This fajita seasoning recipe is an aromatic and healthy alternative to the store-bought packet. It’s easy to make – you only have to mix 6 spices, that you probably already have in your pantry. This great seasoning mix can be used to flavor many Mexican-inspired or Tex-Mex dishes!
What is chicken fajita?
Fajitas is a popular Tex-Mex dish. The name is referring to a piece of skirt steak, that is cut into thin strips – the real fajitas are made from beef. Chicken Fajitas (Fajitas de Pollo) is a popular variation of the dish. The meat is seasoned with fajita seasoning and most often served with flour tortillas, sauteed/grilled bell peppers, onion, and condiments such as guacamole or pico de gallo.
You only need 6 spices to make this seasoning:
- Chili powder – note that this is NOT just ground chili pepper, it’s a spice mix popular in the USA but not available in all countries. It’s made with pure chili powder (ground chili peppers), paprika, cumin, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. You can substitute these spices if you can not find chili powder spice mix in your grocery store.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Oregano (you can use Mexican oregano if you can find it, it tastes a little different than Mediterranean oregano, it’s a little bit lemony).
You could also add some coriander or smoked paprika to your spice mix.
Other fajita seasoning recipes also include sugar, salt, and black pepper.
I don’t really like to include sugar in savory recipes unless it’s really necessary. Sugar is added to balance the acidity from lime juice powder that is added to store-bought seasonings. Note that almost all store-bought packets include sugar so if you are used to that, you can add sugar to your seasoning (about a teaspoon).
I also don’t like to include salt and pepper in my seasonings, I prefer to season chicken/beef or vegetables separately. When seasoning a chicken with a spice mix I’m not sure if the salt amount in the spice mix will be enough to season the meat properly. Or maybe you like your food spicy but you need to go easy on the salt. It’s better to season your protein with the spice mix and salt+pepper separately.
The spiciness: This spice mix is not overly spicy. My little daughter and I are a little bit heat-sensitive but this spice mix was just right for us – spicy without being too hot. If you, on the other hand, like hot/very spicy dishes you can add some cayenne pepper to your spice mix.
Store-bought seasoning vs. homemade
Store-bought fajita seasoning packets are often of poor quality. I checked many spices and their ingredient list. They contain such ingredients as corn syrup in the first position of the ingredient list (Taco Bell spice mix) – the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts.
Other ingredients include: calcium silicate (anti-caking agent), sugar in fourth or even second position, corn maltodextrin in the first position, salt in the first position, corn starch (thickening agent) in the first position (so more corn starch than spices..), caramel coloring, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate (MSG), potassium chloride, artificial coloring.
Old El Paso fajita seasoning contains: corn starch (thickening agent), maltodextrin (sweetener), salt, sugar, and just then spices. So I really prefer to make my own spice mix, especially since it’s so quick and simple!
There are of course ready-made seasonings with a good ingredients list, so if you still want to buy it, make sure to check the ingredient list first!
What is the difference between fajita seasoning and taco seasoning
These spice mixes are pretty similar (they contain almost the same spices but in different proportions) and I use them interchangeably, but there are a couple of small differences:
- store-bought fajita spice mix contains lime juice powder as a source of acidity (that’s why sugar is often added to the spice mix, to balance the sourness) – I prefer to add some lime juice to the marinade instead or squeeze some lime juice over the dish at the end of cooking
- taco seasoning contains tomato powder as a source of acidity
- there is more cumin in fajita spice mix, and more chili powder in taco spice mix
- there’s also coriander in taco seasoning
- taco seasoning tastes more bold, and the fajita spice mix is more light and tangy
- taco seasoning contains less onion and garlic powder since you usually add them fresh to the dish
You can substitute fajita seasoning with tacos seasoning in all my recipes.
How to make fajita spice mix from scratch
It couldn’t be simpler:
STEP 1: Measure out all the spices.
STEP 2: In a small bowl, stir all the spices together.
STEP 3: Transfer your spice mix into an airtight container and store for up to 6 months in a cool dry place (it will not spoil, it just won’t be as aromatic).
How to use Fajita seasoning
- Chicken Fajitas / Steak Fajitas / Shrimp Fajitas (see more below)
- Chicken Fajita Quesadillas – delicious quesadillas with all the flavors of chicken fajitas
- Chicken Fajita Soup
- Chicken Fajita Salad
- Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Sheet pan chicken fajitas – chicken fajitas baked in the oven. This recipe has other spices listed (this was before I developed this recipe), but I recently tried it with this spice mix and it was also amazing. Add 2 tablespoons of the Fajita seasoning instead of the spices listed in the recipe card.
- You could also add it to this One-pot Mexican quinoa or Chicken quesadilla.
- Make roasted potato wedges – cut potatoes into wedges, season with the spice mix, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes at 425°F (220°C) or until nicely browned.
- Make baked tortilla chips – brush tortillas on both sides with melted butter, rub with the seasoning and a little bit of salt. Cut into triangles and bake at 425°F (220°C) for 5 minutes or until golden.
- Use it to season this cheesy potato egg scramble.
- My other recipes using this seasoning:
How to make chicken fajitas with this seasoning
You need about 1 1/2 tablespoons of my seasoning for 1 pound (450g) of meat.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons frying oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons Fajita seasoning, 1 lb (450g) chicken breast, 3 bell peppers (preferably colorful), 1 medium red onion, 1 tablespoon lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Combine the seasoning with 2 tablespoons of frying oil.
- Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) strips. Season with salt and pepper and rub with the spice mix.
- Cut the bell peppers into 1/4 inch (7mm) strips and the onion into thin slices.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of frying oil in a big frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken strips in an even layer. Don’t stir for the first 1-2 minutes letting the chicken brown, then turn over and cook until the chicken is cooked through (don’t cook the chicken for too long or it will be tough). Transfer to a plate.
- Add another tablespoon of oil, peppers, and onion to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes over high heat, until the peppers are a little brown.
- Take the pan off the heat, put the chicken back to the pan, toss with the vegetables, drizzle with lime juice, season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with tortillas and salsa/guacamole/pico de gallo/avocado slices.
Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!
Fajita Seasoning Recipe
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- 2 tablespoons chili powder this is a spice mix not pure chili pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- Measure out all the spices.
- In a small bowl, stir all the spices together.
- Transfer into a tightly-closed container and store for up to 6 months in a cool dry place (it will not spoil, it just won’t be as aromatic).
- Chili powder – note that this is NOT just chili, it’s a spice mix popular in the USA but not available in all countries. It’s made with pure chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. You can substitute these spices if you can not find chili powder spice mix in your grocery store.
- This spice mix is not overly spicy. If you like hot/very spicy dishes you can add some cayenne pepper to your spice mix.
- Almost all store-bought seasoning packets include sugar so if you are used to that, you can add sugar to your seasoning (about a teaspoon). I also don’t like to include salt and pepper in my seasonings, I prefer to season chicken/beef/vegetables with them separately.
- Store-bought seasonings are also stuffed with lots of corn starch. I prefer to add it directly to recipes that require it.
- How to use this seasoning: You need about 1.5 tablespoons of my seasoning for 1 pound (450g) of meat. Many recipes are linked in the body of the post including an easy chicken fajitas recipe.
- Calories = whole recipe. This is only an estimate!