The BEST Chicken or Steak Fajitas

I know you’ve all been posed the question (and I have no idea where or when, but somehow I have had to answer it many times thus far in my relatively short life): “If you had to pick one thing to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?” And while I would hate to be required to pick just one thing, this meal would be one of my top contenders. People use the word “Best” a little too often in recipe titles, but I genuinely believe this is the best fajita marinade! It has the perfect combination of ingredients for the tangy, savory, well seasoned fajitas. You can use steak or chicken, or a combination of both- it’s great on pretty much anything! We love to pair this meal with things like homemade Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Black Beans and Rice, and tortilla chips. It also works really well in a bowl-style meal, where you pile everything over rice.

Platter of Fajitas surrounded by toppings

Ingredient Notes

  • Chicken or Steak – You can use your choice of meat; boneless chicken breasts work great, as do chicken thighs or tenders. Steak is also awesome–flank steak and sirloin are both fantastic cuts for this recipe. We often do both chicken and steak.
  • Bell Peppers – Use red, yellow, or orange, or a combination of all 3. Avoid green bell peppers as they aren’t as sweet.
  • Onions –  Sweet onions, white onions, and purple onions all work just fine, I love using purple because of the pop of color!

For the Marinade:

  • Lime Juice – Avoid bottled lime juice as it tends to be bitter. Fresh lime is best, or True Lime Crystallized lime powder works great as well.
  • Oil- This recipe calls for vegetable oil, but avocado oil works as well. Just a little bit helps coat the meat and prevents sticking.
  • Garlic – I recommend fresh garlic, but you can use dry in a pinch.
  • White Vinegar – of all the vinegar choices, white is your best bet in this recipe.
  • Soy Sauce – This might seem like a strange component for fajitas, but just a little bit of soy sauce adds the perfect flavor.
  • Liquid Smoke -If you’re not familiar with liquid smoke, you can find it near the BBQ sauces.  It’s definitely one of the key flavor components in this recipe.
  • Seasonings: Salt and Pepper, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder

How to Make Fajitas

  1. Start by making the marinade my mixing up all of the ingredients. TIP: I love to set aside a few tablespoons to drizzle over the finished grilled meat. I’ll often double the marinade to have extra.
  2. You’ll want to cut your vegetables depending on how you plan to cook them. Generally, my go-to method is to use a grill basket. It sits directly on your grill like a pan and allows you to cook small vegetables without them falling through the grates. If you’re using a grill basket, you can slice your vegetables into thin slices. If you don’t have a grill basket, you’ll want to cut your onions into thick slices and cut your peppers into quarters. Place a skewer through the onion slices so they stay together on the grill and place the peppers directly on the grill as you see in the photo above. Lastly, if I’m making a large batch of fajitas, sometimes choose to do the onions and peppers in the oven, while I grill my meat. Toss them in a little oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and spread them out on a large baking sheet. Roast at 425° (use convection mode if you have it) until they’re soft and slightly charred.
  3. You can certainly toss your meat and your vegetables in the same marinade, but if you’re trying to squeeze in as much protein into the marinade as you can, they I suggest just keeping your vegetables separate. They don’t need nearly as much marinade, just a little splash is fine. I sometimes don’t even marinate the vegetables- I’ll just coat them with a little oil and salt and pepper before cooking. Regardless, place your meat in the marinade. Make sure everything is coated well, and then marinate in the fridge for at least 4-8 hours
  4. Preheat your grill and then cook your meat and your vegetables. The vegetables may cook faster than the meat, so have a plate ready to remove them when done and cover loosely with foil. You can also use a grill pan indoors.
  5. Once everything is cooked, you’ll slice the meat and serve it with tortillas and other toppings!

Other Topping Suggestions

platter of fajitas

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If it’s not grill season at your house, you might enjoy one of these recipes as well!

