Air Fryer Carne Asada Fries
Time: 30 min
- Pre-heat air fryer to 360 degrees.
- Dry Sirloin Steak with paper towel and season liberally with your favorite steak rub or our Southwest-style dry rub. Spray a small amount of cooking spray on both sides of steak.
- Cook steak at 360° F steak setting for 4 minutes; flip steak; cook additional 4 minutes or until 130° F for medium-rare. Remove from tray and let rest for 10 minutes on foil-covered plate.
- Wipe tray clean with a paper towel and add French fries. Cook at air fryer recommended setting, stopping halfway through to shake the basket.
- Top French fries with shredded cheese. If using cotija cheese, wait until after step 8 to add cheese.
- Dice Sirloin Steak into small pieces and place on top of cheese.
- Cook for 30-60 seconds on air fry setting to melt cheese.
- Remove from basket and add your favorite toppings.
What Kind of Steak to use for Carne Asada Fries?
Carne asada is usually a marinated Skirt or Flank Steak cooked over a flame or in a cast iron skillet. These thin cuts of beef shine with an overnight marinade and quick heat. However, we've found thin cuts of beef run the risk of being dried out with the air fryer. Instead of flank or skirt steak, we recommend using thicker cuts of beef like the Top Sirloin Steak or Flat Iron Steak , which have a great combination of flavor and tenderness and are also easier to cook to the desired temperature.
Authentic carne asada fries use a finely chopped steak to make sure every bite has at least some beef in it, so you're really not going to notice much of a difference, texture wise, between a heavily marinated Flank Steak or a seasoned Sirloin Steak.
Marinade or No Marinade?
Carne asada uses a marinade, so why did we use a dry rub in our recipe? A great part of a carne asada is the browning and slight char you get when you cook it over high heat. However, we found the air fryer tends to steam steaks that use a wet marinade, so a dry rub is recommended. You can either use your own store-bought brand of seasoning or borrow one of our favorite steak rub recipes.
Step #1: Cook the Steak
Liberally season all sides of the steak. This steak is going to be chopped and mixed with quite a few ingredients, so don't skimp on the seasoning.
While you're not going to get a beautiful crust like from a cast iron skillet in the air fryer, spraying a small amount of cooking oil on top of the steak will help with some browning before you place it in the air fryer to cook.
Each air fryer brand will have a different recommended setting for cooking a steak. We tried this recipe in two different air fryers, one with a programmed "steak" function and another with just an air fry setting. Both methods yielded the same results, a beautifully cooked steak.
Check the steak periodically with a meat thermometer to achieve your desired doneness. Steaks need to rest for approximately 10 minutes before being sliced, and the fries take approximately 18 minutes to cook. Therefore, we preferred to cook the steak to medium-rare because we quickly reheated the steak in the air fryer with the cheese and didn't want an overcooked steak.
Step #2: Cook the Fries
Once you remove the steak from the air fryer, wipe out the small amount of grease and add your fries. Our air fryer took approximately 18 minutes to cook a batch of frozen fries for our family. We did not season the fries, but you can definitely add your own seasoning in this step.
Step #3: Add Cheese and Reheat the Steak
Add cheese to the top of the cooked fries. We recommend using a freshly shredded cheese. However, truly authentic carne asada fries use cotija cheese.
Top the cheese and French fries with steak and cook for approximately 30-60 seconds. We don't want to re-cook the steak, but since it has been resting for approximately 18 minutes at this point, a little heat will warm it up without drying it out.
Recommended Toppings for Carne Asada Fries:
Carne asada fries are a blank canvas for toppings. While most authentic carne asada fries will have a mixture of guacamole and sour cream, the opportunities are endless. Here are some of our favorites:
- Sour cream
- Cantina-style salsa
- Hot sauce
- Diced tomato
- Green onion
- Lime wedges