Carne Picada vs Carne Asada: Two Classic Dishes

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Carne picada and carne asada are both delicious savory dishes full of spice and flavor, and while they have some similarities, they’re different dishes.

images of carne-picada-vs-carne-asada with spices and sides and sauces

Carne Picada vs. Carne Asada: Main Differences And Similarities


Let’s start with the similarities! The most glaring similarity is that they’re both beef dishes. Carne is beef, so they’re perfect if you’re looking for different ways to cook other cuts of meat and bring variety to dinner night.

Both are also perfect if you plan to feed the entire family or a large group on gameday. Carne picada and carne asada can be cooked in big batches and served family-style.

Then, create a build-your-own delicious taco night and make carne asada tacos by pairing any of these two carne recipes with their favorite taco toppings and warm corn tortillas. Or build your burrito bowl, rice bowl, or taco bowl.


The most significant difference between these two Mexican food classics:

1. Cuts of Beef: Carne Asada can be made with either skirt steak, flank steak, or hanger. These cuts are perfect for searing or grilling, hence, asada, which means grilled in Spanish. For city dwellers without outdoor grills, these cuts are seared beautifully indoors using a cast iron skillet, which I share in this Carne Asada Plate recipe.

 On the other hand, carne picada is made with chuck roast, or round roast, a slightly tougher cut, then minced or finely diced and cooked in a beautiful tomato sauce or fire-roasted tomatoes in a spice mixture, including garlic powder, chili powder, or fresh chiles.

2. Cooking Method: Carne asada is grilled or seared for a beautiful caramelization. Carne picada is cooked in a dutch oven, similar to carne guisada.

What Is Carne Asada?

As mentioned earlier, carne asada is grilled beef or seared steak made with skirt, flank, or hanger steak. These cuts are perfect for medium-high heat cooking for a short time, very different from a cut that requires lower heat and is cooked for a more extended period. 

For best results, carne asada is traditionally marinated to tenderize the beef, break down its fibers, and allow it to absorb flavors.

Have you ever been invited to an asada? If you have, you’ll know it’s about sharing and enjoying delicious food and a joke or two with friends and family. There’s always plenty to go around. 

What Is Carne Picada?

Carne picada translates to minced meat or small pieces of beef, not to be confused with carne molida or ground beef. Or the classic Colombian picada, which is a family-style dish made with small chunks of meat, pork, and fried plantains (yum).

The Perfect Sides That Can Be Served With Both Carne Asada and Carne Picada

Serve everything in large bowls or platters, making building your plate much easier or turning it into a delicious burrito bowl, taco bowl, or rice bowl. You can also turn it into a taco tasting and make delicious carne picada or carne asada tacos.

Here are some side dishes and my favorite toppings:


  1. Cilantro lime rice with fresh cilantro and lime juice (for delicious burrito bowls for the kids)
  2. Warm corn tortillas – for delicious carne picada tacos or taco bowls
  3. Flour tortillas
  4. Refried beans
  5. Pickled onions and jalapeños made with red onion
  6. Finely diced bell peppers
  7. Mexican Rice
  8. White rice
  9. Chimichurri rice

Favorite Toppings

  1. Cotija cheese
  2. Fresh lime
  3. Sour cream


  1. Cilantro garlic sauce
  2. Aji picante
  3. Creamy chimichurri sauce

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