Creamy mac and cheese with juicy steak, crispy potatoes, and more, this carne asada fries mac and cheese is the ultimate Mexican-inspired comfort food.
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A few months ago I tried a carne asada fries burrito. The thought of potatoes, in particular fries, in a burrito had always been pretty unappealing to me, so I was shocked that I actually liked it. I knew it was something I’d have to make for myself.
I don’t remember exactly how the idea to combine carne asada fries with mac and cheese came to me, but I’m sure glad it did. Yes, potatoes in mac and cheese may sound sort of bizarre, but trust me it works. And yes, it’s a little carb/starch heavy. That’s ok on occasion though, right? Balance is my motto.
The mac and cheese is made from scratch with both cheddar and pepper jack cheese. I also added some salsa verdé, because I had some leftovers from when I made spicy seven-layer dip and because it adds some additional flavor. The BEST flavor. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m kind of obsessed with salsa verde. Any chance I get to incorporate it into a dish I do!!
So that covers the mac and cheese part. On to the carne asada.
I used the same recipe for the carne asada as I did for these carne asada tacos with roasted pineapple habanero salsa. If you’re a big fan of carne asada you should definitely check out that recipe. It’s juicy, tender, and of course, delicious.
Then we’ve got some roasted potatoes. I know, I know, they’re not exactly fries BUT they’re better. They’re extra crispy and seasoned so they add an extra punch of flavor.
Then comes the guacamole. I kept the recipe for the guac super simple since there are already a lot of components to this dish and plenty of zing. Next up is this pico de gallo. It adds some freshness and balance to this heavy dish, so don’t skip it! Lastly a dollop or two of sour cream. And there you have it; carne asada fries mac & cheese.
Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)
- Skirt steak: If the thickness of the steak is uneven you may need to pound it out to even it up a bit. This ensures even cooking.
- Lime juice: Preferably fresh. For the marinade, the pico de gallo, and the guacamole.
- Olive oil
- Hot sauce: Choose your favorite hot sauce for the marinade. I do recommend a verde (green) variety.
- Kosher salt
- Pico de Gallo: I have included my recipe which calls for Roma tomatoes, red or white onion, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Alternately you could use your favorite recipe or store-bought pico.
- Russet potatoes
- Ground black pepper
- Onion powder
- Avocados: For the guacamole. If you have a recipe you prefer or want to purchase it premade that is fine too!
- Fresh jalapenos
- Dried pasta shells
- Butter: Either salted or unsalted.
- Cream cheese: The base of the cheese sauce to give it a nice creamy texture.
- Half and half: Could sub for whole milk if necessary.
- Cheddar cheese
- Pepper Jack cheese
- Salsa verde: I love to incoporate some salsa verde into the cheese sauce. You can use my recipe for roasted salsa verde, another recipe of your choosing, or purchase some. My favorite store brand to purchase is Herdez.
- Sour Cream: For finishing.
How to make carne asada fries mac & cheese (+ tips)
There are numerous components to this dish, but don’t let that deter you. It’s all pretty simple. The first step is to marinate the skirt steak. For optimal flavor, I recommend marinating it for 3-4 hours, but in a pinch, one hour will do. You could also stick it in the fridge before bed and prepare the next day. Marinating for over 24 hours is not advised, however, because the muscle fibers will begin to break down and you’ll be left with mushy, stringy meat.
Pour the ingredients for the marinade directly into a large Ziploc bag or shallow dish. Add the skirt steak and refrigerate until ready you’re ready for it.
The pico de gallo can be prepared a day in advance, hours prior, or just before cooking this dish. Ideally, it should be refrigerated for at least 20-minutes prior to use to allow the flavors to meld. To prepare the pico, simply mix all the ingredients together and add additional salt and lime juice to taste.
Heat your broiler to high heat at least five minutes prior to use. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and seasonings right on a sheet pan. Spread them out and broil for eight minutes, flipping halfway through.
While the potatoes are broiling prepare the guacamole. In a small/medium bowl, mash the avocados until there are no large chunks. Add the jalapenos, lime juice, and salt and mix until combined. Set aside
Remove the potatoes from the oven and set them aside.
