The BEST EVER recipe for chicken fajita marinade! Everyone always asks for this recipe! This recipe makes the most tender and flavorful chicken fajitas.
If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing chicken fajita marinade, you’re in the right place. Check out my tips to make the best chicken fajitas with a flavorful but simple marinade.
This is one of my very favorite easy dinner recipes! A few years ago my sister-in-law made these chicken fajitas for us. Since then, they have become one of my go-to recipes.
This chicken fajita marinade includes a special ingredient that isn’t typically in Mexican food— soy sauce! The depth of flavor it adds makes all the difference!
Everyone always asks for the recipe when I make these fajitas. Little do they know what an easy marinade this is.
The spices and citrus juices come together to make the most perfect chicken fajitas. They’re full of next level flavor, but never too spicy.
If you love fajita flavors, this is sure to become your new favorite Mexican food recipe.
Why You’ll Love this Marinade Recipe
- Bold flavors
- Easy to make
- Short prep time
Ingredients for this Easy Chicken Fajita Marinade
The ingredients that you will need to make the marinade are:
- Soy sauce: Use regular soy sauce, or tamari for a gluten-free option.
- Oil: You can use canola or olive oil here. Olive oil tends to have a stronger flavor, while canola is more neutral.
- Brown sugar: A light coating of brown sugar covers the outside of the meat. As it cooks, the sugar caramelizes into brown bits. As a result, the chicken takes on a golden brown color and deliciously sweet taste!
- Lime juice: You should always include an acidic ingredient in any marinade, like fresh lime juice or even orange juice. (It helps to tenderize the meat.) Add lime zest for even more citrus flavor.
- White vinegar: White vinegar also adds acidity to the chicken, which tenderizes and adds flavor.
- Garlic: No list of marinade ingredients is complete without garlic, which adds umami.
- Salt and pepper: Simple salt and pepper enhance all of the other flavorful ingredients.
- Ginger: Ginger is another unique ingredient in this easy chicken fajitas recipe—I know you’ll love it!
- Chili powder: Chili powder is a classic Mexican spice that perfectly compliments the homemade chicken fajitas.
- Cumin: Chili powder and cumin go hand-in-hand to make delicious marinated chicken, every time.
How Do You Cut Chicken Breast?
To make fajitas, you want to start with thin slices of chicken breast. As a result, there will be more surface area to absorb the chicken fajita marinade. Also, they will cook more quickly, and will be easier to wrap into tortillas.
Follow these tips to make perfectly thin slices of chicken breast:
- Freezing the chicken breasts for about 30 minutes before cutting them makes the job much easier.
- Use a stable cutting board and a sharp chef’s knife.
- Cut against the grain. This will result in extra tender chicken. Slice the chicken into ½” strips.
How to Make Chicken Fajita Marinade
While you do need to plan ahead a bit to let your chicken marinate, the hands-on time for this easy chicken fajita recipe is very short.
- Combine the chicken marinade ingredients place them into a large zip top bag with the chicken. Let it marinate for at least an hour but no longer than twelve hours. Keep it in the refrigerator to avoid any dangerous bacteria from growing.
- In a large cast iron skillet, cook the chicken and all the marinade. Do not reserve any of the marinade for later, as it has already been contaminated with raw chicken.
- Add red onion, red bell pepper, green bell peppers, and tomatoes (if desired).
- Cook until just tender. Cooking the ingredients together in one pan means the veggies soak up the flavor of the chicken fajita marinade as well.
Storage Instructions for Chicken Fajitas
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet before serving.
Traditional fajita marinade is made with olive oil, water, lime juice, and a variety of seasonings, such as cumin and chili powder. This chicken fajita marinade recipe includes two unique ingredients: soy sauce and ginger!
Chicken should marinate for at least 5 hours for optimal flavor. You can even marinate chicken overnight, but don’t exceed 24 hours.
Yes, if you marinate chicken for too long, the texture will become mushy due do the acidity of the marinade. For best results, do not marinate for longer than 24 hours.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Use thinly sliced chicken for best results. You can even freeze the chicken for 30 minutes beforehand for easier slicing.
- Marinate the chicken for 5-24 hours for best results.
- You can prepare this recipe ahead of time by mixing the marinade and storing it in a jar, and by chopping everything ahead of time.
Can You Grill the Meat?
Grilling chicken for fajitas adds another layer of flavor to the meal. If you do plan to use a grill, you will need to make a few small changes in the way you prepare the marinade and the meat.
- Grilling small cuts of meat will dry them out. So, you will need to leave the chicken breasts whole.
- Reserve some of the marinade before you add the chicken.
- After the chicken is finished marinating, remove it from the marinade and grill.
- Now you can slice it into small strips. To ensure that this is the best chicken fajitas recipe, slice across the grain for the juiciest chicken.
- Pour the reserved marinade into a grilling pan and saute the veggies in it.
What Goes with Fajitas?
Once you learn the basics of how to make delicious chicken fajitas, they are really easy to customize. There are so many delicious toppings that go well with chicken. That makes this the best chicken fajita recipe to make for a party too.
You can serve them with corn or flour tortillas as the base. Try these gluten-free flour tortillas! Some of my favorite toppings and side dish ideas are:
- Cheese (feta, queso, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
- Pico de gallo
- Refried beans
- Spanish rice
- Sour cream
I hope you love this chicken fajita marinade recipe as much as we do! If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. Thank you! ♥
Best Chicken Fajita Marinade
For the Marinade:
- ¼ cup soy sauce, use gluten-free if needed
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
For the Fajitas:
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
- ½ large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinate together in a large ziploc bag or shallow dish. Add the sliced chicken and mix to coat it evenly. Marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
- Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken and all the marinade to the skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes, bringing the sauce to a full boil.
- Add the sliced onions, peppers, and tomatoes and cook until they are just tender, another 5-7 minutes.
- Serve on corn tortillas with your favorite toppings such as avocado, feta cheese (or queso fresco), and salsa. Enjoy!