This chicken fajita marinade is a blend of olive oil, lime juice and spices, all mixed together to form the perfect flavoring for zesty fajitas. You can also use this marinade to make Mexican style chicken for burritos, nachos, tacos and more!

Mexican food is favorite in my house, every week I find myself making steak tacos, chicken enchiladas or chicken fajitas. This fajita marinade takes just 5 minutes to put together and always gets rave reviews.

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Chicken fajita marinade served over sliced chicken and vegetables.

I have been making this chicken fajita marinade for many years – it’s my absolute favorite way to add flavor to plain old chicken breasts! This is the best method of enjoying restaurant style fajitas in the comfort of your own home.

How do you make chicken fajita marinade?

This marinade is a mixture of olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and onion powder. Whisk all of the ingredients together and you’ve got a simple yet flavorful marinade. Add chicken to the marinade, and let it sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes. Cook your chicken as desired, along with peppers and onions, and you’ll have delicious fajitas to enjoy!

Assorted spices and herbs in bowls.

Tips for the perfect marinade

  • Be sure to use freshly squeezed lime juice.
  • I use a mild chili powder, so I add 2 tablespoons to my marinade. If you’re using a chili powder that packs some heat, you may want to cut it back to 1 tablespoon.
  • Smoked paprika can be found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores and adds so much great flavor.
  • This recipe makes enough marinade to coat about 1 pound of chicken.
  • You can use chicken breasts, chicken thighs or chicken tenders in this marinade. I typically use chicken breasts that are cut into strips.
  • This marinade can be made up to 2 days before you plan to use it.

Sliced bell peppers and onions in a bowl.

How long can you marinate chicken?

This chicken should soak in the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes, and a maximum of 8 hours. The marinade contains a large amount of lime juice, and the acid in the juice can change the texture of the chicken if it soaks for an extended period of time.

Sliced chicken and vegetables coated in fajita marinade.

Chicken fajita marinade variations

While I typically make this marinade as written, sometimes I add other ingredients to the mix depending on what I have on hand.

  • Herbs: Feel free to add a handful of fresh herbs such as chopped cilantro leaves or sliced green onion.
  • Spice: If you prefer a spicy marinade, add some hot sauce or minced canned chipotle peppers to taste.
  • Citrus: While lime juice is a classic pairing with Mexican food, you can add some lemon or orange juice to the mix for a different flavor.
  • Protein: This marinade also works with other types of protein such as shrimp, flank steak or pork tenderloin.

Fajitas made with chicken fajita marinade in flour tortillas.

You can’t go wrong with a good marinade! Whether you choose to grill, pan sear or bake your fajitas, the results will be perfect each and every time.

More Mexican food favorites

Chicken Fajita Marinade Video

5 from 129 votes

Chicken Fajita Marinade

AuthorSara Welch
Chicken fajita marinade served over sliced chicken and vegetables.
This chicken fajita marinade is a blend of olive oil, lime juice and spices, all mixed together to form the perfect flavoring for zesty fajitas. You can also use this marinade to make Mexican style chicken for burritos, nachos, tacos and more!
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Marinating Time30 minutes
Total Time41 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 4 servings

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder depending on the heat level of your chili powder. I use a mild chili powder so I do the full 2 tablespoons.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions 

  • Place the olive oil, lime juice, water, sugar, kosher salt, cumin, garlic, smoked paprika, onion powder, chili powder and pepper in a bowl.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Add 1 pound of sliced chicken, 1 1/2 cups sliced bell peppers and 1/2 cup sliced onions to the bowl and toss to coat.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

Nutrition

Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 762mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 962IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Comments

  1. How much do you think the recipe would be affected if I used bottled lime juice instead of fresh? I would normally use fresh like the recipe called for, but I’m making 20 lbs. of chicken. With the recipe for 1 lb calling for 1/3 cup of lime juice, that would be approx. 53 limes!!! Yikes!!

    1. I think it would likely be ok but I haven’t tested the recipe with bottled lime juice in such large proportions so I can’t say for sure!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made so many different renditions of fajitas over the past 20 years and this is my family’s absolute favorite. The best flavor hands down. Will never change the marinade at all but may consider trying it with shrimp!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times over the summer. My local farmstand has had the most amazing sweet red peppers that are incredible in fajitas! I use boneless skinless thighs and marinate them as whole pieces and then throw on the BBQ. I marinate the peppers/onions separately using some of the same marinade and throw into a grill basket to cook on the bbq as well. Chop up the meat when done cooking and serve with the veggies, tortillas and all the fixings. Easy and delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this easy and delicious recipe! I made it last night, and I’m going to make it again tonight. For anyone else who doesn’t have limes on hand but happens to have tamarind concentrate, it made for a great substitute!

  5. Hi there ! Making tonight ! Do we just sheet pan the ingredients in oven ? At what temp ?
    Thanks

    1. I typically cook my fajitas on the stove top, but you could bake them if you prefer. You would bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

  6. Hi there! I got this all prepped for our dinner and then we ended up not being able to eat it..am I able to freeze the veggies and chicken in the marinade and then pull out when ready to use? Thanks!

    1. You can do that, but the texture of the vegetables may change after being frozen. -The Dinner At The Zoo Team

  7. Hi Sara,

    We’re planning to try your fajita marinade recipe this week. We are trying to avoid processed sugar and wonder about your thoughts on substituting with honey. Thanks.