Upgrade your homemade fajitas with this easy fajita marinade! It’s an all-purpose sauce made with everyday ingredients and adds a ton of flavor to steak, chicken, and shrimp.
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Easy Fajita Marinade
With this quick and easy fajita marinade recipe, your next batch of fajitas will undoubtedly be the best! Made with sugar, Mexican-inspired seasonings, lime juice, and olive oil, this marinade brings the fajitas from your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant directly to your kitchen!
The best part? This marinade works just as well with steak as it does with chicken and shrimp. So whether you’re firing up the grill or searing the marinated meat, onions, and peppers in a skillet, your tastebuds will always sing.
Why you’ll love this fajita marinade recipe
- It uses easy, everyday ingredients. Like a chicken thigh marinade or lamb chop marinade, this is a quick and easy marinade made from ingredients you may already have in your pantry.
- It’s better than store-bought. Making this marinade with fresh ingredients is the best way to upgrade the chicken, shrimp, or steak for your fajitas. I recommend swapping the store-bought seasoning packets for ground seasonings to achieve the most balanced and authentic-tasting marinade.
- It is very versatile. It’s a delicious multi-purpose meat marinade with shrimp, chicken, and steak. Plus, you can make it as mild or hot as you want!
These ingredients stay the same whether you’re making chicken, steak, or shrimp fajitas. This is what you’ll need:
- Sugar. This helps balance the acidity and tenderize the meat, as well as forms a caramelized crust around the outside.
- Fajita seasonings. You need a fragrant mix of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper.
- Olive oil. This adds fat and flavor to the meat, as well as helps make every bite tender and juicy.
- Lime juice. The citric acid will tenderize the meat and brighten up every flavor of the dish.
- Water. It thins the ingredients into a smooth, wet marinade.
How to make fajita marinade
It will take you no time at all to make this easy marinade. Here’s how it’s done:
- Mix the fajita seasonings. Stir the sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl.
- Combine with wet ingredients. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and water to the bowl and whisk well.
- Add the steak strips to the bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic, and place it in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the marinated steak strips in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes before flipping and adding the sliced bell peppers and onions.
- Continue cooking until the steak reaches your desired doneness and the veggies are tender.
- Add the chicken strips to the bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in the skillet, adding the peppers and onions in the last 3 to 5 minutes.
- Continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink and the veggies are tender.
Use peeled and deveined shrimp and sliced peppers and onions to make easy shrimp fajitas.
- Add the shrimp to the bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the marinated shrimp with the peppers and onions until the shrimp is pink and the veggies are tender.
- Mild fajitas. This fajita marinade isn’t super spicy, but you can omit the cayenne pepper and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of orange juice or pineapple juice to cool it off.
- Spicy fajitas. Use more cayenne or add chili powder, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce for a more piquant marinade. Or switch out the dry fajita seasonings with taco seasoning for extra spice.
To store: Combine the dry fajita seasonings with the wet ingredients and keep the mixture in a sealed jar in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
To freeze: Pour the unused fajita marinade into a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 1 month. Let it thaw in the fridge before using it.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Slice the meat first. It’s much easier than having to slice the chicken or steak after it is soaked in the marinade. To make slicing the meat even easier, pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes beforehand.
- Marinate in a resealable bag. This way, you avoid a mess and there aren’t any dishes to clean in the end.
- Bring the marinated meat to room temperature before cooking. This will help the meat cook more evenly and prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Frequently asked questions
The minimum and maximum marinating time will depend on the meat you’re using:
Steak fajitas: 30 minutes to 12 hours
Chicken fajitas: 30 minutes to 24 hours
Shrimp fajitas: 10 to 30 minutes
You sure can! Put the meat and marinade in a freezer-safe bag, then store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to make fajitas, let the meat thaw in the fridge overnight, and cook the next day.
No, you can’t reuse the fajita marinade once it’s come into contact with raw meat. The USDA recommends boiling used marinade for at least 5 minutes if you want to use it again, but that may thicken the consistency, making it better off as a baste for grilled fajitas.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a ziplock bag, add your protein of choice, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
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