I hope your Cinco de Mayo involves a Mexican restaurant and enough chips + salsa + queso to make your jaw ache and your actual meal unnecessary. But if you’re cooking a Mexican feast at home – or you just need an easy weeknight meal – these chicken fajitas are for you, since you only need one skillet and less than 30 minutes to get it on the table!
Start by pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness (details in this post), and then sprinkle on a super simple homemade spice rub. You can add any spices you like, but I use cumin for earthiness, chili powder for mild spice, and smoked paprika for a smoky flavor that adds a great dimension and reminds me of the grill. The chicken gets cooked for a few minutes on each side, searing in all that flavor.
While the chicken is cooking, slice up onions and peppers. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate and quickly add the onions. Adding a tablespoon or two of water eliminates the need for additional oil, and lets you scrape up browned bits from cooking the chicken that add great flavor to the veggies. I like my onions more soft and tender, so I let them cook for several minutes before adding the peppers, but if you want them more crisp you can add the peppers sooner or even at the same time as the onions.
While the vegetables cook, let the chicken rest for a few minutes and gather up the other fajita fixings – shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guac or sliced avocados, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and lime wedges are all great additions. Then thinly slice the chicken and toss it with any accumulated juices on the plate. Season the onions and peppers to taste with salt and pepper and build your perfect chicken fajitas!Print
For the spice rub:
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- pepper, to taste (I used about 8 grinds from a pepper mill)
For the chicken and onions/peppers:
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1-2 onions, sliced (I used half of a large red onion and a whole medium-sized yellow onion)
- 1-2 bell peppers, sliced (I used half of a red pepper and a whole green pepper)
- 1-2 Tablespoons of water
- salt and pepper to taste
For the fajitas:
- flour tortillas and any and all toppings you want – shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole or sliced avocado, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and lime wedges.
- Prepare the spice mixture by mixing the cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then begin heating a large (12″) skillet with 1-2 Tablespoons of oil in it over medium to medium-high heat.
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Pound them to an even thickness with a meat pounder (or a pot), then sprinkle the spice mixture evenly on both sides of the chicken. Carefully add the chicken to the pan and cook for 4 minutes, then flip it over and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side, until cooked through. I like to slice the onions and peppers while the chicken is cooking!
- Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and quickly add the onions to the skillet along with 1-2 Tablespoons of water. Stir and scrape up the browned bits from cooking the chicken. I like to cook the onions for 4-5 minutes before adding the peppers, since I like them to be more tender/caramelized (if you prefer them to be more crisp, add the peppers sooner or at the same time as the onions). Add the peppers and cook for 4-5 more minutes until the peppers are tender (if you prefer them to be more crisp, shorten the cooking time). Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the peppers are cooking, gather your fajita fixings and thinly slice the chicken and toss it with the accumulated juices. Then build your perfect fajita!
We like to load our fajitas up with a lot of onions and peppers and a relatively small amount of chicken, so that’s why I make a larger quantity of the veggies (plus, I like the have them leftover to throw in a quesadilla or burrito bowl or even on a pizza or in an omelet later in the week). If you are serving more people or want more chicken, you can maybe squeeze one more breast into the pan or just cook the chicken in two batches before doing the onions/peppers.