Steak Tacos

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
June 12, 2024 | Updated on June 12, 2024

The best steak tacos are marinated, grilled, and served with guacamole, pickled red onions, and cotija cheese. Tender steak is nestled between warm tortillas and served with all your favorite toppings for a delicious, satisfying meal.

Looking for more taco recipes? Try my Carne Asada Tacos, Big Mac Tacos, and Beer Battered Fish Tacos next.

close up view of sirloin steak tacos

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Fire up the grill to make these easy steak tacos! And what’s a taco without toppings? We pile them on. With a mix of crunchy, creamy, tangy, and spicy elements, each mouthwatering bite is better than the last!

Why This Steak Tacos Recipe Works

  • Easy – With this recipe, you’ll not only make delicious tacos but also learn how to cook steak to juicy perfection.
  • Flavorful – Learn how to season steak for tacos. We start with a spicy, smoky marinade but the flavor doesn’t end there. Pile on fresh toppings including homemade guacamole and easy pickled onions.
  • Crowd Pleaser – Who doesn’t love tacos? This recipe works for casual weeknight dinners, potlucks, or summer barbecues.
plated steak tacos

What Kind of Steak for Tacos?

  • Sirloin Steak This is ideal for common cooking. It’s affordable with a little marbling that’s perfect for beefy flavor.
  • Flank Steak This lean, muscular cut of beef has very little fat. But it has a rich flavor and benefits from a marinade. It’s thin so it cooks quickly.
  • Skirt Steak Chewy with a good amount of marbling, this cut absorbs marinades well.

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for Steak Tacos

Here is a breakdown of what you will need to make this steak taco recipe. For actual measurements, see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Steak

  • Grass-fed sirloin steak – This versatile cut of beef comes from the back of the cow. Although it’s pretty lean, it contains marbling so it’s juicy when properly cooked. Use two large pieces for this recipe.

Steak Tacos Marinade

  • Yellow onion – The natural sweetness complements the smoky elements.
  • Cloves garlic – Add this to your marinade for an aromatic touch.
  • Avocado oil – This binding ingredient is the base of your marinade. It also has a high smoking point that’s great for the grill.
  • Adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers – This sauce is tangy, smoky, and spicy; the essence of your marinade. It’s what sets this apart from other steak taco recipes.
  • Ancho chili pepper – This sweet smoky pepper is made from ground dried poblanos. It has a mild heat but adds amazing flavor.
  • Seasoning – Use a bold, vibrant mix of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, ground cumin, dried oregano, and coarsely ground black pepper.
chipotle-peppers-in-sauce

Guacamole

My straightforward guacamole recipe is a fresh, vibrant addition to these tacos.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions add a tangy crunch that lightens up the deep savory notes of the marinade

  • Red onion – These have a sharp pungent flavor with a hint of sweetness. Thinly slice the onions using a mandoline.
  • White vinegar – This provides acidity for the pickling process.
  • Water – This dilutes the vinegar for a balanced pickling solution.
  • Sugar – Use sweetness to balance the acidity.
  • Whole black peppercorns – This adds a peppery kick of heat.
  • Kosher salt – Enhance the flavor with Diamond Crystal.

Tacos

  • Limes – Quartered limes are great for squeezing. They add a bright citrus note.
  • Green cabbage – This is a tasty departure from the standard lettuce used for tacos.
  • Cotija cheese – This adds a rich saltiness. Avoid pre-crumbled cheese because it tends to dry out.
  • Salsa – This adds another fresh element.
  • Radishes – Thinly sliced radishes provide a peppery bite and a crisp texture.

How To Make Steak Tacos

Below is a summary of how to make the best steak tacos. For a complete and detailed list of steps, see the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Make the marinade. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag or mixing bowl and pour marinade over the meat. Mix until steak is completely coated.Marinate overnight or at least 5 hours. One hour before grilling meat, remove from the refrigerator and set on the countertop to come to temperature. Meanwhile, make the pickled red onions and guacamole.
marinade for steak tacos

2. Grill steak. Preheat outdoor grill on high heat (or grill pan) on high heat. Brush grill (or grill pan) with oil and add steak once surface is hot.

3. Rest and chop. Once steak is cooked to desired doneness, place on a platter, finish with kosher salt, and cover with foil. Leave for 5 minutes to rest, then slice and chop against the grain into small cubed pieces. Keep covered until ready to serve. Heat flour tortillas on a comal until warmed through with a little char on both sides.

diced steak for tacos

4. Assemble and serve. Heat flour tortillas on a comal until warmed through with a little char on both sides. Assemble tortillas with steak, shredded cabbage, guacamole, cotija cheese, salsa, pickled onions, and a generous squeeze of lemon.

two steak tacos

Pickled Red Onion

Place onions and black peppercorns in a bowl. Add water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil and sugar has completely dissolved, carefully pour liquid over onions.

