How to Make Fajitas

Nothing beats a sizzling platter of ultra juicy, tender beef fajitas. Learn how to perfect your fajita game at home.

Two fajitas beside a stack of tortillas and bowls of veggiesTaste of HomeTaste of Home

What’s not to love about fajitas? At a restaurant, a gigantic platter of sizzling meat and veggies is served up in a dramatic scene: Heads turn, captivated, as the server marches the dish across the dining room. Its aroma is so enticing, the kitchen crew can predict another dozen orders will quickly follow the first.

According to common lore, Mexican cowboys in West Texas developed fajitas as a way to enjoy inexpensive cuts of meat. They cooked thin slices of meat (“fajitas” loosely translates to “little strips” or “belts”) directly over a campfire.

Our Test Kitchen experts perfected their homemade fajitas using the char of a cast-iron skillet to emulate the smokiness of the fire. This recipe is infinitely adaptable and it comes together in less than 30 minutes. Let’s get cooking!

Master cast iron cooking with our guide.

How to Make Fajitas

You’ll need:
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound beef top sirloin steak or flank steak, trimmed
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 medium sweet pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
8 flour tortillas, warmed
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
Sour cream
Sharp knife
Cast-iron skillet or pan

*A quick note on ingredients: Fajitas are traditionally made with beef and a variety of bell peppers. Choosing colorful veggies will earn you style points, but some people aren’t into the comparatively bitter flavor of green bell peppers. If you’re trying to please picky eaters, stick to red, yellow or orange.

One of the best things about fajitas is how customizable they are. You can use any meat and vegetables you like! For inspiration, and to make this recipe your own, check out the optional variations section below.


Person using a knife to slice raw beef on a cutting boardTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 1: Slice the Meat and Veggies

Tough, flavorful cuts of beef (like flank or skirt steak) work exceptionally well for fajitas. Thinly slicing the beef tenderizes it, making it moist and delicious when it’s flash seared. Cut the meat, onion and bell pepper into thin, 1/4-inch strips. Place the onion and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Test Kitchen tip: If using beef, make sure you cut against the grain. Look at the direction the fibers run and cut across them (not with them) when making your slices.

The sliced beef is now in a plastic bag having marinade poured over itTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 2: Marinate the Meat

Marinating meat is another great way to tenderize tough cuts. The acid (in this case, lemon juice) in the marinade breaks down the proteins in the meat, creating a wonderful texture. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the beef and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to overnight.

Test Kitchen tip: Swap in lime juice or vinegar for the lemon juice. All three are acidic ingredients that will tenderize the meat, and each brings its own unique flavor characteristics.

Sliced veggies in a cast-iron skillet being stirred by a wooden spoonTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 3: Saute the Veggies

Once the meat has finished marinating, this meal comes together in a flash. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet. Add the onions and peppers and cook until they are crisp-tender. When done, they should be softened and slightly charred. Put the veggies in a small bowl and set aside.

(Wondering how to clean cast iron? Learn step by step how to care for your beloved skillet.)


Sliced meat on a bed of paper towel being patted downTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 4: Pat the Meat Dry

Patting the meat dry may sound like a simple step that can be skipped, but it’s really important! We want to get a good sear on the meat, but if the beef is saturated in liquid, it is more likely to simmer than sear. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard any excess liquid. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.

Person stirring sliced meat in a cast-iron skillet with metal thongsTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 5: Sear the Meat

Now that the meat is dried off, we’re ready to get our sear on. Increase the heat to high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the skillet is just barely smoking, add the meat strips to the pan. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan—the key to delicious fajitas is getting a nice caramelization on the meat. If you add too many strips at once, the beef will steam in its juices instead of sear. If you need to, add the steak in batches.

Cook the meat for 2 minutes per side, until it is nicely browned and no longer pink. Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir until the veggies are heated through. Everything should be nice and sizzling at this point.

Step 6: Warm the Tortillas

Don’t skip this step! Warming the tortillas makes them taste freshly made. Plus, it helps make them more pliable. You’ll thank us when you’re wrapping up all of those delicious fillings.

If you have a gas stove, char the tortillas directly on the flame. This gives them a rustic appearance and adds depth of flavor. Cook them for a few seconds on each side, flipping with tongs. You can also warm them in the microwave (wrapped in a damp paper towel) or in a 300 degree oven (wrapped in aluminum foil).

Two fajitas beside a stack of tortillas and bowls of veggiesTaste of HomeTaste of Home
Taste of Home

Step 7: Serve and Enjoy!

Now that everything is ready, let’s bring it all together! Impress your guests by serving these fajitas family-style, re-creating the dramatic restaurant experience by bringing the sizzlin’ cast-iron skillet straight to the table. Or assemble them yourself and serve on plates for convenience.

Either way, create your delicious fajitas by placing a spoonful of the meat-veggie mixture on a warmed tortilla. Top with avocado, salsa and sour cream. Roll the tortilla around the filling and enjoy.

Optional Variations

Fajitas make a perfect weeknight meal because they’re quick and easy and the options are never-ending. Here are some of our favorite substitutions and variations:

  • Vegetarian: Go meat-free and bulk up the veggies. Adding mushrooms, beans or cheese will make fajitas nutrient-dense, filling and delicious.
  • Seafood: Shrimp fajitas make light and tasty weeknight fare. Shrimp marinate in only 15 minutes and cook up just as quickly.
  • Low-Carb: If you’re watching your carbs, substitute hearty greens for the tortillas. Iceberg lettuce or romaine leaves make especially good wraps.
  • Spicy: If you’re into the burn, add a sliced jalapeno to the mix. Or, swap out some of the bell pepper for its spicier cousin, poblano.
  • Breakfast for Dinner: Add some scrambled eggs and black beans for an anytime breakfast.
  • Fresh Additions: Top with colorful extras like thinly sliced radishes, sprigs of cilantro and lime wedges. These fresh and delicious additions are virtually calorie free and will make your fajitas a whole lot snazzier.

Mexican food isn’t all about tacos and fajitas. Add this flan to make your themed dinner complete.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially when she can highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.
Peggy Woodward, RDN
Peggy is a Senior Food Editor for Taste of Home. In addition to curating recipes, she writes articles, develops recipes and is our in-house nutrition expert. She studied dietetics at the University of Illinois and completed post-graduate studies at the Medical University of South Carolina to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Peggy has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s a mom, a foodie and enjoys being active in her rural Wisconsin community.