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Grilled Chicken Fajitas

5 stars based on 46 votes

We love chicken fajitas at our house. Or at least we all find a way to love them: my daughter devours the chicken and nothing else, my son spreads barbecue sauce on his (which is weird, but actually tastes pretty good), and my husband and I eat ours with all the fixins like normal people. Such is real life family dinner, right? When I think of fajitas, I think of that sizzling, smoking-hot cast iron skillet from my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. It’s hard (and, honestly, a little dangerous!) to replicate that at home, but it’s easy to make fajitas that are just as good, if not better. I marinate and grill the chicken for a smoky, charred flavor, and then I sauté the onions and peppers on the stovetop until they caramelize and sweeten. This is one of those recipes with a long list of ingredients but don’t let that deter you! Fajitas are easy and you can do all of the prep ahead of time, so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is grill the chicken. Plus, they’re fun — perfect for getting the whole family sharing everything at the table or a casual dinner party.

ingredients-1

To begin, pound the chicken to an even 1/2-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the chicken and ensures that it cooks evenly.

pounding-chicken

Next, make the marinade by combining the oil, garlic, lime zest, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, and salt right in a Ziplock bag (no dirty bowls!). Note that I don’t use lime juice in the marinade. I find that acidic ingredients change the texture of the boneless skinless chicken breasts, making them tough and leathery. The zest of the lime imparts lime flavor without altering the texture of the meat.

marinade-1

Mash all of the ingredients together.

marinade-2

Then add the chicken and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

chicken-in-marinade

Meanwhile, sauté the peppers and onions over medium-high heat.

peppers-1

When they start to brown, deglaze the pan with a little water and continue cooking until caramelized and tender.

peppers-2

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the grill to high. Grill the chicken, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side.

grilling-chicken

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice into strips.

slicing-chicken

Arrange the chicken and peppers on a platter and set out with all the fixins, like guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Enjoy!

Grilled-Chicken-Fajitas-Small

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes, plus 8-24 hours to marinade

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest, from 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8-12 small soft flour tortillas

For the Peppers

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Optional Accompaniments For Serving

  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole, store bought or homemade
  • Salsa, store bought or homemade
  • Shredded cheese
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. (Skip this step if using chicken tenderloins.) Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Using a meat mallet, pound the breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
  2. Open a 1 gallon zip-lock bag and place in a medium bowl. Add the oil, garlic, lime zest, cumin, oregano, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika and salt into the bag. Mash the outside of the bag with your hands to blend the marinade together. Add the pounded chicken breasts or tenderloins to the bag and seal shut, releasing any air in the bag. Using your hands, massage the marinade into meat until evenly coated. Place the bag back in the bowl and place in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage); let the chicken marinate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Clean the grill and preheat to high.
  4. While the grill heats, cook the peppers. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan (preferably not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions, peppers, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown and a brown film forms around edges of the bottom of the pan, 8-10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan; scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, until the water is evaporated and the pan starts to brown again; add 1/4 cup more water and cook a few minutes more, until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Season to taste with more salt and sugar if necessary. Set aside.
  5. Grease the grill. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side. Let cool slightly, then place the chicken on a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
  6. Arrange the chicken and peppers on a serving platter. To warm the tortillas: stack 4-6 tortillas on a plate and cover them with a damp paper towel, then microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve with the chicken, peppers and optional accompaniments.
  7. Note: The onion and pepper mixture can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 1 fajita (not including optional accompaniments)
  • Calories: 243
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Sodium: 567mg
  • Cholesterol: 36mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    These were so good I didn’t even add cheese and I love cheese. I did add a bit of cliantro-lime sour cream but that’s it. I also used plain paprika and plain chili powder and it was still delicious. I’m really enjoying these recipes. Thabks Jen!

    - Stacy on July 26, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Very, very good. The chicken rub/marinade is sensational and contributes mega-flavor to the tortilla-based “sandwich”. Pounding the chicken breast and the subsequent quick-grilling produced very tender protein. All of the processes and procedures were spot on. I followed the recipe as written with the exception of using avocado instead of Guacamole. For the cheese, I elected to use Mexican 4-cheese blend. My sides were the Black Bean, Corn & Red Pepper Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette; and Mexican Rice. Added these recipes to my “Top 25” folder–which is overflowing with Jennifer S. recipes. Thanks for another winner. Keep ’em coming.

    - Ellie O on June 25, 2017 Reply
  • Chicken is delicious! I use this marinade recipe when grilling chicken for burrito bowls also. Flavorful enough for adults, not too spicy for kids.

