Carne Asada Fries are topped with cheese, steak, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapenos and sour cream – they are the definition of fully loaded!
The history of carne asada fries
Carne asada fries actually originate in California despite the Mexican twist. I had the most amazing ones in LA when I visited a few months back, and the key to getting them just right is really nailing the steak.
Carne asada fries are a local specialty found on menus in the American Southwest, and originated in San Diego. Supposedly Lolita's has the most famous ones! You won't typically find carne asada fries on the menu at more traditional Mexican restaurants as they are more of an American twist.
What type of steak do you use?
You can use pretty much any type of steak you want! And don't be afraid to use a really cheap cut of steak.
I love a good fast fry steak in this recipe, but just be aware that the thinner the steak, the less time it will need to cook. All the other toppings and flavours are going to blend together beautifully so you don't need to buy expensive meat to make these Carne Asada Fries shine.
How to make carne asada
My marinade/spice rub is probably not authentic but I can guarantee you that it's super delicious and about as easy as it gets. Because we are ALL about easy around here. Wanna know my secret?
- Olive oil
- salt and pepper
- and a little bit of taco seasoning!
Sear your steak in a skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove from heat and dice it all up.
Using frozen fries
To keep these Carne Asada Fries easy and simple, I decided to use frozen oven fries instead of cutting up a russet potato by hand – that's if you want to make this more of a quick weeknight dinner.
Whenever it comes to any sort of meal prep, I'm a huge advocate of taking whatever shortcuts you can.
Skipping the potatoes and subbing in frozen fries or even frozen sweet potato fries allows you to keep track of the portion size while at the same time cutting some of the hassle of dinner prep, so I'm all for making choices in terms of living a balanced lifestyle.
Making oven fries
While I like to use oven fries if I'm making this more of a quick meal, you should know that homemade fries are ALWAYS better and will make this recipe a little more authentic.
Here's a quick method for making oven fries to use for this recipe:
- Preheat oven to 450 F
Wash the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch thick fries using a sharp knife or mandolin
Soak the fries in water to rinse away starch, then dry with a clean towel and place into large bowl
Toss fries with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp chili powder, then season with a bit of salt
Place fries in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook in oven for 12 minutes each side, flipping fries once.
Toppings for Carne Asada Fries
The main ingredients for these loaded Tex Mex Fries are primarily:
- marinated steak
- French fries
- sour cream
- pico de gallo
Okay, now that we have all our ingredients, all we have to do is layer it all!
First start with your fries, then melt some cheddar cheese overtop of them in the oven. Remove from the oven, top with your carne asada, then your pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and cilantro.
BOOM. Best dinner ever.
I like to add homemade guacamole to keep the nutritional content high but still getting the flavours right. But if you don't have time to do everything homemade, there are certain store bought hacks you can use like the following:
- Pre-shredded cheese
- Store bought guacamole
- Store bought salsa or pico de gallo
- Frozen fries
- Pickled jalapenos
Making homemade guacamole
Though you can buy store bought guac as mentioned above, my personal preference is to make the guacamole from scratch. Even if you end up using other store bought shortcuts, the steak and guac is really what makes these carne asada fries shine!
Here's what you need to do:
- Mash the avocado
- Add in finely diced red onion, a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp lime juice, a bit of minced garlic – add cilantro too if you're feeling it!
- Mix it all together, leaving some chunks of avocado so it's not crazy smooth
- Make up to 3 days in advance, then serve and enjoy!
What components can you make ahead of time?
You can make all the components of this dish ahead of time if you're not up for a giant cooking project all at once. Here are some tips and tricks to making this carne asada fries ahead of time:
- Make the pico de gallo and guacamole up to a day in advance
- Marinate (and/or freeze) the raw steak up to 2 days in advance
- Make the fries a couple days ahead then reheat in the oven for 10 minutes or so
- Grate the cheese and cut up remaining toppings up to 3 days in advance
Can you freeze carne asada?
You sure can! I recommend that you freeze the steak before it's been cooked. Just like the method I use with these 8 Steak Marinades, you'll want to freeze the raw seasoned steak in a large Ziploc bag (you can freeze up to 3 months). When you're ready to make this recipe, just defrost the steak in the fridge for 24 hours, then cook it according to the recipe.
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How to make carne asada fries healthier
Here are my tips and tricks to keeping the calorie count down while keeping the flavours delicious!
- Use homemade oven fries
- Cut back on the cheese (or skip it altogether – you don't exactly need it!)
- Use homemade guacamole
- Skip the sour cream
- Watch the portion of fries that you use – it's always better to add more steak and less potato
More loaded fries you'll love
Meal prep tools
- You'll need a good knife set to slice the steak properly.
- Get your square glass meal prep bowls here so you can pack these carne asada fries up for tomorrow's lunch!
- I get all my grass-fed beef from Butcher Box – right now they're offering TWO FREE RIBEYES and bacon when you make your first order today!
The Best Carne Asada Fries (Loaded Fries)
- 1 bag frozen fries
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 (4oz) top sirloin or fast fry steaks (about 1/2 inch thick)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp each Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Pico de gallo
- 3 vine or plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 avocados, mashed
- 1-2 tbsp lime juice (depends on your preference, I like my guacamole more acidic)
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Bake fries according to package directions (usually 10-12 minutes per side). Meanwhile, mix up pico de gallo and guacamole (ignore if you are using store bought versions of either).
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over med-high heat. Season steak with chili powder and salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove from heat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Remove fries from oven and top with cheese, then bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Divide among 6 plates and top with steak, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapenos, sour cream and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
To make homemade oven fries
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash 2 russet potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch thick fries using a sharp knife or mandolin.
- Soak the fries in water to rinse away starch, then dry with a clean towel and place into large bowl. Toss fries with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp chili powder, then season with a bit of salt.
- Place fries in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook in oven for 12 minutes each side, flipping fries once. Keep fries on baking sheet then add toppings and carne asada.