This bright, fresh and zesty chicken fajita marinade recipe is super quick and easy to whip together. Featuring fresh citrus, garlic, and spicy jalapeño, your chicken fajitas will be so tender and juicy, with a great depth of flavor!
Why You Need This Bold, Zesty Chicken Fajita Marinade!
Everyone should have a great marinade recipe or two up their sleeve. Here’s why this one’s a winner:
- Flavor Explosion: This marinade transforms simple chicken into a fiesta of flavors! No more boring chicken once it’s marinated in fresh citrus juices, spicy jalapeño, pungent garlic and onion!
- Juicy And Tender: This acidic citrus based marinade will help to tenderize your chicken and keep it extra juicy once cooked.
- Versatile: This marinade works its magic on more than just chicken – you can use it on vegetables, shrimp, or even tofu. It’s a game-changer!
- Time Saver: Putting this marinade together takes just a few minutes of prep, but it will add so much mouthwatering flavor, it will seem like you’ve been slaving over the stove all day.
- Customizable Heat: Easily adjust the spiciness to your liking. This marinade can be mild to extra hot, it’s up to you!
(Need more marinades? This Easy Cuban Mojo Marinade is essential for anyone who loves Cuban flavors!)
To make this dish, you just need a few basic ingredients. Each one is a powerhouse of great taste! For full ingredient amounts and directions, scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Orange Juice and Lime Juice: I like to use freshly-squeezed juice when possible, for the brightest flavor.
- Oil: Olive oil, or any other neutral-flavored oil that you like, such as avocado, vegetable oil, etc.
- Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic, pre-minced garlic will have a lot less flavor.
- Cilantro: Fresh, minced cilantro leaves. If you don’t care for cilantro, parsley makes a good substitute.
- Jalapeño (Optional): For those seeking a kick of heat, just add jalapeño slices!
- Onion Powder: This gives the marinade a robust, savory flavor. You could use fresh onion instead, if you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper will give you the most flavor.
- Chili Powder: Incorporates a touch of smokiness – yum!
- Cumin: This warm, earthy spice is essential for a classic fajita taste.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Optional): Like the jalapeño, this ingredient can add a fiery kick.
- Dried Oregano: This adds a pungent, herbal flavor that really rounds out the marinade. I highly recommend using Mexican oregano if you can find it.
How to Make Chicken Fajita Marinade
To make this recipe, just mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, a large zip-top bag, or even a big jar with a lid. That’s it, I told you it was super easy to make!
How Long To Marinade Fajitas
You can marinate these chicken fajitas in this marinade for anywhere from 20 minutes to 12 hours. Two to three hours of marinating time is ideal for the best flavor and texture.
If you marinate chicken in a citrus based marinade for too long, it will break down the proteins too much, making the meat tough, rubbery and sometimes even mushy or grainy.
Tips for Success
Need tips? I’ve got ‘em! These helpful hints will make your chicken fajita marinade that much easier and better.
- Adjust the Flavors: Feel free to adjust the amount of citrus, oil, salt, and seasoning in this marinade to suit your taste.
- Mild or Extra Spicy: If you want your marinade to be extra spicy, double or triple the jalapeños and make sure to include the seeds. If you want milder heat, remove the seeds before adding the sliced jalapeño.
- Add Honey: For a touch of sweetness, stir in a spoonful or so of honey. Brown sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar are all good options, too.
- Prevent Cross-Contamination: If you would like to use this as a sauce, be sure to set aside the amount you’ll need in a clean, separate jar. Use the rest for meats. Make sure not to use marinade that has had meat in it as a sauce – just discard it.
Storing and Freezing
- Storing Chicken Fajita Marinade: You can store this marinade in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
- Freezing: This will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Freezer Marinating: You can also freeze this with raw chicken in it, to get a jump on your favorite dinner! Thaw it out in the refrigerator the day before you’re ready to cook, and be sure to cook the chicken within 24 hours after defrosting.
More Essential Recipes
- Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Salsa Verde
- Skirt Steak Marinade
- Homemade Flour Tortillas
- Resutrant Style Salsa
- Homemade Tortilla Chips
- Best Chicken Taquitos
Chicken Fajita Marinade
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup oil, olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, etc
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 jalapeño, sliced, optional
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- In a large bowl or ziplock bag, mix together all ingredients.
- Add your chicken and marinade for at least 20 minutes, or up to 12 hours. Cook as desired.
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