Grab your skillet, it’s time to make sizzling hot steak fajitas! I have a flavorful marinade that pairs nicely with the colorful mix of sauteed vegetables. This is a protein-packed meal filled with healthy fiber that the whole family is going to love.
This easy steak fajitas recipe will make you feel like you’re dining at a Mexican restaurant. The sizzling sights and sounds are a combination of fresh, vibrant vegetables served with savory beef marinated in spicy seasonings. The bold flavors make this meal a delight to all the senses.
To elevate the flavor of the steak, I marinate the meat with cumin, garlic, soy sauce, jalapenos, salt, and pepper. Just a brief soak for 30 minutes before searing makes a noticeable flavor impact on the surface. The tender beef is paired with crisp-tender bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. An easy gourmet meal made all in one pan!
The best cuts of beef for fajitas are the ones that are tender when quickly cooked. Skirt steak, flank steak, sirloin, flat iron, or hanger steak are all good options. These are leaner cuts with some marbling to keep them moist and flavorful.
Avoid varieties with a lot of connective tissue like chuck and brisket, otherwise, the beef will be tough to chew. Adjust the searing time depending on the size of the steak and the desired doneness temperature of the meat.
A quick and concentrated marinade
There are many benefits of a marinade like improving texture and moisture in the meat, but certain ingredients only flavor the surface. To make a steak marinade that rapidly transfers flavors to meat I look to salt and soy sauce. The sodium in the ingredients can penetrate deeper into the interior of the muscle.
It uses osmosis to act as a brine for more savory notes while bringing in water-soluble flavor molecules like garlic and hot peppers to make each piece tastier. I add olive oil to help draw out the fat-soluble flavors from the cumin, black pepper, and lime zest to flavor the exterior of the beef.
How long to marinate the steak
Let the meat soak for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. I find that the shorter time is all you need, but I like to give some flexibility if you’re meal-prepping the day before. Make sure to scrape off any pieces of garlic and jalapeno peppers before cooking the beef. The super hot pan will burn those aromatics. Pat dry the beef with a paper towel to remove excess moisture for better browning in the pan.
Crunchy colorful vegetables
Bell pepper and onions are a classic addition to a sizzling fajita platter. I use green, red, and yellow because they provide contrasting bitter and sweet flavors. To make the dish spicier, you can also add in minced jalapenos or sprinkle chili powder.
The onions caramelize in the hot pan when sauteed for extra sweetness. To make the vegetables more substantial, I add in sliced zucchini and quartered brown mushrooms. The fungi enhance the meaty flavor of the steak.
How to cook steak fajitas
This dish cooks quickly, so make sure to have everything pre-cut, measured, and ready to add-in. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, remove the excess marinade from the steak then sear until browned and cooked to medium-rare or desired doneness, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Let the beef rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thin strips. Add more olive oil to the pan, then cook the onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and bell peppers. You want them to be crisp-tender. Add the sliced beef and reserved marinade on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Allow the beef to rest
It’s important to let the beef rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This lets carryover cooking reach the center and helps the proteins relax and redistribute the moisture throughout the beef. Slice the steak across the grain into thin pieces, about 1/4-inch thick.
I hold my knife at a 45-degree angle to create a bias cut. This makes more surface area between the muscle fibers, so the proteins are not stacked on top of each other. When chewing it makes the texture more tender.
What to serve this with
Wrap the steak strips and vegetables in homemade flour tortillas or corn tortillas for a handheld meal. Have fun with customizing toppings and serve with sour cream, guacamole, homemade salsa, and lime wedges on the side.
Add lime juice after cooking
I like to reserve ¼ cup of the marinade then add it to a small bowl and mix in freshly-squeezed lime juice. This savory sauce is going to add a tangy flavor after cooking to complement the richness of the meat. It’s better to add highly acidic ingredients later so that the steak doesn’t dry out and become mushy.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ cups sliced white onion, ¼-inch thick
- 1 ½ cup sliced zucchini, ¼-inch thick
- 8 ounces brown mushrooms, rinsed, dried, and quartered
- 3 cups sliced bell pepper, ¼-inch thick, red, green and yellow peppers
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 8 tortillas, flour or corn, 6-inches in size
- Add steak to a large plastic bag or casserole dish.
- In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and lime zest.
- Remove ¼ cup of the marinade and transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in lime juice and set aside.
- Pour the remaining marinade over the beef, flip several times to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. The beef can be refrigerated and marinated for up to 24 hours.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Shake off the excess marinade from the beef, scrape off any garlic and jalapeno to prevent burning then pat dry with a paper towel. Carefully add steak to the hot pan.
- Sear without moving the beef until the surface browns, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and cook until the internal temperature reaches 120 to 125ºF (49 to 52ºC) for medium-rare, about 2 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add the onions and saute for 1 minute. Add the zucchini, saute for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, saute for 1 minute. Add bell peppers, saute for 2 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, stir to combine. The vegetables should be crisp-tender.
- Slice the beef across the grain, on a bias, into thin ¼-inch thick strips.
- Add the beef slices on top of the vegetables. Whisk the 1/4 cup of reserved marinade and then pour over the fajitas. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve the steak fajitas with warmed tortillas and desired toppings.
- Serving Size: 1 tortilla plus steak fajitas filling.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE AND WHOLE 30: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. For gluten-free use corn tortillas, or wrap in lettuce for Whole30.
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