    - Shelley Thomas on June 22, 2017 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    You made mention you do not use lime juice in your marinated chicken breast for chicken fajitas since it makes the chicken tough. In your chicken skewers using chicken thighs your marinade has lime juice.
    Are chicken breast more delicate then chicken thighs when it comes to texture after bbqing? If so with the skewers can I omit the lime juice if using chicken breasts? Thank you for your amazing recipes !!!!

    - Cheryl on June 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, Yes, chicken breasts are more prone to drying then chicken thighs out when the marinade contains citrus. If you’d like, you could omit the lime juice for the skewers. (I still think they’re best with thighs, though :)!

      - Jenn on June 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Loved this so much! I never thought of adding zest. I did use thighs because my family prefers it and let it sit overnight in the marinade . So good! Thank you for the recipe!

    - christina purvis on May 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wonderful recipe. The chicken is a standout–exceptionally flavorful and tender. I followed the recipe as written but added some mushrooms that were reaching the outer limits of their shelf life and had to be used up. The recipe would be equally delicious without adding mushrooms. Our add-ons included guac, sour cream, salsa and cheese. Will definitely make again.

    - Ellie on May 11, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    AMAZING. I will be using this recipe all the time! Good work!

    - Whitney on May 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Served the fajitas with your Mexican rice and it was the perfect meal. The spices were delicious on the chicken. The rice was fun to make. I always wondered how they make the rice like that (and not out of a package). Loved this. Thank you.

    - Barbara on April 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is outstanding. Made as written. The lime zest was perfect. The family gobbled them up. Have it planned to make again next week. Thank you, Thank you.

    - Margaret M. Higgins on March 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is really a great recipe i make it all the time for my husband wraps for lunch it is a must try recipe

    - Sharon on March 2, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Love these! I make extra for lunch later in the week. I will usually make the veggies on the grill in my grill basket along side the chicken so I can stay in one place and don’t heat up the house in the summer.

    - Renee Watts on February 15, 2017 Reply
  • This looks like the perfect Valentines meal. I wonder what wine choice would be good with the seasoning choice?

    - Amy Reindel on February 14, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Amy, If you’re going with white, I’d suggest a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. If red, perhaps a merlot or shiraz. Hope you enjoy the fajitas!

      - Jenn on February 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is my favourite fajita recipe as it taste like it came from a restaurant! I think pounding the chicken makes a big difference in the outcome of the dish so don’t skip this step! It is a little spicey for my little ones but my husband and I really enjoy the flavour.

    - Tiffany on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is a another new family favorite from this amazing website! I have also used the marinade on portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian fajita option and they came great as well!

    - Jill on October 26, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This looks wonderful and tastes even better. What a beautiful meal when serving a group they serve themselves. I like using mushrooms in with the onions and peppers.
    The tip for warming the tortillas is super!

    - Cindy Mackay on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are fantastic! Hubby says they are better than restaurant fajitas. I do let the chicken marinate overnight for max flavor. I also used regular chili powder. Other than that, I didn’t change a thing in the recipes. I used a Foreman grill to make these indoor all year round.

    - Elodie on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I have made this recipe several times and it is a family hit- incredibly flavorful, even if you don’t have time to marinate overnight (I have done it the morning of and still tastes great). I also omit the ancho chili powder because of my (wimpy) kids but does not hurt the recipe at all in my opinion.

    - Anthea Higgins on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was the first recipe I made from this blog and they were hands down the best Fajitas ever had. My wife was all “don’t change a thing, these are perfect!”
    I was making them after work, so I only got to marinate for about 2.5 hours. I’m sure they will get even more flavorful if the chicken is allowed to get the full marinade time. Using the lime zest instead of the juice added that great citrus background without the acidity of the juice. Make these soon, you will not regret.

    - Michael on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These were fantastic. I had some dried ancho chiles which I ground up in a spice grinder; I prepared the onions and pepper right on the bar-b-que in a cast iron pan (works really well and pretty quick too if you let the pan heat up good and hot before cooking (and has the added benefit of not heating up the kitchen during the summer months)). Served with warmed tortillas, rice, Spanish beans (from the can), sour cream and salsa. Just great, thanks Jenn!

    - Al F. on August 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Great recipe the whole family loved. I couldn’t find ancho chilli powder so I used regular chili powder instead. It was delicious. I wasn’t up to making guacamole so I used sliced avocado as another topping.
    Thanks again for another great recipe.

