Pan-Seared Chicken Fajitas

August 25, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland, prop styling by Gerri Williams, food styling by Kate Buckens
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Ordering fajitas in a restaurant is a spectacle. The waiter turns the corner with a steaming, sizzling hot platter of fajitas and is headed straight for your table. I mean, can you think of a greater rush of adrenaline? Well, if you think that fajitas are a dish that’s best to order out at a restaurant, I’d like to challenge that notion. In fact, they’re quite easy to prepare right in the comfort of your own home.

Letting the chicken sit in a spicy, garlicky marinade for at least 30 minutes (or up to a day in the refrigerator) is the key to flavorful, succulent chicken. The squeeze of orange juice provides a subtle sweetness that balances out the full-bodied, spicy flavors. For chicken with an extra kick of heat, add more chopped chiles in adobo or an extra pinch of cayenne or your favorite hot sauce. Cooking the chicken strips undisturbed on a super hot cast-iron skillet (the oil should be barely smoking) is the key to achieving that signature charred crust around the exterior of the chicken. Once you have a good sear on all sides, move the chicken around a bit to ensure that the insides are cooked all the way through.

If you can remember, toss your chicken in the marinade the night before, and this is an easy weeknight dinner that the whole family can enjoy. Plus, leftovers heat up beautifully in the following days, so you can always double the recipe if you want to make enough food for a week’s worth of meals. Serve 'em up with whatever you like—limes, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce are all welcome additions. See, who said you needed to be in a restaurant to chow down on a sizzling platter of fajitas? —saratane

What You'll Need
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium limes, 1 zested, 2 juiced
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 3 medium bell peppers (red, green, yellow, or orange), stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 flour tortillas, warmed, plus more if needed
  • Sour cream, sliced ripe avocados, and cilantro leaves, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, stir 4 tablespoons of the oil, the zest and juice of 1 lime, the orange zest and juice, chiles, garlic, vinegar, cumin, paprika, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the black pepper. Add the chicken, tossing to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  2. In a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil until barely smoking. Gently shake off the excess marinade from the chicken. Working in batches to avoid crowding the chicken, cook, turning occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, until charred and fully cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should register 165°F). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
  3. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook the peppers and onions, stirring occasionally and deglazing with a few tablespoons of water to scrape up any charred bits if needed, for 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly charred and softened. Season with salt and black pepper. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute more, until warmed through. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over and serve immediately with the tortillas, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro.

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Recipe by: saratane

Food writer, recipe developer, and private chef

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