Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa


Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa are a mouthwatering meal, combining spicy, savory and sweet!

There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a hot and juicy steak taco – crunching down on a cold piece of lettuce, savoring a warm layer of melted cheese, tasting the tang then feeling the cold drizzle of freshly prepared salsa dripping down your fingers.

Who am I kidding – the type-A, clean freak inside of me can’t even stand the thought of salsa juice getting all over my hands. BLECH! Let me rephrase…

There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a hot and juicy steak taco – crunching down on a cold piece of lettuce, savoring a warm layer of melted cheese, tasting the tang then watching the cold drizzle of freshly prepared salsa drip neatly onto your plate.

That’s better. :)

Steak lovers unite, because I’ve stumbled upon a recipe for the most perfect, mouthwatering grilled steak tacos with a twist – Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa!

In place of standard salsa, lettuce and cheese, these thinly sliced grilled steak tacos feature smokey homemade Chipotle Cherry Salsa, sweet caramelized onions, crunchy red cabbage, and creamy Monterrey Jack cheese.


The delectable combo of sweet, tart, smokey, and savory, is bundled in a warm corn tortilla to create a 5-bite, hand-held delight that will knock the socks off your friends and family at your grill out this 4th of July.


What’s more, ALL of the taco components including the steak marinade, Chipotle Cherry Salsa, caramelized onions, sliced red cabbage, and shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese, can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, which means all you’ve got to do on the day of is grill the steak and warm the tortillas.

Let’s hear it for more time to drink Beergaritas!


Start the Steak Tacos by preparing a quick and easy marinade for the steak. Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flake, 2 smashed garlic cloves, salt & pepper. You can make this way in advance, then marinate the meat the day of your grill out.

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Next, season both sides of a 1lb flat iron steak with salt & pepper. You could use flank steak instead, btw. This just looked absolutely awesome at the store!


Stick the steak in a ziplock bag, then pour the marinade on top and stash it in the fridge. I let mine sit and soak up the yummy juices for about 2 hours and it was just perfect.


Meanwhile get the Chipotle Cherry Salsa ready. THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER!!! Ahem! That is to say, the smoky-sweet-tart combo of fresh cherries and chipotle peppers in adobo is simply genius. (Can we all please acknowledge the extra package of Oreos that Ben snuck into our cart this weekend! As if I didn’t have enough temptation on my hands!)


In a food processor or blender, combine 1/4 cup packed fresh basil (thank you never ending supply of basil from my back garden!)


with 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, salt and pepper.

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As I mentioned last week, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo are smoked jalapenos, that have a more smokey heat than a spicy heat, if that makes any sense. The taste is unmistakable, and I just love ’em! :)

Tip: freeze the leftover chipotle peppers and sauce flat in a freezer bag, then pop one out as needed for recipes like Chipotle Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Mango BBQ Chicken.

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Next, turn to zee ruby-red summer sirens: cherries! I am so obsessed with bing cherries in the summertime, but definitely cringe at having to pay $4.99’lb for them. Fate smiled on me when I went to buy some for this recipe though, as the price per pound had been temporarily cut in half!


Pit and chop 2 cups cherries, then add half to the food processor with the rest of the ingredients.


Spend the suckers spinning until they’re nearly smooth.

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Next add the rest of the cherries and pulse until chunky. I like my fruity salsas on the chunky side, but you could certainly add all the cherries at once and zip it smooth, if you like!

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OK, stash the chipotle cherry salsa in the fridge with the steak while you get the caramelized onion taco filling ready. Simply quarter and slice 2 large sweet onions, then saute them in 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until they’re wonderfully sticky and sweet.

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I highly recommend that you don’t skip out on making these, as they add an incredible sweet yet savory flavor that helps balance out the smoky heat of the chipotle cherry salsa.


Check in:

Steak: marinated!

Chipotle Cherry Salsa: chilling!

Caramelized Onions: sweet & ready!

Time to get grilling!

Corn tortillas are the shells du jour for these tacos, which we’ll be placing on the grill with the steak to warm up before assembly. Feeling a little frisky, I decided to cut the tortillas a little smaller, so the tacos would be perfectly bite-sized and wee.


All I did was place a wide-mouthed mug on top of each tortilla, then slice around it. TOTALLY not necessary, but you know how I love my mini things. :)

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Let the marinated steak come to room temperature on the counter for about 10 minutes, then grill it over rip roarin’ heat for 3-4 minutes a side for medium-well.


Let it rest off the grill for at least 5 minutes, then slice it as thin as ya’ can against the grain of the meat.


While the steak is still grilling, place the corn tortillas over a low flame for a couple minutes on each side until they’re warm and pliable. Wrap the tortillas in foil then place in the oven (no heat) to stay warm while the steak rests.


Top each warm tortilla with a few pieces of sliced steak, a generous dollop of chipotle cherry salsa, tons of caramelized onions, freshly shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and thinly sliced red cabbage for crunch. IN. HALE.


Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa

Serves 3


Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa are a mouthwatering meal, combining spicy, savory and sweet!


