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The best Fajita Marinade, perfect for making chicken fajitas or steak fajitas. This easy marinade is big on flavor and perfect for cooking meat on the grill, in a skillet, in the oven or in the air fryer.
Fajitas are one of my favorite meals. Sizzling chicken or steak, peppers and onions, ready to wrap in warm tortillas – it’s easy to see why this Tex-Mex favorite is so popular. This fajita marinade is my go-to for infusing fajitas with flavor. It’s easy to make with simple ingredients and takes just minutes to mix up. It tenderizes the meat and gives every bite a burst of flavor.
By making marinades yourself, you can control the ingredients used. Store-bought marinades often contain an excessive amount of sodium and some unrecognizable ingredients. With this recipe, you’ll know exactly what goes into your meal and you can make it spicy or mild, depending on your tastes.
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The Best Fajita Marinade
- Flavor: Take a peek at the ingredient list and you’ll see why this marinade is so flavorful. There’s zesty lime juice, smoky cumin, fresh garlic and spicy jalapeño. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce bring savory, umami flavor.
- Easy: It doesn’t take long to combine the marinade ingredients. You can even mix up the marinade ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before using.
- Versatile: This marinade works well to make chicken fajitas or steak fajitas. Cook the meat in a skillet, on the grill, or in the oven or air fryer.
Fajita Marinade Ingredients
- Olive Oil: The olive oil helps to transfer the flavors from the other marinade ingredients to the meat.
- Lime Juice: Tenderizes the meat and brings bright citrus flavor.
- Soy Sauce: For umami flavor. I recommend using low sodium soy sauce to limit the amount of salt in the marinade.
- Worcestershire Sauce: For savory, umami flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness that’s so good paired with the savory, spicy flavors.
- Cumin: Brings smoky flavor.
- Garlic: We’re using 4 cloves because you can’t beat the flavor of fresh garlic!
- Jalapeño: Brings heat. To avoid overly spicy fajitas, remove the ribs and seeds because that’s where most of the heat is.
- Salt and Pepper: For additional flavor.
- Red Pepper Flakes: For spice. Adjust the amount to your tastes.
Choose Your Protein: Chicken or Steak
Make chicken fajitas with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Flank steak or skirt steak are the best options for steak fajitas.
If you plan to cook the fajitas in a skillet (I love to use a cast iron skillet) you’ll want to slice the meat into 1/2-inch thick slices before placing it in the marinade. If you plan to cook on the grill, do not slice the steak or chicken until after grilling. I recommend slicing for cooking on a sheet pan in the oven or in the air fryer. More surface area for the marinade to absorb gives the meat more flavor.
How Long to Marinate Fajitas
Steak Fajitas: Marinate for 2-12 hours. Aim for a shorter marinade if you pre-cut the steak into strips since smaller pieces of meat have more surface area.
Chicken Fajitas: Marinate 1/2-inch thick strips of chicken for 30-60 minutes. Leaving the chicken in the marinade much longer than that can cause the chicken to start to break down. If you choose to marinate whole chicken breasts or thighs, you can leave them in the marinade for longer.
How to Make Fajitas
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag or in a dish. Squeeze the bag or whisk to mix.
Add the chicken or steak and coat with the marinade.
Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. See the notes above for tips on how long to marinate.
Discard the marinade and cook the chicken or steak in a skillet, on the grill, in the oven, or in the air fryer. The cook times will vary based on the cooking method and will also depend on if you slice the meat before cooking and whether you’re using chicken breasts, thighs or steak.
Serve with fajita veggies (sliced bell peppers and onions cooked in a skillet, oven or air fryer) and toppings as desired, in warm corn or flour tortillas.
What to Serve with Fajitas
Start by choosing your toppings. I like guacamole or avocado, pico de gallo or salsa, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro. Plus lime wedges for a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Complete the meal with one or more of these easy side dishes:
The next time you’re craving Mexican food, give this fajita marinade a try. Then let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment below.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice, from 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeño or ½ large jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed and discarded; finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional for added spice
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, flank steak or skirt steak
- Combine all marinade ingredients (except chicken or steak) in a large zip-top bag or dish. Squeeze the bag or whisk to mix.
- Add the chicken or steak to the bag or bowl and coat with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. (You can cut the chicken into strips for fajitas before marinating and if so, only marinate for 30-60 minutes.)*
- Discard marinade and cook chicken or steak on the grill, in the oven, in a skillet on the stove, or in the air fryer, as desired.* Let the meat rest for 5 minutes and then slice and serve in tortillas with your favorite fajita toppings (sautéed onions and peppers, avocado or guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, sour cream, etc.)
- If you plan to cook the fajitas in a skillet you’ll want to slice the meat into 1/2-inch thick slices before placing it in the marinade. If you plan to cook on the grill, do not slice the steak or chicken until after grilling. I recommend slicing for cooking on a sheet pan in the oven or in the air fryer. More surface area for the marinade to absorb gives the meat more flavor.
- Cook times will depend on the cooking method, the type of meat used and whether or not you slice it into strips before cooking. See this Chicken Fajitas recipe for a guide.
- Nutrition estimate is for marinade ingredients only, since the protein used will vary. It assumes that all of the marinade will be consumed, which it probably will not be.