Chicken Fajitas Recipe

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.

I make big batches of Homemade Fajita Seasoning and keep it in the pantry, so chicken or Steak Fajitas are just minutes away. You can round out the dinner with my favorite Mexican recipes, like super easy Mexican Rice, a bowl of Chipotle's guacamole, and an icy-cold pitcher of Agua de Jamaica, made with hibiscus flowers.

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white serving platter.
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This is an all-time family favorite because everyone gets to build their own dinner just the way they want it. As long as I have the ingredients, it's blissfully easy to whip up on even the busiest weeknight. And they're SO GOOD. As in, can't-stop-until-the-last-tortilla-is-gone good.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs make the juiciest chicken fajitas. But yes, of course you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead. I do all the time. What's in my freezer? That's what I'm using.

Whatever you do, just make sure there’s a nice assortment of toppings: guacamole or avocado slices, hot sauce, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream for starters… because homemade fajitas are all about the extras!

Need Chicken Fajitas for a herd of hungry cowboys? Click and slide the number next to ‘servings’ on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

History of Fajitas:

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.

Chicken fajita ingredients in various bowls.

The Ultimate Fajita Seasoning:

This recipe uses my favorite Fajita Seasoning blend. It's a perfectly balanced mix of chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. 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.

I make fajitas A LOT, so I go through it.

Skip the store-bought packets and make your own homemade Fajita Seasoning! It's incredibly simple and can be mixed together in minutes (and you can reduce or omit the salt and the sugar if you want to). This versatile spice blend is great on fajitas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more! The best part: It lasts for ages, so go ahead and make a double batch. 

How to make Chicken Fajitas:

  1. Start with the marinade. Mix together the seasoning, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Add the chicken and mix until the chicken is coated in the marinade. You can do this in a plastic bag, or a glass baking dish or non-reactive bowl. 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 160 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.

How to Grill Chicken Fajitas:

Grills are also a great way to make fajitas! 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.

Tips for the best, most mouth-watering fajitas:

  • Consider the fajita pan. 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.
  • 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.

How do you eat Chicken Fajitas?

So easy, so delicious.

  1. First, warm up the corn or flour tortillas of your choice, and grab one in your hand.
  2. Next, arrange some chicken and peppers inside a tortilla and fold it into a bite-able shape.
  3. Finally, fill it up with toppings, and then take your first bite.

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white serving platter.

How do you heat 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.

Don't forget the toppings for Chicken Fajitas!

Whether you're having steak, chicken, or shrimp fajitas, here are some of my favorite, must-have fajita toppings:

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Cheese or sour cream (or Mexican crema, if you can find it)
  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • Pickled jalapeños or shallots
  • Corn salsa
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Minced white onion & cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges

What sides do you serve with Chicken Fajitas?

Fill out the feast with some of my favorites:

Chicken and steak fajitas on two serving platters.

Other great fajitas variations:

  • Fajitas without peppers. If you’re wondering what can be substituted for peppers, try sautéing onions with zucchini ribbons (made with a vegetable peeler) and fresh kernels of corn cut off the cob. Whatever veggies you decide to add, try sprinkling them with 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano just like in my Chipotle copycat fajita veggies. That ups the Tex-Mex flavor; I promise you'll love it!
  • Healthy fajitas. Fajitas already make a healthy and delicious dinner, as long as you’re generous with the vegetables and keep the toppings low in calories.
  • Fajitas without tortillas. If you're watching your carbs, look for low-carb alternatives for tortillas, or skip the tortilla altogether and make a fajita bowl. Or, use a lettuce or cabbage leaf and make a wrap!

 

Chicken fajitas on a blue and white platter.

Chicken Fajitas Recipe

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.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 401kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the fajita seasoning:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon 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
  • 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 (see notes for grill method)
  • 1 large red onion halved and thinly sliced (see notes for grill method)
  • flour tortillas warmed, for serving
  • avocados sliced, for serving
  • fresh cilantro minced, for serving
  • sour cream for serving
  • Mexican rice for serving

Instructions

To make the seasoning:

  • 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 make the marinade:

  • 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).

To cook chicken fajitas on the stove:

  • 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 160 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).
  • Meanwhile, 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, avocado, cilantro, and sour cream (or your favorite toppings).

To cook chicken fajitas on a gas grill:

  • Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Clean and oil cooking grate.
  • Place chicken on hotter side of grill and cook, covered but turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to cooler side of grill and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.
  • Meanwhile, place onion rounds and bell pepper quarters (skin side down) over all medium burners. Cook until tender and charred on both sides, 8 to 12 minutes, flipping every 3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board with chicken. Separate onions into rings and slice bell peppers into 1/4-inch strips. 
  • Arrange sliced chicken and veggies on a platter and serve with tortillas, avocado, cilantro, and sour cream (or your favorite toppings).

To cook chicken fajitas on a charcoal grill:

  • Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
  • Place chicken on hotter side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to cooler side of grill and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.
  • Meanwhile, place onion rounds and bell pepper quarters (skin side down) on hotter side of grill. Cook until tender and charred on both sides, 8 to 12 minutes, flipping every 3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board with chicken. Separate onions into rings and slice bell peppers into 1/4-inch strips. 
  • Arrange sliced chicken and veggies on a platter and serve with tortillas, avocado, cilantro, and sour cream (or your favorite toppings).

Video

Notes

How to cook fajita veggies on grill:
  1. Peel red onion and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Do not separate rings.
  2. Quarter, stem, and seed bell peppers.
  3. While chicken rests, place onion rounds and bell pepper quarters (skin side down) on hotter side of grill (for charcoal) or over all medium burners (for gas grill).
  4. Cook until tender and charred on both sides, 8 to 12 minutes, flipping every 3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board with chicken. 
  5. Separate onions into rings and slice bell peppers into 1/4-inch strips. 

Nutrition

Calories: 401kcal
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  1. Kelli

    Would you be able to use bone in skin on chicken thighs some how? And if so how would you cook them?

    1. meggan

      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. Dave

    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

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