These juicy Chicken fajitas are a full sensory experience, from the sizzling veggies to the aromatic spices caramelizing on the griddle. Dive into this classic Tex-Mex dish with flour tortillas, slices of lime, sour cream, and of course an ice-cold cerveza.
This easy recipe for chicken fajitas is very different from most that you’ll find. There are a few very specific steps added in here to make sure the chicken is NOT dry, and extremely juicy. Also, no more bland vegetables, they finally get some love to enhance their flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
- No more dry chicken. Marinating a whole chicken breast instead of sliced up pieces ensures the chicken stays juicy from grilling, while still injecting it with flavors. Slice at the end and you’ll taste the difference.
- Vibrant vegetables. These peppers and onions are also marinated with simple flavors designed to enhance their natural sweetness and spice. It’s a quick extra step, but the difference in flavor is huge.
- Easy weeknight meal. Prep the marinades in the morning and grill the healthy chicken fajitas when you get home. This recipe allows you to have everything ready to go, even if you plan to travel.
Chicken Fajita Marinade
This bold marinade comes right out of my Chiles and Smoke Cookbook, so you know I’m committed to the flavors. It’s designed in mind to bring a balance of zest, smoke, and of course a little spice.
- Chili powder
- Kosher salt
- Chipotle powder
- Ground turmeric
- Ground ginger
- Fresh lime juice
- Olive oil
Fajita Vegetable Marinade
Giving the peppers and onions a bath in this tangy, simple vegetable marinade makes a WORLD of difference. The red wine vinegar is the secret, just adding enough zing to really boost the natural sweetness.
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
How to Make Chicken Fajitas
- Marinate the chicken and vegetables.
Prepare both the chicken and vegetable marinades and place the ingredients in separate bags. You may use a resealable zipped plastic bag, or even a vacuum sealer (shown above). Give the food at least a few hours to marinade, up to overnight.
- Start to grill the chicken first. The chicken breasts will take longer to cook, so start with those. Wipe off the excess marinade and get them onto a medium-heat grill, cast iron skillet, or griddle.
Cooking chicken fajitas on a griddle makes the most sense, as it provides the largest surface area for cooking the vegetables as well. However, if you only have a charcoal grill you can use a vegetable grill basket or cast iron skillet for cooking the vegetables.
Sear the marinated chicken breasts for about 5-6 minutes before flipping. If you have a lid for the griddle or grill, this helps speed up the process as well.
- Sauté the peppers and onions. Once the chicken has seared and been flipped for the first time, go ahead and add the peppers and onions.
The marinade has a little oil, which helps to sauté the vegetables. Pour out the contents of the bag onto the warm griddle surface and spread them out. This will help the peppers and onions to cook properly without getting soggy.
- Finish cooking the chicken. Make sure the chicken has a nice sear on both sides, and the temperature in the middle is rising adequately. Flip, or use the grill lid as needed to make sure it has a chance to fully cook.
The target temperature for this chicken breast is about 158-160°F in the thickest part.
Once the chicken breasts reach this temperature, remove them and allow them to rest tented under aluminum foil. The carry-over cooking will bring the internal temperature past 165°F which is the safe zone for chicken.
Serving the Chicken Fajitas
Once the chicken has rested for a few minutes, go ahead and slice and serve! It’s best to mix the chicken in with the peppers and onions to maximize all of the flavors coming together.
At this point the chicken will be the juiciest, having been cooked whole and sliced to serve.
Traditionally chicken fajitas are served on flour tortillas with a dollop of sour cream. Feel free to mix and match the toppings with different pickled vegetables, hot sauce, or salsas.
These can even be served as chicken fajita rice bowls, or as a salad (which you’ll find the recipe for in the Chiles and Smoke Cookbook)
- Flatten the chicken breasts. If they are extremely thick, feel free to flatten them ahead of time by smacking them with a cast iron skillet or baking sheet first. You can place the chicken breasts in a large resealable bag or plastic wrap and give them a smack or two to flatten them to an even thickness, not a pancake. This helps to ensure they cook evenly.
- Don’t marinate for days. The acid in the marinade will make the texture of the chicken funny, and soften the vegetables too much if you marinate them for too long. Overnight is really the max, roughly 8-10 hours.
- Use whole chicken breasts, not strips. Trust me on this, even if it takes a little longer to cook. Grilled whole chicken breasts will be much juicier, and you won’t lose out on flavor. Plus it’s less prep for you!
- 2 chicken breasts, about 4–5 ounces each
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chile powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 poblano chiles, sliced into strips
- 2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 red onion, sliced into strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Marinate the chicken and vegetables. Whisk the ingredients together in a mixing bowl for the chicken marinade. Place the chicken into a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade in. Repeat the process for the sliced vegetables. Allow the food to marinate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
- Start to grill the chicken first. Preheat a griddle or grill to medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off the excess liquid, allowing it to rest at room temperature while the cooking surface warms up. Sear the chicken, pressing it down, and allow it to cook for about 5-6 minutes undisturbed.
- Sauté the peppers and onions. Once the chicken has seared on the first side, go ahead and flip it. Add the marinated vegetables to the griddle and spread them out, allowing them to cook evenly. Let them cook for a few minutes undisturbed before stirring them up.
- Finish cooking the chicken. The chicken should sear for another 5-6 minutes on the second side. Check the temperature, the target is about 158-160°F in the thickest part. Close the lid of the grill or griddle if you need to make sure the inside is fully cooked (see tips for flattening chicken). Use your intuition, flip and continue to cook as you need.
- Rest and serve. Remove the chicken and vegetables when they are finished cooking. The vegetables might be ready sooner, so just be prepared. Allow the chicken to rest under a sheet of aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before slicing. Mix with the vegetables and serve immediately with warm flour tortillas and toppings.
- Flatten the chicken breasts if they are very thick to speed up the cooking process. If they are extremely thick, feel free to flatten them ahead of time by smacking them with a cast iron skillet or baking sheet first. You can place the chicken breasts in a large resealable bag or plastic wrap and give them a smack or two to flatten them to an even thickness, not a pancake. This helps to ensure they cook evenly.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Marinate Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Chicken & Poultry
- Method: Griddle
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: chicken fajitas, marinated chicken, vegetable marinade, chicken fajitas tacos, grilled chicken breast