We love chicken fajitas at our house. Or I should say that 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, what comes to mind is 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 possible 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. While the ingredient list looks long, these fajitas are easy to make 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.
To begin, pound the chicken to an even 1/2-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the chicken and ensures that it cooks evenly.
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.
Mash all of the ingredients together.
Then add the chicken and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, sauté the peppers and onions over medium-high heat.
When they start to brown, deglaze the pan with a little water and continue cooking until caramelized and tender.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat the grill to high. Grill the chicken, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice into strips.
My Recipe Videos
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
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
- (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.
- 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.
- Clean the grill and preheat to high.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Note: The onion and pepper mixture can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.
- 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
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.