Chicken Fajitas

March 8, 2020

Chicken Fajitas – one of the best dinners out there! This easy, restaurant quality recipe is made with deliciously seasoned chicken, a trio of fresh bell peppers and tender crisp onions.

Want to make the best fajitas ever? Then be sure to serve atop my homemade flour tortillas if time allows (prep while the chicken marinates). So worth the extra bit of effort, promise!

Chicken Fajitas mixture in a cast iron skillet. Showing sliced chicken breasts, bell peppers and onions. Tortillas and guacamole are served on the side.

Easy Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas are most commonly made with chicken breasts (but chicken thighs work well too).

It is soaked in a seasoned, lime and oil based marinade then pan seared in a hot cast iron skillet to a flavorful charred exterior with crisped edges, and juicy, tender interior.

After which fresh multi-color bell peppers, and boldly flavored onions and garlic are sautéed to a perfect tender crisp texture in the same piping hot skillet.

Then to assemble fajitas chicken is sliced, and mounded over flour tortillas along with those flavorful veggies.

It’s a classic Tex-Mex recipe you’ll never want to lose!

Ingredients for Chicken Fajitas (and Possible Substitutions)

  • Chicken breasts: I like to pound thicker portions more even so thinner areas don’t cook faster and dry. Small chicken thighs will work too, no halving necessary, increase cook time slightly.
  • Olive oil: This is used in the marinade and for sautéing (don’t use extra-virgin or it will burn at this temp). Vegetable oil may be substituted.
  • Lime juice: Only use freshly squeezed lime juice, bottled would ruin the flavor. Though not traditional in a pinch lemon could be substituted.
  • Garlic: Use freshly mined for best flavor. You can sub bottled fresh it’s just not quite as bold.
  • Chili powder: use a good quality chili powder, and not hot unless you want it spicier. You could try other types like ancho or mild New Mexican chili powder.
  • Cumin: This spice adds a delicious earthy flavor. If you happen to be out coriander is another delicious option.
  • Jalapeno: Use this if you like a little heat. You can also sub a 1 – 2 canned chipotle chilies.
  • Salt and pepper: The marinade is well seasoned so be sure to stir well to distribute salt evenly.
  • Bell peppers: Go for three different colors to make the dish more visually appealing. You could sub in an Anaheim pepper for one of the bell peppers.
  • Onion: These taste great with either red or yellow onion. Red is a little more mild (plus I love the color it adds) but go with what you prefer.
  • Cilantro: If you love this flavor you can also add some to the marinade as well, just slide it off before cooking or it will just burn up.
  • Flour tortillas: I’m yet to find a brand that can come close competing with freshly made tortillas, but as of now my first choice of store-bought (pictured in ingredients image) is Guerrero which I do use as on occasion. Or I opt for corn tortillas which is the healthier option.

Image showing for steps to preparing chicken marinade, slicing chicken breasts into cutlets and soaking breasts in marinade in a glass bowl.

How to Make Chicken Fajitas

  1. Mix together marinade ingredients.
  2. Soak chicken in marinade in refridgerator 1 – 6 hours.
  3. Preheat cast iron skillet.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and slide excess off (so it doesn’t just sputter, and burn).
  5. Cook chicken through in skillet, turning halfway. Transfer chicken to cutting board, rest and slice.
  6. Meanwhile saute veggies in same skillet to tender crisp texture.
  7. Assemble chicken and veggie fajita mixture over tortillas and serve immediately.

Tips for the Best Fajitas Recipe

  • Use fresh ingredients.
  • Allow at least 1 hour to marinade for enough flavor absorption (to the exterior of the meat), don’t go beyond 6 hours though or chicken texture can be altered.
  • Stick with thinner chicken breasts, that’s why we halve them here. Otherwise they’d burn by the time they’ve cooked through.
  • Halving the chicken also allows for more surface area for better flavor penetration with the marinade.
  • Use a medium-high heat to get a nice char on the chicken, but if you notice it’s browning too quickly before the inside has a chance to cook through reduce the burner temp slightly as needed.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken breasts or they will be dry! Cook right to 160 – 165 degrees (in center).
  • Cook veggies to a tender crisp texture. They shouldn’t be crunchy but they shouldn’t be soft and mushy, just right in between.

Marinated chicken breasts being cooked in a cast iron skillet, then lower image showing sauteing sliced bell peppers and onions in a cast iron skillet.

How Can I Cook Chicken Fajitas on the Grill?

