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Thin beef skewers {Ecuadorian carne en palito}

Recipe for grilled thin beef skewers, or Ecuadorian carne en palito, made with thinly sliced meat seasoned with garlic, achiote and cumin and grilled on skewers.

Ecuadorian beef skewers

En español

These grilled thin beef skewers, or Ecuadorian carne en palito, are made with thinly sliced meat seasoned with orange juice, garlic, achiote and cumin. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of carne en palito, which literally translates as meat on a stick, are snack carts selling these hot and delicious thin cuts of meat on a stick at the feria, an annual fair or carnival in honor of the Virgen del Cisne that takes place every September in the city of Loja, Ecuador. The feria was always a big deal for me. It was a two-week event full of fun, games and awesome snack food.

Most kids (and teenagers) go to the feria a few times during those two weeks , but I was lucky and got to spend all of my time there, kind of like a kid that lived at the circus, except my parents didn’t abandon me there or anything like that. First of all, our school year started in October, so September was still our vacation time. When I was young my mom used to sell her food products at the feria. My dad sold musical instruments (marimbas, charangos, drums, etc) that he made, as well as performed at the music shows that took place there, so of course I spent the whole day wandering around the fair.

Beef skewers or carne en palito

Every night there were large firework displays called “castillos”, these took place in the center of the city. Some of the most exciting activities (for my 9 year old self) included the ferris wheel, the carousel, the bumper cars, and the games where you could “win” prizes. One of the best games consisted of this huge board with chewing gum boxes and a few $ bills, you had to take a rifle that shot these small arrows and you won whatever your arrow landed on. Another interesting attraction was the caged naked lady with a snake, she was semi-naked during the day when kids were allowed in, for some reason this was very fascinating to me, though I think I was more impressed by the fact that she had a huge snake wrapped around her than by what she was wearing, and I had this evil dream that the snake would eat her or something exciting would happen, but it never did.

The feria was also a street food heaven for me: candied red apples, delicious bocadillos or sweets made with brown cane sugar and peanuts, cocadas or coconut sweets, guayaba o guava paste sweets, huevitos chilenos or deep fried pastry balls covered with sugar, helados de paila or fresh fruit ice cream made in large bowls, salchipapas, and of course carne en palito or meat on a stick. Carne en palito beef skewers are also sold on the beaches and coastal areas in Ecuador. In the northern part of Ecuador, especially closer to the Colombian border (and in Colombia) these little pieces of meat on a stick are also known as chuzos. These beef skewers are also called pinchos, though I consider it to be a true pincho when it has thick chunks of meat.

Beef or meat skewers recipe

Carne en palito beef skewers are made with the very thin cuts of meat. If your butcher or supermarket meat section has carne asada or milanesa cuts these are ideal for this. The meat is seasoned with a marinade of orange juice, olive oil, garlic, achiote or annatto powder, cumin and salt. This is the first time I’ve ever made “carne on palito” at home. Even though I’ve grilled a lot of carne asada steaks and kebabs, for some reason I had this mental idea of “carne on palito” being something that you buy on the street but you don’t necessarily make it at home. I have to say that it they make great appetizers and I will be making them a lot more frequently now.

These beef skewers are usually served with a sauce, some of my favorites include a basic aji criollo hot sauce, a tomato onion curtido salsa (not spicy), and  the typical cheese cilantro sauce that is used for both these skewers and corn on the cob when you buy them from the street vendors. In Ecuador, you can usually get a plain beef skewer or you can also have it with a slice of ripe plantain and/or chorizo on the tip.