    - Clare on August 11, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This chicken fajita recipe remains THE best ever! It always works, always tastes fabulous, and is so easy. Thank you so much!

    - Libby on May 22, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made tonight and they were delicious and so easy to make.

    - Eleonora Perez on May 19, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I had never made chicken fajitas before but am I ever glad I tried this recipe! I can see this going in to the once a week rotation. I doubled it and it came out perfectly. The peppers took a while on the stove top but were so worth the wait. Thank you!

    - Pam Davison on May 16, 2016 Reply
  • OMG!! Made these today— so so delicious !!!

    - Carrie on May 15, 2016 Reply
  • I’m having trouble finding ancho chili powder. Can you tell me if there is something I can use in its place?

    - Brandy on May 9, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Brandy, You could use regular chili powder or even smoked paprika here. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on May 9, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These were excellent!!! The marinade is delicious! I am definitely going to add this to my rotation! I made flatbread pizza with the leftover topped with Monterey Jack Cheese. It was so good!

    - Gwynne on May 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These were so delicious. I’ve never made fajitas before and I was pleasantly surprised and how easy they were and soo full of flavour

    - Mia on May 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    It was moist and delicious! Made it for Cinco de Mayo and it was a hit! Great for summer barbecue parties.

    - Arlene on May 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I needed to make fajitas for a dinner party & these turned out perfectly! They are moist & delicious. Thank you for sharing!

    - Melissa on April 4, 2016 Reply
  • 2 quick questions: Is the oregano ground or dried leaves? And is the salt kosher or table? Thanks so much…every recipe of yours I have tried so far has been a winner! Keep them coming!

    - Trish on March 25, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Trish, For my recipes, salt is always table salt unless kosher is specified, and the oregano is dried leaves. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on March 25, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these last night and OMG, they were delicious. I ended up marinating the chicken from late morning to early evening (about 8 hours). This is such an easy recipe to make and I will definitely make them again :)

    - Jackie on March 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this Grilled Chicken Fajita recipe last night and we loved it! I decided to make it at the last minute so I only marinated it for 3+ hours and the marinade still produced wonderful flavor and moist chicken. I will be making this again and again. Thanks.

    - Jill on March 2, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made these last night and we both just loved them!!! Made two changes—adjusted spices to what we both like and because we both needed a beef fix-I substituted beef for chicken! It was outstanding. Thank you for another addition to my menus.

    - Jean Casey on March 2, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was the second time I made your chicken fajitas. The first time about a month ago, made exactly as recipe. Very very tender and moist,but our taste didn’t agree with the taste of cumin. This time only used half of the amount and they were excellent. Another fabulous recipe Thank you!!

    - Kaye on February 25, 2016 Reply
  • This recipe sounds delicious! However, today and for the next couple of days is predicted to be very cold and extremely windy where I live. I know grilling would be ideal, but do you think broiling would still taste very good, and what do you think of adding a liquid smoke to the marinade?

    - Joanne Peterson on February 25, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Joanne, Broiling will work and I’m sure a little liquid smoke would be delicious. :)

      - Jenn on February 25, 2016 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Jenn, thank you so much for the advice! This was absolutely scrumptious! I thought I had enough chicken breasts, but I had a package of chicken breasts and a package of the chicken thighs. I used them both since it was what I had, and they both were devoured. I used one teaspoon of Wright’s liquid smoke in the marinade. It was just right since I had the smoked paprika too. I was asked to make this again and I will! It was so simple and such a hit!

        - Joanne Peterson on February 27, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was SUCH a huge hit last night!!! I have 2 teenagers so I always double whatever I make so there are left overs – let me tell you it was all gone within 24hrs! This is definitely a great go-to! The only debate over the dinner table was what was better – these or your Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas recipe, which I make all the time as well!
    Thank you, thank you!!!

    - Julie on February 24, 2016 Reply
  • Hi! If I have to use a broiler instead of a grill, how long should I leave the chicken in for? Thanks!

    - Audrey on February 17, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Audrey, The cook time should be about the same. :)

      - Jenn on February 17, 2016 Reply
  • Could I add tomatoes to the peppers and onion?

    - Ashley on February 15, 2016 Reply
    • Sure, Ashley — I think that will work well.

      - Jenn on February 15, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn –
    Would it be okay to use olive oil instead of the canola/vegetable? Thanks!
    Rachael

    - Rachael on February 2, 2016 Reply
    • I like the mild flavor of vegetable oil for this recipe, but olive oil will work too.

