Whether you’re firing up a cast-iron skillet or the grill, working with flank or skirt steak, this classic Steak Fajitas Recipe is as adaptable as it is delicious. It begins with a simple cilantro-lime marinade that packs a great big punch of Tex-Mex flavor and ends with tender strips of beef, wrapped in a warm tortilla and topped off with a colorful trio of fajita veggies!
With this easy recipe, you can transform a restaurant classic into a family-favorite weeknight staple. Serve it with Spanish Rice and Charro Beans for an authentic Mexican meal at home! Got leftovers? Add cheesy Steak Quesadillas to the recipe lineup!
WHAT IS THE BEST STEAK FOR FAJITAS?
To put it bluntly, there is no “best steak” for fajitas, although skirt steak is the one you’ll find most often served at Mexican restaurants. You can use either skirt or flank steak and get phenomenal, authentic, delicious results from both cuts of meat.
Flank steak comes from the bottom abdominal area of the cow, while skirt steak comes from the underside of the short plate. As you can see from the diagram above, the two cuts are very close in proximity and have quite a bit in common.
They are both revered for their great big beefy flavor, yet also somewhat notorious for being tough, chewy cuts of meat. However, when cooked properly and sliced correctly, either cut can be thoroughly enjoyed.
NOTE: Flank steak will take longer to cook than skirt steak.
USING FLANK STEAK:
If you’re working with flank steak, take care not to purchase too thick of a steak. Any more than 3/4″ thick, and you’re going to have to add on/adjust your cook time quite a bit.
Shoot for an internal temperature of 140°F when making flank steak for fajitas, somewhere between medium-rare and medium in doneness.
USING SKIRT STEAK:
Skirt steak is long, thin, and cooks up fast. The important thing to keep in mind when working with this cut of beef is that you really don’t want to over-cook it. This cut of meat is best enjoyed at a proper medium-rare, with a warm red center.
HOW TO MAKE STEAK FAJITAS
When it comes to making steak fajitas, you can use a gas or charcoal grill, or you can use a searing hot pan on your stovetop. There’s no denying flame-grilled beef is the more flavorful option of the two, but luckily, the flavor imparted by the marinade will go a long, long way whether your cooking indoors or out.
The choice is really yours, and below, you’ll find cooking methods for both.
MAKE TIME FOR A MARINADE (1-4 HOURS)
Before you fire up any heating elements, you’ll want to set some time aside for a marinade. A marinade will add a great deal of flavor to your Steak Fajitas, and it is well worth the small amount of effort it takes to throw one together.
This marinade, in particular, comes together quickly with a rough chop of cilantro, jalapeño, and onion. Then, you’ll combine the veggies with seasoning, lime juice, and oil, add the beef and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
SEASON THE BEEF
Once the time is up, wipe off any dripping excess marinade. This will ensure you get a good sear on the beef and help to prevent flare-ups if you are cooking on the grill.
Next, drizzle your beef or flank steak with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and rub all over to adhere. There really is no need for any kind of special spice blend or “fajita seasoning” when prepping these Steak Fajitas. The marinade adds all the flavor you need.
And, now…it’s time to cook.
HOW TO COOK THEM ON THE GRILL
If you are preparing a charcoal grill to cook your fajitas, you can determine if the grill is ready by one of two ways: the look of the coals or the “hand test.”
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill and bring the heat to medium-high. You will know the temperature is right when the coals are glowing brightly and have a faint coating of ash. You could also hold your hand about 6″ above the grate (with caution, of course), and begin counting. You should have to withdraw your hand by the count of 3.
- Once the grill has come to temperature, add the beef. Cook skirt steak for about 7-8 minutes total, turning it half-way through. Cook the flank steak for about 12-14 minutes total, turning it about half-way through.
HOW TO COOK THEM ON THE STOVETOP
If you are cooking fajitas on the stovetop, you may need to cut the beef in half (slicing in the direction of the grain) to fit in the pan and sear in batches. This is more likely the case if you are cooking with skirt steak.
- Add oil to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature.
- Add the beef to the pan. Cook skirt steak for about 7-8 minutes, turning it half-way through. Cook the flank steak for about 12-14 minutes, turning it about half-way through.
HOW TO PROPERLY CUT STEAK FAJITAS
The most important factor in whether or not your fajitas have a tender bite to them is how you slice them. Whether you are working with flank or skirt steak, it is of the utmost importance that you slice the beef against the grain.
You’ll also want to cut the meat as thin as possible, right around a 1/2″ thick.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THEM
You can serve Steak Fajitas with any number of sides. Traditionally, they come on a sizzling skillet atop a bed of fajita veggies (a.k.a. cooked onions and bell peppers), with bowls of Mexican Rice and Charro Beans on the side.
Of course, there really is no limit to topping off Steak Fajitas. Below you’ll find additional favorites often served with them:
5 MORE TEX-MEX RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
Whether you're firing up a cast-iron skillet or the grill, working with flank or skirt steak, this classic Steak Fajitas Recipe guarantees the flavorful and delicious results!
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 6-8 limes
- 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems (about 1 bunch of cilantro)
- 2 jalapeños roughly chopped (seeds intact)
- 1/2 white onion roughly chopped
- 5 large cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt + 1 1/2 teaspoon, separated
- 1 tablespoon black pepper + 1 teaspoon, separated
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup canola or avocado oil + up to 4 tablespoons, separated
- 2 pounds flank or skirt steak
- 1/2 white onion cut into 1/4" rings
- 1/2 green bell pepper deseeded and cut into 1/4" rings
- 1/2 red bell pepper deseeded and cut into 1/4" rings
- 8 flour or corn tortillas
Add the lime juice, cilantro, jalapeños, white onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin, as well as a 1/4 cup of water to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle in a 1/4 cup of oil, whisking with the tines of a fork to combine.
Place the steak in a gallon-sized ziptop bag, pour over the marinade, and seal tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Set the beef out at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling. Remove the protein from the bag and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub all over to adhere, and set aside until ready to use.
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill and bring to medium-high heat. To test whether or not your grill is hot enough, (carefully) hold your hand about 6" from the grate. It should be so hot, that you have to move it by the count of 3.
Add the beef to the grill. Cook skirt steak for about 7-8 minutes, turning it half-way through. Cook flank steak for about 12-14 minutes, turning it about half-way through.
Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large, skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Once the oil has come to temperature, add the steak and cook skirt steak for about 7-8 minutes, turning it half-way through. Cook flank steak for about 12-14 minutes, turning it about half-way through.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers. Sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt and black pepper, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
Allow to rest 5-10 minutes. Then, slice the beef as thin as possible (cutting against the grain) and set aside.
Add the steak to a tortilla, top with veggies, and other taco toppings, if desired.
The thickness of the steak matters. If your flank steak is thicker than 3/4", it will very likely be rare if you use the indicated cook times. Thinner flank steaks work best for this recipe, but if you cannot find one, there is a fix:
If the flank steak is between 1 to 1 1/4" thick (before searing the steak) preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Cook the flank steak as indicated in the recipe card. Then, transfer it to a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how "done" you like your beef.