Chicken Fajitas

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These smoky chicken fajitas will rival those from your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.

When I think of chicken fajitas, what comes to mind is that sizzling, smoking-hot cast iron skillet filled with tender, juicy chicken strips and sautéed peppers and onions from my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants. It’s hard (and, honestly, a little dangerous) to replicate that experience at home, but it’s possible to make fajitas that are just as good, if not better. I marinate the chicken in a Southwestern spice and lime-infused marinade and then grill it for a smoky, charred flavor. Meanwhile, I sauté the onions and peppers on the stovetop until they caramelize and sweeten.

The recipe is 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. Chicken fajitas are perfect for getting the whole family sharing everything at the dinner table. Bonus: leftovers are delicious in salads, tacos, burritos and more.

What you’ll need to make chicken fajitas

chicken fajitas ingredients

Chicken: You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins for this recipe. The breasts need to be pounded to an even thickness before marinating, so tenderloins are a great time-saver.

Spices: I use chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, and lime zest to flavor my chicken. Don’t be tempted to buy a fajita seasoning packet from the supermarket; they contain additives and aren’t nearly as tasty as what you can pull together quickly at home. If you’d like to add a little heat to your spice mixture, include a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.

Peppers: Bell peppers are standard, but if you’re a spicy food lover, try substituting some of the bell peppers for poblano or even jalapeño peppers.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To begin, pound the chicken breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the chicken and ensures that it cooks evenly. (Note: If using chicken tenderloins, you can skip this step.)

pounding the chicken breasts

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 alter the texture of boneless skinless chicken breasts, making them tough and leathery. The zest of the lime imparts lime flavor without changing the texture of the meat.

chicken fajitas marinade ingredients in bowl

Mash all of the ingredients together.

chicken fajitas marinade

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

chicken marinading in bowl

When you’re ready to grill, heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions.

peppers and onions in the skilletCook over medium-high heat until they start to brown.

browning peppers and onions

Deglaze the pan with a little water, scraping up the brown bits, and continue cooking until the vegetables are caramelized and tender.

cooked peppers and onions for chicken fajitas

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

grilled chicken

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice into strips. Arrange the chicken and peppers on a platter and set out with all the fixins, like guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Be sure to warm your tortillas before serving; warming helps to make the tortillas softer and more pliable, and it also enhances their flavor.

You may also like

Chicken Fajitas

These smoky chicken fajitas will rival those from your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.

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

  • 1½ to 1¾ pounds chicken tenderloins or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest, from 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8-12 small soft flour tortillas

For the Peppers

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced ¼" thick
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced ¼" thick
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ 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.) One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a sealable plastic bag and, using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-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 tenderloins or pounded chicken breasts 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 skillet (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 to 10 minutes. Add ¼ 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 to 4 minutes, until the water is evaporated and the pan starts to brown again; add ¼ 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. Oil the grates on the grill. Grill the chicken, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook. Let the chicken cool slightly, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch strips.
  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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • These fajitas were delicious! I believe they were close to being as good as my fav Mexican restaurant. I used chicken tenderloins, which I had on hand. I think I’ll try chicken breasts next time.
    We prefer corn tortillas, and the microwave warming worked well. I usually warm them in a hot dry skillet, but this method was easier and delicious.

    • — Phyllis on May 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • I always use a prepared fajita rub. This time I made your recipe. Loved it and easy to prepare

    • — Mary E on May 6, 2022
    • Reply

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.