      - Jenn on February 2, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are positively delicious! If you’re craving restaurant style fajitas that you can make at home this is your recipe! I’ll make them again and again!

    - Tiffany MacKay on December 10, 2015 Reply
  • This is a fabulous recipe ! Very tasty and quick to prepare. I blend the marinade to increase the flavor and marinate overnight.

    - Ed Angell on December 10, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Me and my son love fajitas and use leftovers for quesadillas as an after school snack the next day

    - Monique on December 10, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    we love these, I also started making my own tortillas which I never knew were so simple and delicious, thanks for the great recipe

    - kara kudro on December 7, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this last night and it was so good! I had plans of only eating 1 fajita and ending up eating 3!! Thanks, once again for a fabulous recipe!!

    - Nurse12 on November 5, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These were amazing, so flavorful and moist. I marinated them 24 hours and didn’t flatten the chicken (there were too many as I tripled the recipe) and they still came out fantastic.

    - Mary on October 4, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The smell alone of the grilled chicken is enough to make your mouth water. Instead of the tortillas, we prepare the chicken as the recipe states, with the peppers and onions, and then serve it all on a salad with fresh garden tomatoes and homemade ranch dressing. It is now our go-to dinner. Thanks so much for the great recipe!

    - Kathleen on September 10, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious! The chicken had great flavor as did the peppers and onions. Will definitely make again!

    - Mary on August 31, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I only let it marinate for three hours and we baked it because it was raining. Despite the changes it still turned out awesome! My new go-to fajita recipe!

    - Ryan on August 29, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Loved this dish. The peppers and onions were filled with flavor. I substituted yellow onions for the red and they were fantastic. The marinade filled the chicken with flavor once cooked. (I left my chicken in overnight.)

    I used larger burrito sized tortillas which was a mistake. Better to have done smaller ones and served multiple portions.

    - Lesley on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The chicken came out delicious and so moist!

    - Karen H on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made these the other night for dinner. Easy, breezy beautiful thing to make, taste was amazing, served these with cilantro rice. YUM!

    - Kelly on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these fajitas this past weekend for 10 people and they were a huge hit. Never again will I make fajitas with a premade mix. Being grilled, the chicken was so easy to slice and serve. Jenn, do you think a skirt steak could be done in the same manner for beef fajitas?

    - Jane Palmer on August 27, 2015 Reply
    • Glad everyone enjoyed, Jane! I do think it would work with skirt steak or flat iron steak. Lmk how it turns out if you try it :)

      - Jenn on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Yet another homerun recipe from Jenn! My whole family loved these fajitas, and they couldn’t have been easier. I marinated the chicken overnight, which made dinner prep almost negligible the next day. I served the fajitas with the black bean, corn, and pepper salad with chipotle-honey dressing that’s also on this site (minus the avocado, as they looked lousy at the store). My husband started spooning the black bean salad onto his fajitas and rolled them into little burritos that he declared were outstanding. We all agreed that we would happily eat the marinated grilled chicken on its own, maybe served with the Mexican rice from this site and a side vegetable. Keep the great recipes coming, Jenn!

    - Allie on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These are fantastic – and I’m from Texas, I should know. The bell peppers might be my favorite part – wouldn’t change a thing!

    - J. Smith on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this tonight and it was flavorful and delicious! Even better, my whole family enjoyed it:) I was concerned the ancho chili powder might be too spicy for my little ones, but it wasn’t. Thanks for the recipe! I really enjoy your blog.

    - Amy on August 24, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My family loves fajitas and I try to cook it for them whenever I have a chance. Most of time though, I encounter chicken being dry after it’s been cooked. Is there a way to make it little more juicy and tender?

    - Leo on August 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Leo, Assuming you are not overcooking the chicken, the problem is usually with the marinade (not the cook!). You’ll notice that I do not use acidic ingredients in my marinades for boneless skinless chicken breasts — wine vinegar, lime juice, etc. always make them tough and leathery. I also pound my chicken so that it cooks evenly (left in its natural shape, the thin side of the breast overcooks while the thick side finishes cooking). Try this recipe and be sure not to overcook, and please let me know how it comes out. Good luck :)

      - Jenn on August 20, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jen, I love your recipes and haven’t tried one I didn’t like. I can’t grill the chicken. How would you cook it if you couldn’t grill it?
    Thanks, Karen

    - Karen on August 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Karen, You could use a grill pan on the stovetop or broil the chicken. Hope you enjoy :)

      - Jenn on August 20, 2015 Reply

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