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I love it when a lightened up version of a recipe is even better than the original. This recipe for Carne Asada fries is a perfect example! Tender grilled steak infused with my favorite zingy citrus marinade is piled onto crispy baked fries topped with melted cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream.
These loaded fries are served in Mexican restaurants all over the Southwestern United States - they're also very easy to make at home.. Filling and hearty, they make a great lunch or dinner, but you can also serve them as an appetizer for sharing at parties or on game day. Just adjust the recipe’s quantities according to the number of people, and the size of your appetites!
Ingredients You Need to Make Carne Asada Fries
- Carne Asada: ½ recipe of grilled Carne Asada or Carne Asada in the oven
- Russet Potatoes: ideally 3 8-ounce potatoes of similar size
- Avocado Oil: or other high heat vegetable oil
- Kosher Salt
- Monterey Jack Cheese: or a mix of Jack and cheddar cheese
- Pico de Gallo
- Guacamole or Salsa Guacamole
- Sour Cream
- Jalapeño: fresh slices
- Fresh Cilantro
- Cotija Cheese
- Lime Wedges
What sets this recipe apart.
There are a few things that set this recipe apart from others like it. First, my reader-favorite Carne Asada made with a bright medley of citrus juices (orange juice, lemon juice and lime juice) that tenderize the steak and perfectly complement the cilantro, garlic and cumin flavors. Second, the fries are baked, not fried. With steak, melty cheese, and rich toppings, traditional french fries can make this dish overly heavy. Last, but not least, cheese that melts (like Monterey Jack cheese or a mix of Jack and cheddar). There's something wonderfully satisfying about creamy, melted cheese on these fries (though you can add crumbled cotija as well for added flavor and texture).
Lolita’s Mexican restaurant in San Diego claims they were the first to make Carne Asada Fries in the late 1990s. Made with shoestring fries and topped with guacamole, sour cream, and cheese (typically cotija), they've gone on to become one of the most popular SoCal creations! You’ll find them served at local sports stadiums, and at the many Mexican restaurants in the region. (You're less likely to find the dish at more traditional Mexican food restaurants in other areas of the United States.)
There are a few common cuts of meat used to make carne asada. Outside skirt steak is the ideal cut for carne asada, but flank steak and flap steak are other popular choices.
The recipes for loaded fries and loaded nachos are similar. But instead of substituting the fries for chips in this recipe, I recommend you follow my Carne Asada Nachos recipe for crucial tips on making the best nachos possible!
This recipe is best with oven baked fries as they are golden and crunchy on the outside yet soft and creamy on the inside. French fries cooked in a deep fryer have a greasier flavor and texture, and tend to feel heavy as you eat. With so many other rich ingredients in this dish, crispy, oven baked fries are best.
- If you’re too short on time to make baked fries from scratch, frozen french fries are a good alternative.
- You can make a fresh batch of grilled Carne Asada (or Carne Asada in the oven) for these fries, but they're also a great way to enjoy leftover steak. Just reheat in a cast iron skillet (or other heavy skillet) until the outside has crispy edges and the inside is tender and hot.
- You have endless options when it comes toppings, but here are some of my favorites:
- Cheese: An essential ingredient! I prefer Monterey Jack which is perfect for melting, or a combination of Jack with Cheddar. Though cotija cheese – a crumbly Mexican cow’s cheese which is similar to mild feta - is an option, I recommend sprinkling it on in addition to the melted cheese instead of using it alone (I know I'm breaking with tradition here!).
- Homemade Guacamole: I love my friend Mary’s Salsa Guacamole recipe (a quick and easy blend of ripe avocados, pico de gallo, lime and salt) for its vibrant flavor.
- Pico de gallo: So what is pico de gallo? It is essentially salsa made with raw, freshly chopped ingredients. It's typically a combination of: tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro and lime juice. It's bright, tangy, and as hot as you like it (just add more jalapeños).
- Jalapeños: For spicy kick, add sliced, fresh jalapeños.
- Sour Cream: To balance out the spice and add creamy texture, dollop on some sour cream!
- And finally, fresh cilantro and lime wedges for a squeeze of fresh lime juice to round out the flavors.
Make Ahead and Reheating Tips
- As you can imagine, making a platter of Carne Asada Fries hours ahead of serving will result in soggy fries and heavy melted cheese, so I don't recommend reheating this dish once you've assembled it. However, each component can be made well in advance.
- Grill the Carne Asada or make it in the oven up to 4 days in advance.
- Pico de gallo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- Make the guacamole 1 or 2 days in advance. To keep it from turning brown, transfer to a container and smooth out the top. Add a ½-inch layer of water to seal out air and secure lid to container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Carefully pour out water and stir guacamole before serving.
- I suggest baking the fries just before serving so they are hot and crisp.
Serve alongside any of these:
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Mexican Cauliflower Fried Rice
- Homemade Refried Beans
- Mexican Corn on the Cob
More ways to enjoy leftover carne asada:
How to Make Carne Asada Fries
Scrub and cut potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch strips. Add strips to a bowl of hot water and let soak 10 minutes; drain and pat dry. Toss raw potato strips in a large bowl with avocado oil to coat. Arrange fries on baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer and season with salt. Bake in an oven preheated to 450˚F until bottoms are golden brown and crisp (15 to 20 minutes); carefully flip fries, again spreading into a single layer, and bake 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and return to oven until cheese melts (2 to 3 minutes more).
While fries bake, warm and crisp bite size pieces of grilled or oven baked carne asada in hot oil in a skillet. Set aside.
Arrange fries on a serving platter and top with carne asada and desired toppings; serve immediately.
Carne Asada Fries
- ½ recipe carne asada or ½ recipe carne asada in the oven
- 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes ideally 3 8-ounce potatoes of similar size
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other high heat vegetable oil
- kosher salt to taste
- 3 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese or a mix of Jack and cheddar
- Prepare carne asada on the grill or in the oven. (If grilling, you can marinate your steak ahead of time and grill it while the fries bake or make your carne asada in the oven and dice and pan fry to reheat just before serving on the fries.)
- Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scrub potatoes and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch wide slices. (recipe note #1) Stack slices and cut into ¼-inch wide strips. Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Soak 10 minutes then drain and spread potatoes out on a clean kitchen towel and thoroughly pat dry.
- Place dried potato strips in a large bowl; drizzle with avocado oil and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake fries 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottoms are crisp and golden brown. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully flip fries over and spread into a single layer; bake 5 minutes (recipe note #2). Remove baking sheet from oven and sprinkle with cheese; bake just until cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- While fries bake, chop grilled carne asada or oven baked into bite size pieces. If using leftover or cold carne asada, cut into bite size pieces and warm over medium-high heat in a bit of hot oil in a skillet. Set aside.
- To serve, arrange the fries on a serving plate (or individual plates) top with carne asada and desired toppings and serve immediately.
- I prefer to leave the skin on my baked fries, but feel free to peel the potatoes before slicing if you prefer.
- Before topping the fries with cheese, make sure they're just the way you want them (some people love really crispy fries!) Taste one and return them to the oven if you want them crispier and continue to bake, checking for doneness every 2-3 minutes. It's also a good time to taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if you like (keeping in mind that the cheese is salty too).
- Note that nutrition information does not include optional toppings.