Chicken fajitas with onions and bell peppers make for a simple family meal. An easy marinade with fajita seasoning and a quick sear in the skillet is all that is required for the most crispy and flavorful fajitas ever. Serve with your favorite toppings!
Chicken fajitas are an easy and healthy weekday meal, perfect for lunch or dinner. Everyone can throw together seasoned chicken strips in a pan and pile them on some tortillas. But this post is all about the tricks to getting crispy, loaded-with-flavor chicken fajitas that have a beautiful crisp-charred exterior while remaining moist and tender inside. Now, that’s the kind of chicken we want for our fajitas, not flavorless, dried out chicken that is just meh. But, first the lineup for making these crispy chicken fajitas.
Note: see recipe card further down in the post for exact amounts.
- Chicken thighs or breasts – boneless and skinless
- Avocado oil – you can use light olive oil also
- Lime juice – freshly squeezed
- Fajita seasoning
- Red onion
- Bell peppers – green, red, yellow or orange
That’s it! This is a six-ingredient recipe (plus salt) unless you’re making your own fajita seasoning. Speaking of which, if you have a few common spices in your cabinet and an extra minute, you can whip up your own homemade chicken fajita seasoning that is FAR superior to the packaged one. Scroll down to find out how.
1. Combine the avocado oil, lime juice, fajita seasoning, and sea salt in a shallow bowl and add the chicken. Cover with cling foil and marinate for 30 minutes.
2. While the chicken is marinating, slice the onion and bell peppers into strips and keep them aside.
3. Place a seasoned cast iron skillet on your stovetop on medium-high heat. Wait until the skillet is quite hot, then drizzle a little oil to coat it. Add the marinated chicken, shaking off the excess marinade. Reserve the extra marinade for later, don’t discard it. Sear the chicken, first on one side, then the other until it gets slightly charred. Now you can turn down the heat a bit so the chicken doesn’t burn. Flip a few times to ensure a nice, even char. The chicken will take 7-8 minutes per side to get cooked through. Remove it onto a platter and keep aside.
4. Clean the skillet with a paper towel if there are burnt bits stuck to the bottom. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil into the skillet and add the onion and bell pepper strips. Add the leftover marinade from the chicken. Toss them on high heat until crisp (2-3 minutes only). Don’t overcook them as you do want a little crunch.
5. Slice the chicken into strips and add them back into the pan. Your crispy chicken fajitas with onions and bell peppers are ready. Pile them onto tortillas with the toppings of your choice. Serve hot.
How to make homemade fajita seasoning
It is SO easy to make your own seasoning if you have the spices! To tell you the truth, I don’t buy fajita seasoning any more because the seasoning I make at home gives the meat much more flavor and punch. All you need is half a teaspoon each of the following ground spices:
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
Combine all the dry, ground spices and your fajita seasoning is ready already!
- Warm some wheat or corn tortillas and pile them with the fajitas. Top with guacamole, salsa, sour cream or cheese (or a combo of the toppings you like) and serve hot.
- If you want a low-carb option, skip the tortillas and put the fajitas on some lettuce to make lettuce wraps instead.
- You can also make a chicken fajita salad! Throw the fajitas into a bowl and add beans, your choice of leafy greens, corn and avocado slices for a super-healthy meal.
Top tips for making crispy and tender chicken fajitas
As promised, here are the tips to make the most crispy, perfectly seared but moist and juicy fajitas ever. You can’t go wrong if you follow these tips.
- Use a cast iron skillet to get the perfect sear and char – a non-stick pan works too if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, but a heavy skillet is the best for a good sear.
- Make sure the skillet is quite hot before adding the chicken – this is to get the sear. Once the chicken is seared, you can turn down the heat and saute the chicken until it is cooked.
- Use a marinade, not a dry rub – many recipes call for rubbing the fajita seasoning directly into the chicken, but in my experience, this leads to dried out chicken. The oil and lemon juice when combined with the spices make the chicken tender.
- Saute whole chicken breasts or thighs – don’t cut the chicken into strips before sauteing them. For the best results, do it after. The chicken remains moist if you cut it after it is cooked.
- Chicken thighs or breasts? If you follow the tips given above, even chicken breasts will turn out quite moist, but it is a known fact that thigh meat retains moisture better than breasts. Use the cut of your choice!
Pro Tip: If you’re using chicken breasts, you have the option of slicing the raw breasts horizontally into two halves. You will get four pieces. Not strictly necessary, but this will cut down on the cooking time as the chicken is now thinner. Instead of eight minutes of sautéing per side, the meat will be cooked in four!
Absolutely! Make the fajitas and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days. When you want to have them, reheat them in a skillet or frypan and serve with warmed tortillas. In fact, you can meal prep chicken fajitas very easily. Portion out the fajitas in individual containers and keep in the fridge. Take them out as needed.
You bet! Fajitas are made with all natural ingredients and vegetables. There are no unhealthy fats, sugar, gluten or dairy unless you choose to add toppings that have dairy or gluten in them. If you want dairy-free, gluten-free fajitas, use avocados for topping them and wrap them in corn tortillas or lettuce.
Oh, yes. If you have leftover cooked or rotisserie chicken, just toss it in the marinade and saute for 2 -3 minutes only on high heat. Since the chicken is already cooked, you don’t have to cook it for too long, just enough for the spices to stick to the meat.
They are a bit spicy as most Mexican food is. However, you can control the spice level if you make your own fajita seasoning. Reduce the amount of chili powder to make less spicy fajitas.
Crispy Chicken Fajitas
- Shallow bowl
- Cast iron skillet
- 3 tbsp avocado oil or light olive oil, divided
- 2 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- 3 tbsp fajita seasoning
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 red onion medium-sized
- 3 bell peppers different colors
- Combine 1 tbsp avocado oil, lime juice, fajita seasoning and sea salt in a shallow bowl and add the chicken. Cover with cling foil and marinate for 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, slice the onion and bell peppers into strips and keep them aside.
- Place a seasoned cast iron skillet on your stovetop on medium-high heat. Wait until the skillet is quite hot, then drizzle 1 tbsp oil to coat it. Add the marinated chicken, shaking off the excess marinade. Reserve the extra marinade for later. Sear the chicken, first on one side, then the other until it gets slightly charred. Now you can turn down the heat a bit so the chicken doesn’t burn. Flip a few times to ensure a nice, even char. The chicken will take 7-8 minutes per side to get cooked through. Remove it onto a platter and keep aside.
- Clean the skillet with a paper towel if there are burnt bits stuck to the bottom. Drizzle the last tablespoon of oil into the skillet and add the onion and bell pepper strips. Add the leftover marinade from the chicken. Toss them on high heat until crisp (2-3 minutes only). Don’t overcook them as you do want a little crunch.
- Slice the chicken into strips and add them back into the pan. Pile onto tortillas with the toppings of your choice. Serve hot.
- Chicken thighs can also be used instead of chicken breasts.
- Make your own fajita seasoning if you don’t want to use the packaged one. Take 1/2 tsp each of chilli powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl and mix them together.
- For crispy fajitas that have charred outer edge and moist insides, follow these recipe tips – marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, use a cast iron skillet, make sure it is very hot before you add the chicken, and cut the meat into strips after cooking it.
- For serving suggestions, see the body of the post.