Carne Asada Fries

When you’re missing the beaches in San Diego (and being able to buy Carne Asada fries from the beach cafe for about $3), you make this classic combo of meat + potatoes with a California twist.

Carne Asada Fries are the best street food! They are typically shoestring fries, deep fried and topped with Carne Asada meat, cheeses, and guacamole + sour cream. That’s it 🙂

I was introduced to Carne Asada fries (and their rolled counterpart, The California Burrito) on our last trip out to SD. I’m not sure why it took Andrew 6 years to force me to try them–but I finally understood what he was raving about all those years. After all, no one in Virginia makes a California burrito or Carne Asada fries so it’s not like I grew up with them. If we did, we’d probably find a way to add sausage gravy… (for my husband– Mexican restaurants calling something a “California” burrito without adding french fries is a big no-no)

Authentic San Diego-style Carne Asada Fries almost certainly use lard (hey, we actually have that here in VA) but we prefer to go with vegetable oil for frying. For once, we don’t recommend peanut oil (as lovely as it usually is). You could always bake your fries if you prefer. I was instructed to add into this post how necessary the guacamole is to the meal—it’s a must. So I hope you like guacamole 😉 and if you’re looking for a good recipe for guac, here you go!

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Carne Asada Fries

Marinated steak, fries, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream = maximum flavor in this classic Southern California dish. A delicious homemade version of the beach street food found in San Diego.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Californian, Mexican
Keyword Authentic Guacamole, Carne Asada, Carne Asada Fries, San Diego Carne Asada
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. flank or skirt steak sub hanger or sirloin
  • 1 c orange juice
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ c lime juice
  • ½ c rice wine vinegar sub white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • tsp salt
  • tsp pepper
  • 1 bag shoestring fries about 28 oz.
  • ½ c finely grated Cotija cheese or other Mexican cheese/blend
  • sour cream and guacamole for serving


  • Place meat in freezer to firm up (approximately 15 minutes). Meanwhile, prep marinade.
  • Combine orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, garlic and spices into a gallon zip-top bag. Shake and set aside.
  • Take meat from freezer and remove excess fat. Slice meat into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide strips, preferably 2 inches long or shorter. Place slices into zip-top bag with marinade. Let sit for 30 minutes (no more than 3 hours).
  • Remove meat from the bag and discard marinade. Heat a large skillet on high and cook the steak, tossing continuously for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until done.
  • Prepare fries according to package directions, timing to finish as the meat finishes cooking. (Frying is most authentic but baking the fries works well, too).
  • Toss cooked fries with a dash of salt and then plate, topping with meat and a sprinkle of cheese. Top with guacamole and sour cream. Enjoy!


Prep time for the fries will vary with your desired method of cooking them.
Placing the meat in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes makes it easier to slice thinly.

June 2020: **Update to this post: I became a vegetarian in September of 2017 just two weeks after starting this blog 🙂 So…I don’t make authentic Carne Asada Fries any longer– we make them vegetarian with Beefless steak tips following all the same instructions. I’m keeping this post on my vegetarian food blog because it’s a representation of my husband and his love for his hometown. I’ll add a vegetarian version of this recipe to the blog soon because it is a dish we make still. I believe in being authentic and sharing recipes I love to make and eat– and while I’m not eating real meat anymore– this is a dish still close to my heart.

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