Churrasco Steak with Serrano Butter

Ok, so churrasco steak is a dish I have been cooking for clients A LOT lately. What can I say? As the weather warms up, everyone just wants some grilled meat! My recipe for Churrasco Steak with Serrano-Lime Butter takes the traditionally, citrus-marinated steak up a few notches (if I do say so) by serving it with a compound butter and caramelized onions. Yum!

An oval platter filled with sliced flank steak, garnished with caramelized onions and topped with dollops of butter.

Technically, research shows that the term “churrasco” just means grilled meat. Well, then…check! In my experience, recipes usually call for skirt steak, which is a fairly tough cut of meat, and so it is most often marinated in a ton of citrus juices for a long period of time. I say at least 20 hours. Up to twenty-eight hours, if you got it.

Even with that amount of marinading (ie. tenderizing) I still have a hard time enjoying skirt steak. So, when I make this on my own time, I use flank steak. It still takes well to marinading, but it tenderizes better than skirt (IMO!).

Baking dish filled with steaks in marinade of sliced onions, garlic cloves, olive oil, orange juice and lime zest.

Generally speaking, I have not seen onions as a common accompaniment to churrasco steak. But, I have to say that every time I marinade the meat I use a ton of onions and I don’t want to just toss them away. So, I saute them! I mean, how can you not? They are soooo good after having been marinaded and then cooked down into caramely-goodness, and those garlic cloves, too!  Yum!

Saute pan with caramelizing onions.

Finally, a last spin on the classic churrasco, is this serrano-lime butter. Traditionally, churrasco is known for having a chimichurri sauce served alongside. Don’t get me wrong, chimichurri is a darn good sauce. Garlicky-cilantro-oil never hurt anyone’s appetite. But, I happen to love finishing steaks with a good compound butter, and this one does the trick very nicely. Butter, diced serrano, lime zest and a pinch of salt add an incredible amount of flavor with hardly any fuss.

Bowl of butter mixed with diced serrano pepper and lime zest.

I’ll admit that I cook this steak inside on a cast iron grill pan because I want to cook the onions at the same time, but you can certainly grill this outside. Honestly, the most important part is to really give yourself plenty of time to marinade the meat. I’m all for quick marinades, but in this case, patience will pay off. So 24 hours, give or take a few, really is worth it. Then just slice, dollop and serve!

And if you’re looking for the perfect side dish, try the recipe I posted last week for Pickled Pepper Pearl Couscous. Pickle the peppers when you prepare the marinade and get most of dinner out of the way the day before!

An oval platter filled with sliced flank steak, garnished with caramelized onions and topped with dollops of butter.


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An oval platter filled with sliced flank steak, garnished with caramelized onions and topped with dollops of butter.

Churrasco Steak with Serrano Butter

  • Author: Emily Wilson
  • Prep Time: 24 Hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Meat
  • Cuisine: Latin American


So flavorful, this churrasco steak with serrano-lime butter is a total crowd pleaser. The marinade really does all the work, making it effortless, too!



For the Steak and Onions:

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces orange juice
  • Zest from 2 limes
  • Squeeze of juice from 2 limes
  • 2 pounds skirt steak, cut into four even portions
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature

For the Butter:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 1 serrano pepper (or jalapeno), seeds removed and pepper minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients. Scatter some onions on the bottom of a large baking dish. Cut the flank steak into 4 portions, then arrange on top of the onions. Pour the rest of the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. To prep the butter, remove the seeds from the Serrano pepper and roughly chop. Mince by hand and place in a medium mixing bowl. Smash a garlic clove to remove the peel, then mince the clove by hand and add to the bowl with the Serrano. Add the softened stick of butter. Zest a lime into the bowl along with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and kosher salt. Mix until everything is well combined. Refrigerate.
  3. To cook the meat, transfer it from the marinade to a clean platter. Let it rest for 15 minutes or so to take the chill off.
  4. You can cook the steak outside on a grill or inside on a cast iron grill pan.  I actually like to do it inside because I like to caramelize the onions and garlic from the marinade in a pan on the stove. You can skip the onion part if you want, but they are super delicious with the steak.
  5. To cook the onions, set a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then lift the onions and garlic cloves out of the marinade, shaking off excess liquid as you add them to the pan. You don’t want to much liquid to get into the pan as this will cause the onions to steam more than brown. If you see a lot of liquid in the pan, take a second to pour this out. Then, season onions with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until they are tender and deeply golden, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Prep grill or grill pan on high. Allow surface to heat considerably. Season steaks generously with salt, then set on the hot grill surface. You should hear a very active sizzle when the meat hits the hot surface. Cook steaks for 4-5 minutes per side until nice char forms and steaks are nearly cooked through. For thicker portions, or more well-done meat, cook an additional minute per side.
  7. As soon as you remove the steaks from the grill, top them with 1 tablespoon of plain softened butter. As the steaks rest, they will absorb this butter. Let steaks rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. To serve, slice steaks and set on a platter or dinner plates. Add onions to each plate, along with a dollop of Serrano-lime butter on top of each steak.

Keywords: how to cook steak, good steak marinades, flank steak, churrasco steak, steak and onions

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