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Chicken Fajitas

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Smoky grilled chicken, sizzling peppers and onions, and all the classic accompaniments—whip up chicken fajitas at home that rival those from your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken fajitas are a popular Tex-Mex dish consisting of flavorful chicken strips served with sautéed onions and bell peppers. The chicken is typically marinated in a mixture of spices, such as chili powder, cumin, and paprika, along with lime and garlic, which adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat. The dish is accompanied by warm flour tortillas and various accompaniments like guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and shredded cheese.

In restaurants, fajitas are presented on a sizzling cast iron plate for added flair. Although replicating that sizzling plate experience at home can be a tad risky, it’s possible to prepare homemade fajitas that are just as good, if not better! My fajitas are not only flavorful and customizable but also super easy to prepare, making them a great option for weeknight dinners or casual gatherings. As a bonus, leftovers taste great in salads, tacos, burritos, and more.

“Amazing! These are by far the best fajitas! I may or may not have licked the plate”

Tiffany

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. If using breasts, they need to be pounded to an even thickness before marinating. Tenderloins do not require pounding, making them a a great time-saver.
  • Vegetable oil: The base for the marinade. Also used to cook the peppers.
  • Garlic: Adds a pungent, aromatic flavor to the marinade, infusing the chicken with depth and richness.
  • Lime zest: Provides a bright, citrusy flavor to the dish without the risk of toughening the chicken, as lime juice would.
  • Cumin, oregano, ancho chile powder, smoked paprika: This blend of spices adds warmth, earthiness, and a smoky flavor to the fajitas. Skip the fajita seasoning packet from the supermarket—it contains additives and isn’t nearly as tasty as what you can pull together quickly at home. If you’d like to add a little heat, include a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Soft flour tortillas: The wrap for the fajitas, offering a soft, pliable base that complements the texture and flavors of the filling.
  • Red onion: Adds a sharp, slightly sweet flavor to the pepper mixture.
  • Bell peppers: Provide sweetness and crunch, adding a fresh, vibrant element to the fajitas. If you’re a spicy food lover, try substituting some of the bell peppers for jalapeño peppers.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chicken fajitas be made ahead of time?

Fajitas truly shine when prepared fresh, yet prepping in advance can help. Marinating the chicken beforehand not only saves time but also infuses it with robust flavors, enhancing its taste and tenderness. Additionally, the onion and pepper mixture can be sliced and cooked ahead of time, then simply reheated in the microwave when you’re ready to serve.

Can I use other meats instead of chicken for fajitas?

Absolutely! While chicken is a popular choice for fajitas, you can easily substitute it with beef (see my carne asada recipe) or shrimp (use the shrimp from my shrimp tacos recipe).

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Chicken Fajitas

Smoky grilled chicken, sizzling peppers and onions, and all the classic accompaniments—whip up chicken fajitas at home that rival those from your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant!

Servings: 4 to 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 chile 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. Make-Ahead Instructions: 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.

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Comments

  • Amazing! These are by far the best fajitas! I may or may not have licked the plate

    • — Tiffany on December 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    What would be the best alternative way to cooking the chicken if i dont have a grill?
    Thank you

    • — Melissa on November 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Melissa, For indoor cooking, I’d use a grill pan. Heat it over medium-high heat until hot. Add the marinated chicken breasts and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side without touching, until the chicken develops nice grill marks. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until cooked through. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I have a question. Can I swap our skirt steak for the chicken and keep everything else the same….I think I would grill the steak separately. What do you think? Thanks and love your recipes….all of them!

    • — Susan Shortley on November 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, you can use skirt steak – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 2, 2023
      • Reply
  • I don’t leave many comments, but the chicken fajitas where such a hit in our home last night. Just as good as in restaurants if not better. The instructions are so detailed and love the pictures. I’m not a confident cook and you made this recipe so easy. Thank you so much!

    • — Jeanne White on October 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • The flavor in these fajitas is unbelievable! The best fajitas I’ve ever made! The only change I made is using 1Tbsp lime juice instead of the zest and I used flatbread instead of tortillas. Thank you for another great recipe! They are always amazing!

