How Chipotle's Carne Asada Differs From Its Normal Steak

Meat aficionados, rejoice. For the first time since 2020, Chipotle has re-introduced its popular carne asada, offering diners a choice between two unique steak selections. Both the carne asada and the standard steak are slightly smoky, and seasoned with classic Mexican flavors. However, these two choices stand apart in terms of seasoning, the cut of beef used, and their cooking methods.

In terms of marinade spices, both steak options share several ingredients — salt, black pepper, garlic, cumin, and oregano. The classic Chipotle steak additionally features chipotle pepper, which consists of fully ripened jalapeños that are smoked and dried. On the other hand, the carne asada introduces a zestier taste from a squeeze of lime, fresh cilantro, and coriander. Notably, coriander, derived from the cilantro plant's seed, offers a warm, citrusy flavor.

While the carne asada made its grand return in September 2023, Chipotle hasn't specified the duration of its availability.

What are the different cuts of beef used in Chipotle steak and how are they cooked?

Chipotle opts for skirt steak for its carne asada, a pretty traditional choice. "Carne asada" directly translates to "grilled meat" in Spanish. The term can reference the meat types themselves, or the festive barbecue event where loved ones gather to grill. While carne asada can denote various grilled proteins, like pork and sausages, it often specifically alludes to the steak. Typically, cuts like flank, flap, or skirt are marinated with spices and citrus, then grilled over high heat, resulting in the tender arrachera steak. Staying true to this tradition, Chipotle grills its carne asada on a high-heat grill for a charred flavor, finishing it on the cooler side. The final product is served in slices.

In contrast, Chipotle's standard steak mainly uses round, a leaner and more economical cut, but it also includes portions of skirt and sirloin. Due to the use of some tougher meat pieces in this blend, the steak is then gently prepared using the sous vide cooking technique over low heat. Once tenderized, Chipotle's traditional steak is presented in cubes.