This chicken fajitas recipe perfectly lends itself to a quick, weeknight meal, peppered with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.
I have a favorite moment when I’m eating at a Mexican restaurant. When my order of chicken fajitas is en route to the table, the waiter begins yelling, “hot dish, hot dish!” and I can hear the sizzling of the platter and see the wisps of smoke as he quickly rounds the corner. It’s an exhilarating, uniting moment, as everyone in the restaurant joins in to watch the spectacle.
Related Reading: What’s the Difference Between Fajitas and Tacos?
Luckily, though, fajitas aren’t a dish that’s merely consumed in a restaurant. It’s something that can easily be recreated at home—with a pinch of your own creative flair.
What Are Fajitas?
Funnily enough, ‘fajita’ is a word that was created in the U.S. The word in Spanish is faja, meaning strip or belt. Originally, faja described grilled strips of steak, so chicken fajitas are yet another interpretation on top of an interpretation. This Tex-Mex dish of sizzling meat in a cast-iron skillet has become a bona fide part of the dining-out performance. The secret to the show? Just before leaving the kitchen, many servers will spray the dish with orange juice or water to get extra smoke and sizzle as they kick open the kitchen doors and head to the table.
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The Quick, Weeknight Appeal of Fajitas
All you need for this dish is a few imperative ingredients: chicken breast and lots of peppers. Peppers are the ideal vegetable for this dish, as they can be cut to the same size as your chicken strips. It also adds a nice pop of color to the dish. I’m not too picky on the color—any will do—as long as they’re fresh.
Once you’re in the kitchen, it will only take 20 minutes to get this meal on the table. If you’re in a hurry, the fast method simply requires a sprinkle of salt, chili powder, and a quick stir-fry in a hot pan. But if you have a bit more time, I suggest serving them restaurant-style with all the accouterments: just fill small dishes with spicy salsa, queso fresco, sour cream, avocado, half-moons of lime, and lots of shredded lettuce.
Related Reading: How to Season Cast Iron
To assemble the fajitas, start with a warmed tortilla, then load it with chicken, peppers, and a smattering of all the sides. If I’m feeling fancy and non-traditional, I’ll even put out a few vegetarian options, like sautéed mushrooms and black beans. I’ll leave the endless, DIY possibilities up to you. It’s your fajita party: Go crazy if you want to.
Weeknight Chicken Fajitas Recipe
The ease of this dish lies in your ability to add and swap whatever ingredients you like. Substitute steak or pork for chicken, shower the meat with two teaspoons of cumin, or finish off your tortillas with a spoonful of sour cream.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 peppers (pick red, green, or yellow)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 package flour or corn tortillas
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper each
- Cut up chicken breast and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and fry onion until it begins to turn light brown. Add peppers and cook until soft. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Remove to a large platter.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sliced chicken. Sauté the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes until cooked through. Spritz with the juice of two limes (optional).
- Place the sizzling chicken on the platter and serve with warmed tortillas.
Header image courtesy of Anna Gass