What Meat Is Used In Carne Seca? (All You Need To Know)

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If you are someone who loves meat with a strong flavor and loves Mexican food, Carne Seca is a dish that will be right up your alley.

What Meat Is Used In Carne Seca (All You Need To Know)

Providing a delicious, healthy, filling snack, Carne Seca is a great option for the entire family and is so easy to make too. If you are reading this thinking, what is Carne Seca? 

Or, what meat is used in Carne Seca? Then you’re in the right place. This article will cover all you need to know about what Carne Seca is and what meat is most commonly used to make it.

What Is Carne Seca?

Literally translated, Carne Seca is dried meat. It is a type of jerky that is most popular in Southwest American countries and the Northern parts of Mexico.

What sets this dish apart from other jerky or dried meats is the range of spices that are traditionally used in its preparation, as well as the texture of the final product.

There are a variety of methods that can be used in the preparation of Carne Seca, from dehydrators to ovens, to smokers to the good old desert sun.

While some of these methods are going to be more accessible to you than others, the resulting product is just as delicious no matter how you dry it out.

How Does Carne Seca Differ From Other Jerky?

While Carne Seca is commonly referred to as Mexican beef jerky, it is significantly more fancy than the beef jerky you would find in your local grocery store.  

Carne Seca is visibly different from traditional beef jerky when you see them side by side.

Whereas the beef jerky you would buy from the grocery store is cut into thicker chunks and remains relatively hydrated to produce that slightly chewy, satisfying texture, Carne Seca is the opposite.

The meat is sliced extremely thinly with Carne Seca and is dried out as much as possible to produce an almost bark-like texture and appearance with the meat.

In addition to differences in the appearance of Carne Seca and traditional beef jerky, there is a significant difference in the flavors of the two.

While being kept relatively simple, Carne Seca most commonly features the addition of salt, lime, and pepper to create a distinctive flavor. Other ingredients and spices can be used in the making of Carne Seca and elevate it above the level of your normal jerky. 

What Meat Is Commonly Used In Carne Seca?

There are a couple of types of meat that are most commonly used in the preparation of Carne Seca. However, in addition to the traditional meats, there are plenty of alternatives that it is possible to create this dish with that we will explore below.


Similar to many other types of jerky, the most common and most traditional meat that Carne Seca is made with is beef. Beef is the preferred choice for Carne Seca and any type of dried meat product due to the high level of protein that is present in the meat.

It is this protein that makes jerky and Carne Seca such a good choice of snack food. Not only is it easy to store and travel with, but it is also filling and somewhat nutritious.

In order to get the best out of your Carne Seca, it is important to select the right cut of beef. If you are going to use beef to make Carne Seca the best cuts are top round, bottom round, eye of round, tip, or flank steak.

These cuts are on the leaner side which is exactly what you want to make great Carne Seca.


It is also possible to use venison to make Carne Seca. While this is less common than beef, it can be found just as easily within areas where Carne Seca is popular, making it as authentic as beef if you are making it at home. 

Similarly to beef Carne Seca, you should use the more lean cuts of venison to make it properly.

If you are only able to procure a fattier cut of venison, the fat should be trimmed as much as possible before the drying process begins, this includes any silverskin or any part of the cut that is not just meat. The leaner the better for Carne Seca.

Alternative Meats For Carne Seca

If you are interested in making Carne Seca but are not a fan of beef or venison for any reason, it is possible to make it with almost any other meat. Examples of alternative protein sources include duck, goose, pork, elk, buffalo, mutton, or goat.

The protein source that you choose for your Carne Seca doesn’t really matter as long as the cut is lean or the fat is removed.

The only difference will be in the taste and you can experiment with the types of spices and other ingredients that you use to best compliment the meat that you have chosen. 

What Does Carne Seca Taste Like?

If you are new to the world of jerky or are simply curious about the taste of Carne Seca with its various spices, the truth is, that the taste really depends on the spices used.

The simplest Carne Seca recipes will focus on simply adding salt and lime to the meat, occasionally pepper will be added too. In this instance, the flavor will still be primarily of the meat used.

However, there are many other options available to create tasty Carne Seca. For example, if you add chilies and hot peppers to your Carne Seca it will be spicy and sharp, whereas if you add spices such as ashwagandha or ginger, the meat will have a warming flavor to it.  

The process used to dry the meat can also influence the flavor of the meat. If you choose to dry your meat in a smoker or over a smoky fire, the Carne Seca will absorb the aroma of the smoke and it will be noticeable in the flavor.

It is worth thinking about the effect of the smoky flavor on the spices you use to make an incredible taste experience. 

Because the Carne Seca is prepared with very thinly sliced pieces of meat, it will absorb more of the flavor than traditional jerky, creating an intensely flavorful snack.

Trying Carne Seca will make you question why you ever settled for your bland grocery store jerky.

Final Thoughts

If you are someone who enjoys dried meat snacks such as jerky, Carne Seca is the holy grail of snacks for you. With the addition of spices and ingredients, you can experiment with the flavor of this snack with very few limitations.

It is a great, long-lasting snack that you can make in advance and will provide you with a low-fat protein boost no matter what you are doing.