Fajitas, a Mexican dish that was really born in Texas

The famous strips of grilled meat with sautéed vegetables inside a tortilla wrap were first made by ranch hands who were paid with leftover cuts

Fajitas El Comidista
Red hot fajitas.Miriam García Martínez
Miriam García

Contrary to what many people think, fajitas did not emerge in Mexico but in the United States. Specifically in Texas, where they became popular in the 1970s and reached stardom in the 1980s, although their origins can be traced back to 40 years earlier, when Mexican workers on ranches cooked the leftover cuts of meat that they received as pay over the fire or on the grill.

Fajitas usually consist of strips of meat cooked on the grill, mixed with sautéed vegetables — usually bell peppers — and wrapped in tortillas, to be eaten as a roll. It is common to marinate the meat in a mixture of spices and sometimes also some liquid that can be alcoholic or not. Marinating the meat helps to give more flavor and to soften it up if it is tough. Since the fajitas we propose to make today use chicken, they do not require a long marinating process.

They say that the basic spice mix for fajitas should include dried chili peppers, cumin, coriander grains, white pepper, oregano, smoked paprika and garlic powder. This is not difficult to put together, plus the chili peppers can be replaced with Cayenne peppers. Don’t hesitate to prepare two or three times more seasoning than you actually need: it will serve to spice up other grilled meats, poultry and all types of stews.

The secret to good fajitas lies in a tasty and spicy seasoning, and in not overheating the chicken too much, so that it remains juicy. A fresh side dish such as guacamole or pico de gallo will do the rest, and the sour cream — although this brings it closer to a Mexican recipe than a Tex-Mex one — provides a very interesting point of freshness, creaminess and acidity.

Recipe: Chicken fajitas

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Low, but it's important not to dry out the chicken too much

Ingredients for two servings

For the seasoning:

1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp dry oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

For the fajitas:

2 chicken breasts

3/4 red onion

1 red pepper

1 green bell pepper

Virgin olive oil

1/2 lime

4 to 8 flour tortillas, depending on size

Guacamole, pico de gallo or sour cream to taste


1. Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a bowl.

2. Peel the onion and cut in julienne strips. Remove the seeds and tops from the chiles, then slice.

3. Remove skin from the chicken breasts, butterfly them (slice in half horizontally to make them thinner) and season them.

4. Brush the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Put the pan on high heat and sear the chicken for a few instants on both sides.

5. Place the chicken on a plate for later. Add more oil to the pan and stir fry the onion and peppers.

6. Cut the chicken into strips and cook at high heat, adding any remaining seasoning.

7. Squeeze the lime to sprinkle juice over the chicken and pepper mix. Serve immediately with tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo and/or sour cream.

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