  • For the steak:
    • 1lb flat iron steak (could use flank steak)
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
    • salt & pepper
    • For the Chipotle Cherry Salsa:
      • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil
      • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
      • 1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
      • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
      • 1 clove garlic
      • 1 teaspoon honey
      • 2 cups cherries, pitted and cut in half
      • salt and pepper
      • For the rest of the dish:
        • 2 large sweet onions, cut into quarters and sliced thin
        • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
        • 9 small corn tortillas
        • red cabbage, sliced thin
        • shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
        • Torn parsley, optional


      1. Prepare the steak marinade. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Season steak on both sides with salt and pepper, then place into a ziplock bag with the marinade and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
      2. Meanwhile, prepare the Chipotle Cherry Salsa. In a food processor or blender, combine basil, chipotle pepper, red onions, balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, salt, pepper and half the cherries. Process until nearly smooth. Add in the remaining cherries and pulse until chunky. Refrigerate until ready to use.
      3. Prepare the caramelized onions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion slices and season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and dark brown, about 25 minutes.
      4. When ready to eat, let steak sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then grill over high heat for 3-4 minutes a side. Place corn tortillas over low heat on the grill until softened. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing thin. Assemble tacos by placing steak slices on the bottom of the warm corn tortillas, followed by the chipotle cherry salsa, caramelized onions, sliced red cabbage, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and torn parsley.


      Steak adapted from Pointless Meals, Chipotle Cherry Salsa adapted from Closet Cooking

      This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


      I completely credit my recipe sources for this ingenious combination of flavors including steak, cherries, chipotle peppers, and caramelized onion. I would have never in a million years thought to put them together!


      I ended up doubling the amount of chipotle cherry salsa on each of my tacos after I took these photos. It is so dang delish! The chewy caramelized onions were also totally clutch, imo.


      If you’re not a steak eater, I think grilled chicken would be amazing in these tacos too. There’s just something about red meat that screams GRILL ME THEN SLATHER ME IN SPICY CHERRY SALSA! though, don’t you think? ;)



      Hard shell or soft shell? Steak, chicken, ground beef, or veg? Lettuce, or no lettuce?

      I have to say, I usually opt for no greenery when I’m eating tacos, as there is nothing more wretched than hot lettuce, but the extra crispy red cabbage in this recipe retained its awesome crunch the whole time I was eating. Granted, it took me less than three minutes to finish but, still, for all three of those minutes it was perfectly crunchy! ;)

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      1. Lindsey 06.27.2012

        Always soft shell, and usually fish tacos! I usually spinach or arugula in tacos. But love red cabbage too!

      2. Em 06.27.2012

        Brilliant use of cherries! :) YUM!

      3. Lettuce for sure and I usually do chicken but steak sounds awesome!

      4. jennyv 06.27.2012

        Definitely NO lettuce (btw, what’s up with many DM Mexican restaurants adding lettuce to burritos?! warm, soggy lettuce… ick…)

        CORN tortillas w/ chicken is always my favorite; however, my husband and I have been obsessed w/ some taco trucks in DM lately. Did you know there is a PUPUSA truck on 2nd Avenue? WORTH my drive from WDM. I’ve actually gone 3 times in the past 2 weeks. My favorite is cheese with loroco and they’re only $1.50 (for real!) I thought they were kidding when I had to pay. You MUST go!

      5. Missy Swift 06.27.2012

        wait iowa mom eats?? are you preggers or are you referring to YOUR mom?

      6. Mandy 06.27.2012

        PINNED because that looks redonkulous. And yeah, not a fan of hot lettuce. I am a fan of messy salsa though. :)

      7. JennP 06.27.2012

        I prefer soft tacos. Honestly, even though I’m not a vegetarian, black bean is my favorite variety!

      8. Linda 06.27.2012

        Holy Moly!! I am starving and sooooo craving these now!

      9. why go through the hassle of MAKING beergaritas when you get just get Bud Light Lime LIME-A-RITAS!!! straight from the can. off the shelf. so good.

      10. Prunella 06.27.2012

        Your blog keeps getting better and better. I love it! And I wish I was eating some of those delicious looking tacos right now!

      11. Juan Navarro 06.27.2012

        I just want to die now. Those look amazing. Great job once again.

      12. My type A personality loves these…especially if the salsa drips on the plate :) I’ve never made a cherry salsa before, but it sounds amazing!

      13. That steak looks perfectly cooked. I bet the cherries give the steak some good flavors.

      14. Trisha 06.28.2012

        It seems like most of the world jumped on the chipotle everything bandwagon a few years ago, but I kinda missed the train. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the flavor of chipotles, it’s just that I prefer the flavor of other peppers more… I think. However, the thought (and look) of chipotles with cherries sounds absolutely amazing!

        Soft shell with fish & chicken tacos, which I eat most often but that steak looks divine! Yes lettuce. Or cabbage.

      15. Sara 06.28.2012

        Can I just say AMEN to the hot lettuce? ugh…can’t handle it.

