Chicken Fajitas

published Jul 1, 2024
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Big surprise: The Texas girl loves fajitas. Can you blame me? I grew up going out to Tex-Mex restaurants all the time, and I have to tell you that few meals are as fun as a sizzling platter of fajitas presented to your table with all of the fixings (or, if you’re very lucky, a sizzling tower). Now I live in New York where there are a lot of amazing restaurants, but there are no good fajitas here (sorry!). 

I’m almost embarrassed to admit I didn’t even bother trying to make fajitas at home until I moved up here and found myself in dire need. To my surprise and absolute delight, they’re actually extremely easy to make at home with a cast iron skillet. If I have a little extra time, I like to do it up like a true Tex-Mex restaurant, with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice, a scoop of guac, pico de gallo, and sour cream, and shredded lettuce — the works. But if I’m just trying to get dinner on the table, some warm flour tortillas, shredded cheese, and store-bought salsa will still do the trick.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Why You’ll Love It

  • The chicken is anything but dry! This is a pretty common fajita issue if you ask me. To prevent that, I sear the chicken breasts whole in a cast iron skillet. This locks in the moisture (and avoids fussing with raw chicken too much; something I really don’t enjoy!). 
  • It’s a winning weeknight dinner. A skillet of sizzling chicken fajitas can be a quick and easy meal with warm tortillas, or part of a larger spread with rice, beans, and more. Fajita night is as big or casual as the sides you choose.

Key Ingredients in Chicken Fajitas

  • Chicken: Sear chicken breasts whole so they don’t dry out, then slice after cooking.
  • Spices: A combination of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano make the chicken flavorful while forming a crunchy crust on the outside.
  • Onions: Sliced onions caramelize and char in spots, and add a bunch of flavor.
  • Peppers: Red and green bell peppers add color and a nice serving of vegetables. Add a jalapeño for a little heat.
  • Lime: A squeeze of acidic lime juice perks everything up.
  • Accompaniments. You can go all out with beans and rice or simply warm some tortillas and grate some cheese. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Chicken Fajitas

  1. Prep the chicken. Toss the chicken with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper, then set aside to marinate while you prep everything else.
  2. Prep the accompaniments. If you’re warming tortillas, now’s the time to do that. Gather and prep any toppings, cook rice, and warm refried beans if serving.
  3. Cook the fajitas. Sear the chicken until well-browned on the outside and cooked through. Set the chicken aside and cook sliced peppers and onions until browned and softened. As they break down, they soak up all that browning left behind by the chicken. Slice the chicken and add it back to the pan, then squeeze lime juice over everything for a final touch.

Helpful Swaps

  • Instead of chicken, toss steak or shrimp in the seasoning, or use a combination.
  • Use leftovers to make burrito bowls.
  • Swap the seasonings for a store-bought fajita spice mix to simplify the ingredient list.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

You can season the chicken and refrigerate up to 1 day in advance. Depending on the accompaniments you choose, some can likely be prepared in advance. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

What to Serve with Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas Recipe

Sizzle sizzle.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 2 teaspoons

    chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 to 3)

For the fajitas:

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1

    large white or yellow onion

  • 2

    medium red bell peppers

  • 1

    medium green bell pepper

  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper (optional)

  • 1

    medium lime

  • Kosher salt

Serving options:

  • 12 to 16

    small flour tortillas

  • Romaine or iceberg lettuce

  • Guacamole

  • Sour cream

  • Pico de gallo

  • Shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or Mexican blend cheese

Instructions

  1. Place 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts and toss to coat evenly with the seasonings.

  2. Prepare the toppings and tortillas: Warm 12 to 16 small flour tortillas one at a time by holding them directly over a medium flame on a gas stove, or in a skillet over medium heat, flipping occasionally, until charred in spots and pliable. Stack and wrap in a clean kitchen towel or aluminum foil to keep warm. Cut romaine or iceberg lettuce into fine shreds.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until blackened in spots and cooked through (an internal temperature of at least 165ºF), 7 to 10 minutes per side. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables.

  4. Halve and cut 1 large white or yellow onion into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups). Trim and cut 2 medium red bell peppers and 1 medium green bell peppers into 1/4-inch slices (about 4 1/2 cups total). Trim and thinly slice 1 medium jalapeño pepper crosswise if desired. Halve 1 medium lime; cut one half into wedges and reserve for serving.

  5. When the chicken is ready, transfer to a clean cutting board. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, and peppers (including jalapeño) to the pan. Season lightly with kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  6. Slice the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces and add to the skillet. Squeeze the lime half over the fajita mixture and toss to combine. Serve in flour tortillas with the reserved lime wedges and desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days (refrigerate the toppings separately).