Fajitas arranged on a platter

The BEST Chicken or Steak Fajitas

5 from 25 votes
This homemade fajita marinade will knock your socks off. This is truly one of our favorite meals!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings5 people

Equipment

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1-1 ½ pounds chicken, boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs or steak (sirloin or flank steak)
  • 2-3 red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers sliced or halved
  • 1 onion, large sliced into ½" thick slices

Marinade

  • ¼ cup lime juice freshly squeezed
  • cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder or chipotle chili powder chipotle chili powder will have heat and smoke
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

Serving

Instructions

Marinade

  • In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and whisk well. Optionally, you may reserve 3-4 tablespoons of marinade in an airtight container and store in fridge to drizzle over finished meat.
  • Place meat in a zip-top bag or shallow dish. Place vegetables in another.
  • With remaining marinade, add a splash to the vegetables (enough for a light coating) and the remaining to the meat. Marinate for 4-6 hours and up to overnight.

Grill

  • Preheat outdoor grill (our preference) to medium heat. When the grill is hot, lighly oil grates and place everything on at the same time in a single layer. Cook until desired doneness is reached, flipping once (about 7 minutes per side for chicken breasts, 3-4 minutes per side for chicken thighs, or see this tutorial for How to Grill the Perfect Steak).
    Using a digital thermometer, cook chicken breasts until it reaches 165° in the thickest portion, and immediately remove and cover. If using chicken thighs, aim for between 170-175° for improved flavor and texture.
    You may need to remove the vegetables before the meat is done; just transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
  • When the meat is done, transfer to a plate and allow to stand for a few minutes, tented with foil, then slice the meat. Drizzle reserved marinade over finished meat and veggies and serve.

Indoor Instructions

  • Heat a large skillet or grill pan to medium heat. Cook the peppers and onions first and then remove from pan, covering loosely with foil.  Cook chicken or steak on each side until cooked through and remove from pan and allow to rest, tented with foil, for a few minutes before slicing. Drizzle reserved marinade over finished meat and veggies and serve.

Toppings & Sides:

Notes

  • If you’re not familiar with liquid smoke, you can find it near the BBQ sauces.  Don’t make this without it! It’s definitely one of the key components. It makes things smoky and super flavorful. Start with 1 teaspoon and add more if you’d like a smokier flavor. 
  • Nutritional information was calculated without the use of toppings.
  • If you’re making a large batch, or don’t have room for both your meat and your vegetables on your grill, you may consider roasting the peppers and onions.  Simply toss in a little oil, sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Cook in a preheated 425° oven until softened and slightly charred, about 20-30 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 191kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 636mg, Potassium: 543mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1346IU, Vitamin C: 54mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Courses
Cuisine: BBQ, Latin
Keyword: Beef Fajitas, Chicken Fajitas
Calories: 191kcal
Author: Sara Wells
Cost: 20
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I LOVE these!!! they have been a HUGE summer staple this year – add some pico, guac, and cilantro-lime dressing and i'm in heaven Ü

  2. 5 stars
    I LOVE these!!! they have been a HUGE summer staple this year – add some pico, guac, and cilantro-lime dressing and i'm in heaven Ü

  3. How do you always know what I've been hungry for??!! Making shopping list now… can't wait to try these!

  4. Just out of curiosity,why do you marinate the vegetables separate from the meat? I have always done them together.

  5. this is the first time i've tried these! my recipe is pretty similar, but doesn't pack quite as much heat… delicious as usual and my husband loved them!

  6. increible! sabroso! okay, so I MUST ask. . . where on earth do you find your Aloha soy sauce? I noticed (blog stalking for some time–btw, you girls are amazing!) that sara you are in the boise id area. me too! I am DYING for the Aloha since our Hawaii trip last year. ?? and thank you so so so much for your blog. my fav!

  7. sure Carly. Obviously lime juice is going to be better, but if you were desperate and just had lemon, I’d throw a little in there, just for the tang. Maybe a little less though, so it’s not too strong.

  8. Stupid late question here: If you run out of limes can you add in lemon juice to the marinade?!

    I’m exited, my meat is marinating right now but I wanted to ask that question for the future.