        I believe this will be on my menu sometime in the next few weeks…

      16. Tamara 06.28.2012

        Seriously, these look INcredible!! I wonder if I can make the cherry salsa without a food processor…

      17. Katie 06.28.2012

        Thanks for this recipe, great combination. We love flat iron steak and always have some in the freezer so this will definitely be made ASAP. Love caramelized onions and fruit salsas on about anything. Soft shell and the filling depends on my mood but usually I put so much filling/toppings on that I prefer to just have a “taco salad”. No dripping tacos that way. My 5 and 6 year old love tacos but usually end up eating them with a fork. We also really like making taco or Mexican casseroles.

      18. That salsa sounds incredible! Your cherries look so perfectly and deliciously ripe too…saving this recipe!

      19. Urban Wife 06.28.2012

        My husband would die for these!! Wow.

        p.s. I found this on Pinterest and wondered if you had already successfully acquired the Beergarita recipe from your Dad.

      20. Awesome way to use cherries! Yummy!

      21. I love ground beef in any type of shell. The soft shells remind me of Taco Bell though!

      22. So not even fair. You’re building up my recipe wish list WAY faster than I can actually get the courage to take anything on!

      23. Deborah 06.28.2012

        These look so, so good! I would have to do chicken since I am one of the wierd people in MN who doesn’t like the taste of red meat :(

        You have inspired me to do my own garden next season too! I would love to have fresh basil on hand and other vegi’s.

      24. Caroline 06.28.2012

        These look so, so good! I only wish I had a grill!

      25. Jennifer C 06.28.2012

        Im also a huge fan of cabbage, and in addition to braised cabbage & coleslaw, I like to add a little shredded cabbage on top of pulled pork sandwiches. Dont have to worry about it getting soggy, and adds the perfect amount of crunch! Never tried it with tacos, but I will now! :)

      26. Dorothy 06.28.2012

        Beergaritas: In pitcher put 1 can frozen limeade concentrate, fill can with tequila & add. Add 1 can beer. Stir. In glass with ice, mix 50/50 with club soda. Done!

      27. Ashley 06.29.2012

        I know this comment comes a bit late but I work for a beverage company and your local beer distributor…ahem Budweiser!!…distributes our product called taste of Florida. We came up with a delightful summer recipe called the beer-rita….yes I know budweiser came out with that recently but we have them that idea!! :) BUT if you take bud light lime and taste of Florida margarita and put them together it is awesome!! Fill a pint glass or any glass with ice pour in your bud light lime about 3/4 and then the margarita mix…YUM!! We shall be sipping on these this July 4th. Enjoy!! Let me know if you make this. I want feed back. You should be able to find Taste of Florida in Iowa. If not you can try that horrid (lol) Jose Cuervo mix !! It may sound wierd but it tastes so refreshing!

      28. Hallie Sawyer 06.29.2012

        I have never heard of cherry salsa–looks awesome! Thanks for the great recipe!

      29. Sandy 06.29.2012

        Ok, I like warm lettuce. Sounds weird but there is something about it. I guess it started with warmed up Taco Pizza and blossomed from there. This looked great- planning on having it this weekend. Cherries on sale at the Fareway so stocking up- I just wish they were without pits (ha).

      30. Concrete Texas 07.03.2012

        what an interesting use of cherries and idea with the steak tacos… my fiancé and I are always looking for new ways to make tacos… can’t wait to try this one!!!

      31. Lesley 07.16.2012

        We used the cherry salsa on grilled chicken tacos, and it was amazing! We wanted a veggie side dish, and my husband was in the mood for spinach. Googling around for something that might go well with the tacos, we randomly ended up with another recipe from this site: It was delicious, too! It was probably too much spiciness for one meal, so I wouldn’t make them together again. However, both dishes are definitely keepers. We couldn’t get over what an awesome (but easy) meal it was!

      32. […] contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep cycles, improving sleep. Try this Chipotle Cherry Salsa from Iowa Girl Eats Kiwi: Contains more vitamin C than oranges and is especially effective […]

      33. […] Poltergeist paired with Iowa Girl Eats’ Steak Tacos, inspired by the steak scene and because, well, there has to be a “main” course […]

      34. Sadye 01.09.2013

        Really enjoyed the marinade on the steak — that’s definitely going to be repeated!

      35. Jenn@slim-shoppin 05.04.2013

        Great idea for the salsa, that’s such a great combination!

      36. […] […]

      37. Sam 09.03.2013

        Loving the idea of this but quite frankly American measurements are the most backwards thing ever! I mean, who measures in cups?!!! There’s no accuracy in it what so ever! I’ll have to just experiment I guess. Thanks for the inspiration though!

      38. […] Click here for the recipe from IowaGirlEats […]

      39. […]   Receta aquí. […]

      40. Sarah B 09.11.2013

        Love the salsa, I made it last week, substituted the basil for cilantro and used fresh peaches this week, came out awesome, making it with a pork loin tomorrow… Great Recipe!!!!

      41. […] Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats […]

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