Let's talk about the fajita effect. It's the restaurant moment when a server swaggers by with a sizzling platter of fajitas and all heads turn to the sound and aroma of seasoned meat, peppers, and onions parading past the table. If you were smart enough to order that platter, you gloat as you pile warm tortillas with all the toppings and meat fresh from the skillet.
Recreating that exquisitely satisfying fajita effect at home is easier than you might think, and you can even make enough to share, thanks to the trusty, ever-versatile sheet pan.
The Sheet Pan: Poster Child of Hands-Off Cooking
The beauty of this dish is that one baking sheet can make enough fajitas to feed a hungry crowd. Getting a lot of flavor into the chicken requires just a few pantry ingredients and some quick marinating time while heating up the oven. By slicing chicken breasts into thinner pieces first, there's more surface area to absorb the flavorful marinade, and they'll cook much faster.
After the chicken's roasted on a hot sheet pan, it's set aside to rest while the peppers and onions cook on the same sheet pan and the tortillas warm in stacks on a different oven rack. You might be tempted to put the chicken and peppers on different baking sheets and cook them at the same time, but the food will steam and not cook up as nicely. Plus, the chicken benefits from some resting time to stay nice and juicy when it's being sliced, and the veggies soak up some of the chicken flavor from the sheet pan.
These fajitas only need 20 minutes total of cooking time in the oven, which is just about the right amount of time to prep your toppings. Slice up avocados or make guacamole, open up a favorite jar of salsa, and cut up limes to squeeze over the fajitas. A magical sheet pan dinner awaits!
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
For the chicken and peppers:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 3 limes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
16 to 20 small flour or corn tortillas
3 medium bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 medium yellow or red onions, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
Guacamole or sliced avocado
Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally (also known as butterflying). Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
Whisk 1/3 cup of the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and garlic together in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place the chicken pieces one by one into the marinade, flipping each one to coat. Arrange the chicken into an even layer, it's okay that they stack and overlap. Let sit at room temperature while you heat the oven, 20 to 30 minutes.
Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 500°F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while it heats.
Carefully take the baking sheet out of the oven. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess marinade drip off, and place in a single layer on the hot baking sheet.
Place the chicken on the upper rack and roast until just cooked through or it registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place 2 large sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface. Stack 8 to 10 tortillas on each sheet of foil and wrap completely in the foil. Place the bell peppers and onions in a large bowl, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a large plate or cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and set aside to rest. Pour off any excess liquid on the baking sheet. Transfer the bell peppers and onions onto the now-empty baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
Place the baking sheet on the upper rack and place the foil packets of tortillas on the lower rack. Roast until the bell peppers and onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch wide pieces across the grain and transfer to a serving platter. Transfer the bell peppers to a serving bowl or platter. Serve with the warmed tortillas, guacamole or avocado, salsa, sour cream, and lime wedges.
- Make ahead: The chicken marinade can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature and whisk again before using.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.