Use a fork to ensure onions are completely submerged and set aside for 45 minutes to cool and quick-pickle. Onions are ready once they are bright pink and tender.

Steak Doneness

I’m often asked how long to cook steak but the best way to measure doneness is by using a meat thermometer. Learn how to cook steak for tacos by following this easy internal temperature guide.

  • Rare – 120-130°F internally
  • Medium-Rare – 130-135°F internally
  • Medium – 135-145°F internally
  • Medium-Well – 145-155°F internally
  • Well-Done – 155-165°F internally
sliced steak on a cutting board

Tips and Tricks

  • Give the marinade time. Marinate the steak overnight or for at least 5 hours to allow the flavors to infuse.
  • Let the marinated steak come to room temperature before grilling. This allows the beef to cook more quickly and evenly.
  • Always grill steak over high heat. This is how you achieve a good sear, which enhances the overall flavor.
  • Warm up your tortillas. Heat flour tortillas on a comal until they are slightly charred on both sides for the best texture and flavor.
plated tacos

Variations

  • Marinade – Instead of a smoky adobo marinade, try steak tacos with chimichurri.
  • Cheese I love crumbly cheese but you can use any cheese you prefer, like shredded cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese.
  • Stovetop No grill? No problem. Cook the steak on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet instead.
  • Spices You can use chili powder if you don’t have ancho chili pepper.

Storage

Store cooled steak in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Transfer the other taco toppings to separate airtight containers.

The pickled red onions will last up to 2 weeks. Consume everything else within 2-3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What steak is best for tacos?

Based on flavor, affordability, and texture, sirloin steak is the best for tacos. It’s leaner than other cuts, like ribeye, but still has enough marbling to remain juicy and flavorful when grilled. The slightly firm texture holds up well to bold flavors and various taco toppings.

What is the Mexican word for steak tacos?

Steak tacos translates to “taco de carne asada” in Spanish.

How to cut up steak for tacos?

After grilling, let the steak rest for 5 minutes under foil to allow the juices to redistribute. Then, slice the steak against the grain into thin strips and chop those strips into small, bite-sized pieces for easy assembly in tacos.

steak tacos on a plate

Looking for More Delicious Steak Recipes?

Loving this Easy Steak Tacos Recipe?

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close up view of sirloin steak tacos

Steak Tacos

The best steak tacos are marinated, grilled, and served with guacamole, pickled red onions, and cotija cheese. Tender steak is nestled between warm tortillas and served with all your favorite toppings for a delicious, satisfying meal.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Marinating Time 5 hours
Servings 3 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

  • Outdoor Grill
  • Mandoline
  • saucepan
  • mixing bowls

Ingredients

Steak

  • pounds grass-fed sirloin steak, preferably two large pieces

Marinade

  • medium yellow onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili pepper
  • teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for finishing, Diamond Crystal
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoons oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced using a mandoline
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 9 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal

Tacos

  • 2 limes, quartered, for squeezing
  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  • ½ cup cotija cheese, not pre-crumbled
  • salsa
  • radishes, thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Make the marinade. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag or mixing bowl and pour marinade over the meat. Mix until steak is completely coated.
    Marinate overnight or at least 5 hours. One hour before grilling meat, remove from the refrigerator and set on the countertop to come to temperature.
    Meanwhile, make the pickled red onions and guacamole.
  • Grill steak. Preheat outdoor grill on high heat (or grill pan) on high heat. Brush grill (or grill pan) with oil and add steak once surface is hot.
  • Rest and chop. Once steak is cooked to desired doneness, place on a platter, finish with kosher salt, and cover with foil. Leave for 5 minutes to rest, then slice and chop against the grain into small cubed pieces. Keep covered until ready to serve. Heat flour tortillas on a comal until warmed through with a little char on both sides.
  • Assemble and serve. Heat flour tortillas on a comal until warmed through with a little char on both sides. Assemble tortillas with steak, shredded cabbage, guacamole, cotija cheese, salsa, pickled onions, and a generous squeeze of lemon.

Pickled Red Onion

  • Place onions and black peppercorns in a bowl. Add water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil and sugar has completely dissolved, carefully pour liquid over onions. Use a fork to ensure onions are completely submerged and set aside for 45 minutes to cool and quick-pickle. Onions are ready once they are bright pink and tender.
    Keep in mind this recipe will yield leftovers. Simply place extra in a sterile glass container and in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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close up view of sirloin steak tacos

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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