Proceed with cooking the pasta al dente according to package instructions then drain it and set it aside.
Heat a skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. If the skirt steak is too long to fit in the skillet, you may need to cut it into small pieces. Cook for three minutes on each side. It should have a nice sear, but not be cooked all the way through at this point. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10-minutes. This locks in the juices resulting in more flavor. Set aside the skillet, as is, for later use.
While the steak is resting, melt the butter and cream cheese in a large sauté pan or a pot over medium heat. Mix in the half and half. Stir in the cheddar and pepper jack cheese a half cup at a time until melted. Add the salsa verdé and pasta and stir until combined then reduce the heat to low.
Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Slice the skirt steak against the grain the cut the slices into bite-size pieces.
Add a little oil, the skirt steak, and potatoes to the skillet and cook for two to three minutes stirring/flipping as needed to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
To assemble: divide the mac and cheese between bowls and top with steak/potato mixture, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Serve warm.
Refrigerate the different components of this dish in airtight containers. The mac and cheese and fried potatoes will keep for up to five days and the pico de gallo will keep for up to three days. Guacamole is best served fresh.
More carne asada inspired recipes:
- Carne Asada Quesadillas: Loaded with tender marinated steak, plenty of cheese, and pico de gallo; these hearty carne asada quesadillas are the perfect no-hassle weeknight dinner.
- Carne Asada Nachos: A great choice for a party or a weeknight dinner, these easy carne asada nachos can be prepped ahead, customized with your favorite toppings, and are so so delicious. Naturally gluten-free.
- Carne Asada Tacos w/ Roasted Pineapple Habanero Salsa: Carne asada tacos made with tender marinated skirt steak and piled with all your favorite toppings including roasted pineapple habanero salsa.
If you make this carne asada fries mac and cheese I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥
- 1 pound skirt steak
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (see notes)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
Pico De Gallo (May sub for store bought or your favorite pico recipe)
- 2 1/2 cups diced Roma tomatoes, about 5 medium Roma's
- 1/2 cup diced white or red onion
- 2 jalapenos, diced (see notes)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups of 1/2" cubed potatoes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Simple Guacamole (may sub for store-bought or your favorite guacamole recipe)
- 2 medium avocados, peeled and pitted
- 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno (about half of one small jalapeno)
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb pasta shells
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (4 oz) shredded pepper jack cheese
- 3/4 cup salsa verdé
- Sour cream
- For the marinade: add lime juice, olive oil, garlic, hot sauce, cumin, coriander, and salt to a large zip lock bag or shallow dish/bowl. Add skirt steak and refrigerate for at least one hour (preferably 3-4 hours), but no more than 24 hours
- While the steak is marinating, combine all of the ingredients for the pico de gallo in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Turn on broiler to high. Place cubed potatoes on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and add seasoning. Toss to cover, spread, and broil for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While potatoes are broiling prepare guacamole. In a small/medium bowl, mash avocados. Add japanenos, lime juice, and salt and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Remove potatoes from oven and set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain liquid and set aside.
- Heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add skirt steak (you may need to cut it into multiple pieces if it is too long to fit). Cook for three minutes, then flip and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- While steak is resting, melt butter and cream cheese in a large sauté pan or pot over medium heat. Add half and half. Stir in cheddar and pepper jack cheese a half cup at a time until melted. Add salsa verdé and pasta and stir until combined. Reduce heat to low.
- If needed add a little oil to the same cast-iron skillet used previously and heat to medium-high heat. Slice skirt steak against the grain (it may still be pretty pink) and then cut into bite-size pieces. Add steak and potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Steak should be thoroughly cooked at this point.
- To assemble: Divide mac and cheese between bowls. Top with carne asada/potato mixture, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Serve warm.
Storage: Refrigerate the different components of this dish and airtight containers. The mac and cheese and fried potatoes will keep for up to five days and the pico de gallo will keep for up three days. Guacamole is best served fresh.
- Pico De Gallo: If you prefer a less heat remove the seeds and membranes of the jalapenos prior to dicing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 897Total Fat: 59gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 1532mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 11gSugar: 11gProtein: 38g
The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc