marinated
In addition to the cut, choosing between raw meat and pre-marinated options impacts cost. Raw steak leaves marinade up to you, while pre-marinated provides convenience.
On average, pre-marinated carne asada costs $1-3 more per pound compared to raw steak. You pay a bit extra for the convenience, but get to skip the marinade process.
Both have their merits. Pre-marinated is quicker, but DIY marinade lets you control ingredients and customize flavors. If opting for raw, budget about $3-5 extra for a batch of homemade marinade.
Grocery Store vs. Butcher Shop
Where you purchase the meat also affects price. Grocery stores offer more convenience, while butcher shops provide higher quality.
At standard grocery stores, carne asada costs $9-15 per pound on average. Selection focuses on common cuts like flank, sirloin, or round.
Butcher shops offer better cuts like skirt steak, at $12-18 per pound typically. You pay a premium for quality but get superior marbling and flavor.
Big box stores like Costco offer decent bulk deals on carne asada essentials like skirt steak when available. Price per pound runs $14-18 usually.
Mexican carnicerias are a great place to source authentic cuts like outside skirt steak, sometimes at lower prices than mainstream grocery stores.
Geography and Seasonality
Where you live can impact carne asada costs too, based on regional supply availability. And seasonal spikes in demand also fluctuate prices.
In Southwestern states like California, Texas, and Arizona, proximity to Mexico keeps carne asada prices more affordable year-round. Average cost runs $9-12 per pound for common cuts.
In the Northeast or Midwest, expect to pay higher per-pound prices for carne asada, since it’s less of a regional cuisine. Costs range from $12-18 per pound typically.
grill and cookout season, from May through September, drives up demand and prices may increase $2-3 per pound during peak summer.
If you want to enjoy carne asada flavor without overspending, employ these handy tips:
Opt for cheaper cuts like top round, London broil, or tri-tip instead of pricier skirt or flank steak.
Use a marinade amply spiked with lime, garlic, onion, and chili powder to maximize flavor in leaner cuts.
Buy in bulk when carne asada cuts go on sale, then freeze extra raw meat in marinade for future meals.
Substitute half the steak with mushrooms to add meaty texture for less cost.
Load up on affordable veggie fillings like peppers, onions, and cilantro to make the meat go further.
For parties, offer carne asada tacos as an appetizer instead of a main course so less meat is needed per guest.
Use any leftover bits of carne asada in burritos, salads, omelets, or rice bowls the next day.
Sample Carne Asada Costs
To give you a better idea of real-world carne asada costs, here are some examples for serving 4-6 people:
2 pounds flank steak:
- $24 to $30 for raw meat
- $28 to $36 for pre-marinated
This provides about 0.5 pound of meat per person, perfect for tacos with sides.
3 pounds skirt steak:
- $45 to $60 for raw
- $51 to $66 for pre-marinated
This allows 4 to 6 ounces per person, enough for entrees or heartier appetizers.
5 pounds top sirloin:
- $45 to $60 for raw
- $55 to $70 for pre-marinated
At under $1 per ounce of meat, this can feed a crowd with money left for sides.
1 whole tri-tip roast (2.5 – 3 lbs):
- $20 to $36 for raw
- $28 to $42 for pre-marinated
Trimmed into steaks, this makes around 8 to 12 servings for tacos.
Is Carne Asada Worth the Price?
Depending on the cut you select and where you source it, carne asada can cost anywhere from $6 to $20+ per pound. While not cheap, it delivers big, authentic Mexican flavor.
With a few savvy sourcing strategies and recipe tweaks, you can serve up serious carne asada taste without breaking the bank. And the memories of sizzling steak with onions and lime are priceless.
For a special occasion or festive meal, premium cuts like skirt steak are worth the splurge. But economical options like round or tri-tip roast can still infuse marvelous flavor, especially when marinated.
Whichever cut and preparation method you choose, carne asada is a rewarding meal. Just adjust portions or ingredients to align with your budget. With its versatility for tacos, burritos, nachos, and more, carne asada provides cost-effective meals from leftovers too.
When you crave the tastes of Mexico, carne asada is an authentic indulgence that satisfies. With this handy cost guide, you can be prepared to enjoy reasonable recipes and servings. ¡Buen provecho!