Beef Fajitas

Put some sizzle into supper.

Beef Faijitas
Photo: Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist Christine Kelly
Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Servings:
6

Fajitas are the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure meal, thanks to their bold, smoky flavor and the bountiful array of tasty toppings. Mexico City native and PBS cooking show host Pati Jinich dials up her Tex-Mex take on fajitas with a powerful Mexican pantry staple—pickled jalapeños. She uses the brine from the jar to create a flavor-packed marinade that pulls double duty as a basting liquid for grilled onions, peppers, and fresh jalapeños.

There are two delicious paths to success with this easy recipe: For the most flavor, marinate the beef the night before, then when it's time to cook, you're just 30 minutes away from an amazing meal. If you're in a hurry, skip the overnight marinade, opt for a quick one-hour dip, and follow our instructions for "How to Make Fajitas Fast" below.

Pati Jinich's 3 Secrets to Perfect Fajitas

These fajitas are a sure win thanks to their easy preparation, speedy cooking, and next-level flavor. Take a few cues from Pati to make the best fajitas you've ever tasted.

1. Make a bold marinade

Pati's recipe makes smart use of pantry staples to yield a richly flavored marinade that infuses the steak quickly. A mixture of pickled jalapeño brine (straight from the jar!) and tangy fresh lime juice brings acidity to the marinade, which helps tenderize the meat. Flavor comes to play with soy sauce, Worcestershire, cumin, and garlic, with a little brown sugar to balance the salt and heat.

PRO TIP: To get the most juice from a fresh lime, roll it on the counter a few times (pressing down hard with the heel of your hand) before slicing and squeezing.

2. Pick plenty of peppers

You can't serve a platter of sizzling fajitas without a pile of perfectly charred peppers! While any color will do, a festive mix of red, yellow, green, and orange bell peppers provides nice color and sweetness. If you're looking to save money, opt for all green bell peppers, which are less expensive because they are picked sooner than their more ripe yellow, orange, and red siblings.

PRO TIP: Jalapeño chiles can pack a lot of heat; halve them and remove the seeds and membranes if you're sensitive to spice.

3. Buy the right beef

Fajitas are a great budget-friendly meal because you can use less-expensive, less-tender cuts of beef, such as skirt steak, flap steak, or bavette, which is just a fancy name for flank steak. These cuts can get tough if cooked too long, so marinate them first (up to overnight) and cook them hot and fast. Finally, slice the steak against the grain to make sure every bite is delicious.

PRO TIP: Most thin cuts of beef will work in this recipe, but avoid cube steak, which has already been pounded and tenderized more than is best for this recipe.

How to Make Fajitas Fast

Don't worry if you're in a hurry! Follow these tips to bring these delicious fajitas to the table with a speedy marinating time and less than 20 minutes of active cooking.

Marinate for Just 1 Hour

Stir together the marinade, and be sure to reserve at least one-fourth of the mixture for basting. While the beef marinates, slice up all the peppers and onions, and gather all the toppings you'll need later, such as salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

Grill the Meat in Less Than 10 Minutes

Starting with a hot grill is crucial to perfect fajitas—thinner, tougher cuts like skirt or flank steak need to be cooked hot and fast, and not much past medium to keep them juicy. As soon as the steak hits your desired temperature (use an instant-read thermometer to be sure), pull it off the grill, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes so all of the flavorful juices reabsorb into the meat. Not a big griller? Watch this video for some pro-tips and pointers.

Grill the Veggies for About 5 Minutes

While the meat rests and the grill is still hot, fire up those peppers and onions! Remember that marinade you set aside? Be sure to use it to baste the peppers and onions while they grill—the sugars in the marinade will create some lovely caramelization that equals big flavor.

The only thing left to do now is eat! Warm up the flour tortillas, heat up the queso, and get out the guacamole—dinner is ready to go! Pair these perfect fajitas with more recipes from Pati Jinich for the ultimate Tex-Mex Feast:

Tejano Red Rice
Charro Beans
Chunky Guacamole with Jalapeño and Chile de Árbol

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil 

  • ½ cup pickled jalapeño brine (from 1 [12-oz.] jar pickled jalapeños)

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 1 lime) 

  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce  

  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 

  • 1 tsp. brown sugar 

  • ½ tsp. ground cumin 

  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced  

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided 

  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper, divided 

  • 2 lb. Bavette, flap steak, or skirt steak 

  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into rings 

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into rings 

  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced into rings 

  • 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced into rings 

  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced into rings 

  • 3 to 4 fresh jalapeño chiles 

  • Corn or flour tortillas 

  • Guacamole, for serving 

  • Salsa, for serving 

Directions

  1. Combine olive oil, jalapeño brine, lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, cumin, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper in a bowl; mix well with a whisk or fork. Place beef in a baking dish or container. Pour 3/4 of the marinade over beef, making sure beef is covered on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Reserve remaining 1/4 of the marinade in a small container with a lid, and chill until ready to cook vegetables.

  2. Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Grill beef until desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium. Remove beef to a cutting board; cover with foil, and let stand 10 minutes.

  3. Brush bell pepper rings, onion rings, and jalapeño chiles with reserved 1/4 of marinade, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Grill until soft and lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place bell peppers, onions, and jalapeños on a large platter. Slice beef across the grain, and serve on top of vegetables. Serve with tortillas, guacamole, and salsa, if desired.

This recipe originally appeared in our September 2022 issue.

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