Few meals garner the happy sighs of anticipation and the unbridled envy of the rest of the table quite like a giant, sizzling plate of Beef Fajitas.
Strips of tender marinated steak, blistered peppers, and caramelized onions piled high into tortillas with all of your favorite Tex-Mex fixin’s, fajitas are a total show-off and super simple to make at home.
Growing up, my family went out for Mexican food every Sunday.
We were budget-conscious, which meant that I was only allowed to order the more expensive entrees with steak (like beef fajitas and Flank Steak Tacos) as a special treat.
I still remember the server setting a hot, hissing plate of spicy beef enchiladas in front of me.
I felt like I’d won the lottery.
Steak fajitas are easy to make at home, even for the most beginning chefs.
With this tasty beef fajita recipe, you can strike gold any night of the week!
How to Make Beef Fajitas
The two most important factors to making great fajitas at home are:
- Infuse the steak with flavor. The beef fajitas seasoning and marinade I’ve included here have you covered.
- To get the fajita meat tender. Here’s what you need to know.
Tricks to Tender Fajita Meat
If your beef fajitas are chewy, it is likely because you cut the steak in the wrong direction, or because you didn’t give it time to properly marinade.
- Cut the Beef Against the Grain. Slicing meat against the grain helps tenderize it. By looking closely at the steak, you’ll be able to see the direction the grain is running. Make your cuts perpendicular to it (this rule applies if you are making chicken fajitas too).
- Marinade with an Acid. Acids like citrus juice or vinegar tenderize meat by breaking down its fibers. Even 30 minutes of marinade time makes a difference. Don’t skip it!
Longer is not necessarily better when it comes to marinating meat.
- Letting the beef sit too long in the acid will eventually cause it to break down too much and it will have a poor texture.
- Generally, I find that you can marinate meat for up to 1 day with good results; 4 to 6 hours is ideal.
- Steak. Tender, protein-packed flank steak works wonderfully for beef fajitas. It soaks up the marinade and becomes incredibly juicy and flavorful.
- Beef Fajitas Seasoning. Cumin, chili powder, chipotle chile powder, lime zest and coriander are the secret to that bold, restaurant-worthy fajita flavor. The mixture is warm, earthy, and has the right amount of spice.
- Vegetables. A mixture of bell peppers and onions are the ideal veggies for fajitas. They develop scrumptious flavor, can easily be cut into long strips, and pair well with the beef.
- Lime Juice. Adds brightness and zest to the marinade and helps to tenderize the fajita meat.
- Honey. Naturally sweetens the marinade and helps the steak caramelize as it cooks.
- Worcestershire Sauce. For that umami goodness.
- Mix part of the spices together in a bowl with the lime zest.
- Make shallow, diagonal cuts across the steak in two directions.
- Rub the spice mixture onto the steak, and place it in a ziptop bag.
- Whisk the juice, oil, Worcestershire, and honey together.
- Add the mixture to the bag and seal. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes. Remove the steak from the bag, and pat it dry.
- Cook the steak in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes per side. Move it to a cutting board, and let it rest. Slice it across the grain.
- Sauté the vegetables. Add the remaining spices and garlic. Serve as desired and DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate beef and veggies in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm beef and veggies in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Freeze the beef and veggies in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
- Cut the vegetables up to 1 day in advance.
- Marinade the steak the day before.
Turn leftover beef fajitas into tasty nachos by serving them over tortilla chips with cheese and other toppings. For a fajita quesadilla, tuck leftovers into a tortilla with cheese. Or, enjoy your leftovers bowl-style by serving them over a bed of Mexican Quinoa or the rice from this Mexican Chicken and Rice.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Cast Iron Skillet. My go-to for making beef fajitas.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. A sharp, good-quality knife will make all the difference.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The best way to tell if your beef is cooked through.
Don’t sit on that winning lotto ticket—these tender beef fajitas hit the jackpot every time!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can easily make these beef fajitas gluten free. Just make sure to use a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce and corn tortillas.
No, you do not have to make beef fajitas with a cast iron skillet. You can cook your beef fajitas using a similar large, sturdy skillet (make sure it can handle medium-high heat) or an outdoor grill.
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder divided
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1 ½ pounds flank steak or skirt steak
- 2 medium limes zest and juice (about 1 ½ teaspoons zest and ¼ cup juice)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 red bell peppers seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 large yellow onion halved and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- Flour or corn tortillas
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Sliced fresh avocado
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Crumbled queso fresco or feta
- In a small bowl, place 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, coriander, and 1 teaspoon salt. Zest the 2 limes directly into a bowl, then stir to combine.
- Place the steak on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, carefully make shallow, diagonal cuts across the top of the steak. Repeat, making diagonals in the opposite direction to create a crosshatch pattern. Repeat on the bottom side of the steak.
- Rub the spice mix all over both sides of the steak, then place in a sturdy ziptop bag.
- In the same bowl you used for the spices (no need to rinse in between), whisk together the lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, Worcestershire, and honey.
- Pour into the bag with the steak, seal, then turn the bag to coat the steak evenly. Place on a plate or sheet pan and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 1 day. Turn the bag periodically to redistribute the marinade. If refrigerating the steak, let it come to room temperature prior to cooking.
- When ready to prepare the beef fajitas, remove the steak from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Pat very dry to ensure you get a nice sear.
- To warm the tortillas, wrap them in foil and place in a 300 degrees F oven while you cook the steak and vegetables.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or similar large, sturdy skillet over medium-high heat. (If your skillet is not large enough to cook the entire piece of steak, cut slice it in half and cook it in batches; you also can cook the steak on an outdoor grill instead.) Cook the steak for 4 to 6 minutes per side, until the meat reaches 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove to a cutting board, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes (the steak’s temperature will continue to rise as it rests; DO NOT skip resting or it will taste dry). Slice across the grain into thin (1/2- to 3/4-inch) strips.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add peppers and onions. Sauté, stirring often, until they soften and the onions begin to turn golden, about 8 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the vegetables completely soften and are starting to caramelize, about 6 to 8 minutes more.
- Stir in the garlic and let cook 30 seconds, just until fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat.
- To serve, arrange the meat slices on a big platter and drizzle any juices that have collected on the cutting board over the top. Place the vegetables beside the meat. Serve piled inside the warm tortillas, with toppings of choice.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate beef and veggies in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm beef and veggies in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze the beef and veggies in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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