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:
- 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!
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
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:
*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.