    • — Ruthie on October 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn, yesterday I made your Sheet Pan Roast Chicken from the 2nd cookbook (which was met with rave reviews). I am making this tonight and wonder if it could be modified to be sheet pan friendly. Love your recipes. Best. Jane C

    • — Jane C on September 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, glad the cookbook recipe was a hit! Yes, I think you could adapt this recipe to bake on a sheet pan.

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • My family LOVES this – weekly rotation !

    • — Margaret C on September 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • I never leave reviews. This is the third recipe from this site that is amazing! My family loved it. Made as directed served in a bowl with the peppers/onions, cilantro lime rice, avocado, and tomato. Used chicken tenders and shrimp. Both were fantastic.

    • — CamSC on July 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another fantastic recipe! Every recipe I make from your website is absolutely wonderful! Quick question, how far in advance can I made the marinade? I’m trying to prep for the 4th of July!

    • — Heather Kenney on June 28, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Heather! You can get away with making the marinade up to about 4 days ahead. Happy 4th!

      • — Jenn on June 29, 2023
      • Reply
  • The best fajita recipe! The marinade is fantastic! I followed exactly as written and it was easy and so delicious. I will be making this again and I look forward to trying the tequila lime chicken recipe too. Thank you for creating delicious recipes!

    • — Deni on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Wow! We love this! Vegetables are perfect! We also Used this meat marinade for NY steak cut very thinly, sold as Shobu beef at Costco, and served with your Black Bean & Corn salsa. Also made with raw shrimp. Can’t go wrong! Everyone was over the moon for it! Make enough for leftovers, you won’t regret it!

    • — Mara on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • Best dang chicken marinade ever. Loved this recipe to death. I enjoyed the peppers simplicity, even though my husband wasn’t a huge fan. That chicken tho! We use the chicken as a stand alone entree now and last time served it with some bacon jalapeno chopped salad and your cheddar soda bread recipe, new favorite meal!!!

    • — Bubbles on May 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! We all enjoyed this dish. Would I be able to marinate shrimp the same way and cook on the grill? If I was to use beef, what would you recommend? We have friends that like shrimp or beef.

    • — Marilyn Davis on May 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! This would work well with shrimp and for beef, flat iron would be a great cut to use.

      • — Jenn on May 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • It’s amazing how often one of your emails appears just as I’m wondering what to cook for dinner, and this was the last. It’s a great recipe. The marinaded chicken is excellent and perfect for cooking on the BBQ and the capsicum and onion is a delicious addition. The kids had left overs for school lunch the next day and have been asking me to cook it again ever since. So this dish is now officially on high rotation! Thanks Jenn, I really enjoy your recipes and very much appreciate what you do.

    • — Kate, Cairns Australia on May 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • These were the best fajitas I’ve ever tasted!

    • — Lisa on May 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another winner from this site.
    I didn’t have access to a grill on the night we cooked. Instead, I cut the chicken into smaller strips and cooked then on the stovetop for a few minutes. Absolutely delicious!

    • — Del on May 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made these fajitas for Cinco de Mayo – exactly as recommended. Once again, Jenn they were perfection! With homemade Pico de Gallo and homegrown cilantro; guacamole; plain Greek yogurt; shredded lettuce; pepper jack cheese – on whole wheat – low card tortillas my husband and I thought they were sooooo yummy. This will now be my go-to fajita recipe.
    Appreciate you!!!

    • — BobetteMG on May 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Do not have access to a grill at this airbnb. Can we pan fry the chicken tenders and proceed from there?

    • — Dorothea on May 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, that will work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2023
      • Reply
      • This recipe was soooo ridiculously good! The chicken was one of the most flavourful I have ever had! I actually ended up marinating the tenders for 48 hours because I did not have time to make it and it turned out so amazing! I made the entire dish in a cast iron pan because I did not feel like dealing with the grill and it was fabulous! Best fajitas EVER!!!

        • — Tara on May 5, 2023
        • Reply
  • I have made many of your recipes and been quite happy with them. Unfortunately not so with this one. I don’t know what happened. I followed the recipe closely. Maybe it just isn’t for us. I will give this another try down the road after a fair amount of time.

    • — Tish on May 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • this is my go-to fajita recipe. excellent!

    • — patty on April 29, 2023
    • Reply
    • This is the best fajita marinade ever! We double the chicken marinade recipe and use it for the peppers and onions too. Then we cook it all on the grill. Fabulous!

