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. I love fajitas that much. But not just any fajitas- they have to be good. Really good. So toss out the store-bought seasoning packet and the 50 for $1 bag of tortillas. I’m going to show you a flavor-packed marinade that you can whip up in a flash. And when you combine it with homemade tortillas and all the fixins, these will be the best chicken or steak fajitas you’ve ever eaten!
- 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.
- Peppers and Onions – No rules here- grab whatever colors of peppers and onions you have around and grill them up.
- Liquid Smoke – If you’re not familiar with liquid smoke, you can find it near the BBQ sauces. Don’t make these fajitas without it! It’s definitely one of the key components. It makes things yummy and smoky and super flavorful. And if you’re wondering, it actually is real smoke in liquid form. Interesting, eh? Start with 1 teaspoon and add more if you’d like a smokier flavor.
How to Make The BEST Chicken or Steak Fajitas
- Start with the marinade: mix up some lime juice, water, oil, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, liquid smoke. We’re then going to add some salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and onion powder. My trick is to set 3-4 tablespoons of the finished marinade aside to drizzle over the platter when finished.
- Next, separate your meat and veggies in plastic zip-top bags or shallow dishes. Splash a bit of the marinade on the veggies, just enough to coat them, and add the rest to the meat. Make sure everything is coated well, and then marinate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
- Everything then gets tossed on the grill and is grilled to perfection. The vegetables may cook faster than the meat, so have a plate ready to remove them when done and cover loosely with foil. If you’d like to use a grill pan inside you can, I just recommend using thinner cutes of meat, like butterflied chicken breasts or flank steak.
- When the meat is done, let it rest for a few minutes, tented with foil, before slicing.
When everything is sliced up, drizzle the meat and veggies with the remaining marinade and serve. I like to serve it on a big platter and let everyone serve themselves, but if you want to make sure everything is distributed evenly, you could also mix everything up on the platter.
Serve along side any or all of the following:
Pico de Gallo
Shredded cheese or crumbled cotija cheese
If it’s not really grill season at your house, consider my Sheet Pan Fajitas or Easy Slowcooker Fajitas with Chili-Lime Cream as well!
- I’m making these for a crowd. Can I cook them ahead of time? My recommendation for serving a crowd is to prep all of your side dishes and toppings ahead of time and store in their serving dishes, covered in plastic in the fridge. See my hack for warming lots of fresh tortillas at once here: Fresh Tortilla Hack. Stick with the recommended marinating time and cook the meat and veggies right before serving. Definitely use your outdoor grill for cooking a large quantity of meat and veggies. Lastly, take a look at my popular Sheet Pan Fajitas or Easy Slowcooker Fajitas with Chili-Lime Cream to see if one of those recipes might work better for your needs!
Did You Make This?
I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, and then come back and give this recipe a rating!
The BEST Chicken or Steak Fajitas
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Refrigerator Time: 4-6 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 4-6 hours
If you’ve only ever made fajitas with the store-bought seasoning packet, this homemade fajita marinade will knock your socks off. This is truly one of our favorite meals!
1–1 1/2 pounds chicken (boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs) or steak (sirloin or flank steak)
2–3 red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers, halved (or use a few handfuls of baby peppers)
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2” thick slices
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 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 (see note)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder or chipotle chili powder (chipotle chili powder will have heat and smoke)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Suggestions FOR SERVING
diced tomatoes, salsa, or pico de gallo
diced avocados or guacamole
In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and whisk well. Reserve 3-4 tablespoons of marinade for later use.
Place meat in a Ziploc 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.
Preheat outdoor grill (our preference) to medium heat. When the grill is hot, 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.) 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.
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.
After you’ve sliced the meat, toss the meat and vegetables with reserved marinade and serve along side any or all of the following:
Pico de Gallo
Shredded cheese or crumbled cotija cheese
*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 yummy and smoky and super flavorful. And if you’re wondering, it actually is real smoke in liquid form. Interesting, eh? Start with 1 teaspoon and add more if you’d like a smokier flavor.
Sara, there are a couple of things you left out about why your pictures turn out so great. I have been at your house while you have been photographing for the blog and boy have my little model hands gotten tired! How could you not end up with at least one good shot when you take so many pictures from so many different angles? Sometimes it helps (thank goodness for digital cameras)to get a bunch of different angles and shots then decide which one is best later. You never know what they are going to look like when you open them up on the computer! (Shh… don’t tell anyone. That is my secret for photographing kids, too!)
oops, I posted under Eric. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that, lol.
Brit- hey! Yes, the macro setting helps a TON for getting good close-up shots of food. On regular ol’ point-and-shoot cameras, it’s the little icon that looks like a tulip. A lot of people don’t realize what that is. It’s for taking pictures at a pretty close distance, and if you try to take food pics with a normal setting, chances are they’ll be a bit blurry. So try playing around with that setting and I bet you’ll be able to get crystal clear shots. Try also pushing down the photo button half-way first to make sure it’s focusing and when it does, then take the picture. You’ll get the best results somewhere with lots of natural light, but not direct sunlight. (That just reflects and either washes out the food, or makes it look greasy). So that’s my totally NON profesh advice, lol. I don’t have a fancy camera, but I manage to get pretty decent shots so maybe those tips will help you too!
Hey Sara, it’s Brittany (Becca’s roommate) these look so good! I totally agree that your photography skills are pretty impressive. I have the hardest time taking pictures of things like food so close up. The focus is always just a little off, you know? What is a macro setting? Does it help with that?
I made these last week and they were yummy! I made extra marinade because I too, like to see my chicken swimming.
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.
Amanda, that is SO funny- what a small world!
That totally isn’t Spanish! You need help.
I love your website. I haven’t tried this before, but the flank steak was mas or menos tan perfecto! Me encantan los merinades.
Also, Sara, I found this website through a friend’s blog, but then my sister Emily told me it was your site. What a small world. Congrats on the new hijo.
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! 🙂
Lo mismo me pasó con unas quesadillas que yo siempre comía en un restaurant. Yo juraba que eran de pollo, ya que tenían un nombre que sonaba a pollo. “Por dios que te gusta el pato” me dijo una amiga una vez. “Yo nunca he comido pato” contesté segura.
That means you should make duck fajitas, not chicken. 😀
Ok, I copied that from some random Spanish blog but I know it talks about food and poultry so it fits better than the people who posted about going to the bathroom.
And Kate: Mis hijos me hacen loco tambien. Cada dia. Y yo lei La Dama del Alba a la Universidad tambien.
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.
kate – while my spanish writing skills are far from perfect that is actually spanish:)
i forgot. I meant “the el tortillos look el-fabulouso”
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!
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?
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!
Hey, no Portuguese! 😉
Isn’t it sad that I took 2 years of very intense Spanish in college and I can’t think of a single thing to say? La Dama del Alba. Queso. Mi hijo me hace loco.
And I love liquid smoke! (not plain of course…in things!)
Mia mulher, desculpe por no ter lido teu post…la verdad e que normalmiente solo miro para las fotos.
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.
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!
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!
Jessie, you could totally do vegetarian fajitas! 🙂 What about using portabello mushrooms instead of the chicken?
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.
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?)
Eric, you cheated. And you even speak Spanish! lol.
Kate, that’s funny. I never use Jalapeños, I just figured you did! Haha. Maybe I should take them out of the recipe then, cuz I never put them in there!
liquid smoke seems to give food that restaurant taste and smell, really hard to eat out after having this stuff…
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.
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.
Muchas Gracias! We will be eating this for dinner on Monday or Tuesday! Oh, I am hungry now!