When Chicken Fajitas are on the menu, any night feels like a party. This easy Tex-Mex recipe uses my perfected homemade fajita seasoning, juicy chicken thighs, and colorful peppers and onions, all sizzled up and ready to tuck into warm tortillas.

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white serving platter.

Fajitas are truly Tex-Mex! Down in the Texas borderlands, cattle ranchers and vaqueros (cowboys) would make fajitas with little bits of steak left over from butchering. Fajitas is a term for “little belts” which the thin strips of steak resembled.

You can make fajitas with chicken (like these), steak, shrimp, or even just veggies.

Recipe ingredients:

Chicken fajita ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Fajita seasoning: This recipe uses my favorite homemade blend. For this recipe, I’ve portioned out exactly what you need to make this recipe if you don’t already have a jar on hand.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. To make the marinade, mix together the seasoning, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Add the chicken and mix until the chicken is coated in the marinade. Let the chicken marinate 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to one hour in the refrigerator. The lime juice just needs a short amount of time to do its work. (If you prefer an overnight marinade, skip the lime juice and add it back in about one hour before you’re ready to start cooking.)
    Chicken marinading in a Ziploc bag.
  2. Cook the chicken with a little oil over high heat in the pan. Don’t move the chicken–let it stay put as it sears– and turn after about 8 minutes, when one side is crispy looking. Once you flip the chicken, continue to cook for another 6 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees.
    Chicken cooking on a black skillet.
  3. Move the cooked chicken onto a cutting board to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into “little belts.” (Resting will let keep the juices in the chicken, and make the most tender fajitas.)
    Sliced chicken on a wood cutting board.
  4. Use the chicken fat in the pan to cook the peppers and onions on high heat until softened.Sliced veggies in a black skillet.
  5. To serve, add the chicken back to the skillet, or pile everything onto a gorgeous platter and serve.
    Chicken and veggies in a black skillet.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Cast iron: If you have a cast iron pan, this should be your first choice. Nothing even comes close to the heat of a cast iron pan, especially for fajitas. Cast ion pans work the best because they can take a searing high heat without warping. However, a hard anodized aluminum pan will work as well, as will carbon steel.
  • Grill: Grill the chicken thighs as you would on a grill. Then plunk a cast iron skillet or a grill basket right on the grate and cook the peppers and onions. Or, you can skewer them and cook them that way. If you don’t have a grill-safe pan, cut the onions into fat rings. Then quarter the peppers, deseed them, and grill the veggies right over the coals until tender. Once done cooking, slice them into thin pieces and combine with the meat.
  • Preventing dry fajitas: To prevent dry chicken, I use chicken thighs instead of breasts, and I cook them whole to keep all that juice inside. After they’re finished cooking, I let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then I slice them up. I’ve found that the juiciest fajitas are made with thighs, but if you prefer breasts, use them.
  • Go bold. Don’t be afraid of using big flavors: chili powder, cumin, cilantro. It’s what gives the chicken so much appeal.

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white serving platter.

How do you warm tortillas?

Follow this method for both corn and flour tortillas.

  1. Heat a dry skillet over medium or medium-high heat (depending on how closely you will be watching the tortillas).
  2. Add tortillas in a single layer (no overlap) and heat until softened on one side (1-2 minutes).
  3. Flip and heat on the other side for another minute or so. Repeat with more tortillas.
  4. Wrap warmed tortillas in a towel or foil until serving time.

Or, you can warm them right on the coals—it only takes 30 seconds or so—or grill them over an open flame on the stove, flipping them with tongs.

Delicious sides for Fajitas:

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white serving platter.

Chicken Fajitas

This easy Chicken Fajitas recipe uses my perfected homemade fajita seasoning, juicy chicken thighs, and colorful peppers and onions, all sizzled up and ready to tuck into warm tortillas.
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 4 servings (1 cup EACH chicken and vegetables)
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 396

Ingredients 

For the fajita seasoning (see note 1):

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less to taste
  • salt

For the marinade:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice from 2 limes

For the fajitas:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or green) cut into strips
  • 1 large red onion halved and thinly sliced
  • tortillas warmed, for serving
  • sour cream and hot sauce, cilantro, and lime wedges, for serving

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste (I like 1 teaspoon).
  • To a large zipper-top plastic bag, add chicken, cilantro, lime juice, and fajita seasoning. Mash until chicken is evenly coated. Marinate at least 30 minutes (room temperature) or up to 1 hour (refrigerated).
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add chicken and cook until crispy and browned on one side, about 8 minutes.
  • Flip and cook until browned on the second side and chicken registers 165 degrees, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes before cutting into strips (do not discard fat in skillet).
  • To the skillet with the fat over medium-high heat, add bell peppers and onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Push peppers and onions to one side and add sliced chicken back to skillet for serving. Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Fajita seasoning: This recipe uses my favorite homemade blend. For this recipe, I've portioned out exactly what you need to make this recipe if you don't already have a jar on hand.
  2. Chicken: For the juiciest chicken fajitas, use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. After they’re finished cooking, I let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then I slice them up. Substitute chicken breasts if desired.
  3. Yield: Although you start with 2 pounds of raw chicken, you’ll have closer to 1 or 1 ½ pounds of cooked chicken after cooking. This recipe will make at least 4 servings (1 cup EACH chicken and vegetables per serving).
  4. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  5. Make ahead: Make the seasoning well in advance and marinade the chicken up to 1 hour before you want to start cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 8ouncesCalories: 396kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 46gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 227mgPotassium: 908mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 4568IUVitamin C: 163mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 3mg
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Comments

  1. You have to marinate for more than an hour ! I tried making this with one hour of marinating .. bland

    I usually marinade over night .. I will continue to do that4 stars

    1. Hi Kelli, yes that would be fine! I personally would brown the skins on the stove and then finish the chicken in the oven (you’ll need an oven-safe skillet).

      1. Marinate the chicken as directed in the recipe. Pat dry with paper towels.
      2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add chicken and cook until crispy and browned on one side, about 5 to 7 minutes without moving (the chicken should release easily on its own when it’s ready to be flipped).
      4. Flip the chicken and cook until a thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest thigh (juices should run clear), about 7 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board and let the chicken rest for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
      5. Remove and discard the skin and bones and shred or slice the chicken. Proceed with the rest of the recipe to cook the peppers and onions.

      I hope this is helpful! If you have any other questions, just let me know. Thank you!

      Meggan

  2. Never thought to make these with beef. I’m pretty much chickened out – except for skin on, breaded and deep fried – true health food. lol

    Otherwise this is the recipe I already use. I brine, poach and shred my chicken so it stays juicier and soaks up the fajita flavors more, plus I use all four colors of bell peppers and lots of onion.

    These are very flavorful and reheat well too.5 stars

  3. Wow, really, I can’t get over that delicious taste! So simple and yet – Thank you for this recipe – it’s a real keeper5 stars