      • — Diane on May 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Another winning recipe! In addition to the wonderful recipes with foolproof instructions, you have given me an outstanding education in cooking techniques, food combinations etc. You are very appreciated – thank you!

    • — Susan on April 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2023
      • Reply
    • Did I miss it? I don’t see where to add the sugar listed in the ingredients for the peppers and onions.

      • — Diane on May 10, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Diane, in the ingredient section, under the peppers heading, the last ingredient is 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Hope you enjoy the fajitas!

        • — Jenn on May 10, 2023
        • Reply
  • These fajitas were absolutely delicious!! Followed the recipe exactly as written and will be making again soon. The marinade was fantastic! Thank you.

    • — Kim on March 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can this recipe be used on beef–skirt steak to be exact. thank you!

    • — Victoria on February 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • I LOVED this. I made this recipe tonight for my family and everyone loved it. Better than what you would get at the restaurant, so flavourful!!!
    Going to make this recipe again and I’ll freeze the chicken so it’s ready to go any night during the week!
    I absolutely love all your recipes!!

    • — Louisa Easter on February 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can you freeze the raw chicken in the marinade with the lime zest?

    • — Jeannie on January 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep, that’s fine!

      • — Jenn on January 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Terrible grilling weather right now. Is there any way I could bake the chicken or cook on stove top?

    • — Adrienne Trumpower on January 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Adrienne, for indoor cooking, I’d use a grill pan. Heat it over medium-high heat until hot. Add the marinated chicken breasts and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side without touching, until the chicken develops nice grill marks. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until cooked through. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 5, 2023
      • Reply
  • Great recipe and my family rated it the best chicken fajitas I have ever made at home and gave me a 9.5 out of 10 compared to their favorite restaurant that serves them. I call that a huge win. Thank you for the recipe.

    • — Jay on January 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Great marinade. The whole family loved this recipe.

    • — Richard E Peters on December 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can you freeze the chicken after it’s cooked?

    • — Leslie on December 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Leslie, I’ve never done it but I think you can get away with it.

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is the best way to make grilled chicken breasts whether or not you are making fajitas. They are juicy and well seasoned and go great with the peppers and onion part of the recipe. Best part: grandkids love them too!

    • — Nedda on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • Heaven! This is the best fajita recipe ever! Fantastic easy recipe, I would never have thought of using lime zest instead of lime juice, but it tastes better and keeps the marinade thicker! Glazing the veggies with a little sugar is genius! Thanks, Jenn! I’m gonna have a party and serve this with margaritas and your Carne Asada!!

    • — Ann S. on October 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe two days ago as written and both my husband and I absolutely loved it. I’ve made a few of your recipes and have never been disappointed. I used to question ingredients (the sugar on the bell peppers) but now I trust your recipes, don’t worry about the ingredients, and know that if it’s an ingredient you add it will simply work, because you’ve made the recipe, you know your flavors and you never disappoint.

    Thanks 🙏 for sharing your knowledge with home cooks like myself.

    The only change I made was the marinating time I didn’t have much time, I only marinated it for four hours and a half. It was delicious 😋 next time I will plan better and do the 12 hours.

    • — Georgina on September 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Another terrific meal and I used up some extra grilled breasts. Makes a great, easy meal. Thanks again Jen!

    • — Judi on August 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi, I made this fajita recipe today and we really enjoyed it. I marinated overnight with a little extra oil and cilantro (I love cilantro). I cooked the chicken in the air fryer instead of the grill and it turned out great.

    • — Jane on August 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was fantastic. The spices in the marinade were perfect. My husband, who is from Texas, was impressed.

    • — Joan Cohn on June 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yet another FANTASTIC recipe! My son moves out this week and asked for the recipe. Sadly, he won’t be able to BBQ. What would be the best way to cook the chicken without a BBQ.
    THANKS Jen!

    • — kathryn Zdriluk on May 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad it was a hit! I’d use the oven or the stove to cook them inside. If you use the oven, I’d place them on a broiling pan and broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat for 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is done. If you use the stove (you’ll need to turn the oven on too), sear the chicken in an oven-proof sauté pan over high heat (for a min or two per side until browned) then finish it in a 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • This chicken recipe is fantastic! My 13 year old daughter gave it a “10” on a scale of 1-10, for deliciousness! I will definitely be making this again!

    • — Karen on May 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • 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

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