Asado recipe: The Heart and Soul of Uruguayan Cuisine

Asado, the traditional barbecue of Uruguay, is more than just a meal—it’s a cultural institution deeply ingrained in the fabric of Uruguayan society. This beloved culinary tradition brings friends and family together to celebrate special occasions, socialize, and enjoy the flavors of grilled meats, vegetables, and accompaniments. Asado is not just about cooking food; it’s about creating an experience, a ritual that embodies the essence of Uruguayan hospitality and culinary heritage. In this article, we’ll delve into the ingredients and preparation methods for making an authentic Uruguayan Asado, allowing you to bring a taste of Uruguay to your own backyard.


  1. Meat: The centerpiece of any Asado is the meat, which can include a variety of cuts such as beef, lamb, pork, and chicken. Some popular cuts for Asado include ribs (costillas), sirloin (lomo), flank steak (vacío), and sausages (chorizos). The quality of the meat is paramount, so choose the freshest cuts available from a trusted butcher or market.

  2. Wood or Charcoal: Traditional Uruguayan Asado is cooked over wood or charcoal, which imparts a unique smoky flavor to the meat. Hardwoods such as oak, quebracho, or eucalyptus are commonly used for their slow-burning properties and rich aroma. If using charcoal, opt for natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes for a cleaner, more authentic flavor.

  3. Salt: Salt is the only seasoning traditionally used for Asado meat, allowing the natural flavors of the meat to shine. Coarse sea salt or kosher salt is typically sprinkled liberally over the meat just before grilling, enhancing its flavor and forming a delicious crust as it cooks.

  4. Chimichurri Sauce: While not essential, chimichurri sauce is a classic accompaniment to Asado and adds a burst of flavor to the grilled meats. This tangy and herbaceous sauce is made from fresh parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and spices such as red pepper flakes and oregano.

  5. Vegetables: In addition to meat, Asado often includes grilled vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, eggplant, and zucchini. These vegetables are typically brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt before being grilled alongside the meat, adding depth and variety to the meal.

  6. Bread: Fresh bread, such as crusty baguettes or rolls, is served alongside Asado to soak up the flavorful juices and accompany the grilled meats and vegetables. Slicing the bread and toasting it on the grill adds a delicious smoky flavor and crispy texture.


  1. Prepare the Grill: Start by preparing the grill for cooking. If using wood, build a fire in the grill and allow it to burn down to hot coals. If using charcoal, light the charcoal and wait until it is evenly covered with ash before spreading it out in an even layer. Adjust the height of the grill grates to control the intensity of the heat.

  2. Season the Meat: Season the meat generously with salt on both sides, pressing the salt into the surface of the meat to ensure it adheres. Let the meat sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling to allow the salt to penetrate and flavor the meat.

  3. Grill the Meat: Place the seasoned meat on the grill, positioning thicker cuts closer to the center where the heat is most intense and thinner cuts towards the edges where the heat is lower. Cook the meat slowly over indirect heat, turning occasionally, until it is cooked to your desired level of doneness. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that thicker cuts reach the desired internal temperature.

  4. Grill the Vegetables: While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables for grilling. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt, then place them on the grill alongside the meat. Cook the vegetables until they are tender and lightly charred, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.

  5. Rest the Meat: Once the meat is cooked to perfection, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring that it stays moist and flavorful.

  6. Serve and Enjoy: Arrange the grilled meat and vegetables on a platter and serve with fresh bread and chimichurri sauce on the side. Encourage your guests to help themselves to their favorite cuts of meat and vegetables, and enjoy the communal experience of sharing a delicious Asado together.

Tips for Success:

  • Choose Quality Meat: The key to a great Asado is using high-quality, well-marbled meat. Look for cuts with good fat content and vibrant color, indicating freshness. Talk to your butcher about the best cuts for grilling and choose a variety of cuts to cater to different tastes.

  • Control the Heat: Controlling the heat of the grill is essential for achieving perfectly cooked meat. Arrange the coals to create zones of high and low heat, allowing you to sear the meat over high heat and then finish cooking it over lower heat to ensure tenderness and juiciness.

  • Don’t Overcook the Meat: Be mindful not to overcook the meat, as this can result in dry and tough texture. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of thicker cuts and remove them from the grill when they reach the desired level of doneness.

  • Let the Meat Rest: Allowing the meat to rest before slicing and serving is crucial for retaining its juices and ensuring that it stays tender and flavorful. Resist the temptation to cut into the meat immediately after grilling, and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

  • Get Creative with Accompaniments: While salt and chimichurri sauce are traditional accompaniments to Asado, feel free to get creative with other sauces, salsas, and condiments to serve alongside the grilled meats and vegetables. Experiment with different flavor combinations to enhance the overall dining experience.

In conclusion, Asado is more than just a meal—it’s a time-honored tradition that celebrates the rich flavors and communal spirit of Uruguayan cuisine. By following these tips and techniques for preparing an authentic Asado, you can recreate the flavors of Uruguay in your own backyard and share the joy of grilling with friends and family. So fire up the grill, gather your loved ones, and enjoy the sizzle and aroma of a delicious Uruguayan Asado.

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