Say hello to the best restaurant-style chicken fajitas, but without all the work! This simple chicken fajita marinade can be prepped in just 5-minutes with 6-ingredients like oil, spices, and lime juice that infuses so much zesty flavor into basic chicken you’ll swear you ordered takeout. Quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and it even can be prepped ahead of time.

Close-up overhead shot of tongs in a cast iron skillet with cooked peppers, onions, and chicken. Skillet is surrounded by tortillas and bowls of sliced jalapenos, lime wedges, and sour cream.

Visual Guide: How to Make Chicken Fajita Marinade

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Robyn’s Testing Notes

Tex-Mex food is always a huge hit in our household, so I created this super easy chicken fajita recipe that’s just as good as restaurant-style fajitas.

And the secret to these easy, outstanding chicken fajitas? A simple marinade!

That’s right, taking just 5 minutes to mix up a homemade marinade and 30 minutes to let the chicken soak up all the juices takes basic chicken to the next level with so little effort on your part.

Not only does the fajita marinade give the chicken a ton of smokey, spicy flavor, but it also tenderizes the chicken (no dry chicken breasts here!). 

To keep cooking streamlined, both the marinated and sliced vegetables cook in a cast iron skillet, making it a one-pan meal that’s easy to clean up, however, you could also cook the chicken on the grill.

Just a note on grilling — you’ll marinate and grill the chicken pieces whole and slice when they’re finished cooking instead of slicing before marinating.

Grilled, whole fajita chicken breasts or thighs would also be delicious on their own when served with one of these Tex-Mex side dishes.

And if you can’t get enough of Mexican-inspired chicken marinades, you have to try this taco chicken marinade and cilantro lime chicken marinade next.

Time-Saving Tip

Save even more time by using chicken tenders so you don’t have to slice the chicken breasts or thighs.

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet with sliced fresh onions and bell peppers. A bowl of cooked chicken slices is in the corner.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Avocado Oil: Any neutral oil works here, such as canola or vegetable oil.

Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice is preferred. Fresh lemon juice could be used instead.

Sugar: The small amount of sugar in the marinade does not make the steak sweet, instead it helps tenderize the meat and adds color during the cooking process. If you want to avoid added sugar, you can leave it out.

Smoked Paprika: The smoked paprika adds (you guessed it) some smokey flavor to this fajita chicken dish.

Granulated Garlic: I love the ease and convenience of using granulated garlic powder in this recipe, but you could also use fresh minced garlic in its place if you prefer.

Chili Powder: Adjust the spice level of this dish by using either mild or hot chili powder and/or by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili powder. It can be omitted if you’re sensitive to spice.

Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts work well in this recipe. 

Bell Peppers: Any color of bell pepper works here.

Onion: Red or yellow onion work here.

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet with cooked peppers, onions, and chicken. Skillet is surrounded by tortillas and bowls of sliced jalapenos,salsa, cilantro, lime wedges, guacamole, and sour cream.

Your Questions: Answered

How long does the chicken need to marinate?

For this recipe, the chicken only needs to marinate for 30 minutes, but can marinate up to 6 hours. The acid from the lime juice in the marinade can change the texture of the chicken if it marinates too long.

How to prep ahead:

Since you don’t want to marinate the chicken longer than 6 hours, you can get ahead by preparing the marinade and storing in the fridge for up to 4 days in advance.

You can also freeze the chicken in the marinade in a zip top bag for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to cook, simply take the bag out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the fajita chicken and vegetables with all the toppings!

I love to serve them in tortillas with 4-ingredient guacamole, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, and any of your favorite fajita toppings.

Fajita chicken is also delicious on top of taco bowls and taco salads or inside burritos and quesadillas.

Using the marinade with other proteins:

Yes! The marinade is excellent with fish and shrimp but marinate those for 30 minutes maximum. If you want to have steak fajitas, try this steak fajita marinade recipe.

Overhead shot of a black cutting board with tortillas filled with cooked peppers, onions, and chicken, topped with sliced jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, and guacamole. Cutting board is surrounded by lime wedges; cilantro; a skillet with cooked peppers, onions, and chicken; and bowls of lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

This Recipe Is…

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet with cooked peppers, onions, and chicken. Skillet is surrounded by tortillas and bowls of sliced jalapenos,salsa, cilantro, lime wedges, guacamole, and sour cream.
5 stars (1 rating)

5-Minute Chicken Fajita Marinade

Say hello to the best restaurant-style chicken fajitas, but without all the work! This simple chicken fajita marinade can be prepped in just 5-minutes with 6-ingredients like oil, spices, and lime juice that infuses so much zesty flavor into basic chicken you'll swear you ordered takeout. Quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and it even can be prepped ahead of time.

Ingredients

For Chicken Fajita Marinade

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or other neutral flavored oil such as canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For Chicken Fajitas

  • 4 teaspoons avocado oil, or other neutral flavored oil such as canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts (or thighs), sliced into 1-inch thick strips
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 bell peppers (any color), thinly sliced

Optional Serving Suggestions

Instructions 

Make the Chicken Fajita Marinade

  • Whisk the lime juice, oil, sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and salt in a small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add the marinade, chicken, and 1 tablespoon water to a 1-gallon zip-top bag or baking dish. Toss the chicken to coat, then press as much air out of the bag (if using) as possible, or cover with plastic wrap (if using a baking dish). Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours.

Cook the Chicken

  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Set the remaining marinade aside.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of avocado oil to the pan, then add the chicken in an even layer. Allow the chicken to cook on one side for 5 minutes or until browned, then flip and cook 2-5 more minutes until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Cook the Fajita Veggies

  • To the same pan, add 2 teaspoons of oil, along with the veggies. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and begin to char, stirring frequently.
  • Add the remaining marinade to the veggies, along with the cooked chicken and cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat.
  • Serve immediately with toppings of your choice.

Notes

A note about the nutrition information on this recipe, since we discard the marinade before cooking, it can be a little difficult to calculate. Nutrition information does not include toppings.
If you prefer to marinate the chicken without the fajita veggies, try this simple taco chicken marinade
For steak fajitas, check out this recipe for steak fajita marinade.
See the full blog post above for ingredient substitutions and shortcuts.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 6), Calories: 137kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Sodium: 530mg, Potassium: 377mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 2753IU, Vitamin C: 109mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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