If going this route I actually prefer boneless skinless chicken thighs since they char nicely and don’t dry out as easily, but breasts work great too. To grill:

  • Just use 4 (6 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, no halving necessary.
  • Marinate chicken as directed.
  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove chicken from marinade (don’t slide marinade off).
  • Grill chicken until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side if using breasts, about 6 minutes per side if using thighs (as always test to proper temp).
  • Meanwhile, sauté the veggies in a large grill basket (with oil and seasonings), tossing occasionally until tender.
  • Or alternately the veggies can just be sautéed in a skillet while chicken grills.

How to Reheat Fajitas

  • I like to reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat, covered and stirring frequently until warmed through. Don’t overdue it or you can over-cook the chicken.
  • If reheating single servings you can reheat in the microwave on 50% power until heated through, tossing halfway through heating.

What Toppings to Serve with Fajitas?

Traditionally fajitas aren’t really loaded with toppings but why not? Try some of these:

  • Guacamole or sliced avocado
  • Queso fresco or Monterey jack/pepper jack cheese
  • Homemade salsa or diced tomatoes
  • Mexican hot sauce
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema

Two chicken fajitas stacked on a serving plate. Showing homemade flour tortillas, sliced pan seared chicken, and sauteed peppers and onions.

What Sides to Serve with Fajitas?

Some classic Mexican side dishes are:

More Fajita Recipes You’ll Love!

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Looking for the easiest prep ever, and wanting to come home to a ready to serve dinner? Try my Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas recipe.

Oven Roasted Chicken Fajitas

One of my go to lazy day, and super popular recipes are these Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. Fastest to make and super delicious taste!

Steak Fajitas

Wanting to try another protein? Go with my Grilled Steak Fajitas. Made with tender flank steak and brimming with flavor!

Breakfast Fajitas

I’ve even got a Breakfast Fajitas you’ll love! Includes eggs, ham, cheese, avocado, and sautéed peppers!

Chicken Fajitas

One of the best dinners out there! This easy recipe is made with deliciously seasoned, marinated and pan seared chicken, a trio of fresh bell peppers and tender crisp onions. Easy to make and unbelievably delicious!

Servings: 4
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (11 - 12 oz) chicken breasts*, each split into 2, cutting through the thickness*
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil,** divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 1/2 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded for less heat if desired, minced
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium bell peppers (preferably 1 red, yellow and green), seeded and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 (7-inch) flour tortillas, warmed, homemade are best if time allows
  • Optional toppings, see notes

Instructions

  1. In a medium non-reactive mixing bowl (such as glass or stainless steel), whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, lime juice, 2 tsp garlic, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, jalapeno, salt and pepper.

  2. Add chicken and toss well then submerge down into marinade. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

  3. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil then remove chicken from marinade, 1 piece at a time, slide chicken up between pointer and middle finger to remove marinade letting it drip back into bowl.

  4. Place chicken in skillet spacing apart. Let cook until seared and browned on bottom, about 5 minutes.

  5. Flip chicken and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 - 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer in center, about 5 minutes longer. If you find chicken is browning too quickly before cooking through you can reduce burner temperature slightly.

  6. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

  7. Meanwhile add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to same cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat.

  8. Add bell peppers and onions, season with salt and pepper. Saute about 4 minutes, only tossing occasionally and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pan.

  9. Add remaining 1/2 tsp chili powder and cumin, 1 1/2 tsp garlic and saute until just tender crisp, about 2 minutes longer.***

  10. Return chicken to pan, toss in cilantro and serve warm over tortillas with optional toppings.

Recipe Notes

  • *Pound thicker areas of chicken with the flat side of a meat mallet to even thickness more. Chicken portions shouldn't be over 1/2-inch thick.
  • **Use regular or light olive oil not extra virgin. The flavor will be to strong and it will burn cooking at a high temp.
  • ***If you still have stubborn browned bits at the bottom of the pan you can help release them by pouring in a splash of chicken broth or water, these bits adds lots of flavor to the dish.
  • Nutrition estimate: based on two fajitas per person, using store-bought tortillas (homemade tortillas are about 50 calories extra each), and optional toppings not included.
  • To make them healthier use corn tortillas instead of flour. I like to warm corn tortillas in skillet in a teaspoon of olive oil until lightly golden brown spots appear on each side.

Topping Ideas (optional)

  • Guacamole or sliced avocado
  • Salsa or diced tomatoes
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Mexican hot sauce (such as Tapatio or Cholula)
  • Cheese - queso fresco, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or cheddar
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Fajitas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 525 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 100mg33%
Sodium 1261mg55%
Potassium 958mg27%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 39g78%
Vitamin A 3199IU64%
Vitamin C 127mg154%
Calcium 99mg10%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: Chicken Fajitas
Author: Jaclyn