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 148 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!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Marinating Time30 minutes
Total Time41 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Serves 4 servings


  • 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


  • 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.


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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Recipe Rating


  1. Nice marinade. I did place everything in a 1/2 gallon jar and vacuum sealed it for about an hour to maximize the marinade infiltration into the meat.

  2. 5 stars
    Very good, although I did make some alterations for a shortcut. I used the same liquid base and sugar, and added two tablespoons of Meat Church fajita rub for the dry seasoning instead of the individual spices. Dumped the whole thing in a grill basket over medium grill heat and 10-15 minutes later had some of the best chicken fajitas I’ve ever had bar none.

    1. The calories are for 2 tablespoons of marinade without chicken. The chicken does not absorb all the marinade which makes it difficult to calculate the exact calories.

      1. I made this recipe to the exact measurements Sara ser forth (1 1/2 chili powder). Marinade was amazing. I let it marinade for about 24 hours because of work. Drained the Marinade and pored over the veggies as they were cooking. Great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    This is one recipe I’ve come back to more than once. It’s probably the best fajita marinade I’ve ever used. I’ve used it for both beef and chicken. I love that you can add the vegetables to the meat directly. It kind of saves me a step. Prior to using this recipe, my fajita meat always would dry out look like little rock’s (not a very appetizing leftover). This recipe keeps leftovers tender and delicious!

  4. We made this recipe a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. Going to make it again this weekend and we are going to try smoking the chicken for a different twist. Can’t wait!

  5. 5 stars
    I don’t normally leave reciews, but this is a favorite of ours. I have made the recipe “as is” many times and it is delicious! Tonite – I have chicken and veghies marinating for fajitas. We didn’t have limes, so, I am trying out with lemon juice and a little bit of orange juice instead. Excited to see how they turn out!

  6. Live from Dubai. I Just mixed up the marinade myself. Stuck my finger in it and it tasted great! Letting everything marinade for 2 hours before cooking it…

  7. 5 stars
    I make your recipe for marinade again & again. It is a family favorite. My Granddaughter wanted “Chicken on the Beach” like theMexican Restaurant for her Birthday. I had no clue & used Pinterest to do some research. I made the chicken with your marinade & vegetables & baked it in the oven…..a Favorite Family Sunday Meal was born. Some of us go Low Carb so we use the chicken & veggies in a salad instead of C on the B. Thank you Bunches

  8. 5 stars
    I often buy the premarinated chicken fajitas from the butcher counter at my grocery store. At $6.99 a pound I knew there had to be a better way. This recipe was exactly what i was hoping for. I was able to mix it up in advance quickly and easily and I appreciate knowing exactly what is in it. And, even better, the fajitas were DELICIOUS! I made a double batch and cooked one the night of and stored the rest in the frig to cook the next day. Both days were the same excellent results. This is definitely going to be a new staple in my dinner favorites. Thank you so much.

  9. 5 stars
    I’ll tell you right off the bat. I’m very skeptical about 5 star ratings but this is the REAL DEAL!!! This marinade is incredible. I would give it more than 5 if I could. I used it on chicken but look forward to trying it on steak and shrimp.
    Thanks for sharing it!

  10. Question. What do you do with the marinade after you’ve marinaded the chicken and veggies? I’m making a chicken fajita casserole. Should I pour it over the chicken and veggies before baking?

    1. I typically discard the marinade for skillet fajitas, you could pour it over the chicken and veggies if you’re baking everything together in the oven.

  11. 5 stars
    Loved this easy meal. I have left over Mexican rice… I broiled in oven for a few mins after I cooked them to melt some cheese😊

  12. Love love your marinade! While eating my ta os I always say omg why are these sooo good. Then I realize oh it’s the marinade! I want to shred the chicken this time for burritos so I was wondering if I could slow cook it in the marinade. Should I let the chicken sit in the marinade first for a couple hours then slow cook or just let the chicken cook in the marinade. Don’t want my chicken to change texture like you mentioned. Thank you for your amazing recipe.

    1. I think it’s fine to let it sit in the marinade and slow cook it, the texture change is in regards to raw chicken so once it’s cooked it won’t make a difference.

  13. We love your marinade and use it a lot! Thank you! May I also ask if the nutritional value for the marinade is per serving or a total of all the ingredients? Thanks again!

    1. It’s per serving but it’s tricky to calculate the nutritionals on a marinade since most of it is discarded when you cook the chicken.