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Home » Main Dish » Beef » Mexican Steak Ranchero Recipe

Mexican Steak Ranchero Recipe

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This Mexican steak ranchero recipe is flavor-packed, easy to prep and makes the perfect, low-effort meal on a busy night! Beef steak is cooked until tender in a tomato sauce base with aromatics and veggies. You can adjust the spices to make this dish mild or extra spicy. Either way, it’s big on flavor!

Create a classic steak ranchero plate by serving this with white rice, Spanish rice, refried beans (or pinto beans), and flour tortillas for a hearty and delicious meal. It also goes well with our tamales recipe.

A large skillet with steak ranchero topped with cilantro.

Steak Ranchero vs. Carne Asada

What is ranchero steak? And does it differ from carne asada?

While both meals are popular, traditional Mexican beef dishes that feature steak as the main ingredient, they get prepared differently.

Carne asada literally translates to “grilled meat.” The grilled steak is prepared by marinating and/or seasoning the meat and then cooking it over the grill.

On the other hand, a Mexican steak ranchero recipe (sometimes called bistec ranchero) is traditionally made in a pan and cooked along with tomatoes, onions, and other flavor-packed ingredients.

Why This Beef Ranchero Recipe Works

With steak involved, you know it’s going to be good. Add sautéed onions, tomatoes, and garlic cloves and it’s bound to be phenomenal.

Here’s why this Mexican steak ranchero recipe is a keeper:

  • It is easy to adjust the level of spice to your own tolerance.
  • Slicing the steak across the grain ensures each bite will be tender.
  • It’s simple and easy to prepare.
  • Steak ranchero is naturally gluten-free and low-carb/keto-friendly (without the sides).
  • It’s flavorful comfort food that will always hit the spot.

Steak ranchero, beans, and rice on a plate.

Steak Ranchero Ingredients

It doesn’t take much to create truly epic steak ranchero! The ingredient list is short and you may already have most of what you need to pull together this traditional Mexican beef steak recipe.

To create a flavor-packed steak ranchero sauce, we rely on a mix of aromatics, chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce. The tomatoes break down during the simmer and all the flavors meld into an easy yet flavorful tomato base sauce that really makes this dish something special.

You will need:

  • flank steak- similar to carne asada, flank steak is our steak of choice
  • seasonings- we use ground cumin, brown sugar, ancho chili powder, salt, black pepper, and oregano
  • vegetables- onions, garlic cloves, jalapeño peppers (seeds removed), canned chipotle peppers and fresh tomatoes cut into large chunks (or substitute with canned tomatoes, either will work!)
  • adobo sauce- we use just a bit from the canned chipotle peppers
  • white wine or chicken broth- feel free to use either one!
Ingredients used to make a ranchero steak recipe.

The Recipe

Our Mexican steak ranchero recipe is a great recipe if you’re looking for low-fuss, high flavor meals that will work for any night of the week.

Not only is this steak ranchero recipe an easy one, but it all cooks together in a heavy skillet for one-pan meal perfection.

For the full, printable recipe card, scroll to the bottom of the page. Here’s a quick rundown of the cooking process:

  1. Prepare the flank steak: Slice meat, toss it with the spices, then let it sit for at least 20 minutes or place it in the fridge overnight.
  2. Sear the steak: Heat cooking oil or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the pan is smoking hot. Cook the steak strips, letting them sear in a single layer for 1-2 minutes without moving, then stir and transfer them to a plate.

    Make sure to cook them in batches so you don’t crowd them in the frying pan and can get a caramelized brown color.
  3. Cook the vegetables: Add the onions to the hot skillet stir them frequently until softened. Add the garlic, jalapeños, chipotle and adobo sauce. Pour in the wine or broth to deglaze the pan. Add the steak back into the skillet and pour in the tomatoes.

    Mix tomatoes in and cover, letting the mixture simmer until the steak is tender and the tomatoes break down into a juicy steak ranchero sauce. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  4. Serve: To serve, ladle it over brown rice, red Mexican rice, or roasted potatoes or with corn tortillas for one delicious steak ranchero plate. You can also enjoy it with your favorite taco toppings like chopped cilantro, sliced green onions or fresh lime juice.

Recipe Tips

  • Beef steak ranchero is best using an economical cut of meat like flank steak that benefits from a long simmer.

    Since flank steak can be tough if it’s not sliced and cooked properly, the slow simmer over low heat gives the meat plenty of time to break down the muscle fibers and get tender.

    If you don’t have flank steak, you can substitute various cuts of beef that are similar, like skirt steak, hanger steak or flat iron steak.
  • To slice skirt steak or flank steak across the grain, look for lines in the muscle fiber and cut perpendicular to them. This will shorten the fibers in each slice and make the steak easier to chew.
  • Most of the heat from the jalapeños comes from the seeds and white pith. If you remove the seeds and scrape out the pith, the dish will be less spicy.
  • Chipotle peppers are ripe, red jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked. When you find them in adobo sauce, they’ve been rehydrated and canned in a sweet, smoky tomato sauce.

    Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a small can with several peppers but you will only need one chipotle pepper. Freeze the remaining peppers for another use.
  • This steak ranchero recipe will work with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. If you purchase whole, canned tomatoes, slice them up into bite-sized chunks, and feel free to use two cans. For extra spice and flavor, you can sub in fire-roasted canned tomatoes.
A plate filled with steak ranchero, rice, and pinto beans.

What to Serve with Steak Ranchero

With tender strips of beef simmered in a flavorful tomato base sauce, beef ranchero is a Mexican dish that is truly a meat lovers dream!

What’s so great about this Mexican steak ranchero recipe is that it’s also very versatile! Enjoy it as a delicious main course for dinner or as a nice Mexican breakfast paired with scrambled eggs.

Here are a few side dishes that pair wonderfully with steak ranchero:

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

These Beef Chimichangas are perfect for any night. You’ll love the fact that there’s zero frying required to make these shredded beef chimis!

Try these Easy Healthy Huevos Rancheros. A deliciously easy breakfast for any kind of morning, our huevos rancheros feature steam-fried eggs nestled on a warm corn tortilla with all of the fixings. Top with a spicy salsa, black beans and avocado for a fresh and healthy Mexican breakfast recipe.

Flan Napolitano is perfect for dessert. This delicious cream cheese flan is soft and smooth and perfectly creamy. The rich flavor is intensified with a sweet caramel sauce.

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A large skillet with steak ranchero topped with cilantro.

Steak Ranchero

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Steak ranchero is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal. You can make this dish with fresh or canned tomatoes, so it’s versatile and convenient. You can also adjust the spices to make it as hot as you like. Serve this delicious Mexican-inspired dish over rice or tortillas for a hearty and satisfying meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 to 2 diced, canned chipotle peppers (not the whole can)
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo sauce from the canned chipotle
  • 1 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 4 to 5 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks (about 1 pound) or sub with canned tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Slice the flank steak into thin strips across the grain.
  2. Combine the cumin, sugar, salt, oregano, chili powder, and pepper in a small bowl. 
  3. Toss the steak strips with the spices until they get completely coated. Let the steak sit for at least 20 minutes or place in the fridge overnight. 
  4. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until it gets smoking hot. When the oil is hot, work in batches to cook the steak strips. Add the steak strips in a single layer and let them sear for 1 to 2 minutes without moving them. When they get a caramelized brown color, give them a stir then transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the steak strips then transfer them to a plate. You don’t need to cook the steak all the way, just get it browned. The steak strips will cook more later in the recipe. 
  5. Don’t clean the skillet out. The pieces left behind from cooking the steak will loosen up when you cook the vegetables.
  6. Add the onions to the hot skillet and cook, stirring frequently until softened. Add garlic, jalapeño peppers, chipotle, and adobo sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring, until the peppers and garlic are fragrant. 
  7. Pour in the wine or broth to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  8. Return the steak strips to the skillet and add the tomatoes. Give everything a stir and reduce the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes until the steak gets tender and the tomatoes break down into a juicy sauce. 
  9. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce. 
  10. Serve with rice or roasted potatoes. 

Notes

  • We recommend using an economical cut like flank steak that benefits from a long slow simmer. Flank steak is a lean steak that can be a little tough if not sliced and cooked properly. This recipe allows the steak plenty of time to break down the muscle fibers and get tender. Other cuts that work well for this recipe are: skirt steak, hanger steak, flat iron steak
  • To slice the steak across the grain, look for the lines in the muscle fiber and cut perpendicular to them. This will shorten the fibers in each slice and make the steak more tender and easier to chew. 
  • Most of the heat from the jalapeño peppers comes from the seeds and the white pith. Remove the seeds and scrape out the white pith to make the dish less spicy. 
  • Chipotle peppers are ripe, red jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked. When you find them in adobo sauce, they have been rehydrated and canned in a sweet, smoky tomato sauce.
  • Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce come in a small can with several peppers in the can. Do not use the whole can in this recipe. You only need 1 chipotle pepper. You can use more or less depending on how spicy you like your food. Freeze the remaining peppers for another use. 
  • You can substitute fresh tomatoes with canned tomatoes. If purchase whole canned tomatoes, slice them up into bite-sized chunks. You only need one 15-ounce can but I generally use two when I make this with canned tomatoes. Try using fire-roasted canned tomatoes for extra spices and flavorings.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 587Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 180mgSodium: 1492mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 5gSugar: 13gProtein: 67g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandson or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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Paula

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Can you provide the directions for a crockpot?

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

Sure, after you get to step 7, toss everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. If you want to skip the extra steps for sautéing on the stove you can just toss everything in the slow cooker from the start but the sauteing step really will add more flavor.

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