Ecuadorian beef skewers

Thin beef skewers {Carne en palito/chuzos/pinchos}

Recipe for grilled thin beef skewers, or Ecuadorian carne en palito or chuzos, made with thinly sliced meat seasoned with garlic, achiote and cumin and grilled on skewers.
4.82 from 54 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Main dish
Cuisine: Andean, Ecuadorian, Latin American, South American
Keyword: Beef skewers, Carne asada skewers, Carne en palito, Chuzos, Meat on a stick, Pinchos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Marinating time: 2 hours
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10 as an appetizer or ~4-6 as part of a main meal


  • 1 lb beef thinly cut carne asada style and cut in long strips
  • 2-4 tbs orange juice
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 6-8 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tsp achiote powder
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt to taste


  • Mix the orange juice, olive oil, garlic, achiote, cumin, salt and pepper together to make a marinade.
  • Season the meat with the marinade and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while the meat is marinating – this will prevent them from burning on the grill.
  • Slide the meat onto the skewers and grill on each side until done, depending on your grill this should just take a few minutes per side, make sure the grill is very hot.
  • Serve immediately with aji criollo or other sauces, ripe plantains, and/or tomato onion curtido salsa.


These meat skewers can also be made with chicken or pork.

Photos of carne en palito, chuzos, or pinchos de carne preparation:

Carne asada style thinly sliced beef
Achiote, cumin and orange marinade for meat
Preparing carne en palito
Grilling carne en palito
Chuzos or carne en palito
Carne en palito or chuzos
Carne en palito or meat on a stick
Carne en palito

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  1. Layita, there are more than 100 ways to say thankyou for your delicious recipes. You rock. On every recipe you have taken me back to my childhood with a little story you wrote in. Born in Guayas, from Cuancanos parents I enjoyed every festive with the Castillo…..great moments. Being in Minneapolis for 17 years your recipes are the stage of our family table. God bless you.

  2. Hi Laylita:

    Always love your recipes and cooking with them. Just wondering if I were to slice the meat myself what cut of beef is the best for this recipe.

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Patricia – Most carne asada steaks are cut from the top round cut (also called london broil).

      1. I remember the feria. I lived in Shell mera when I was a boy, and I miss those times very much. I also remember the rifle with the little darts. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I was looking for pinchos, or chusos with the salchicha on then end and onions and peppers, but I can’t find this recipe anywhere. Thank you for all of the recipes I am enjoying very much.

  3. We used to walk up the street each Friday when we lived in Ecuador to purchase pinchos. They would serve them with the most amazing mayonnaise and they were cooked with lots of alino brushed on them. Thank you for the wonderful recipes…oh, how we miss the food and sweet people.

  4. I love this recipe!!!!!! My husband is from Ecuador and I am from Mexico but I love the Ecuadorian Food. My husband doesn’t know how to cook and he is always asking for Ecuadorian dishes and when I found your site I have been making more authentic Ecuadorian food. Thank you for the great pictures!!

  5. que divino…i remember shopping in quayaquil and always stopping to get fresh coconut refresco and chusos before going back home. yummy. the stand that i got mines from always stuck a nice hunk of maduro frito at the top. perfect snack. ciao and tx!

  6. We raised our four kids in Quito, and when he got married in the USA, he wanted Ecuadorian food for his rehearsal dinner! This recipe was fantastic, and was a big hit, along with ensalada Rusa, ensalada de vainita, and shrimp ceviche! Thank you so much!

  7. Hola,

    La marinada esta esquisita! Es muy parecida a la marinada de carne en palito que hacemos en Panama. Para que le gusta el picante le ponemos un poco de “aji chombo” delicioso!! Felicidades!

  8. Thank you so much for placing this receta on your site…… for over 18 years i had been eating at a colombian owned food court in the united states. …. they then sold to another family…. i was going to be working in another country and asked the owner for the receta……….wich he refused to give to me ….
    and 14 months i have been missing that amazing taste of the carne asada.
    i got on the internet and googled colombian carne asada receta and found this site.
    today we made the sauce and had the best dish i have eaten in 14 months.

    for anyone that has lived in south america, this dish will remind you of your child hood….

  9. Saludos:

    Me encanta tu site y las recetas muy buenas. Aca en Puerto Rico le llamamos a la “carne en palito” Pinchos. Tambien los hacemos de carne de cerdo y pollo. Pero la mezcla del jugo de china de tu receta le da un sabor muy bueno. Felicitaciones.

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