Beef (or Chicken) Fajitas with Peppers and Onions
Updated: Oct 30, 2022
This marinade makes even tough cuts of beef - like Flat Iron or Flank—tender and delicious. The same marinade recipe can be used for beef, chicken or even shrimp.
I found this excellent Beef and Chicken Fajita recipe in Cooking for a Crowd by Susan Wyler 20 years ago. (If you serve large groups, buy this cookbook—it stands the rest of time and is a gem.) I have made a version of this dish at least 50 times, and though I have tweaked it here and there, it is essentially the same recipe all these years later. It is also quite simply the very best marinade I have ever tasted, and when friends or family ask for a special meal, it is always beef fajitas.
To remember the marinade recipe, visualize your solid measuring cup set and use the four basic measuring cups for the wet ingredients—I cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of sherry wine vinegar, 1/3 cup of lime juice and 1/4 cup of olive oil. I remember the following picture, so I never have to look it up.
To this, I add a couple of cloves of thinly sliced garlic and 1-2 thinly sliced sweet onions. For spice, mix in 1 Tablespoon each of cumin and oregano and a teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper to taste. I will often add some cayenne pepper as well, depending on who is at the table.
The secret to a good marinade is to use good vinegar, but Spanish sherry vinegar is quite expensive. To beat this, I buy bulk vinegar through Amazon and split it into bottles.
Amazon link to bulk Sherry Vinegar:
For purposes of this recipe, you can use a good balsamic or red wine vinegar. If you can get your hands on good Spanish sherry vinegar, use this. I have kept a bottle of sherry vinegar around just for this recipe for a couple of decades. But this is a blog dedicated to keeping the budget in check, so just use the best vinegar you have.
I have most often made this recipe using flank steak, but I also frequently use skirt steak. Skirt steak is tougher and is easier to overcook, but it also has the advantage of absorbing the flavor of the marinade more intensely than flank. Recently, I found a great deal on flat iron steak and decided to give it a try. The results were amazing, and the steak was delicious. Whether you chose to use flank, skirt or flat iron steak, any of these three cuts are wonderful in this recipe, so look for bargains and buy accordingly.
Once you have all the ingredients for the marinade mixed together, put the meat you wish to marinade in a gallon Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over. Seal the bag and place within another gallon Ziploc bag immediately ("double bag" your meat and marinade). Put in the refrigerator and marinade beef for up to 24 hours and chicken for up to 6 hours. Shrimp needs only a very quick marinade of an hour or so.
ALWAYS keep different types of protein separate. If you chose to make both beef and chicken fajitas, place the beef in one bag and the chicken in another and pour half of the marinade in each bag and immediately double-bag each. Never serve used marinade on the side, as it has a lot of bacteria from the meat. If you want marinade for dipping or use at the table, reserve some marinade in a safe container and set aside in your refrigerator before you use the remainder for marinating the meat. If it touches meat or chicken, it should be thrown away. Don't taste it and if you touch it, wash your hands.
Peppers and Onions
Choose some fresh and crunchy peppers and white onions and slice into strips. One your beef is cooked and resting, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan and lightly stir fry them. Don’t overcook your veggies-lightly salt and pepper them and serve.
When it’s time to cook your fajitas, you can grill them outside or pan grill or fry on top the stove. But be careful-this type of steak is not great if cooked beyond medium rare. You have a couple minutes, tops, depending on your heat source. You can use a meat thermometer or just use your fingers to feel how much “give” the meat has. Medium rare is 135 degrees. Allow your meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before you slice.
Beef (or Chicken) Fajitas with Peppers and Onions
Ingredients ($11.77, serves 4)
12 -16 oz. of flat iron steak (or flank, or shirt). ($7.00, Walmart)
1 c. orange juice ($0.25, Sam’s Club)
1/2 c. sherry vinegar (or use balsamic or red wine vinegar) ($0.50, Amazon)
1/3 c. lime juice, freshly squeezed ($0.66, Sam’s Club)
1/4 c. olive oil ($0.25, Sam’s Club)
1T cumin, ground
1 T oregano
1 t. salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ($0.10, Aldi)
1-2 sweet onions, thinly sliced ($0.33, Sam’s Club)
2 bell peppers, sliced into strips ($1.50, Aldi)
1 large, white onion, halved and sliced into strips ($0.33, Sam’s Club)
8 fajita tortillas ($0.80, Walmart)
Mix orange juice, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
Thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic and 1-2 onions. Place in gallon-size Ziplock bag, put your beef (or chicken) in the bag (but keep proteins separate in 2 bags if you do both) pour in the marinade mixture. Put in the refrigerator to marinade several hours or overnight (if beef) or for 1-6 hours (if chicken).
After marinating time has lapsed, take the bag out of the refrigerator and retrieve the meat. Using paper towels, dry your meat so it will brown on the grill. If you make both beef and chicken, keep and cook separately-do not cross contaminate your proteins. Throw used marinade away--it is not safe to eat or brush on meat.
Grill your beef or pan fry on top the stove. Important: do not cook beyond medium rare - or your steak will be tough.
After your steak has cooked briefly, put it on a cutting board to rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut crosswise against the grain. (Otherwise, the meat will be tougher.)
Put 2 T olive oil in a nonstick frying pan and quickly stir fry the onions and peppers.
Serve meat, peppers and onions, with fajita tortillas. This recipe teams well with Pico de Gallo, guacamole and some Spanish rice.