What Is Carne Seca Used For? (And Why It’s Your New Favorite!)

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Corne seca is a Spanish dish consisting of dried meat, similar to beef jerky.  It is served in a wide variety of ways, however, unlike jerky, carne seca is boiled or marinated in liquid before it gets dried. It is also commonly seen on the menu of many Brazilian restaurants.

What Is Carne Seca Used For (And Why It's Your New Favorite!)

Literally translated, “carne seca” means “dry meat”, which may not persuade you to pick it on a restaurant menu, but believe us when we say, it’s delicious!

If you love beef jerky, then you have to give carne seca a try. This dish is commonly found around northern Mexico, in addition to parts of southwest America. Carne seca is famous for the variety of different spices added to it, and its unique texture.  

Carne seca can be made in many different ways, including ovens, woodsmokers, or dehydrators. Some call carne seca “Mexican beef jerky”, but it is much different from the regular beef jerky that you’d find in your local grocery store. 

Most recipes use beef to make carne seca, although it can also be made with pork or even goat meat. Pretty much any cut of meat can be used to make it, even with the bone.

Once it has been cooked, the meet is then shredded and large pieces of fat, bone, or tendon are removed before serving. 

Carne seca is typically prepared by marinating the meat in vinegar, oil, cumin, onion, and garlic in the refrigerator overnight. Sometimes chili and lime are also added for extra flavor. 

Once it has been marinating for multiple hours, the meat is then dried off and then boiled in water, where it cooks until tender. Once the meat becomes tender, it is then removed from the heat and allowed to chill to room temperature.

Then, the meat is shredded and pulled off the bone, and large chunks of fat or tendons are removed.

After the meat has been shredded and the fat, tendons, and bones have been removed, the meat is then dried. This may be done by placing it in the oven on a low heat for many hours, or in an outdoor smoker.

Alternatively, it can be dried inside a dehydrator. Some recipes call for the meat to only be dried slightly by placing it into a skillet with water and then boiling away all the liquid until only the dry meat remains. 

What Is Carne Seca Used For?

Carne seca is sometimes used as a taco filling, or it may be used as an ingredient in other dishes. One such dish is called machaca, which includes carne seca fried up with tomatoes and chillies into a stew.

Usually, dishes use carne seca in some type of dish with a lot of liquid, which rehydrates the meat rather than using it dry. 

How Is Carne Seca Different From Beef Jerky 

Carne seca differs from other types of jerky in many ways.  Mainly, carne seca differs from traditional beef jerky in its shape and texture.

Jerky is typically cut into thick slices, and it is kept relatively hydrated, whereas carne sexa is usually thinner and more dry.  

Carne seca also typically uses different types of ingredients to marinate the meat compared to traditional jerky. Some methods of cooking carne seca are relatively simple, whereas others focus mainly on salt, lime, chilies, and other ingredients.

Both carne seca and traditional jerky are great for snacks, but carne seca is often used as part of larger meals. 

What Does Carne Seca Taste Like

Much like other kinds of dried meat or jerky, carne seca can vary significantly in terms of taste depending on the ingredients in the marinade in addition to the seasoning.

A lot of carne seca has quite a sharp and spicy taste due to the presence of lime and chili. Some carne seca will have more of a citrusy flavor, whereas others may focus more on the spicy side.

The way that carne seca has been prepared can have a large impact on the way it tastes, too. If the carne seca has been dried inside a smoker, then as you would expect, the meat will absorb some of that smoky flavor.

Carne seca typically can absorb more of this smoky flavor as it is made with shredded meat as opposed to thicker slices of meat.  

Variants Of Carne Seca In Different Regions

Variants Of Carne Seca In Different Regions

Carne seca varies quite a bit depending on geographical location. Below are some of the variants you can expect to see in different parts of the world. 

Northern Mexico

In Mexican cuisine, particularly in Chihuahua, Sonora and Nuevo León, carne seca is cooked into a sew-like dish called machacado. It is also known as machaca in other parts of Mexico.

This dish typically contains eggs, chile cerde, onions, and tomatoes.  Sometimes potatoes are added instead of eggs.  


In Arizona, US, carne seca is a popular filling for various Mexican dishes such as tacos, chimichangas, and enchiladas. It is sometimes mixed with eggs, too. 


Carne seca became popular in California in the gold rush era in the nineteenth century. It was a staple for early explorers in California, too, as it provides nourishment and doesn’t go bad without refrigeration. 

New Mexico

Carne seca in New Mexico refers to thinly sliced jerky, as opposed to the shredded dried meat that you would expect to see in parts of Northern Mexico. The consistency of this type of carne seca is similar to crackers or potato chips. 

How To Make Mexican Carne Seca


  • 1 dried New Mexico chili 
  • ½ tablespoons of fine sea salt 
  • 2 ponds of trimmed beef brisket, sliced ¼ inches thick against the grain
  • 1 lime 


  1. First, toast the New Mexico chili on a dry skillet on a medium heat for around 30 seconds on each side. Allow it to cool, before removing the stem and the seeds. Then break the chili into small pieces, and crush it using a herb grinder. Combine the pulverized chili with chili powder and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Put the sliced beef brisket in a container and season it with the combination of chili and salt. Squeeze the whole lime over the beef brisket. Mix well and coat the meat evenly. Cover up the container and refrigerate it overnight, or at least for 3 hours. 
  3. Next, dry off the slices of beef brisket, and then place the slices on your dehydrator. Set the temperature of your dehydrator to 145˚F. Dehydrate the beef brisket slices for around 2 and ½ hours, until the beef brisket slices are firm but pliable. 
  4. Allow the jerky to cool  to room temperature once dried, and then transfer to a bowl or a covered container. Store in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 weeks. 


Carne seca is a popular form of jerky, but the taste of it will vary drastically depending on the seasoning you use. It can either be made in a dehydrator, an oven, or a smoker. 

Carne seca is a flavorful and tasty source of protein, and it makes a great snack. It lasts up to 6 weeks outside the refrigerator.