  9. I made these last week and they were yummy! I made extra marinade because I too, like to see my chicken swimming.

  10. those look amazing! And your photography is beautiful. I think photographing food is difficult. I see a lot of people try and it just looks gross. So, good job on the fajitas, and good job on the photography. I am going to make these this week for sure.

    Muy bien

    Michelle

  11. Hey, Robyn! Aloha Shoyu is so good! It’s a little milder and sweeter and less salty and “brewy” than regular soy sauce. I just did a huge event and used regular soy sauce instead and the smell of it was almost overwhelming. I think Aloha Shoyu is just more flavorful. I could always get it at Walmart, the Orem Walmart in particular (if you’re in Utah County). Give it a shot and let us know what you think! 🙂

  12. Que Pasa? (That’s the best I can think of right now. I have a question about this Aloha Shoya soy sauce. I know Kate mentioned that she has Sara send it to her, what makes it so great? And where to you find it. I use soy sauce a ton, but usually just buy Kikoman from Costco.

  13. Awesome! I love this recipe…I don’t always like liquid smoke, but in this and baked beans, delish!

    I only recently started eating chicken, and have always made this sans meat, and never even missed it. But I agree with Carly, it is FANTASTIC with shrimps, too.

    oh, and I can’t wait for the tortilla recipes!

  14. These look so yummy! I can’t wait to try them. I am getting into the ground turkey scene and I want to try meatloaf and I need a good recipe and I knew you guys are bound to have one! Any Suggestions? Oh, and el trabajo? That is about all I know. Isn’t that the bathroom?

  15. Um Sara, I would like to see a post on how to make your own liquid smoke. Please arrange that. (Alton Brown did it… certainly you can too.) And, oh yeah… Olé for fajitas!

  16. You guys have totally inspired me to make these tonight! And bless you for saying you’ll follow up with a tortilla recipe! –Nobody should have to eat those tasteless cardboard things, also known as store bought tortillas! I could totally leave out the jalapenos but Jer would cause an uprising.

  17. 5 stars
    Hmmm. In the words of Dora’s Backpack: “Yum yum yum, delicioso!” (

    Seriously though, this is THE BEST fajita marinade ever. I love the liquid smoke and chili powder flavors so much, I usually increase them!

  18. P.S. (Hola!) lol…

    If you LIKE seafood, you can do shrimp, which is what I do when I make fajitas and it’s the bomb. Now it will be even MORE bomb because I have the marinade recipe! My hubby loves loves loves fajitas. So gracias!

  19. Jessie, you could totally do vegetarian fajitas! 🙂 What about using portabello mushrooms instead of the chicken?

  20. Jesse, you *totally* get points! haha

    Hey, you could totally still make this and do tons of good veggies. Do you like tofu? I bet you could use the marinade on that too. It would still be awesome.

  21. Too bad I’m vegetarian, this looks great. No fajita por moi! (OK, so that’s more French than Spanish, but do I get points for trying?)

  22. liquid smoke seems to give food that restaurant taste and smell, really hard to eat out after having this stuff…

  23. Sara, those look awesome! YUM!

    If you don’t have a grill (or don’t want to grill), you can saute the veggies (preferably in a cast-iron skillet) with some of the marinade.

    Oh, and funny that you bring up the jalapenos–I don’t actually like them very much! I actually thought you liked them better than I did. I use them when I need to, but I don’t particularly like them.

  24. Looks mucho bueno! The only other spanish I can think of is el bano, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this.

    I’ve never used liquid smoke as a marinade – I’ll have to try it! I used it a while back for a brisket recipe and remember reading the label and being puzzled about what is actually in it. Interesting stuff, but man it packs a flavor punch.

    My favorite secret spice for all things mexican is chipotle chili powder. Mmm, mmm good! It makes my mango salsa dance on the plate all by itself.

  25. Muchas Gracias! We will be eating this for dinner on Monday or Tuesday! Oh, I am hungry now!