As a college student, I didn’t have a lot of money. So when I wanted to treat myself, it wasn’t like I went out for a fancy steak dinner or anything.
Instead, my friends and I went out for margaritas and fajitas. Just thinking about it, I can almost hear the clinking of glasses and that enticing sizzle…
If you haven’t ordered them yourself at a local restaurant, I’m sure you’ve at least heard them as the waiter walks by with the sizzling cast iron pan.
For me, the charred meat with vegetables, soft tortillas, and all those toppings was pure happiness, sizzling away in front of me. Alongside the margarita, it was the fanciest meal my friends and I had out.
At that time it was the most expensive thing on the menu, so that’s the height of fancy, isn’t it?
While I still like to enjoy a cast iron pan of sizzling goodness at a restaurant from time to time, when the weather is warm I’d rather fire up the grill and enjoy the spread on my back patio.
And fajitas really are deceptively simple to make.
You start with an oh-so-simple marinade made with ingredients I’m sure you already have in your pantry. The combination of spices and lime juice and zest brings a nice amount of flavor to the various proteins.
Oh, and did I mention that this recipe doesn’t feature just one type of protein? Sure, our chicken fajitas are amazing! But on tonight’s menu, we’re taking it over the top with three different types – steak, chicken, and shrimp. And the best part is that one marinade works for all three types of protein.
You also get a killer variety for your fajitas spread that will appeal to everyone, whether they love beef, poultry, or seafood.
I don’t know about you, but I love using my grill all summer long. Not only does it impart some amazing flavor to these skewers of meat and vegetables, but it also saves you from heating up your kitchen.
It’s regularly hitting the 100-degree mark here in good old Colorado these days, so any excuse not to have to turn on the oven or stove, I’ll definitely take it.
All you have to do is thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers, then cook them up on the grill, just like you would for a tasty kebab. This only takes about 7 minutes of total cook time, which is SO fast. After that, you just dump the skewers onto a large serving platter.
Then, make sure that you have flour tortillas that are nice and warm. The softness of the tortillas accompanies the meat and vegetables quite well, and this is one of my favorite parts of the meal.
The biggest mistake you can make is to forget the toppings. They’re the key to customizing your fajitas, and you can use such a wide variety of things to enhance them, from hot sauces to fresh ingredients. There’s a short list included in the recipe below, but I’ve added a few extra ideas at the end of this article for you to consider if you want to stray a little bit outside the norm.
Make grilled fajitas for dinner tonight, and make them your own!Print
Instead of sizzling in a cast iron pan, we’re making grilled fajitas on a stick. Enjoy all the flavor of your favorite dish, prepared in a whole new way.
- 1 pound flat iron steak
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
- Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Skewers for grilling
- 12 6-inch flour tortillas
Optional Ingredients for Serving:
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Sour cream
- Shredded lettuce
- Cut steak into 1-inch-wide strips and place into a bowl. Cut chicken into 1-inch-wide strips and place into a separate bowl. Place shrimp into a third bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together lime zest, juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, cilantro, and olive oil. Evenly distribute marinade among the three bowls. Stir to coat, then cover each bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Thread the beef onto several skewers, folding longer pieces in half before skewering. Thread the chicken onto several skewers, then place the shrimp on skewers. Don’t mix proteins, to promote even cooking. Place the cut vegetables onto skewers together.
- Place the beef, chicken, and vegetable skewers on the grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, turning once, until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the shrimp to the grill. Grill until shrimp is cooked through and pink, flipping once.
- Slide all the meats and vegetables from their skewers onto a serving platter. Serve with warm tortillas and desired toppings.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Category: Fajitas
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keywords: fajitas, steak, chicken, shrimp, grill
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Zest one lime and then juice that same lime.
Peel and mince six cloves of garlic. Your garlic press will make short work of this.
Chop enough cilantro leaves until you have ½ cup total.
Cut the bell peppers and onion into 1-inch pieces. Rather than giving them a rough chop, take a minute to cut them carefully until relatively uniform pieces, so they will all cook at about the same rate.
If you prefer, you can wait to chop up the veggies until just before grilling, but I prefer to prep them ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator until I am ready to use them, so they will be ready to go.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as they are listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Chop Proteins
Trim the meat of any excess fat, if necessary.
Slice the steak into 1-inch-wide strips, cutting against the grain so it will be tender.
Essentially, if you look closely at the beef you will see that the muscle fibers are all parallel to each other with a certain orientation across the meat, and you want to cut perpendicular to these.
Place into a medium bowl.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch-wide strips. Place into a separate bowl.
Try to keep your slices as even as possible, to promote even cooking.
Add the shrimp to a third bowl. If you purchased raw shrimp that hasn’t already been cleaned, check out our guide to peeling and deveining shrimp for instructions.
And don’t forget to save those shells! They’ll come in handy if you ever want to make a homemade seafood stock.
Step 3 – Marinate Proteins
Add the lime zest and juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, cilantro, and olive oil to a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine.
Evenly divide the marinade between the three bowls of protein. Stir or toss with tongs to coat each well.
Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. I like to give mine a stir halfway through marinating if I am at home, to make sure all of the pieces are evenly coated.
Step 4 – Make Skewers
If you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before grilling.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
Thread the beef onto skewers together, folding the longer pieces in half before skewering them.
Thread the chicken onto skewers together as well. Then thread shrimp onto skewers together.
The key is to make sure that you keep all the proteins of the same type together, to encourage even cooking, and so you can pull the beef off first if you need to, since it will generally cook the fastest.
Place the vegetables onto skewers together. There’s no need to worry about layering the vegetables in any particular order, since these will cook at about the same rate if they are all cut to approximately the same size.
Step 5 – Grill and Serve
When the grill is hot, add all of the skewers except the shrimp, and cook for about 5-7 minutes. The meat should be cooked through and the vegetables should be tender.
If the beef cooks a little more quickly or the chicken needs a little more time, adjust accordingly.
In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the shrimp skewers to the grill. Keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook – you want them to be pink, cooked through, and curled slightly, flipping once after about 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from the grill. Slide all of the different proteins and vegetables from the skewers onto a large serving platter. I like to keep each type of protein separate, so it’s easy for people to choose what they want.
Serve immediately, with warm tortillas and desired toppings.
Alternative Ways to Customize Your Fajitas
Cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and lettuce are kind of a given when you serve fajitas. However, you can change up your flavor options in a fun way with different types of salsa.
Then come the hot sauces. If you like spicy food, this is a must. I’ve used every hot sauce under the sun for fajitas, and it’s so much fun to play with the flavor profiles.
Trying to cut down on carbs? You can ditch the wraps and use the meat and veggies for our Mexi-bowls with a rice base instead.
Have fun with it!
Do you love everything Tex-Mex? Here are a few other recipes to try out from Foodal:
What are your favorite fajita toppings? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate this recipe after you have a chance to try it, to let other readers know how much you enjoyed it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 13, 2012. Last updated: October 25, 2020 at 12:44 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.